18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
In the last post we looked at Paul’s teaching about obtaining peace through reconciliation. Here we will consider how we are being built into a dwelling place for God.
Access to God
It is incredible to realise that we have access to God. Jesus Christ did not come to create a religion. Through Christ’s redemption fallen mankind gained access to God the Father.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Through the Lord Jesus Christ we have access to God the Heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. There is no need for priests, angels or saints to be intermediaries. No need for the ceremonies of religion. As a believer in Jesus Christ by grace you have direct access to the throne of God.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
We can pray to God, Our Father, with confidence that He will hear us because we have been placed in Christ (Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 2:6).
Household of God
So, we are therefore no longer strangers and aliens, no longer foreigners but have been accepted in the family of God. The Gentiles in the church at Ephesus needed to learn that they had the same right to be the children of God as the Jewish believers. Made into the household, the dwelling place for God.
It is so hard to get it into our heads that God wants to dwell in us. We think of Him as in heaven, in glory, untouchable and inapproachable, judging us as deficient. This may have been how you were brought up to see God. But God wants to dwell with us and in us
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. (Revelation 21:3)
God accepts us in Christ (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). We are His children (Romans 8:16). The Spirit of God lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore, we are members of the household of God.
A building has to have a foundation. Jesus taught the importance of building a foundation on the rock (Luke 6:48). This represented hearing His words and doing them, being obedient.
We have a sure foundation.
therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ (Isaiah 28:16) (The phrase not be in haste here means not disturbed, not panicking or not running away.)
Paul wrote: “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone”. The Apostles and prophets Paul has in mind are those in the time of Jesus who established the foundation of the Church on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Although there have been many great men of God in the church, none have the same authority to establish the church as the Apostles had. The men Jesus chose and anointed with His Spirit to lead the early church. But, each of them were led by Christ.
Christ is the cornerstone. What does that mean? Well in architectural design the corner stone is the first stone set in a wall of a masonry construction. The straight lines of the cornerstone enable accuracy in building the walls in relation to that cornerstone. The church is built on Christ, meaning all the people in the church relate to Christ as the foundation. He is the first and last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6).
A Holy Temple
Traditionally a temple is a place for religious worship and ceremonies. In the Greek and Roman civilisations there were many temples to their gods. For example the Parthenon designed to worship Athene, was built over 400 years before Christ. The Jews had their Temple at Jerusalem which was destroyed in 70 AD.
But God does not look for us to worship Him in a specific building. All those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ become a temple not made with hands (Mark 14:58). The place of worship is not important. True worshipers worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is looking for a humble and contrite heart.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.(Isaiah 57:15)
Peter also taught about this:
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.
The spiritual sacrifices God wants from us is a humble heart (2 Chronicles 34:27) and our life offered to Him for His use (Romans12:1)
Dwelling Place for God
Paul teaches in the passage above that the ultimate aim is for God to dwell in mankind by His Spirit. “you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” You do not hear this taught clearly in many congregations. Salvation, redemption, faith, may be taught but the fact that God wants to dwell in your body by the Holy Spirit is not often preached.
Why, because the god of this world wants to deceive people into belief in self-help, self-actualisation or finding the truth within yourselves. When you get the revelation that God wants you to be a dwelling place for His Spirit your life will change. You suddenly see that the Holy Spirit is living inside you, your guarantee of eternal life, your spirit relating with the Spirit of God. Born by the Spirit (John 3:5), baptized by the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13), led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14), comforted by the Spirit (John 14:26), truth revealed by the Spirit (John 16:13), freed by the Spirit (Romans 8:2, 2 Corinthians 3:17) and here in Ephesians being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
In the next post we enter into one of the most amazing chapters Paul ever wrote.