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What is the House of God?

Discussion in 'Bible Chat' started by jiggyfly, Aug 24, 2008.

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  1. An excerpt taken from "Let The House Be Builded" by T.Austin Sparks

    What is the House of God?

    What then, is the House of God? The question is raised by God Himself, through His servant Isaiah: "Thus saith Jehovah, 'The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: what manner of house will ye build unto Me, and what place shall be My rest? For all these things hath Mine hand made...'" (Isaiah 66:1-2 RSV) You remember how Stephen, in that magnificant message which cost him his life - so significant in this very connection - quoted these words from Isaiah. It was almost the culmination of that great discourse; it all worked up, headed up to this. He says: "Solomon built himself a house... But... but... what manner of house will ye build Me, saith the Lord?" (Acts 7:47-49) "The Heaven of heavens cannot contain Him" (2 Chron 2:6)

    1. The Infinite Greatness of the House

    What manner of house? There are some things there to take note of. Firstly, it is an intimation of the infinite, infinite greatness of God requiring something infinitely great. No magnificent temple, whether of Solomon or of any other builder, can answer to this demand. It requires something infinitely great to show forth the greatness of God. The apostle Paul, more than anyone else in the Bible, saw the meaning of this House; and, in spite of the wonderful richness, comprehensiveness and flexibility of the Greek tongue, he exhausted all the language at his command in trying tp speak about it. With all his knowledge of words and language, Paul was hard put to it to find words in which to express the reality of this House - the breadth and the length and the height and the depth, and so on. He wrestles with human language, but it all fails to express how great this is.

    But note - and here is the wonderful thing, where we are getting very near to it, or it is getting very near to us - there are some things that the apostle Paul does make clear as defining the nature and purpose of this house.

    2. The Place of the "Knowledge-Surpassing Love"

    Firstly, that it is that in which the "knowledge-surpassing love" of God is manifested (Eph 3:19). God conceived this objective order, in order to demonstrate in it something of the knowledge-surpassing love of His heart. And then Paul speaks of grace - the "riches of His grace" (1:7, 2:7), the "glory of His grace" (1:6) and he brings that all into relationship with this House, that "in the ages to come" (2:7) in that House, Body (call it what you will), there should be displayed to a wondering universe the infinite grace of God . But Paul does not stop there: he passes to wisdom (3:10) The infinite wisdom of God is to be shown to 'principalities and powers' - in this House! It requires a big House to comprehend the greatness of His love, and the greatness of His grace, and the greatness of His wisdom - God present in such terms of Self-manifestation!

    Man's Misapprehension

    But there is another thing implied here. It is the implied misapprehension of man. When it is a matter of 'big ideas', wonderful conceptions, man has a way, as we know, of 'catching on' and taking hold of them. Man has got hold of this idea of a 'house for God', a 'dwelling for God', and has given it a twist and brought into it a false interpretation. Man has tried to capture God and put Him into a house of man's own making. By so doing, he has tried to limit God, confine God, possess God, make God exclusive to some particular 'house' made by man - a building or an institution on earth. This inveterate propensity of man to make God his property, and the property of his particular kind of house, leads to the uprise of a terrible exclusivism: saying, in effect, that, if you do not belong here, go this way, then you are outside the pale. It is the effect of an idea taken hold of, but misapplied - a false interpretation.

    That was Israel's tragic blunder, against which the prophets raged and stormed. It was that into which Jesus came. Like new wine in old wineskins, His coming burst the whole thing; but it cost Him His life. They had made God's house an exclusive thing, their own - they 'possessed' God. That was their blunder. And, as Jesus was walking away into the eternal, spiritual reality, He said, "Your house is left unto you desolate" (Matt 23:38) - your house, your house! That is an awful indictment - your house!

