by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
2 Corinthians 6:16-18:
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
When God sent Jesus Christ to save us, the purpose of redemption was not only to save mankind. We can thank God it was for our salvation, but it was more than that. God’s plan was also to restore His original purpose for creating man. That original purpose is clearly spelled out in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, which really is the New Covenant promise — I want to dwell in you and I want to walk in you. The finest description I have ever read of this comes from The Desire of Ages, p.161:
“From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple.”
When Adam sinned, he was no longer indwelled by the Holy Spirit and his life was plunged into darkness. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1, 5 that, because of the result of the fall, we human beings are born spiritually dead:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, ... made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
When Christ assumed our humanity, he assumed it not only to save it, but also to restore this humanity back as God’s sanctuary. As Christians, we must be fully aware of this.
Because of this, we will discover that the New Testament presents both Christ and the believer as the temple of God. When we become united with Christ we become a part of Christ. Since He was the temple of God, we, by extention, become God’s sanctuary. God wants to dwell in us and accomplish in us what He has already prepared for us in Jesus Christ. In other words, through the plan of redemption — what God accomplished in the holy history of Christ — He wants to make real in our experience. He wants to make it effective in our history. God did not save us in Christ only to benefit us but also to experience what Christ has accomplished.
When we become Christians, we actually become the temple of God. This is a solemn thought. As Christians, we have not only to be saved by faith and baptism, but we are consenting to be God’s dwelling place. What a wonderful privilege! But, also, what a tremendous responsibility. 1 Corinthians 3:16:
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
We also read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Notice that redemption means that God has bought us back. He has purchased us back by the precious blood of Christ, so that He may indwell us and that He may walk in us. In this setting, we have two basic teachings of the sanctuary message concerning Jesus Christ and the believer. Both are temples of God. We saw in the previous studies that Jesus Christ is the reality of the sanctuary. Now we discover that we become the sanctuary. These are not two different gospels. These are simply two aspects of the same truth.
Now we want to look at the relationship and the distinction. Christ as corporate humanity represents the objective facts of the gospel. In Christ, God has obtained salvation full and complete. In Christ, God has restored and cleansed the human sanctuary. And now the believer, as an individual, becomes subjectively the sanctuary of God. God says, “Now by faith and baptism I want to dwell in you and I want to walk in you and I want to live in you.” Isaiah 57:15:
For this is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
We see that Christ wants to dwell in us and bring spiritual life to every one of us.
Now these two phases of the sanctuary message — Christ as God’s sanctuary through which He obtained eternal redemption for us and the believer who has become, subjectively, the sanctuary of God — are expressed in the New Testament by two phrases. The first phrase which we have already covered, is “you in Christ.” Remember Ephesians 1:3:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us [notice the past tense] in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Now read Colossians and look at the other side of the coin. Colossians 1:27:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles [or unbelievers] the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
These two phases of salvation — “You in Christ” and “Christ in you,” representing Christ the sanctuary of God and you the sanctuary of God — are related, but they are also distinct. It is here that the problem comes. We need to see the difference between these two aspects of truth.
The first distinction is that, in Christ, that is Christ as our sanctuary, we stand complete. Colossians 2:10a:
...And in Christ you have been brought to fullness.
“As you are complete in Him.” In other words, we stand perfect in Christ — absolutely perfect. When God looks at you, in Christ He does not see you the sinner. He sees somebody who has never sinned. He sees somebody who is perfectly just and righteous. That’s what God does when He sees you in Christ. But what God is doing in you and me, the other side, is not yet finished. It is an ongoing work. For the second side look at Colossians 2:6:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him....
It is a walk, an ongoing thing. You haven’t come to a full stop as yet. You won’t until the second coming of Christ. I’m giving you Philippians 3 because Philippians was one of the last epistles that Paul ever wrote. Here in Philippians 3:12-14, just before his martyrdom, he makes this statement about himself:
Not that I have already obtained all this [I have not yet reached the goal that I have already in Christ — remember, in Christ, he is perfect.], or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
God has given each one of us a goal and that goal is Christ-likeness. We must constantly keep our eyes on Christ. Another text is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, showing that it is an ongoing process. Verse 17:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
The Spirit is in the believer; He is dwelling in you and me. And where we have the Spirit dwelling in us, we have liberty; not economic liberty, not political liberty, but spiritual liberty. Verse 18:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Notice that it is an ongoing thing. We are being transformed.
