New Creation and the Church as the House of God

The second implication of creation being the Lord’s house is that as we too are baptized, new creations of God’s handiwork, that means we too are God’s house. And because we are God’s house, we are also God’s dwelling place. This explains what I mentioned in my last post about why “house” in Scripture sometimes refers to physical dwelling places, sometimes families, and sometimes both.

As we live our lives analogically patterned after God’s life and actions, we can see that our dwelling is not only our physical place of existence but also our family. In the case of pregnancy, there is even overlap. Ironically, it is only once we have been birthed by the Spirit that the God dwells in us (John 3:3-8, Romans 8:9-11).

In God’s case, He not only intended to dwell in and enjoy Sabbath rest in His new creation in the sense of the cosmos but also in His images, us as baptized new creations. I believe this is why New Testament Scriptures explicitly reveal us to be temples for the Holy Spirit and houses of God, both individually and corporately as Christ’s body. To mention a few:

2 Corinthians 6:15-20 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Hebrews 3:6 Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17 For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives,he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved,but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
2 Corinthians 5:1-4, 17 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life... Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I’ll briefly note that the last two passages touch on eschatology and further link the last post with this one. Both Paul and Peter write in their epistles that all will be baptized by fire upon Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 3:13-15, 2 Peter 3:5-7): those with faith in God's promises and founded on Jesus Christ will be saved, those with unbelief will be burned in destruction, for our God is a consuming fire. Likewise, Paul tells us in the above passage to look forward to the return of Christ for new and glorified tent-bodies, if indeed we are new creations in Christ. Baptism will once again lead to a new heavens, new earth, a new people, and, thus, a new (or renewed) house.

Finally, not only are we houses and dwelling places for God as His new creation, but also, Christ is our new dwelling place. If we recall John 2, Christ mentioned that the temple of His body would be resurrected the third day after His crucifixion. We also may remember in Matthew 27 that the temple veil was torn when the temple of Christ’s body was crucified, symbolizing the access anyone who is united with Him now has to dwell, pray, and worship in the presence of the Father and heavenly hosts that are mentioned in Hebrews 12.

Christ is, therefore, the true temple, the true house, in that in Him dwells the fullness of the Father. This is why - through His Spirit - He is able to reveal The Father to us and act as Mediator. As Paul says, “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” Relevant to this post is that when the Spirit unites us to Christ our Lord, a few things happen: we dwell in Christ, the true temple, and He then dwells in us, and we become true temples. There is then a perichoresis or mutual indwelling of God in us and us in God that mimics the life of the Trinity, the source of all creation, derivative houses or dwelling places of God.

In the final post in this series, I will speak more to this life, and especially what we as Christians should do given who we are.

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