    Christ The Corrective

    1. Personally

    We must take this all very seriously, because, from one point of view, it was this misapprehension, this false interpretation, this caricature, that Jesus came to correct. He did so in two ways. As we have pointed out, He corrected it, firstly, in His own Person. Do you want to see the House of God, what it is? - look at Him! Secondly, He did it in His teaching. The gospel by John, if we did but recognize it, stands, in the whole Biblical purpose, to show how Jesus supplants and transcends all earthly and material representations. It makes perfectly clear that He supplants and takes the place of the temple in Jerusalem. He supplanted and took the place of the priesthood, Himself became the High Priest and offered Himself a sacrifice acceptable to God, thus not only fulfilling all types, but showing that until Christ offered Himself God had never been satisfied. He supplanted and transcended all the Jewish feasts: you notice how in John's gospel the feasts of the Jews are constantly referred to, and Jesus figures in them, over against them, in contrast.

    Jesus takes the place of the manna in the wilderness: He is the 'bread of God come down from Heaven' (John 6:33). Jesus takes the place of the water from the smitten rock and says: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." (John 4:14). "He that believeth on Me, out of Him shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). He takes the place of the lights in the temple, and says: "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). He takes the place of all the old shepherds of Israel, and says: "I am the good Shepherd." (John 10:11,14). He takes the place of Israel, and builds a new flock out of His own blood: "I lay down My life for the sheep." (verse 15). Jesus is the answer to God's eternal quest.

    2. Corporately

    But Jesus, as the New Testament goes on to show, does not stand alone. Jesus in corporate, organic expression is the House of God. Where and what is the House of God? It is where there is spiritual, organic, vital union with Christ; no more, no less. Says Paul: "In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body." (1 Cor 12:13). Jesus fulfils all the functions and expresses all the features of God's presence - God's presence in the midst of men.

    This is a statement, but it is a challenge. How great is His House - but how spiritually definite is His House! It is built upon the love of God. The very object and purpose of this House is for the expression of the love of God. And if that love of God is not present, or is contradicted, the House ceases to be what God intended it to be. It is the explanation of why Israel, who were once called 'God's House' as a nation, were set aside. Here is the infinite love of God, the infinite grace of God, brought into the world in the Person of His Son: and what does He meet? Infinite hate! Love cast out! Very well, then - "Your house is left unto you desolate".

    All this doctrine and theology - even about justification, not by works but by faith, and so on - can be so cold, after all; it can become hard, legalistic, 'righteous'. But remember that that is all there in the Word of God in order to magnify the grace of God! "Not of works..." but the grace of God. The House of God exists on the basis that men and women have discovered that their deepest and most terrible need is for the grace of God, and they have come into the knowledge of that grace. The one word uppermost in their vocabulary is the word 'grace' - it is the most wonderful word in the language of earth and Heaven. Grace, grace, grace! It is that which constitutes the House of God. If you and I are living in the meaning of that wonderful word 'grace', we shall know God very near to us. God 'beholdeth the proud afar off', because the proud have no sense of their need of grace. Pride is an abomination to God, simply because it is such a contradiction of the grace of God. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word" (Isa 66:2). That is the atmosphere of the House of God.

    And so, you see, God's House is not a 'thing', it is not a 'place' - it is not anything that man makes; it is something spiritual. On what ground does it rest? It rests on the ground of the Cross. God's House in the wilderness - the Tabernacle - came after the Altar, and stood as the background to the Altar. In the new dispensation, the Church is the background to the Cross of Christ, for it only comes by the Cross. What does the Cross do? It sets man aside, and makes room for God; it puts man out, that God may be all and in all. God's intention in the Cross is to make possible the realization of His eternal thought to be present, to be there. Where the Cross is most deeply wrought into the life of a people, there, most fully, you will meet the Lord. You will not meet Him in uncrucified men and women; in the presence of the flesh, God stands back.

    The Need for Christ-Consciousness

    In closing, we will ask one more question. What is the dominant necessity? The answer is twofold. The dominant necessity for the realization of God's desire - the bringing in of this House, in its beauty, in its love, in its grace, in its fellowship, in its peace, in its order, in its Divine manifestation - is a Christ-consciousness. Perhaps that does not convey much as it is stated. But what you and I need perhaps more than anything else, is more of this Christ-consciousness. Are we not ever and always rebuked when we hear Paul say, "the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that One died for all, therefore all died... that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him... wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh..." (2 Cor 5:14-16)? Are we not always rebuked by that? Do we not know one another so much after the flesh? Instead of laying hold on whatever there may be, even remotely, of Christ, in one another and making the most of that, we do the other thing: we make the most of one another's faults and weaknesses and un-Christlikeness - and there is plenty of it, God knows!

