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Where Does God Live?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Authority and the Church, Part 3

by Erik Lutz on January 25, 2011
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Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., explains that God not only dwells in heaven, but He also resides in each of His followers.

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

Today’s big question: where does God live?

Many parents and older siblings have answered this simple question with the typical response that “God lives in heaven.” While this answer certainly is biblical (e.g., 1 Kings 8:49; Matthew 6:9), it does not express the whole truth.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). God not only lives “in heaven” but also inside His people, the church. The Greek word here for dwell comes from the word for house, and conveys taking up residence in a place—in this case, the body of the believer.

Today’s verse tells us that every believer is a living stone in the spiritual house of God. He lives in us! Stop and consider how incredible this is—the infinite God of the universe has chosen to make His home in your heart. This is even more amazing when we think about the words of Solomon: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

Although no physical building can contain the awesome Creator God, the temple in Jerusalem was called the “house of God” under the old covenant. Even today, it is commonplace to refer to a church building as “the house of God.” But this is not biblically accurate because God’s people, under the new covenant, are now His temple and His house. As Paul wrote, “you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).

We often misrepresent Scripture unintentionally. Consider the following dialog from one believer to another:

“Where do you go to church?”
“Faith Community, down on the corner.”
“Oh, the little white one? I love the gardens out front.”
“Yeah, it could really use a new paint job, though.”

Both people are talking about a building rather than the people who gather there. Although this terminology is commonly accepted, we should be careful when using it because the Greek word translated as church (ekklesia) refers to believers, not a building. The building by itself has no special significance; it is sanctified by the presence of God’s true church—the people in whom He dwells. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong to call a building a “church” or “God’s house” as long as we keep in mind that the true church (house of God) is the believers who gather there.

Today’s big idea: the church is the house of God because He lives within every believer.

What to pray: praise God that He has chosen to dwell in His people.

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