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Series: The Divine Image
Sun am 30th June 2013 – Kobus Swart
John 1:14; Acts 17:24; John 2:19-22; John 14:2, 20, 23; (1 Cor. 3:16-17);
(Matt. 13:24-30); (Rom. 8:28-29); (Eph. 2:6); (1 John 4:17); Eph. 4:11-13;
(Eph. 5:31-32); (John 7:14-15, 37-38); (Acts 3:20-21); (Gen. 28:16); (Ezek. 37:1-7)
“Corpus” means body, it has to do with many members but one body and the way they relate and function together. This will help us understand God’s manifest presence. God is omnipresent, He is everywhere; He fills every space on earth and in the universe. But the fact that He is omnipresent does not make Him objective and far away, cold and non-relational.
In the Old Testament God’s presence was always associated with the Temple. Even in modern times, many people still feel that way about physical church buildings. If you wanted to experience God you had to go to church, or to the temple. In the Old Testament there was a tent of meeting where Moses went, taking Joshua with him. The omnipresent God manifested Himself in a special and specific way in the tent of meeting. However, all that changed when Jesus came, there was a paradigm shift which many have difficulty understanding.
What really happened in the incarnation? The word became flesh and God tabernacled with man (John 1:14). Paul clearly explained to them in Athens that God who made the world and all things in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24). It does not mean it is a sin to have a building, but it is inaccurate to say that going into the building is going into the presence of the Lord.
There is battle in the Middle East regarding the Temple site and there are efforts to go back to what was, but everything has changed. All those things were types and shadows. Jesus came and He was God made flesh, God who tabernacles with man. Standing on the steps of the temple which had been restored by Herod, “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:19-21). This was His way of explaining the shift away from that which man had built.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places (John 14:2). He dwells in us. It is actually saying it is one large abode; God is always focusing us on the corporate, the collective. For I go to prepare a place for you, which says in the original, “I go to prepare you a place.” You are the place, you are becoming the place. This very intimate and mystical union is only made possible by the Holy Spirit. We can never underestimate the function and role of the Holy Spirit in this discussion of the corporate body of Christ. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you (John 14:20). Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (John 14:23). I thought Father was in heaven? Where is heaven? Paul explains, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? He is talking to the Church, ‘you” is plural. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are (1 Cor. 3:16-17). How do you destroy the temple of God? By doing something that pollutes the oneness, that affects the intimate oneness of the body of Christ. This applies in the wider context as well.
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we (plural) are the temple (singular) of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Can you see how God is serious about the purity of this oneness? It is not a man-made organization or institution; it is an organic bone-to-bone oneness.
Satan has an old trick; he always brings an Ishmael first. Abraham relied on the flesh and brought forth a son who was Ishmael. Why did God in all three instances, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, allow them to marry women who could not bear children? It took God’s touch. In the process of impatience, anxiety and the temptation to make God’s promise work, Abraham brought forth an Ishmael. It is so easy to do this in the church. We borrow from the spirit of the age and from the systems of the world to make something work in the church. Remember (from Matt 13) the parable of the wheat and the tares. The wheat became the sons of the kingdom; the tares became the sons of the evil one.
We talk about the corporate Christ. The body of Christ is the corporate Son (1 Cor. 12:12). The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). He will not lay His head on anything that does not have His DNA and does not reflect Him, or is not an exact representation of Him.
The Scriptures indicate that God’s throne is in heaven – but where is heaven? In Jesus heaven and earth became one. Jesus was in heaven on earth. Dualism believes you cannot bring that which is spiritual to that which is matter, but in the incarnation Jesus broke that concept, and He who was spirit became flesh right here in the earth where you could touch Him. He was a man like you and me. Jesus was the meeting point of heaven and earth, providing the means by which God and humanity were brought together. I salute Him who was before all things, Him through whom all things have been created; Him in whom the fullness dwelt bodily; He who became man and did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but instead humbled Himself and became a servant. Everything in the Father’s heart is summed up in His first-born Son, Jesus Christ. First-born means He will have more brothers like Him, and they will have the same stature; the stature of the Son of God (Rom. 8:28-29).
So the Tabernacle of God is among His people; He was God manifested in the flesh, but He did not divest Himself of His omnipresence. The God who is everywhere was fully present in His Son. Jesus represented heaven on earth.
Let us look at the Church and heaven. Heaven and earth must become one in the many-membered or corporate Christ. We are the habitation of God by His Spirit (Eph. 2:22). This is the Church, the Corpus; the corporate Body of Christ. The word must become flesh again. We are seated with Him in heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6). Where is that? I thought you only go there when you die. Where is heaven, where is eternity? Eternity does not have a beginning or an end. You are in eternity; eternity is in the heart of every man. Where is heaven? Here, while we are physically on earth. Heaven and earth are represented in the Church like it was in Jesus. We are seated with Him in heavenly places; as He is, so are we on this earth (1 John 4:17).
The Father wants us to grow into the fullness of His Son. Here is the authentic apostolic burden, My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— (Gal. 4:19). He is not talking about another born again experience; he is talking about growing into the full stature, which is our mandate (Eph. 4:11-13). God gave the five graces to bring the Body of Christ to the full stature; to bring this corporate demonstration of Christ into the earth; representing heaven on earth. Father wants us to grow into the fullness of His Son.
Do you want to know what the mystery of the Christ is? Very simple, that mystery is the corporate Christ. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31-32). The mystery of husband and wife becoming one flesh is a type of what is happening to Christ and His Church, becoming one flesh – it is a mystery.
We can have all these wonderful teachings but unless we are organically linked to the Head, which is Jesus, in a personal, intimate relationship to Him, we will just create another form of godliness without power. We can have all the right patterns, all the right concepts and still be without the power. We have to be connected to the Head.
In the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus goes into the Temple and begins to preach, and the people were amazed (John 7:14-15). At the end of the Feast He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). We are in the progressive unfolding of the Feast of Tabernacles. When Christ ascended on high, He poured out His Spirit and gave gifts to men. We have been in the unfolding of the Feast of Tabernacles for 2000 years. He is here but invisible, and He will remain invisible until the restoration of all things spoken of by the prophets of ancient times (Acts 3:20-21). The ‘parousia’ means He is always present; He is with us; but the ‘epiphanea’, the manifestation is the very thing we are talking about, when and how He will manifest Himself. Jacob said, “God was here and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16).
Today, on earth, He is building His Church which will possess all the divine qualities and character of Christ Himself. The body of Christ is exactly that; Christ Himself manifested through His people, joined together. Can you see how important relationships are in the Body of Christ? Do not destroy this temple. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them ……. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (Rev. 21:2-3, 22).
We should prophesy to the wind, to the ‘ruach’, to bring bone to its bone; locally in the city and beyond (Ezek. 37:1-7). As He prophesied, bone came to bone to form this body; the final wineskin that will contain the new wine. The Bible uses many metaphors to explain this corporate Son in the earth. Would you like to be part of that? Heaven and earth meeting within the corporate Son!