    But oh, for this Christ-consciousness - that we might give ourselves more to this laying hold of what there is of Christ, however small, and making the most of that. The House would be built, God would find His House and commit Himself if we would do that. God help us! And Christ-consciousness means House-consciousness, fellowship-consciousness, relatedness-consciousness, that we are members one of another, so that the hand cannot say to the foot, "I do not need you. I can do without you". It is this corporate consciousness that is so needed today, to destroy all that is disintegrating and divisive

    God grant that something of the impact of this may come upon our hearts, and lift us out of our all-too-small conceptions of the House of God. May it govern our attitudes in relation to all - all who rest upon the love of God, all rest upon the grace of God, all who have come to see and to acknowledge that it is only by the wisdom of God, in solving all the human problems, their own and others, that God will at last find what He is seeking - a place in which to dwell.
  2. I regularly attend services in a church building, a building where the church gathers to worship God and learn of Him. We know that God's Spirit is present during these services because Scripture says so: "For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I with them." That makes our building God's house, a house that He uses, during those services. We don't believe that when the building is closed and locked His manifest presence is still inside.

  3. #3 jiggyfly, Aug 25, 2008
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
    I think that scripture disagrees with you SLE.

    Acts 7:48-51
    48 However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,
    49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
    Could you ever build me a temple as good as that?’
    asks the Lord.
    ‘Could you build a dwelling place for me?
    50 Didn’t I make everything in heaven and earth?’*
    51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit?

    Ephesians 2:19-22
    19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

    1Peter 2:5
    5 And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ.

    If what you said were true then the White House, Walmart, Golden Coral and Applebee's Bar and Grill are all God's house too.
  4. response to What is the House of God

    “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord´s House should be built. Then came the Word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses? and this House lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag filled with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build The House; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine House that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.”
    “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”
    “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an House not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our House which is from heaven.”
    (II Corinthians.5:1,2)
    “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the House of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the Truth.”
    (I Timothy.3:15)
    “The glory of this latter House shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in This Place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.”
  5. Could you please elaborate on the scriptures you posted and make your point clear?
  6. well i don't mean to throw a shock block in the middle of all of this. but the church is in our hearts. in todays world especially in the united states of the oppressed and manipulated., the church buildings are standing to look nice and let people know that the church is a business and organization. sorry ladies and gentlemen, i realize that many put their hope and faith into these great churches, denominations, congregations and what not. however the church is those of us that have accepted christ into our hearts and have our faith in him.

    you are not going to read anything in the word of god that talks about denominations, or church buildings saving anybody. it does not happen like that.
  7. Jiggy, you seemed to have missed my point about us NOT BELIEVING that God's Spirit remains in the building when it is closed and locked. Do you agree that the term "live in" refers to 24/7 manifest residency? Is not God's Spirit free to come into a church building when worshippers are gathered there in His name?

  8. Sure, God is free to do as He likes and show up where ever He wants, but just because He manifests in your church building doesn't make your church building His house.

    When you are gathered together with other worshipers and God manifests His Spirit, where does He come from? When HolySpirit moves where does He move from? Does He come down from heaven and fill up the building or does He rise up from within the believer's heart?

    You said, quote, "We know that God's Spirit is present during these services because Scripture says so: "For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I with them." That makes our building God's house, a house that He uses, during those services."

    This line of reasoning would make Walmart, Applebee's Bar and Grill, the abortion clinic, and the crack house on the corner all God's houses.
  9. The Christian religious institution would have everyone believe that there is something special and sacred about buildings designated as a church or place of worship in God's eyes and His heart, but this simply isn't true. To believe that God's house is in any circumstance a man-made building or anything man-made for that matter, is to misunderstand the crux of the purpose for new covenant.

