“FOR WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD”
Greetings once more friends!
“For we are the temple of the living God,” Paul asserts in 2 Corinthians 6:16. That is a bold statement, to say the least. But what exactly does it mean?” There is a prophecy from the prophet Malachi which makes reference to the temple in a futuristic sense: “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies”. (Mal.3:1, NLT). This ‘messenger-prophecy’ goes hand in hand with the ‘Elijah prophecy’ in Malachi 4: “Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment” (Mal.4:5-6, NET B.). Jesus explained that both passages of prophecy are identical and was fulfilled by John the Baptist. (Matt.11:7-15; 17:10-13) However, I will focus on this phrase, “The Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple.”
“Heaven is My Throne, and The Earth is My Footstool. Could you Build Me a Temple as Good as That?” Picture of Earth from our Moon, and Spiral Galaxy (Pics: Wiki Commons)
We know Jesus appeared in the first physical temple in Jerusalem which Zerubabel was responsible for restoring during the Persian diaspora. This prophecy speaks of “the messenger of the covenant whom you look for so eagerly shall suddenly come to His temple.” Jesus is the Messenger of the New Covenant. However, under the New Covenant the temple is spiritual, not physical. The Scriptures states, “However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands” (Act.7:48). It’s important to keep that distinction in mind as we discuss this topic of the temple. There is the “Messenger of the covenant” and “the messenger who prepares the way for the Lord.” John the Baptist was “the messenger sent to prepare the way” for the Messiah’s coming. John fulfilled the role in the first coming of Jesus. The Bible does not reveal the identity of “the messenger” at Christ’s second coming, but we know if there is one he will come possessing Elijah-like powers.
It is important to realize though that God has not left us in the dark about what “the messenger’s” work will involve: a) “Prepare the way (temple) for the Lord’s coming” b) “Encourage fathers and their children to return to Me.” So, the phrase “The Lord you are seeking so eagerly will suddenly come to His Temple,” speaks of a people who have changed and “returned to the Lord,” are “prepared and ready,” and now eagerly seeks the Lord at His second coming. So, we now know these twin objectives are at the core of the Gospel dispensation under the New Covenant given to God’s people, for its final outcome is the manifestation of the temple that Jesus will return to with His Father in the Spirit’s power. (Rev.21:1-4)
What is a Temple?
Many today think that God dwells in physical temples like impressive Christian cathedrals, elaborate Islamic mosques, ornate Hindu temples, and ancient monolithic structures of bygone eras. The tabernacle Israel was instructed to build in the wilderness, and subsequently the magnificent temple of Solomon, were physical and temporal in nature. God is not mortal like humans to dwell in physical structures, He is a spirit Being and dwells in a spiritual temple. The physical tabernacle/temple were intended to be depictions of the true temple He desires to dwell: in God’s own spiritual people. (Act.7:47-50; 17:24-25) Yes, there is a spiritual component to man’s makeup. And yes, humans are mortal beings but he is given a heart and mind resembling God’s likeness. (Gen.1:26-27)
Does God dwell in Impressive Cathedrals like this in Varna, Bulgaria (Wiki Commons)
He made this distinction between the physical and spiritual temples when He asks, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Could you build Me a temple as good as that? Could you build Me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are Mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My word” (Isa.66:1-2, NLT). What an awesome declaration of truth about His temple. God is proclaiming He has a physical temple – the whole of creation and the universe is His temple. Elsewhere God asks, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD” (Jer.23:24). The Scriptures says how God is adorned in His temple, “You are dressed in a robe of light.” It tells us what His temple looks like, “You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; You lay the rafters of Your home in the rain clouds; You ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants” (Psa.104:104).
We only have to look at the marvelous beauty of this earth and the awesome expanse of the heavens to witness His magnificent temple. Hence, each time our eyes gaze upon the many wonders of His creation we are actually looking into the face of God in His physical temple. And now He invites us into His heart, and we reciprocate by inviting Him into our hearts. He is not seeking another physical temple, but if that is our focus, He challenges us to do better than what He already has. He fills all of time and space as Creator. Sure enough, we stand mute to His challenge.
