Author: Ron Graham
The Priceless Church (B)
—Christ’s Body, God’s Temple
In this lesson we continue to look at the fourth C in Ephesians chapter two, namely the church. We focus on more of Paul’s “snapshots” of the church.
These perspectives help us to understand the importance of the church, the blessings of membership in it, and why we should treasure the church, and ensure that not only do we gain membership in it, but that we hold on to it at all cost.
"...in one body... and of God’s household" (Ephesians 2:16,19).
1 Members In The Body of Christ
"That in himself he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, and so put to death the enmity..." (Ephesians 2:16).
The third picture of the church in Ephesians 2 (and the most common in Paul’s writings) is that of "the one body" of Christ. We have become the members and parts of that body (Ephesians 4:16,25 Ephesians 5:30). Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Body for Body
Perhaps the body metaphor is more than just a very good picture for helping us understand the purpose of the church and how it relates to Christ.
We should probably connect this picture of the church with the fact that Jesus sacrificed his fleshly body and thereby "purchased the church" (Ephesians 5:25, Acts 20:28, 1Peter 2:24).
Without Christ’body on the cross, there could be no body of the church. For by the sacrifice of his fleshly body, he became "the Saviour of the body... the church" (Ephesians 5:23-24).
2 The Unity of the Body of Christ
Our study chapter (Ephesians 2) mentions the church-body only once, and we have been looking outside that chapter at other references in Ephesians. However the reference in our study chapter is to "one body" (Ephesians 2:16) and this oneness or unity is most important.
This "one body" is later listed among the seven ones expressing "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:4).
The body metaphor is very appropriate to the unity of the church, because we cannot imagine Christ as a head with many bodies, any more than we can imagine his church as a body with many heads. There is one head, and there is one body. This is one of the compelling facts that makes us believe that the church must be undenominational.
3 Living Stones In The Holy Temple of God
"...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the entire building joins together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:20-22).
The fourth picture of the church in Ephesians 2 is that of "a holy temple in the Lord... a dwelling of God in the Spirit". Note some important things...
- The holy temple is in the Lord, and the Lord is in his holy temple.
- Jesus himself is the corner stone of the foundation.
- The temple is not yet finished; it is still being built, and growing all the time.
- This is a temple fitted together in a precise way. God has a pattern for it, and it won't be the true temple unless it is fitted together according to that pattern or blueprint.
At certain points in history, there has been great store placed upon building ornate cathredrals to the glory of God. However much we admire these buildings, we must wonder whether such buildings are appropriate for Christianity.
The building that truly glorifies God is the heavenly one Jesus referred to when he said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18).
God’s True Temple
In past ages the temple in Jerusalem was a beautiful and glorious building. Solomon's glory was reflected in the temple he built to the glory of God. But Solomon's temple was destroyed. In the time of Christ the brand new Temple built by Herod was very beautiful. It was destroyed about 40 years later.
The true temple1 of God is the church. "For Christ did not enter a holy place made by hands, a mere copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself... a minister in the true tabernacle1 which the Lord erected, not man" (Hebrews 9:24, 8:1-2).
Now and forever more, the temple of God is a spiritual and heavenly building, and "to him the glory in the church" is the only glory here below that's worth anything to God (Ephesians 3:21).
1Note —TABERNACLE: The tabernacle was the original ornate tent of meeting for worship under the law of Moses. It was used before the temple was built in Jerusalem.