|Volume 21 Number 7 July 2019||
T. Pierce Brown
In 1981, I wrote an article about the power of using audiovisuals. A few moments ago, the thought came to me that we are teaching with audiovisuals whether or not we planned it that way. What we say and what we do are constantly teaching, either for good or for bad. The Lord’s Supper and baptism are audiovisual aids that God designed to help us appreciate the supreme sacrifice of Christ and respond properly. It is impossible for a person thoughtfully and regularly to meditate on the loving sacrifice of Christ and remain unmoved.
With that thought in mind, I designed a little box that folds into a “piggy bank” with a message on it to serve as a visual aid to be used in every home and classroom that wants to use it. It is to be placed on the table or where it can be seen every day or week, and each time it is seen, it calls attention to the fact that Christ made a sacrifice for us, and we need to make some sacrifice for Him. The bank reminds children of the love of Christ and permits them respond to it. How you talk about it and use it will also be a vivid audiovisual presentation. Remember, “The love of Christ constrains us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
[Editor’s Note: Even without electricity and corresponding equipment, the sermons presented in our worship assemblies or via mass media of various kinds (e.g., TV, DVD, Internet) are all audiovisual presentations. Each occasion of Jesus’ preaching and teaching was accomplished through audiovisuals in His person and through His references to people and things that were nearby. Truly, whether a vocational minister or simply another Christian, we are walking, talking specimens of Christianity. Let’s be careful to be good representations thereof. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
In magazines, debates and studies, generally speaking, I have found only two alternative teachings for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. One is the indwelling through the Word only, and the second alternative is indwelling in the physical body (with variations).
There is a third alternative concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 3:9, the Lord first described the Corinthians as plants in God’s husbandry. Paul planted, and Apollos watered. In the same verse (1 Corinthians 3:9), He described the same brethren as being a building. In verse 16, He identified that building as being a temple. He, then, described the single foundation for this temple (1 Corinthians 3:10-11), being Jesus Christ Himself, testifying that no other foundation can be laid. In Ephesians 2:19-20, the Holy Spirit described Jesus Christ as being the chief cornerstone (as also indicated in 1 Peter 2:6-8), with the apostles and prophets being a part of that one foundation.
Building on the 1 Corinthians 3:9 picture, the Spirit, then, described how the Corinthians were able to build on this foundation with varied materials, including wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). Such a description precludes the temple in this chapter describing physical bodies.
Having described the one spiritual temple, the apostle Paul declared that the Holy Spirit dwells in this temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). Once more, in the same verse, the inspired apostle declared that the Corinthians are this temple. The “ye” is plural, and the temple is singular. All the brethren in Corinth were this one temple. Thus, there is in fact, one spiritual temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.
The same picture appears in Ephesians 2:19-22. In this case, Paul first described the Ephesian brethren as citizens in the kingdom, then as the household of God and finally as a spiritual temple. As mentioned above, the apostles and prophets are the foundation in this spiritual temple, and Christ is the chief cornerstone. The apostle Paul, then, told his readers that the Ephesians are built on this foundation (Ephesians 2:20). Again, he stated that all the Ephesians were built together in this same temple (Ephesians 1:22). Paul declared that this temple is God’s habitation (Ephesians 2:22). He clarified that God Himself does not dwell in this temple, but he dwells in the temple by the Spirit.
This picture is consistent with Solomon’s statement concerning the physical temple he built. Solomon declared that the heaven of heavens cannot contain God (2 Chronicles 2:5-6), much less the physical house he was building. Nevertheless, in Matthew 23:21, Jesus declared that God (through the Spirit) was still in that physical temple in New Testament time. The Old Testament temple was God’s habitation through the Spirit.
The apostle Paul referred to this same shadow in 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 where he told the Corinthians “ye are the temple of the living God” (not temples). He, then, likened that temple to God’s presence in the Old Testament temple and in the Israelite camp when God promised that He would dwell in them (Exodus 29:45) and walk in them (Leviticus 26:12). He commanded the Israelites to carry a paddle and cover up what came from them because the Lord God walked in the midst of the camp (Deuteronomy 23:13-14). In the same verse, God further declared that the reason He walked in the midst of the camp was to deliver them and to give up their enemies before them. He was present in their physical temple and their camp in the Old Testament, which are likened to the New Testament spiritual temple.
How many temples were there in New Testament time? Were the Corinthians in one temple and the Ephesians in another temple, or was there the one temple in which all of God’s children are living stones? If this temple is only on this earth, how can the apostles (who died) still be in that one spiritual temple? In 1 Peter 2:5, the Lord told the brethren in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia that they were all living stones in a spiritual house (singular). If all the brethren in these four different nations were part of one spiritual house, is there any reason to think that each congregation is a separate spiritual house? He described Christ as being the chief cornerstone in verse 6, which affirms that he was speaking of the same spiritual house (temple) into which the Ephesians were built. If the spiritual temple includes all those who are in God’s family, kingdom or church, and the church is eternal, is the temple then not eternal?
Thus, there is but one spiritual temple clearly described in Scripture, in which the Holy Spirit dwells for a habitation of God through the Spirit. This third alternative is clearly described in Scripture as opposed to the two alternatives. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is consistent with all other Scriptures describing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
[Editor’s Note: Doubtlessly while not settling to the agreement of all the question of the manner of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the foregoing article is worthy for reflection. From its references to the universal nature of our Lord’s kingdom or church, one certainly can acknowledge the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the spiritual temple, in addition to the presence therein of God the Father, Jesus Christ and faithful children of God. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]