Now we will see that what God accomplished in Christ is for all men. Titus 2:11:
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It is universal — “to all people” — but that universal salvation has to be made effective. It is made effective in individuals. John 3:16 says:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever [it becomes particular] believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Sad to say every creature will not accept the gospel. Verse 16a:
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved....
He will be saved not only from the guilt and punishment of sin; the Bible presents salvation as much more than that. It delivers from the power and the presence of sin. He who believes will have all three concepts of salvation.
When theologians talk of the righteousness of Christ which justifies us, they use the term “an alien righteousness.” By using that term, they mean exactly what Paul says in Romans 3:21, 28. It is a righteousness that we as human beings have made no contribution to. It is a robe of righteousness prepared in Jesus Christ without a single thread of human devising. It is all of God. Paul has just told us that, by the deeds of the law, none will be justified. Then in verse 21 he says:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
By this he means that it is a righteousness planned by God, promised by God, and prepared by God. That is what he means by “apart from the law.” It is apart from our law of righteousness. Verse 28:
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
It is totally God’s gift to sinful man. Therefore, it is an alien righteousness. But what God does in you is not alien, because He will do nothing in you without your cooperation. God is not a communist. He doesn’t force His views upon you! He has to have your cooperation. He has to have your will. That is why Romans 13:14 says:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Or Galatians 5:16 says we have to walk in the Spirit in order to defeat the desires of the flesh:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
So there is a combined effort. I use the word “allies” because, in the last world war, Britian and the United States were allies. They had joined together to fight the common enemy. So, when it comes to Christian living, we have a part to play. Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Now we come to a very important area. What God did in Christ is the only thing that qualifies you and me for heaven. We are not saved by what God does in us, but by what God did in Christ. There is no merit, no salvic merit by what God does in us. What God did in Christ is what saves us. Ephesians 2:8-9:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
...He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but [excluding your works] because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit....
Now we will see what He does in the believer. Titus 3:8:
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God did not only save us in Christ Jesus but He reformed us. He cleansed us. He restored us to a right relationship to God in Christ Jesus so that we may be created to do good works.
...which God prepared in advance for us to do.
What God does in us doesn’t save us but it does demonstrate to the world that we have already been saved. It proves to the world that we have already received the righteousness of Christ.
I planted some asparagus roots one day and, with the guidance of an expert, I planted them one foot into the ground. Now, four days later I have been looking for them to come up but the expert tells me that I can’t expect to reap any asparagus this year. I will have to wait until next year. Now I can do nothing about it. I have planted the roots. The rest is up to nature and to God. If I want to produce apples, I plant apple trees. If we want to produce sins, we have to be sinners. Now our sins don’t make us sinners. We are born sinners. The reason we sin is because we are sinners.
We are not sinners in Christ; we are righteous, therefore, the fruits of being in Christ is righteousness. Read the second half of Romans 13:14 and onward:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Before, we were slaves of sin. Now we are ashamed of that. Now we become slaves of righteousness and the fruit is holiness of living and the end is eternal life.
Now we come to the problem. We have two situations. One, Christ, which is you in Christ as our sanctuary and two, the believer, which is Christ in you. We will call the “You in Christ” Camp A, and we will call the “Christ in you” Camp B. This is exactly what is happening in our church. Our denomination today is splitting up into two camps. You have one camp that is pushing “you in Christ” and another camp that is pushing “Christ in you” and these two camps are fighting. Mainly our scholars are pushing “you in Christ.” “You in Christ” gives us assurance and peace because in Christ we stand perfect. We do we need assurance and peace. As long as we are sinners, we need it. That is why they are putting this emphasis. Also the world needs to see that we are righteous in Christ and the world needs to see that we are redeemed people. And so we have the other camp — mainly the independent ministries — pushing this camp. The problem is that these two camps are not antagonistic toward each other in the Bible. They belong to one truth. We need to present both.
