Summary: Paul tells us how God views His church as being His temple and how this should serve to unify us.
"To dwell above with saints we love, O that will sure be glory.
But to dwell below with saints we know, We; that’s a different story!”
Sad to say, the fellowship of too many churches can be described by that little jingle. But while that may be so, it is not what God desires, nor is it what needs to be. God’s people can dwell in unity; and that is the subject of Paul’s discussion here concerning the church.
In verse 19, Paul uses social terminology in his discussion of church unity. He then proceeds in verses 20-22 to speak of how God sees His church as being His temple, and uses this imagery to mention some things about the church that should serve to unify us.
1. The foundation of the temple – v. 20
While in his other writings, Paul speaks of Christ as the foundation, because his emphasis here is different, he speaks of the foundation being “of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.”
The cornerstone was the great stone put in the angle of the
substructure where the walls met. It was the stone on which the stability of the whole building depended. In ancient building
methods, the cornerstone had special importance as the stone used by the builder to determine the “lie” of the whole building.
It was the stone in the foundation with which all the other stones were to be in agreement. The foundation would be level and square only as each stone was in agreement with the cornerstone.
So it is that Paul uses this imagery to tell us that one of the things that should unify us as a people is our agreement on who Jesus is. The foundation of the church is our common testimony concerning Christ! First declared by the Apostles and Prophets, declared by God’s Word, and declared by all today who know Him as Savior and Lord, this common confession about Jesus should serve to unify us as believers.
A quote often credited to Augustine is “In Essentials, Unity; in
Non-essentials, Liberty; in All Things, Charity.” I believe that is the essence of what we are told here serves to unify us as believers.
A. In Essentials, Unity - Essentials define us, and God says that the essentials which define His church and bring unity to His people are related to the person of Christ.
This would include such doctrines as the testimony concerning Christ (the inspiration of the Bible) the divinity of Christ (Trinity); the uniqueness of Christ as the “God/Man;” salvation is only by grace through faith in Christ; the virgin birth of Christ; the necessity and sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ; the resurrection of Christ; the return of Christ; and the Lordship of Christ (eternal judgment, heaven & hell).
B. In Non-essentials, Liberty - Non-essentials distinguish us. A
contemporary service is distinguished from a traditional service, for example, by music style, worship dress, etc., but neither is more right or more wrong than the other. Rather than focusing on the “form” we must look to the “substance.” Is Christ being honored?
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,