Why The House Of God Is A House Of Confusion-(Part II Of My Important Book Review)

Posted on February 15, 2011

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I am happy to bring to you part II of my book review of one of the most significant books that I have read called From Eternity To Here by Frank Viola.  If you have not yet had a chance to read Part I, let me encourage you to read it here:  http://wp.me/p1hf9o-18

I was just as impacted with part II of this book as it dealt with the central concept of God’s eternal purpose; the house of God. Unfortunately, the topic of ‘The House Of God’ is still a mystery to many believers.

Just what is the house of God & why is His house a central part of the gospel?

Where does His house exist?

Why is God so passionate about His own house?

In this second part of the book, Viola does a magnificent job addressing these all too seldomly asked questions.

What Is The House Of God & Why Is His House A Central Part Of The Gospel?


Have you ever given significant thought about what the house of God really is?  If you haven’t, there is probably a huge hole in your understanding of the gospel.  If you ask most people what or where the house of God is, you might get a variety of different answers. In this part of the book, Viola helps us come to an understanding regarding God’s house by reminding us what the purpose of a house is and by taking us back to the scriptures to show us how central God’s house is to everything He is doing.

A home is a place of rest.  A home is a place where you dwell and is where you are present.  A home is not somewhere you visit, rather a home is a place you permanently live and dwell with your family.

Before the fall of mankind, man had a beautiful home in the garden.  So did God.  What an amazing place that must have been! God and mankind lived together in that place!  There was no separation.  There was a tree in that garden that sustained them.  This tree was all they needed.  It was the tree of life.  The divine life of God was found in the fruit of this tree, and this fruit was completely available to them.  The garden was also a place of rest.  They were shielded from all the harsh realities found outside the garden.

Obviously we know what happens in Genesis 3.  Adam & Eve ate from the wrong tree that did not bring them life, but death.  As a result, they lost their home.  They were separated from their Creator.  The purpose of this home was lost.  God, who created the entire universe, didn’t just want a place where He could dwell alone, rather He wanted a place where He could dwell with mankind.  When that home was lost in the garden, God didn’t give up on this quest for a home for Himself and mankind.  As a matter of fact, the home in the garden was just a shadow of the home that God would one day prepare for His people.

 

Where Does His House Exist?


Viola makes the assertion that God will not just build His house anywhere. He will only build His house in the right location.  God is picky.  He is picky about who will build & where He will build His house.  God went to work right away after the fall of mankind selecting a specific people who would build, and a land where His house would be built.  It started with Abraham.  He had to be called away from all he knew.  He had to leave the system of religion and land that he grew up in.  He was seeking a different home.  God let Abraham in on His plan and He showed him the building site of God’s house.  It was a land of milk and honey.  It would eventually be a land of rest for God’s people.

As you know, almost 400 years later, Abraham’s descendants (the Jewish nation) found themselves as slaves in the the land of Egypt.  Egypt was not the proper place where God’s house was to be built.  As a result, God rescued them out of Egypt and into the wilderness.  From the wilderness, they learned some vital lessons and eventually entered the land of promise and rest where God’s house would be built.

Eventually, there came a man named David who was so close to God that He tapped into God’s heartbeat.  He loved God so much, he desired to give God what all of us want for ourselves.  Nobody wants to be homeless.  Everybody wants a home to lay our heads and dwell with our loved ones.  Where do you think we got that idea?  As you know, we were made in His image.  David, as a man after the very heart of God, realized something profound.  Here is what he said:

And it came about, when David dwelt in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Behold, I am dwelling in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD (the actual dwelling place of the presence of God) is under curtains. (1 Chron. 17:1)

Although David was not permitted to build the temple, his heart wanted to build God a house.  This reflected his desire to give God what He wanted.  This desire set in motion the building of the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon completed.  Although God created the entire universe, He mysteriously chose to dwell specifically in a building made by human hands.  This is what made the temple different than any other dwelling on the earth.  Viola points out that the temple was not built in Egypt, but in the land of promise & rest.  When David had defeated Israel’s enemies and they achieved rest, then his focus was able to shift toward building God’s house.  

God has a temple today.  He has a house that is being gloriously built.  Like before. this house is being built together in the land of milk and honey, and in the land of rest.  We know, from the words of Jesus, that everything in the Old Testament scriptures were written concerning Himself.  Jesus Himself, as a Jew, did the unthinkable.  He referred to Himself as the temple / house of God!