One day I received a letter from a pastor from the Oregon Conference. I spoke at the Oregon camp meeting. He was in the youth department but he came to listen to me and took my tapes. He wrote me this two-page letter, single spaced, with much concern. He sees this division in his own local church. I would like to read what he is saying here just to show you that it is a true problem:
“As an Adventist pastor I want to preach a balanced message, and do not want to go toward an extreme either way. I am uncomfortable with the emphasis of John Osborn and Ron Spear. I don’t want to lose sight of the message of the justification by faith but at the same time I am uncomfortable with the message of Desmond Ford and Helmut Ott who wrote Perfect in Christ. I don’t want to lose sight of the message of sanctification by faith which works by love. The more I study the Bible and Ellen G. White, the more I see the balance.”
I plead that we return to this balance. We need both. We need to preach both sides of the story; both sides of the coin. If you preach “you in Christ” and give people assurance and peace without preaching the other side, you are encouraging antinominism. If you preach “Christ in you” and lift up the standard without giving “you in Christ” and peace and assurance, you are encouraging legalism. And that is exactly what’s happening and, at the moment, we have people mad at each other. So I plead with you as my church members that you study both camps.
Now I see problems in both camps also. I think that those who present “you in Christ” need to solve the problem of the ethical issue of substitution. If you separate Christ from the humanity that He is redeeming, you are presenting an unethical gospel, which creates a problem.
I see a problem in the other camp too. If you teach that every time a Christian makes a mistake he becomes unjustified, you are ending up with justification by works. So you see we have a problem in both camps. The first thing I plead is that we come together as Christians and recognize that both camps have a truth that we both need. On the one side we need peace and assurance. I’ll tell you why and that is that no matter how much victory God gives you, you will not know it completely. You will always be a sinner and if you don’t have the assurance in Christ the devil will get you. He will come to you and say, “You are no good, you don’t deserve to be saved. You are not good enough to go to heaven.” The only way you can answer him back is by pointing to your position in Christ and say, “There I stand perfect.” You have a right to do that because in Christ you are perfect.
On the other hand, the work can never be finished unless the world recognizes that the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation.” The world has to see that the gospel is able to save us from sin. Again I quote the famous pagan philosopher Nietche making the statement to Christians, “If you Christians expect me to believe in your redeemer, you Christians will have to look a lot more redeemed.”
The earth has to be lightened with the glory of God before the end comes. We need to recognize that God did not only save us in Christ but He wants now to dwell in us and walk in us that the world may once again see God manifested in the flesh.
The first four books of the New Testament, which we call the gospel, is really an historical account of God being manifested in one Person, Jesus Christ. The fifth book, the book of Acts, is also an historical account of God being manifested in one body — the church. Unfortunately, that manifestation was short-lived because the devil came in and perverted the gospel. When he perverted the gospel, he perverted the fruits of the gospel. It is as simple as that. So we need to restore the gospel — the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
We need to know that the truth as it is in Christ is not simply God declaring us righteous. That is wonderful! We need that but we need to know also that God wants to dwell in us and He wants to walk in us so that we become the light of God. Let us read the words of Christ and, if you belong to Camp A, please do not condemn Camp B. They have a truth that we all need to accept. And if you are in Camp B, please don’t condemn Camp A. Both belong in the truth of Jesus Christ. Let’s put our heads together as Christians and let’s work together, for the body of Christ is only one, not two.
We read what Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, 16 in His Sermon on the Mount. He is talking to the believers and is saying:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. ...In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Now the English is not very clear so we will go to the original language. The “you” is in the plural form. The word “light” is in the singular. I once made this statement in a college and the professor of Greek shook his head and said, “I’m going to show you that you are wrong.” He went to his office and got his Greek Bible. Then he came to me and said, “Pastor, I guess you are right. I never noticed that.” “Well,” I said, “sometimes even a bush preacher can see truth.”
“You” is in the plural. It refers to all of us. “Light” is in the singular. It refers only to one person. In John 8:12a Jesus said:
“I am the light of the world.”
So we are many people but only one light. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden — especially if it has lights. Now look at Matthew 5:16:
In the same way, let your light [let Christ who is dwelling in you by the Holy Spirit] shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Don’t hide Him in a bushel! Let Him shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify, not you, nor your denomination, but God because they see in your works something they cannot do for it originates from God. They see a love, the agape love, reflecting from you.
It is not enough to accept Christ as your Saviour. Are you willing to accept Him as your Lord and your Master? Are you willing to accept Him to live in you and walk in you, not so that you may go to heaven (that is already guaranteed) but that the world may see what you have already in you: Jesus Christ? That is my prayer in Jesus’name.