My wife and I returned on 4 October 2016 from a happy visit to the USA and Canada. In We saw some of the marvels of God’s creation, including National Park in Yosemite (our favourite – see photo) – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Waterton Lakes. From the desert to the Rocky Mountains and the agricultural plains it is difficult to imagine how people are not in awe of the God who created it all. Put this against the shallow extravagance of Las Vegas where we spent one night – though I must admit that such a place excites the flesh!
We also had some delightful times with our Christian friends in quite large meetings in the rural Mid-west and Idaho, as well as a long weekend in Calgary. I am not one for ‘taking meetings’ but the Lord helped in serving the gatherings there. Whilst travelling too we met some dear lovers of our Lord Jesus. These unexpected encounters make for a rich experience, forming lasting relationships.
Our Fellowship Meeting
We returned a few days before a weekend of ministry and fellowship in our gathering. We had invited a young man with a particular gift in teaching to serve us, and our prayers were answered.
In particular I was affected by ministry as to the temple (Greek ναὸς naos – the shrine – God’s dwelling place) in the New Testament – a subject which we might have overlooked, and also confused the various aspects of it. Our brother cited the universal, local and individual aspects making things very clear.
Indeed, I have looked at various articles on the internet, as well as in ministry. There is an understanding as to the what the whole assembly is and will be; there is of course that which the believer is as having the Holy Spirit. But I have not found anything, anywhere which puts the three aspects together as clearly as our brother did.
The Universal Temple – a holy Temple in the Lord
‘Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit’ (Eph 2:19-22).
A temple was started at Pentecost. It is still being built organically. God has worked in all of us who are built into it (Peter calls us ‘living stones’), and we fit together perfectly.
CA Coates says:
Scriptures in the New Testament present this very clearly “in whom all the building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord”, Ephesians 2: 21. The complete temple is in view, and the thought of increase leading up to that great result. “Yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”, 1 Peter 2: 5. The building is not looked at either by Paul or Peter as completed, but the work is going on with a view to completion according to what God has in mind. He would have this to be ever before us as a present stimulus. … But the thought has been revived in many hearts of the assembly as God’s temple and house, where His mind is known and answered to. Now we are to labour incessantly that the full thought of God shall be reached in grace and in spiritual power. He would have the assembly as His house to be filled with glory. That is, with moral and spiritual glory, so that, as it was said, ‘In his temple doth every one [or, everything] say, Glory’ (Psalm 29:9). (See ‘Outline of Ezra – Chapter 3 – CAC Vol 9 p 221*).
The Local Temple – the temple of God
‘I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Cor 3:10-17).
We have been given the city or town where we live in which we work things out. It is there where we build. Through our own failure (none of us can say we have not contributed to the public ruin of the church), we find ourselves in gatherings which represent only a small fraction of those that the Lord’s in our place at any one time. – ‘the assembly of God which is in X’). How do I contribute to what is for God in the place in which I live? – and will it stand the test?
I must say that this ministry arrested me. Of course I know all in the gathering where I meet well. I know a few other believers in the town – none well. But the majority I do not know, and may even not be aware of every gathering of believers, and I have no real feeling for what God is doing. Human ecumenical movements are clearly wrong – that is building wood and straw – features of the world. These are snares like what Balaam introduced (See J Taylor’s ministry NS Vol 45 p 425*). The Lord knows those that are His. But with God, and by the Holy Spirit, maybe I could be in tune with what He is doing locally.
The Individual Temple – the temple of the Holy Spirit
‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (1 Cor 6:19-20).
I have received the Holy Spirit. My body is not my own – it is the Lord’s. Do I glory God in it, or just live to myself?
JB Stoney writes:
|‘Now the dwelling and rule of the Holy Spirit is twofold; there is the individual temple, as we see in 1 Cor 6: 19, and there is the collective temple, according to 1 Cor 3: 16, 17 (scriptures cited above), … The first great thing to accept in faith is that the Holy Spirit is here; and then, as a simple consequence, whether in the church where He dwells, or in the individual, He must exercise His own sway, entirely distinct and apart from man’s ideas; and after His own mind and good pleasure. When this new though invisible government is accepted, it must be by the Spirit. No one could instruct us as to the Spirit but the Spirit. Only the man indwelt by the Spirit, and knowing the rule of the Spirit in himself, could comprehend the rule of the Spirit in the house of God. I should be unable to see that the Spirit was residing here to testify of Christ, if I had not first learned by His dwelling in me, as sent by the Father in Christ’s name, how new and distinct His rule in me is.’ (JBS Ministry vol. 11 p.192*).
Dear brother or sister, may you be blessed in finding your part in that which is for the Lord where you are.
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour
*Volumes of ministry published by Kingston Bible Trust or accessible on-line at http://goodteaching.org/scripture.php