Our recording guy got snowed in this week, so we only have Jeff’s notes for this message.
The Church is the Temple
(And we don’t mean the building where we meet)
INTRO: Remember, Ephesus was a temple city.
Christ changes people from outsiders and strangers into His own sons and daughters. He forms these people from all different backgrounds into His church.
I. In Christ, there are no second class citizens (v. 19).
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, or “strangers and foreigners” (NKJ).
“alien”: living in a place that’s not your home
you are fellow citizens with the saints – very emphatic. “you are …BUT… you are”
No longer foreigners, but (in total contrast) by Christ’s work, you are citizens.
“with the saints”—all who are made holy by Christ’s blood.
No matter how corrupt your background has been, salvation in Christ means everyone has been made holy. We are all on equal footing. The ground is level at the cross. The ground is level in the church.
No distinction : “He has made us both one” (v. 14).
In fact it’s neat to be saved from different regions and ethnic backgrounds, as we’re part seeing the Great Commission fulfilled and look forward to the fulfilled prophecy of Rev. 5:9, where Christ has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
and members of the household of God, — The King of the kingdom is also now your Father. (“adopted” 1:5.) You are citizens of the kingdom and children of the King!
Verse 18 said we had access to the Father—but as His own children you never have to schedule an appointment. You are members of His home, and you are always welcome in His presence.
In Paul’s time, to be a “member of a household meant refuge and protection . . . as much as the master was able to provide. It also meant identity and gave the security that comes with a sense of belonging” (Towner in Obrien).
II. The church is built on the Truth of Christ (v. 20).
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone,
Matt 16:18 “I will build My church”
The apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church—they were the first to
1) trust their lives to Christ
2) proclaim the gospel of Christ
3) make disciples for Christ
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Pet. 2:4-6; quote from Isaiah 28).
The “cornerstone” or head of the corner, was “the supreme stone which, laid at the head corner, governs every other corner and every angle in the entire spiritual temple and thus determines the angle at which every other stone is to be laid” (Lenski).
How did Jesus come to have this governing place of being the “chief cornerstone”? Not by man, for men rejected Him and crucified Him. He is the chief cornerstone because God raised Him from the dead.
Thus we see that God has not many plans of building a holy temple, but one. One plan: The church. And God does not have many different cornerstones we can choose from; He has but One: His Son Jesus. Crucified for our sins, but glorified now as the foundation of our lives.
If you build your life on Christ, you will never be ashamed. If we build our church on Christ, we will never be ashamed. If we build on anything else—programs, events, competitions, demographical surveys, growth strategies, all these foundations will crack and fail. But if Jesus is our Cornerstone, we can never fail. He will build His church.
III. The church is God’s Temple (v. 21).
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
This building we are in is not the church. Christians joined together make up the church. When we gather here, we are the church. If we gather by the lake or in a park or at someone’s home, when we are gathered together, we are the church.
We are not members of a social club or a corporation; not a community icon but as a “holy temple in the Lord.” Our purpose as His church is to worship Him, and to teach others to worship Him. God is worthy of our worship, and He is building us up as individuals to be His special dwelling place on earth. He gets the glory, and we get the joy and blessing of being His own temple.
“grows”– it’s growing. God keeps adding people to Himself, to be His church—His own holy temple;
IV. God dwells in local churches (v. 22).
22 In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
“dwelling place”– “was significantly used in the OT of God’s dwelling in the temple at Jerusalem (1 Ki. 8:13) and of His heavenly dwelling place (1 Ki. 8:39, 43, 49)” Obrien.
“you also”– not just the church universal, but local churches like this one in Ephesus.
“As these Ephesian Christians listened to Paul’s letter being read, there stood the magnificent marble temple to the goddess Diana (‘great is Diana of the Ephesians’ Acts 19:34), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world [show picture], and in whose inner shrine there was a statue of the goddess. At that same time in Jerusalem there stood the Jewish temple, barricading itself against the Gentiles, and now also against God, whose shekinah glory it had housed in its inner sanctuary for centuries, but the glory of God revealed in the Messiah the temple rulers had tried to extinguish. Two temples, one pagan and the other Jewish, each designed as a divine residence, but both empty of the living God. For now there is a new temple, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. We as the church are His home on earth” (Stott).
The Garden, Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, new Temple, THE CHURCH, millennial Temple (Ez. 40:1-48:35), finally, God will be our Temple (Rev. 21:22)—God has always desired to have a special dwelling place with His people.
God dwells in us and among us as His church.
Let us be holy.
Let us bring Him worship.
Let us welcome others to come and join with us.
Christ is building our church to be His own temple.