by T. Austin-Sparks
But Jesus, as the New Testament goes on to show, does not stand alone. Jesus in corporate, organic expression is the House of God. Where and what is the House of God? It is where there is spiritual, organic, vital union with Christ; no more, no less. Says Paul: “In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.” (1 Cor 12:13). Jesus fulfils all the functions and expresses all the features of God’s presence – God’s presence in the midst of men.
This is a statement, but it is a challenge. How great is His House – but how spiritually definite is His House! It is built upon the love of God. The very object and purpose of this House is for the expression of the love of God. And if that love of God is not present, or is contradicted, the House ceases to be what God intended it to be. It is the explanation of why Israel, who were once called ‘God’s House’ as a nation, were set aside. Here is the infinite love of God, the infinite grace of God, brought into the world in the Person of His Son: and what does He meet? Infinite hate! Love cast out! Very well, then – “Your house is left unto you desolate”.
All this doctrine and theology – even about justification, not by works but by faith, and so on – can be so cold, after all; it can become hard, legalistic, ‘righteous’. But remember that that is all there in the Word of God in order to magnify the grace of God! “Not of works…” but the grace of God. The House of God exists on the basis that men and women have discovered that their deepest and most terrible need is for the grace of God, and they have come into the knowledge of that grace.
The one word uppermost in their vocabulary is the word ‘grace’ – it is the most wonderful word in the language of earth and Heaven. Grace, grace, grace! It is that which constitutes the House of God. If you and I are living in the meaning of that wonderful word ‘grace’, we shall know God very near to us. God ‘beholdeth the proud afar off’, because the proud have no sense of their need of grace. Pride is an abomination to God, simply because it is such a contradiction of the grace of God. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at My word” (Isa 66:2). That is the atmosphere of the House of God.
And so, you see, God’s House is not a ‘thing’, it is not a ‘place’ – it is not anything that man makes; it is something spiritual. On what ground does it rest? It rests on the ground of the Cross. God’s House in the wilderness – the Tabernacle – came after the Altar, and stood as the background to the Altar. In the new dispensation, the Church is the background to the Cross of Christ, for it only comes by the Cross.
What does the Cross do? It sets man aside, and makes room for God; it puts man out, that God may be all and in all. God’s intention in the Cross is to make possible the realization of His eternal thought to be present, to be there. Where the Cross is most deeply wrought into the life of a people, there, most fully, you will meet the Lord. You will not meet Him in uncrucified men and women; in the presence of the flesh, God stands back.