Here is the point not to be missed, as physical humans we are intrinsically part of His temple as earthlings. If so, what is our role in His temple, and how ought humans function and conduct themselves in their temple-life? All things in the created order are predetermined in their respective function as the Creator ordained except humans. Humans were created in God’s image with minds to choose their God-given function by motivation of Love.
Let’s see where God wants us to focus our attention in the function of His temple. In Isaiah, the temple is contrasted between building a physical structure and manifesting a ‘contrite heart’ in man. Thus, God is pointing us to His true spiritual temple: the ‘contrite heart’ of man. A physical structure vs. the ‘contrite heart’ of the believer. The Psalmist penned this revealing passage, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (Ps.51:16-17; Isa.66:1-2).The reason ought to be obvious as it is rational and reassuring. On one hand you have a living, walking human being with a heart beating in his chest, while the other is a mindless, unconscious, immobile, physical structure. It may be ostentatious, but it is heartless. God desires to live in the temple of the human ‘contrite heart,’ and man to dwell in His Son through the Spirit’s sanctifying power. God’s temple is the inner sanctum of the heart and mind of humanity that is given to Christ, and in which He dwells.
Look, this is profoundly important to God that He chose a heavenly messenger to affirm this awesome truth: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God… Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev.21:3, 5). There is no more clearer affirmation as to what the temple of God is in His own mind.
Now that we have established that God’s physical temple is the whole of creation and we would be wasting time and resources on something He does not seek, let us throw our weight on what God truly desires. There is a primary foundation upon which the temple of God is built. It is built upon God Himself. God made a promise to Abraham and gave him assurance, saying, “By Myself I have sworn…” to show there was no one greater for Him to swear by than Himself. (Heb.6:13; Gen.22:16-18). God is the sovereign Being upon whom His temple is founded and built. If God is Spirit and fills all of time and space, then He fills both the physical temple (creation/universe) and the spiritual temple (human/’contrite heart’), hence, we differentiate between the physical and spiritual temples. When we speak of the spiritual temple it is identified by the heart – the heart of God and the ‘contrite heart’ of man.
“God IS Love” (1 John 4:8, 16) (Wiki Commons, By Böhringer Friedrich – Own work)
Therefore, the temple reveals God’s identity in who He is in His heart. That is, His nature, character, and substance. If the temple reveals the essence of God’s heart, then a true knowledge of Him must form the center of man’s own heart. Because He is eternal and utterly holy in His Love, so must His dwelling place (temple) be. That is the primary foundation of the temple: Love, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8) Hence, we read this from the language of the New Covenant, “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Jer.31:33; Heb.8:10). This shows a fusing of two hearts – the heart of God and the ‘contrite heart’ of man. His laws reveal His nature in His Love. Under the New Covenant God’s Love is manifested in the human heart by the Holy Spirit, “For the fruit of the Spirit is Love” (Gal.5:22-23; also 1 Cor.13) Here we see God’s identity (“My law” or Love/Spirit) embodying the heart of His people. Let us keep our bearings in check, man is not the temple, God is. Humans possess the potential to become a temple as and when God comes and dwell in the person through His Spirit. John said, “Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16) (To read more on the topic of God’s Love go to: http://bulamanriver.net/9354 and http://bulamanriver.net/5166
There are three aspects of divine freedom which stems from the nature of God. The primary meaning of freedom is to exist as a separate personality and function like God is in His Triunity as three free Persons in the Father, Son, and Spirit. Since Adam’s fall, we were incarcerated by the devil living the ‘solitary’ life of sin without purpose with a certain divine retribution. When we were freed by Jesus, for the first time we are given a personality likened after God’s free ‘Triune’ image. This is the awe-inspiring miracle of the birth of man’s true personhood in Christ we often overlook. Second is to be freed from the incarceration of the devil’s sin condition through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. And third is the process of being conferred a calling and destiny by God pertaining to the believer’s life-gift and divine destiny. Yes, when a person stands in his/her God-given gift and calling, that is the essence of divine freedom. Then Love shows us how to use our gifts in our relationship with each other. (1 Cor.13)
