Summary: The Lord's church—and religion in general—are under attack in America today. Courts, legislatures, and activist groups seem hell-bent on removing religion entirely from the public square. Thankfully, Jesus said of His church that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18, KJV). In fact, to the contrary, the Scriptures paint a picture of the church in the end times as magnificant, glorious, and of worldwide fame. Come see, and have your faith greatly encouraged for the days ahead.
Almost 1,000 years before before Jesus’ first coming to earth, King David received from God the plans for a glorious temple for the Lord. David’s son, King Solomon, had the honor of building that temple in Jerusalem. The temple was often called “the house” of God and was to be of great magnificence, fame, splendor, and glory in the sight of all nations.
Jump ahead about 3,000 years to our time. God no longer dwells in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48; 17:24). Now the Lord by His Holy Spirit inhabits a “spiritual house,” the church, which collectively is those who have received God’s salvation through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. See the following Scriptures:
Jesus said to His followers, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18, NLT). King Solomon built an earthly, material “house” or temple for the Lord. Jesus the Son of God is building for Himself a spiritual “house,” the church.
Glancing back at the verses just above, we see that “the house of God” now, in the New Covenant era, “is the church of the living God.” The apostle Paul told Christians that “you yourselves are God’s temple” and that God’s Spirit dwells in this corporate temple made up of born-again believers. The apostle Peter added that Christians, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” Writing to the Ephesians, Paul amplified on this concept of believers as living stones when he said that the church is “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.”
In sum, the New Testament “house of God” is the Lord’s church, that is, all born-again believers. We are God’s temple, being built together into a spiritual house, a dwelling on earth for God’s Holy Spirit. The house of God today is His people the church, not a physical building as in Old Testament times.
The amazing truth that I want to focus on today is that God’s house, the church, in these end times will be “of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations.” It will be “glorious throughout the world.” How do we know this? Because this description is taken from our opening verse, describing Solomon’s temple, the Old Testament house of God. And Jesus reminded the people, referring to Himself, that “a greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31). The Lord Jesus is far greater than Solomon, and His house (His church) will be far more glorious than Solomon’s temple ever was.
The prophet Haggai’s words find their ultimate, last-days fulfillment in our time, in the glorious church: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former” (Haggai 2:9, KJV). Isaiah too prophesied of God’s end-time “temple” and foresaw it highly exalted, with all nations streaming to it. Remember the apostle Paul’s words above (Acts 7:48; 17:24) that in this New Covenant era God no longer dwells in temples made with hands. In our time the “house of God,” His “spiritual house,” is His people the church. And in the last days, prophesied Isaiah, the nations will stream to it! These end times we live in are going to see Christ’s church exalted highly and sought out by all the nations.
Let’s look at more Scriptures that support this biblical idea of the church being splendid and glorious throughout the world, as well as being one of God’s great instruments to bring Him glory.
This verse speaks of two of the church’s great privileges: (1) to be a conduit to declare God’s manifold wisdom, even to celestial beings! and (2) to be vessels of honor who bring glory to God — “to Him be glory in the church.” Imagine that. By His Word and His Spirit, God has revealed to us much divine wisdom, and it is our privilege to share it, to declare it. And in doing so, and in living our lives for the Lord, we the church bring glory to God. That doesn’t sound to me like a weak, dispirited, ineffective church.
In Revelation chapters 1-3 John saw visions of Jesus. The Lord showed John 7 lampstands, which He explained were symbols of the churches. Of great significance was the fact that Jesus Himself was “walking among” the churches. He had told His followers that when we gather in His name, He is right there with us! The gathered churches should always be conscious of Jesus’ promise to be in our midst, right there among us. The Savior of the world, the co-Creator of the universe, invisibly but certainly attends your church services! You have sensed His presence at times, haven’t you?
God has placed amazing ministries and supernatural spiritual gifts “in the church”! Apostles, prophets, Bible teachers, miracles, healings, and more…where? In the church. When the churches assemble, there should be an expectation of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Prophecy, tongues and interpretation, healings, words of knowledge, and more may be manifested “so that the church may be built up.” Remember, Jesus promised that He “will build [His] church.” And it is far from a powerless church. Rather, it is dynamically energized by the Holy Spirit’s gifts and ministries. I have been part of Spirit-filled churches for nearly 50 years. And I am continually stirred and blessed, sometimes amazed, by how God’s Spirit empowers His people in the spiritual gifts and ministries He distributes in the churches.
Jesus is the one and only head of His church. By His grace He allows us, His followers, to have responsibilities and ministries within His church. But He is the head! In everything He is to “have the supremacy.” After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus told His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore [YOU] go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19). He is the head, He is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). And as the head, Jesus has given His church the holy privilege of spreading His Gospel throughout the world. We have the honor of sharing His Word and seeing people come from darkness to light, from the power of Satan into Christ’s kingdom. As His commissioned and empowered ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we see lost souls saved, the sick healed, demons cast out, and even the dead raised.
Jesus loves His church. How much? Enough to give His life for us at the cross to redeem us from the damnation due to our sins. And all who by repentance and faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21) receive His redeeming self-sacrifice are saved and become part of His church. It is not a defeated, ineffective church. No! Instead, Jesus is making us into a holy, radiant church, with no stain or wrinkle or blemish, and gloriously holy and blameless in the sight of the nations and people of the world. Radiant! His church will shine throughout the world in these last days.
In a world of moral relativism and situation ethics, the church will shine forth as a beacon, a reliable pillar of truth. Where the world is perplexed and stumbling, blindly seeking answers, the church will have those answers. Absolute, perfect, unchangeable, redeeming truth is found in the Scriptures of God’s Word the Bible. And the members of Christ’s church have the commission and privilege of sharing those timeless truths with a needy world. As we share the Lord and His holy Word with the world, the church will see multitudes experience Jesus’ promise that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The Old Testament temple was a house of prayer. How much more should God’s New Testament house the church be a “house of prayer”! I sense a revival of prayer coming upon the church. I feel it personally. Prayer is powerful, it changes things. As God’s people give themselves more fervently to prayer, to praise and worship, to Bible study, to seeking the Lord, to assembling together, we will certainly see the Lord fulfill His prophetic promise that the glory of this latter house (the church) will surpass and exceed the glory of the splendid temple of Solomon.
One of the great biblical symbols of the Lord’s church — perhaps my favorite symbol — is as His espoused Bride. John the Baptist identified Jesus as “the bridegroom.” The apostle Paul clearly named the church as Christ’s called, beloved Bride-to-be, espoused for eventual presentation “as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Perhaps not all believers will choose to measure up to this high and holy calling as the Bride. But millions will worldwide, and they will be unmistakably seen by the world as the radiant, holy, blameless, spiritual Bride of none other than the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. There can surely be no greater honor in all eternity! What a glorious spiritual closeness to Him for all eternity that will be — “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).
First the natural, then the spiritual — this principle spoken by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:46) has relevance to many truths that we believers live out daily. And one of those is the “house of God” that we’ve studied today. Solomon’s temple was a magnificent natural structure of international fame. The Lord’s New Testament temple — His people the church — is a spiritual house that will far exceed the glory of Solomon’s temple. Let’s humbly accept this honor the Lord has bestowed upon His church. Let’s walk worthy of Him, always aiming to please Him and to bring Him glory.
In closing, I refer once more to Paul’s declaration of the church’s amazing privilege: “To [God] be
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©2019, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons &
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.