    The scriptures clearly point out that now under the new covenant ( the new thing God mentioned else where in scripture) we (the people) are God's house wherever we gather and this is a spiritual reality. To believe that God is pleased when we build and dedicate to Him a house or shrine is just another religious fantasy lacking any scriptural or spiritual truth.

    Believing this deception is in essence, hindering our own spiritual growth and God's construction in making us into His house. Man has and is always trying to modify or at least embellish God's work and just a little amount of study into church history proves this easily.

    Let me paraphrase just a little concerning this topic. Carnal man is prideful and arrogant, and God has not invited him to join into this new covenant, but carnal man is trying to come anyway and thus religious systems and formulas are invented. There's a big party and carnal man just can't bear the thought that not only is Someone else to be honored but he isn't even on the list of guests :what:. So he has come up with his own party and tried to mimic the party where he isn't welcomed :idea:.
  10. jiggy fly my brother, this is the truth of all truths. i agree 100% theology schools is the biggest problem in american christianity today.
  11. Thanks Ushalk, I think that any system or organization that promotes carnal thinking no matter how clever is a problem, a huge problem to spiritual revelation and reality.
  12. aman to that brother. however what is sad about this is that statement is true for about 85% of american churches and probably churches world wide.
  13. According to Wikipedia, T. Austin Sparks was a Baptist pastor in London, England in the early 20th century who founded The Honor Road Christian Conference and Bible Training Center there, where regular Sunday church services were held. Apparently he believed that the term "House of God" includes but is not limited to church buildings.

  14. #14 jiggyfly, Sep 2, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2008
    I see no mention of "regular Sunday church meetings" or anything that would indicate that he believed the term "house of God" includes the building in opposition to his book "Let The House Be Builded". Seems you may have gotten a little confused and left out some info of this brief bio of Sparks, FYI there are much better ones available elsewhere.
  15. "some living there for years at a time, participating in Bible courses, practical services, and church meetings." (from the Wikipedia citation).

    The term "church meetings" seems synonymous with "church services."

  16. For some I'm sure, maybe even with the person who wrote the bio on Sparks @ wikipedia, but I have read enough of Sparks books and teachings to know it isn't as far as He was concerned. The excerpt in the OP makes that very clear. I can also see why some might be confused with the usage of the word "church" to define ekklesia a quick study can clear it up.

    The English word "church" comes from the Greek word "kyridakon" meaning the house of someone in authority, and is not used in the new testament scriptures.
    The Greek word "ekklesia" means an assembly or gathering of a certain people and is used throughout the new testament scriptures, especially in reference to the body of Christ. KJV mistranslated ekklesia as church.
  17. This was interesting.I see the point, and too like spiritleded we have a church we attend,and even often we call it the Lord's house,but we know that His Spirit dwells there when we are gathered together in His name.I guess that would be because God is suppose to dwell in us.If we live for Him then shouldn't we as christians be His house?
  18. yes our hearts are his house. also anywhere that there are 2 or 3 gathered in his name he is there. therefore we do not need a denomination or any of the other things that have come about do to false teachings. in 1 cor.1 paul makes the point very clear that we are jesus' and do not belong to anything or anyone else. any teaching that states you have to be baptized into our church, denomination or congregation is a cult. yes this includes many denomination churches. including, catholic, baptist, pentecostal, appostolic, presbyterian, lutheran, morman, methodist, church of christ, and even non denominations. the word of god states we are baptized in the name of jesus christ and him alone do we belong to. we know that this is truth because because the word of god states that christ is not devided.
  19. Hrm....

    I realize what you are trying to say.....

    But separate and distinct from that I felt like saying "yes....yes it would, and I wonder how the world would change if everyone thought so."

    I always thought Christ and the Holy Spirit were pretty specific about each of us being the "House" of God. We did not build our bodies, minds, or souls, and like all things are creations of God....but we can choose to tend them well or badly.
  20. I think it would have a huge impact.

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