A person uses his/her God-given freedom to voluntarily enter the temple by receiving His Son who absolves the believer from sins and is declared holy. God will not demand or force anyone to become His temple, like the devil forcefully and deceptively imprisons man in his ‘solitary’, self-centered sin-condition. God made man a free moral agent with the liberty to choose, hence the ‘contrite heart’ helps man in choosing God’s way of life of Love and freedom. With the ‘contrite heart,’ God confers upon the believer true freedom by means of the person’s gift and divine calling. There is no freedom without a life of doing God’s will for your life. (To read more, go to my previous blog tilted, “Gifts, Abilities, Destinies” at http://bulamanriver.net/2166 )
Israel’s tabernacle/temple in the wilderness had a permanent fire on the altar which never goes out. (Lev.6:13) It was for the people to offer sacrifices for sins, whenever the people seek God’s grace and mercy. People also offered gifts of gratitude to God. The unquenchable fire was casting Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for our sins in the spiritual temple for our eternal freedom: past, present, and future. Paul confirms this saying, “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin” (1 Cor.1:30). Paul said further, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (sin).” (Gal.5:1, emphasis added) So, freedom is the second element of the foundation of God’s temple. Yes, God’s Love will always be present to take us to our freedoms through each of our divine destinies as we live the “Triune Life.”*
There is a third and vital aspect to God’s temple. We have seen the humble ‘contrite heart’ and how it is formed by two divine elements, Love and freedom. They describe God’s inherent nature. The third element is God’s Trinitarian nature. We saw that the temple is God Himself and He fills it completely. The doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is three consubstantial Persons or hypostases – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as One God in three divine Persons. Many have tried to explain the Trinity in various ways and the explanations always fall short. For some, they say it does not make sense mathematically – three does not add up to one. However, the Trinity is not a math issue, it has to do with the nature of Being – a matter of Love. Love is a state of Being, it is not measurable but infinite as God is. God is not made of Love and thereby discoverable, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). God is Spirit and undiscernable. Symbiotically, the act of one Person is the act of all three, and the act of three Persons is the act of one. It is their Love for and in one another that makes them One, for “God is Love.”
Rublev’s Famous Icon of the Trinity (Wiki Commons)
The doctrine of the Trinity lays out that the three Persons are co-equal, co-eternal and co-substantial. I will quote from the Athanasian Creed: “For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. So, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So, likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.” (https://heidelblog.net/2013/03/the-athanasian-creed-on-the-trinity/ and http://bulamanriver.net/10401
In the final analysis, it is the testimony of Scripture which undergirds our confession of the Trinity: You may read Matthew 28:18-20; Jude1:20-21; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16-17; Romans 14:17-18; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Luke 3:21-22.
I will share an analogy I read earlier which can help us understand how God can be one and yet be three. The article quotes a qualifying statement from theologian Thomas Torrance that we must “reject any mythological projection by us into God of the creaturely relations and images latent in the natural and pre-theological significance of these concepts” (The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons, page 105). “We learned in school that white light actually contains all the colors of the rainbow. There are three primary colors, which we name red, yellow and blue. Yet, these three primary colors are contained in the one light that is white light. The primaries do not exist apart from the white light, but co-inhere in it. At the same time, light as white light would not exist apart from the three primary colors. To speak of “light” is to speak of the three primaries, and yet each of the primaries is distinct from each other.” (https://www.gci.org/Jesus/isgod) Although there is nothing in our physical world we can use to even remotely plumb the depth of God’s divine Being, I found that earthly analogy to be helpful to my limited human mind in trying to conceptualize how each Person of the Triune Godhead is distinct but not separate.
