Come And Reason Ministries

Living Stones in God's Temple

Dr. Jennings,
Your presentation at the end of SS Lesson 3 about the saints being living stones in the kingdom of God was by far the most beautiful I've ever heard. I played the last part of the lesson over and over again. I couldn't get enough of it. Please write a blog on the subject of the saints being living pillars in the house of our God.
 

G
 
 
The OT Sanctuary/Temple is one of the most beautiful and complicated teaching tools God has provided to help us understand His plan of salvation. I will not be able to explain all the details in one blog, but will give an overview in this blog, answer your question and hopefully explore other details in future blogs.
 
The Jewish nation was taken by God for a mission or purpose to reveal to the world the truth about man’s condition in sin and God’s plan to heal and save. Because of their stubbornness, hardness of heart and persistent ignorance God implemented a theater to act out in a symbolic way these lessons.
 
The children of Israel were the actors in a great play. The Temple was their grand theater. The priests and High Priest wore elaborate costumes. The Levites were stage hands and supervisors. They had wonderful props – brazen altar, laver, lamp stand, golden altar, table of showbread etc. God was the director and the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible written by Moses, especially the last four) was the script. 
 
Just as in any drama the actors were required to follow the script. If some of the actors in this powerful enactment decided to deviate from the script and do their own thing, the Director had them removed (Nadab and Abihu). But, not everyone had to be a member of the acting troupe (Jewish nation/descendent of Abraham) to experience salvation. Enoch, Melchizedek, Naaman, Rahab, Ruth, Nebuchadnezzar are examples of such people.
 
All of the very specific instructions give through Moses taught something about the plan of salvation. The overall theme being Christ came from the Father into the world in order to overcome sin and lead mankind back into unity with the Father. Your question has to do with believers in Christ being stones in the true tabernacle, the one set up without human hands in heaven. Let’s look at the evidence for this.
 
Zechariah states:
 
Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: `Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two. (6:12,13).
 
Jesus is the Branch, who left his place in heaven for the purpose of building His temple. This is quite interesting because this means the temple Jesus left heaven to build was clearly not already in existence. If it were already in existence then He wouldn’t have had to build it. Therefore, the true temple of God was not the stage the children of Israel had in Jerusalem. Nor is it some inanimate structure in heaven, for He wouldn’t have had to leave heaven to build a temple if it already existed in heaven.
 
Christ branched out from heaven and came to earth, lived a perfect life and developed a perfect character. He built the Temple of the Lord, first in His own personal life of love.
 
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. John 2:19-22
 
Jesus built, in His own humanity, God’s perfect character of love. He constructed a human mind and brain as God originally intended. By His victory He became the High Priest to minister in the temple of the minds of men to rebuild in each of us His character. As He heals us back into God’s image we together are living stones built by Christ into His temple. He is the priest on His throne because He is enthroned in the hearts and minds of His intelligent creatures as the One most loved and trusted. But in order to heal our minds He must minister the healing truth, which dispels lies and wins to trust, and then apply, via the Holy Spirit, His perfect character (metaphorically represented by blood) in our minds. He thereby restores us to His intended original ideal. And when He completes this restoration, this building (reconstruction) in us then there will be harmony between the two – at-one-ment.
 
Is there more Biblical evidence to support this?
 
Peter gives us insight:
 
As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ For in Scripture it says:   "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, " and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1Pet 2:4-9
 
Who is the living Stone that is the cornerstone of this spiritual house? It is Jesus who left heaven to build His temple! He is the cornerstone of this building and “you also, like living stones” are the building blocks of which Jesus builds His temple!
 
Paul confirms Peter’s view:
 
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
 
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building [Temple]…Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you [you all] are that temple.” 1 Cor 3:9,16,17.
 
Paul goes on to warn that before Christ comes the man of sin would contaminate God’s temple:
 
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2Thes 2:4
 
Paul is writing after Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension. After Christ’s victory over death and the grave, what temple could the man of sin throw Christ out of and proclaim himself to be God? Did this man of sin (little horn of Daniel) go into heaven and throw God and Jesus off their throne? No! He is speaking of the real temple Christ came to build, built out of you and me. The little horn entered God’s temple with lies about God and set himself up in the minds of humans. The man of sin replaced the truth about God’s beautiful character with Satan’s lies – a god who requires appeasement, who is unforgiving, severe and would inflict torment on His creatures. Jesus is working to cleanse our minds of such lies, perfect our characters and prepare us for our eternal abode as members of His heavenly sanctuary – the place where He dwells:
 
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:11-13
 
Those who overcome will be pillars in God’s temple and never will we leave it! Will we be physically confined to some building in the heavens for all eternity – some heavenly prison? NO! We ARE the temple this is why we never leave it!
 
One quotation from Ellen White which articulates so beautifully these same conclusions and ads to the lesson the Jewish Temple was designed to teach:
 
The first tabernacle, built according to God's directions, was indeed blessed of Him. The people thus were preparing themselves to worship in the temple not made with hands--a temple in the heavens. The stones of the Temple built by Solomon were all prepared at the quarry and then brought to the Temple site. They came together without the sound of ax or hammer. The timbers were also fitted in the forest. The furniture was likewise brought to this house all prepared for use. {3MR 231.3}
     Even so, the mighty cleaver of truth has taken out a people from the quarry of the world and is fitting this people, who profess to be the children of God, for a place in His heavenly temple. We want the cleaver of truth to do its work for us. We are taken from the quarry of the world. The material must not be a dead substance but living souls, and these souls must be brought out of the quarry of the world, where the hand of God can fit them for the temple in heaven. We are here as probationers, and we must pass under the hand of God. All rough edges and rough surfaces must be removed and we must be stones fitted for the building. We are brought into church capacity with defects of character, but we must not retain them. We must be fitted and squared for the building. We must be "laborers together with God," for we are "God's husbandry," we are "God's building." In view of this we must see that our temple is not defiled with sin. We should be lively stones, not dead ones, but live ones that will reflect the image of Christ. We must be worshipers in spirit and in truth. {3MR 231.4}