In Jewish religious life, everything centered around the temple because it was the very dwelling place of God.  The physical temple, however, was simply a shadow of the greater temple fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  The land of rest, and the very temple of God are all fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ!  He is the new center of everything.  After the death and resurrection of Christ, the bride of Christ (church) was born.  This bride (people who are in Christ) are the very temple of God on the earth.  This is why the church is called the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Consider these words that Paul the apostle wrote to the church community in Corinth:

Do you not know that you (plural) are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor. 3:16)

This was a radical understanding for a Jewish man like Paul.  It completely reflected the new reality of the church being ‘in Christ’, and that Christ is the new temple and center of life..  Viola goes on to assert in this section that God’s ways have not changed.  He still will not build His house in Egypt.  Egypt is a picture of the world’s system.  In order to get to the land of milk and honey (Christ), we must leave Egypt.

When the ancient Israelites were carried off into captivity into Babylon and the temple was destroyed, God’s people were eventually supposed to leave their land of captivity and return to the land and rebuild the temple.  Sadly, only one to two percent of the people followed suit.  The rest of of the people stayed in Babylon, established the synagogue system in their human attempts to keep their identity and connection to God, and made Babylon their home.  The house of God would not be rebuilt in Babylon however.  The synagogue system would be no replacement for the temple that God instituted.

You know what?

History has a way of repeating itself.  God’s people still must leave man’s worldly religious system (Babylon), and come back to Jesus Christ.  He is a head, and He has a body. His body is the collective people of God who operate together under His headship, not separately as individuals under man’s headship.  This is the body of Christ on the earth today.  His house will not be built in Egypt, the religious system of Babylon, or the wilderness.  His house will be built in the land of milk and honey, who is none other than Jesus Christ!

 

Why Is God So Passionate About His House?


Now that we know that Jesus Christ is the temple / house of God, we should also know that in Him, God and man intimately and fully dwell.  Consider this radical statement from scripture about Jesus Christ:

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him (Jesus) as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:22-23)

Did you catch that?  The fullness of Jesus Christ (house of God), is found in His body!  Simply put, His fullness is found in you and I!  Since man’s purpose was to bear the image of God, our purpose is beautifully fulfilled in the body of Jesus Christ.  He is the house of God, and we make up the actual building materials to this house.  It is a ‘stone house’ so to speak.  We are the stones!  Consider this passage from Peter the apostle’s letter to several church communities:

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Pet. 2:5)

Here is where it gets really controversial, however.  Most Christians have ignored and have been completely ignorant of God’s desire to build up a house of stones fashioned together under Christ’s headship.  Most have focused on simply seeing dead stones made into living stones.  This is the quest of most missionaries and missional church planters.  If you ask a missionary or church planter why they do what they do, you will get a variety of different answers.  Some will say:

“To make disciples” or  “To reach the lost and save them from hell”, or  “for the glory of God”, etc…

While these reasons might be good reasons, these statements and concepts do not express the fullness of what God is doing!

Viola expounds on the concept that God is not interested in simply making dead stones into a collection of ‘living stones’.  God is doing something much more profound with these living stones.  He is building a house out of them!  Did you catch that?  He is building a house!I want to shout that from the rooftops.  He is building a house!

I’m no construction expert, but living stones that exist and function as independent units are simply living stones.  A house is only a house when the stones are brought together and function together.  This is much more than man’s religious system has made it.  While there are many ‘living stones’ in many different religious settings, it is a rare thing to see a community of living stones functioning together as a house.

Seeing ‘living stones’ function together is much more than attending a few meetings and listening to people on a stage.  It is deep, intimate community.  The stones are held together (not separate) through a common chief cornerstone, the partaking of Christ’s divine life together through abiding in Him as the vine, tight knit community, pressure, and yes friction with one another.  God desires to establish households of living stones that function together  (churches) in every place around the globe.  In this house, the builder of the house and the house become one and the same!

This is God’s work, and this is what He is building today.  I pray that we will no longer stay ignorant of this all important house.  Trust me, this is our dream home.  There is a place for you in this home as well!  I hope you are convinced to get a copy of this book by now. Here is the link where you can purchase a copy of From Eternity To Here:

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1434768708?tag=reimagchurch-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1434768708&adid=1XBJ2S6S5YFFZHPEY1XY
 

You can also find out more information & read endorsements & other reviews about this book by going to www.FromEternitytoHere.org

Tomorrow, I will post the third and final blog review of this book.  I hope you will stay tuned!

Jamal Jivanjee

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