Rainbow in a Distance – distinct Colors but Not separate (Wiki Commons)
Three Pillars of the Participatory Temple-Life
So, these are the three pillars to God’s temple: the underlying Trinitarian nature of God, Love, and Freedom. One cannot do without the other, God is both Love and freedom and becomes a single expression of the temple-life reflecting who God is in His Tri-Personal Being. There is an applicatory term I would like to share which depicts the inclusive divine temple-life, it is called the participatory life. This is what life in the temple is all about. It depicts God as more than one, for to be participatory means to be in relationship. The trajectory of the participatory life arises out of God’s divine nature of three free Persons of the Godhead. Without Love and freedom (God’s divine nature), the participatory life is non-existent. Love engenders relationships of the three Persons of the Triune God, and freedom confirms the distinct role of each Person. This is the introductory steps into life in the temple-life – our interaction with every member of the family, Father, Son, and Spirit (Godhead) is founded upon Love and freedom. So, we see how all three Persons of the Triune God work as one in bringing us into His temple, and we are made to participate in the same philosophy of life in the temple. The Psalmist proclaims, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” (Psa.77:13, KJV). And John says how we are to relate with each other in this temple-life, “And He has given us this command: Anyone who Loves God must also Love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21)
Holy Spirit Makes a Human Temple
Now, let us read how God makes a human into His temple: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16, NASB). Man is physical and made in God’s image, however, the spiritual side of his makeup, namely his heart, mind, and soul, gives him the potential to receive the Spirit of God, and only when such an event occurs does the believer become God’s temple. Paul told the Corinthians, “For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor.6:16). However, we saw earlier the temple of God cannot exist in humans without the ‘contrite heart.’ What does the ‘contrite’ heart mean? The ‘contrite heart’ reveals the presence and work of the Holy Spirit and the believer’s submissive heart to the leading of the Spirit. Man is born with a ‘rebellious heart,’ but only the Spirit can replace it with the ‘contrite heart.’ (Jer.17:9; Mar.7:22-21) He is the personification of Love and freedom in human believers. And the gift of the Spirit comes as a result of man’s faith in Jesus as the eternal Savior and Mediator. (John 3:16; John 14:26, 16; Eph.1:13)
“We are the Temple of the Living God” (Pic: Wiki Commons)
So, when believers enter and live in God’s temple through Jesus, their understanding of the temple-life essentially means to engage in the divine participatory life of the Tri-Personal God who is Love and freedom by nature. Hence, it is vital we understand the true nature of God if we are to enter His temple and commune with Him: that He is three Persons in One Godhead, and He is Love in nature and free in Person living the participatory life. (1 John 4:16)
“You shall be Holy, for I am Holy”
God is utterly holy in His Triune Love-Being. The Bible quotes God, saying, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet.1:16; also Matt.5:48; Rev. 4:8 Isa. 43:15 1 Sam. 2:2 Psa. 11:4). On the other hand, the Bible says this of humans, “The heart is deceitful above all things (desperately wicked) and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9). Jesus further elaborates on this view, saying, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mar.7:21-23). Here, we see the contrast between God’s heart and man’s heart – He is utterly holy and we are desperately wicked.
However, recall man’s original creation was perfect in God’s likeness. (Gen.1:26-27) Hence, man originally possessed a Godly ‘trinitarian’ heart, until the devil deceived our first parents and introduced his rebellious heart with its ‘solitary’ life and sin-condition. Jesus reminds us of this truth when he said, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” to remind us of our true heritage in Christ and the divine image. Satan can never take that away from us, but he can deceive and blind us to our true divine personhood through sin and rebellion. But the Scriptures reveal how the Jesus removes the rebellious heart to make us see our true identity through the ‘contrite heart’ in the Spirit.
So, in one move of Love our heavenly Father brought us out of the depth of our sinfulness into the pinnacle of His holy Love through His Son. (John 3:16) We are taken from a person with a ‘rebellious heart’ to one with a ‘contrite heart.’ The Bible states, “God demonstrates His own Love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.5:8). In other words, God demonstrates His Loving heart to us. Now, that is an act of incomprehensible magnitude for any human mind to fathom. To imagine that in one movement of Love He takes us from the chain of Satan’s prison and into the Loving arms of our Father in His holy temple in heaven; from darkness to light; from death to life; from a persona non-grata to an offspring of the divine, from fear to Love, is nothing short of the greatest miracle a human being can freely receive and experience. The prophet puts it across like this, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isa.1:18). To come from nothing and less than nothing to become the temple for the living God is truly an act of incomprehensible Love by God for sinful man. This is the essence of the participatory life in the temple.
