The believer is the temple of God. "God in the believer" is "temple truth." When the Samaritan woman questioned Jesus about the correct place of worship, she referred to the geographical religious centers in Judea and Samaria. Jesus laid His finger on the nature of true worship. "The hour cometh, and now is, "He said, "when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
Collectively, believers are the "Church" ... the "body" of Christ. Individually they are temples in which the Spirit of God dwells.
Believers cannot be the Church collectively until they are the temple of God individually.
This "individual/collective" aspect of God's temple is clearly indicated in 1 Corinthians 3:16,17. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." This is a picture of the Church ... a collective body of believers individually indwelt by God.
We stress this "God in you" temple truth because the "world" thinks of temples as structures that represent the "church" ... an institution it believes to be archaic and out of touch with reality. The "world" presents the church's preachers, in novels and on the television screen, as pitiful relics of the past, ineffective and a bit ridiculous. Neither the preachers nor the church they represent are thought to have answers for a sinful and sorrowing humanity.
Because the world sees the church as irrelevant, it looks elsewhere for solutions to its problems.
It is obvious that something has gone wrong. Things have not improved since the days of the Samaritan woman. Her view is still the world's view. The "world" view of the temple is that it is located in Jerusalem, or on a mountain in Samaria, or in Rome, or in Springfield. Missouri... unrelated to sad and sordid society.
As Jesus ministered to her, the Samaritan woman had her concept of temple worship changed. So we ask the question, "If it happened then, why shouldn't it happen today? What can we do to change the world's view of the temple?
How is the world to learn what God's temple really is?
How can it be taught that true worship is relevant worship? Revelation 21 is a fascinating chapter. It depicts a new heaven and a new earth in which all that has gone wrong in the present earth is put right. It is marvelous to contemplate. It makes one wish that the new earth could be the now earth!
Read Revelation chapter 21 and note the long list of "no mores" in that new earth.
21:1... no more sea
21:4 ... no more death ... no more sorrow ... no more pain
21:25 ... no more night ... no more abomination ... no more lying
22:3 ... no more curse
What an answer to the woes of this present world! Wouldn't it be wonderful if the conditions that will pertain in the new earth could be experienced on this present earth? Come to think of it, what is to prevent it? Isn't there something we can do to have a "no more" kind of living here?
What is the secret of the new earth bliss?
I think it can be found in Revelations 21:22 where another "no more" is recorded. It says, "And I saw no temple therein." Think of it! No more temple!
In all of the New Jerusalem, you will look in vain for a church steeple! No more revolving crosses. No more cathedrals with stained glass windows where visitors "oh" and "ah" at the marvelous architecture. No more robed priests with scepters and incense burners. No more high altars or confession boxes. No more pot-luck suppers or bingo games. No more music festivals. No more communion Sundays. No more Royal Rangers or Missionettes. No more Light-for-the-Lost banquets. No more Speed-the-Light rallies. No more Women's Ministries. Imagine it! How "heavenly" would heaven be without a temple and all its trappings?
Where in the wide world would one worship if there were no temple to worship in? Where? Where in the wide world would one worship? In the wide world ... that's where! After John says, "I saw no temple therein," he goes on to characterize worship in heaven. He indicates that it will be the kind of worship that Jesus introduced to the woman in Samaria.
It will not be geographic.
It will not be localized in a building. It will not be confined to time and space. It will be in spirit and in truth ... it will be always and everywhere ... it will be centered around the God-head ... "for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." Praise the Lord!
"No temple therein" tells that worship is more than acts of adoration performed within the walls of man-made temples. It goes beyond words of worship to works of worship! It tells us that true worship is "God in us" walking through this world ministering to man's desperate need.
Temple truth is "God in us."
Temple testimony is "no more sea, no more crying, no more night, and no more curse."
No more sea means that restlessness is gone and that peace prevails.
No more crying means that the broken-hearted are comforted and that joy has come.
No more night means that the darkness of despair has been dispelled.
And no more curse means that forgiveness has replaced condemnation and that the sting of death has been removed.
And isn't that exactly what should happen when God's temple walks among men? And shouldn't it happen here and now? Christ is not only the center of worship and the answer to living in the new heavens and the new earth. He is the answer now ... in this.
When we start practicing "temple" worship and "temple" testimony, the world will understand true worship just as the Samaritan woman understood true worship.