Building up believers and the New Testament church

Built Together a Habitation of God

A Spiritual House

The first thing we should note is that God is building a spiritual house. "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). This takes us into a realm entirely different from anything else we are familiar with. When Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus (John 3), He made it very plain that in order to see and enter into what God is doing, a man must be "born from above." This is the beginning of our life in God. When we are born of the Spirit, we are made alive unto God. We become, in the words of Peter, "living stones" who can now be built into God's building.

We will not expand here on what it means to be born again, but let us just mention that this must be more than a mental belief or an emotional experience. To be born again into the family of God is a divine act of God on the basis of repentance and believing in Jesus. It is God coming to abide within by the Spirit. "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39).

In the plan of God, everything is based on the fact that a person has been baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit and has been made to drink of the one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). So often the reason that individuals and gatherings do not experience the richness of fellowship in the family of God is that they have not entered in through the narrow door to experience the oneness that comes when all have partaken of the one Spirit. The door was opened by Christ on the cross, but we must enter in and continue on by the hearing of faith (Galatians 3:1-9). Only God can give us the confidence that we have entered in, and the fruit of an abiding relationship in Christ is not hidden. Let each of us be sure that we are "living stones," fit material for the house of God.

It is much easier to move naturally than spiritually, but our natural senses do not help us in the spiritual realm. "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

To lay aside our natural reasoning and allow God to lead us by His Spirit is not a small thing. We naturally want to offer God something: our ability, the work of our hands, what we can do for Him. But God does not accept what we can do by our own ability. He only accepts what He can do in and through us. This is easy to say, but another thing to experience. God does not force our will, but bids us choose. If we choose to come under the authority of Christ, then He will work within, both to will and do His good pleasure. If we choose to reject His authority, we will find ourselves outside His grace and outside the building of God. Let us not bypass this area quickly, for again, what God is doing is based on what He can do, not on what we can do.

The household of God is spiritual. The implications of this truth are vast--some obvious, some not so obvious. For example, if God does not dwell in buildings made by hands, then we have no reason to build structures for God to dwell in. We do not go to "the house of God" to worship, for God is not worshipped in special places (John 4:21-24). Some of these things should be obvious to us, but other things may not be so obvious because concepts are acquired over many years of religious activity. We may think things are spiritual when they really have to do only with the mind or emotions. God will reveal these things for what they are if we allow Him to, but let us be firmly convinced of this one thing: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."