Participatory Life (Triune Life*)
The next question is, what does the participatory life temple-life looks like? Remember, though we have become believers, we are still humans living in a world that’s subject to and dominated by Satan, and the sin condition that undergirds his world. The devil still has a “lease” over this earth because Adam handed it to him in Eden. (Gen.1:26, KJV; Gen.3) A lease has an expiry date, and we live in his world while we are called to live in an alternate other world of God’s temple. Paul exhorted the faithful, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”” (2 Cor. 6:16-18).
We remain in the world but are not part of it. All the pain, suffering, and trials humans go through in life can be explained in one simple word: sin, hence, the command to “come out” in the sense of not participating in sin’s unholy way of life. The storms of life that sin creates can only be defeated within the walls of the temple with the Spirit’s help who sanctifies believers, not outside of it. God’s holy Love reigns in the temple where sin has no power. It is the temple of light (Jesus) not darkness. (John 8:12; John 3:19-20) So, the participatory life reflects God’s own Trinitarian life. It involves our continual sanctification so we may remain in God’s holy presence in His temple. So, when we read God promising, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool,” it speaks of an eternal reality God sees of mankind in His Son, through the work of sanctification that is being actualized in the Tri-Personal Being of God (temple) for which our participation is being enlisted. Our participation involves maintaining a ‘contrite heart’ and freely submit to the lead of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Teaching – Learning & Living well in the Participatory Life (Wiki Commons, By James Tissot )
“Whoever Wants to be My Disciple…”
The participation of the ‘contrite heart’ in the temple was laid out by Jesus when He said, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matt.16:24-26). To “carry our Cross daily” means we experience an ongoing forgiveness (Love) and freedom from the prison of sin so we will live in our true self, that is, in Jesus new glorified humanity in the temple. There are only two human forms that has ever existed and walked upon this earth: the first Adam, and the second Adam, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor.15:45) (To read about Jesus’ new humanity go to: http://bulamanriver.net/9718
“Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me”
Paul speaks eloquently of what it means to “Carry your Cross daily.” He said, “I have been crucified with Christ (Cross), and I no longer live, yet I live, but not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20). We see here how the first man, the fallen “Adamic human” in his old sinful self is crucified to the cross and has died, and we see also the second new man, in Jesus risen “Immanuel humanity” now lives in constant state of forgiveness and holiness in the Spirit.
Repentance However, there is a flipside to forgiveness, it is called repentance. Forgiveness springs from the gift of repentance. Without repentance of personal sins there is no forgiveness and renewal. Peter said, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Act.2:38, NLT). Yes, repentance is a gift we can request and receive, for no one is perfect nor sinless. (2 Tim.2:25) The ‘contrite heart’ and repentance goes hand in hand as we live a holy life in the temple in heaven and in this human life. Only within the walls of the temple are we given the privilege to probe deeper into and experience God’s infinite Love for us. (Luk. 24:46-47; 2 Tim.2:25; 1 John 2:1; Rom.3:22-25)
The Historical Silhouette of Calvary with Three Crosses is Symbolic which Reveals the One-ness of death of God in His Triune Being for Mankind. (By James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum, Wiki Commons)
Repentance, Forgiveness, Freedom
So, we see the temple-life of “carrying our cross” involves an ongoing spiritually ‘organic’ process of repentance, forgiveness, and freedom through a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life (Love). (Eph.1:13; Gal.5:25; 1 Cor.13: 1-13) This sums up the state of the ‘contrite heart’ of man. Paul sheds more light into our act of “carrying our cross” in the temple-life, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship” (Rom.12:1). The instructions God gave Israel about the physical temple-life shows it was a place of worship where sacrifices were offered for the ongoing forgiveness of the sins and transgressions of the people. So likewise, this shows the life of the spiritual temple of the human life and heart in order that believers may live in the uninterrupted expression of His Love and grace so we may be free from the sin condition with its consequential fatalistic existence. This is what ancient Israel did in the tabernacle/temple in the wilderness to portray what goes on in the true spiritual temple (human believers) today. However, the sacrifices portrayed a picture of and symbolized Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of Himself on Calvary for human sins. (Heb.10:4-7; 9:11-14) In the spiritual temple of human believers today, we are the living sacrifice as we read the Psalms tell us, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (Ps.51:16-17).
