“There is no good in this life but what is mingled with some evil; honours perplex, riches disquiet, and pleasures ruin health. But in heaven we shall find blessings in their purity, without any ingredient to embitter, with everything to sweeten them. O! who is able to conceive the inexpressible, inconceivable joys that are there? None but they who have tasted of them. Lord, help us to put such a value upon them here, that in order to prepare ourselves for them, we may be willing to forego the loss of all those deluding pleasures here. How will the heavens echo of joy, when the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall come to dwell with her husband for ever? Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of the Father; what solace then must that soul be filled with, that hath the possession of him to all eternity? O! what acclamations of joy will there be, when all the children of God shall meet together, without fear of being disturbed by the antichristian and Cainish brood! Is there not a time coming when the godly may ask the wicked what profit they have in their pleasure? what comfort in their greatness? and what fruits in all their labour? If you would be better satisfied what the beatifical vision means, my request is that you would live holily, and go and see.” – Bunyan, Vol. 1: Bunyan’s Dying Sayings, p. 66 (emphasis mine)
This morning, during our family worship time, one of the hymns we sang was The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Full disclosure: I officially love this song now. Let’s back up. A couple weeks ago I had the immense privilege of preaching at a few revival services down in the Chicago area. The majority of the messages I preached were simply on the gospel and covered different aspects of the glorious truth of salvation in Christ Jesus alone. One of the texts that we worked through was Romans 2, where we read that according to Paul’s gospel (and Jesus’), there will be a day when “God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (2:16). As you work through the context, you’ll see that Paul is getting at the internal qualities of how people think and feel. In other words, God will judge our hearts, for He alone can do so righteously (cf. Isaiah 11:2-5). If you look closely, though, the future judgment is a consummation of the internal conscience that people repress. In v. 14, Paul writes that the Law is written on the hearts of people and that their conscience also bears witness. The internal evaluation that people do of themselves will be consummated when God judges the secrets of people’s hearts. Schreiner draws this idea out when he writes,
Yesterday I listened to a summary of G.K. Beale’s book, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. I haven’t had a chance to finish reading through the entire book yet, but after listening to his two lectures, I realize that I need to spend some serious time here! You can listen to the audio here (titled “Why Is the New Heaven and the New Earth Equated with the Temple? pt. 1 & 2″).
Beale’s contention is simply that the Garden of Eden was the first temple and that the Patriarchs who followed Adam carried on the “mantle” of the priesthood and continued to set up temples as they went out to expand the glory of God. This all culminated in the life of Jesus Christ and we, as His followers, are the temple of God. No, it is not symbolic; rather, we are God’s temple. The Garden of Eden pointed to and was the first “picture” (my description) of the Cosmic Temple that is in heaven.
I need to listen to the lectures again and read through the book in order to wrestle further with some of the implications of this concept, but Beale’s theory has always intrigued me as I’ve read and heard him hint at these concepts before. It’s kind of mind blowing. If you are a student of the Scriptures, I’d strongly recommend that you download the messages and order the book. I have a feeling I will revisit this concept later…
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – 2 Cor. 6:16 (emphasis mine)
Long have American evangelists presented the gospel only to culminate with the invitation for sinners to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” I’ve seen this type of presentation in virtually every denomination or tradition I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out in, and in several countries in different regions of the world. It’s the popular method that is used by many “professionals” and reciprocated amongst the populace. But is this method biblical? I think not.
Dan Wallace, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has recently written an excellent (and brief) summary of why this type of thinking is a misreading and misrepresentation of the text in John’s Revelation. You can read the full article here. Wallace’s thoughts are important for Christians to understand because he eloquently points out the negative consequences of such a gospel presentation. He says,