A temple or the transformed!
A young Catholic priest who received Jesus in an open-air evangelistic crusade said during his testimony “I came to this field and I saw no golden altar, no candlesticks, and no stained glass windows. All I saw was a crude wooden platform, a humble country preacher, and a bible and I gave my heart to Christ”. Before now, his idea of God was a golden altar with candlesticks and incense. Now, he has the right concept, God is in the country preacher and not the golden altar. ‘God in people’ manifesting His glory has been God’s big idea of a relationship with people.
The early pages of the sacred scriptures have it that God created Adam in His image and breathed into him His breath so that Adam became a living soul. In essence, God imparted Himself into Adam, dwelling within him. Remarkably, there was no altar, no candlestick, and no incense in the Garden but we read of God communicating and giving Adam directives. I have the impression that God’s original idea was not a physical temple but a transformed person. Unfortunately, this union and indwelling presence were lost when the first man sold his dominion to Satan. In every generation of Israel’s history, we see God trying to impress upon the people that He wants to live in them. On certain occasions, God will come upon some selected people and they will perform wonderful works that only God can do. He divided the red sea and brought water out of rock through Moses but the people preferred to hear a voice from the mountain and a golden ark. God declared through Ezekiel “…I will put my spirit within you…” but the people preferred seraphim.
Thousands of years after, when the idea was completely forgotten, people sought to see God fall from Jupiter or descend in form of an angel. Then came Jesus, born of a woman, grew up as a proper kid, went through adolescence, became a teenager, and finally an adult. God within a person? Impossible! Why did He not fall from the sky so that we may know He is God? – The struggle continued. Here is God in Jesus but the Israelites were still waiting for the movement of water in the pool of Siloam. Jesus devoted the early part of His ministry showing that God was in Him but no one seem to pay attention. He said, “I and my Father are one”, “…but the Father that dwelleth in me”, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also”, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me”, “…that the Father is in me, and I in him”, “The Word was made flesh and dwelth among us”, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work”, and “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” In more than 16 chapters of the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus spoke of a connection between Him and God signifying that God can live in people. The more He emphasized, the more they hated Him and they finally killed Him for it – “He maketh Himself equal with God” they accused Him.
Notice carefully how Jesus presented this same idea in the case of believers. Please pay great attention to the tenses:
John 17:23 “…..I in them and thou in me”
John 6:56 “….dwelleth in me and I in him.” – I refer to Jesus and him to the believer.
John 6:57 “…he shall live by me” – he refers to the believer and me to Jesus.
John 14:20 “….I in you.” – I refer to Jesus and you refer to the believer.
John 14:17 “….for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” – He refers to the Holy Spirit.
John 14:20 “…I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you”
John 14:23 “….we will come and make our abode with him” – we referring to the Godhead.
John 17:26 “….and I in them” – I refer to Jesus and them to believers.
Notice also how Paul presented the idea in several passages of his Epistles. Give attention to the tenses and contrast them to that of the Gospels.
- 1Cor. 6:19 “…your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.”
- 2Cor. 13:5 “….Jesus Christ is in you?”
- 2Cor. 5:19 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” Notice the phrase “to wit” (meaning in the same manner) and link it to the previous verse (vs18).
- Eph. 3:17 “…..Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”
- Col. 3:14 “…Christ who is your life”
- Rom. 8:10 “…And if Christ be in you”
- Rom. 8:11 “…..the Spirit that dwelleth in you”
John and Peter also elaborately presented the idea:
- 1John 4:15 “…..God dwelleth in him”
- 1John 4:4 “…He that is in you”
- 2Peter 1:4 “ye might be partakers of the divine nature”
It appears that this idea is at the heart of Christianity. It is one of the greatest revelations in the Holy Scriptures and if I may say the most important to every believer. It is the secret to a successful Christian living – “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It is the secret to a holy living – “if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” It is also the secret to continuous health – “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Imagine a life built on the concept ‘the Word is made flesh and dwelth amongst us’. Envision a ministry built on the ideology, ‘to wit that Christ is in me, reconciling the world unto Himself’. Think on these things.