Temple High Priest
Jesus is the High Priest of the temple of God who once for all time offered Himself as atonement for our forgiveness and freedom. The Bible says this in Hebrews, “We have such a High Priest (in Jesus Christ), One who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a Minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle (temple) that the Lord, not man, set up. For every High Priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices” (Heb.8:1-3, my emphasis). We are the subjects of this scenario in the temple offering ourselves as “living sacrifice” upon the cross we carry before the Father in our act of “true and proper worship.” Each day as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” (Matt.6:12), we are “carrying our cross” and surrendering ourselves in the temple of the High Priest in heaven, replicated in the bodily temple of His people, to receive ongoing atonement, absolution, and sanctification in order that we may be joined and made one with the Father, Son, and Spirit, in divine completeness. (2 Cor.5:21; 1 John 1:9)
An Impression of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (Wiki Commons, By Johnreve-Own work)
Altar and the ‘Contrite Heart’
In this manner, we see man as the living temple in whom and for whom Jesus’ sacrifice for absolution is offered as a copy of the heavenly temple. The human ‘contrite heart’ is the altar upon which the sacrifice and blood of the Lamb is laid and offered by the High Priest Jesus before God. The ‘contrite heart’ was once ruled by the spirit of rebellion but is now the domain of the Spirit of God. There were seven furnishings God instructed Moses to build for the tabernacle/temple in the wilderness. Each had profound meaning to the character of the spiritual temple of God’s people, and how they conform spiritually in a fallen world in God’s presence. I have mentioned three, namely the temple (man), the altar of sacrifice (‘contrite heart’), and role of the High Priest (Jesus). I will cover the other furnishings in a future post.
“The Power of His Resurrection”
Paul surmised the temple-life this way, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death (cross), and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phi.3:10, my emphasis). This is the alternate life we live in Christ in the temple-life. What is our part? To have the humility to submit to the Spirit’s work of sanctification of promoting the ‘contrite heart’ to always acknowledging our wrongs and repenting before God, and we will experience the power of Jesus’ resurrected life.
The Heavenly Temple
Do you want to know what this heavenly temple environment looks like? Wouldn’t you like to take a peek and appreciate it from a more complete sense? Listen, “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our times of need… You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God Himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the One who mediates the New Covenant between God and people” (Heb.4:14-16; 12:22-24).
Each one of us have a part in this magnificent temple, as Peter said, “And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple” (1 Pet.2:5). Paul told the Ephesians, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Eph.2:19-22). Indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Jesus is the chief cornerstone upon whom we are raised to become the temple of the living God. It is a place which no words can describe. And herein lies all our answers to life and its fullest expression of living joyfully which is carried through in the presence of our heavenly Father, God Almighty! As Paul affirms, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who Love Him” (1 Cor.2:9).
“If we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His” Rom.6:5 (By Car Heinrich Bloch, Wiki Commons)
Finally, Jesus said this powerful and encouraging words to His followers, “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God; and I will also write on them My new Name” (Rev.3:12). Let us restate the prophecy we read at the start, “The Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His temple.” We were born and called to be the true living temple of God that the Father is preparing for the return of His Son to this earth. Let us prepare ourselves to receive Him with joy and celebration for He will bring, peace, justice, wellbeing, and immortality to humanity.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or you may email me on bulamanriver.com. Please continue to pray and help in whatever you can those affected by natural disasters. Thank you for visiting.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* in the person of Jesus’ “Immanuel humanity.” Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
(Your Servant In Christ)
* Triune Life: means a life lived according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life in himself (“Adamic humanity”). It means God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in you (“Immanuel humanity”). Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website, www.bulamanriver.com, where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living” Or, you may go to the directory banner at top and click “Mission” where you will find more information.
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Life Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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