IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In the New Testament the first person is Jesus Christ. He was God becoming a man, and He became a tabernacle (John 1:14). When He was on this earth, He was tabernacling among men. He was God’s dwelling place. The model of the tabernacle was in Exodus, and the genuine tabernacle, Jesus Christ, is in the Gospel of John. One day this tabernacle told the Jews that if they destroyed Him, He would raise up the temple within three days. Of course, they did destroy Him by crucifying Him on the cross, and He did raise Himself up in an enlarged way. In the raised-up temple, the church, we all are there. This is God’s expression.
The Dwelling Place and the Fullness
Ephesians on the one hand tells us that we are builded together into a temple of God to express God, and on the other hand that the church is the Body of Christ, the fullness of the One who fills all in all (Eph. 2:21-22; 1:23). What is the fullness? The fullness is just the expression. If a glass has water in it, but it is not overflowing there is not the fullness. It is not until the water flows over the brim of the glass that there is the overflowing, the fullness. This fullness is the expression of the water. We are all vessels to contain God (Rom. 9:21, 23). If we have only a little bit of God and no overflowing, there is no fullness. If there is no fullness, there is no expression. The church should be a vessel that is full of God and even overflowing with God. When the church overflows God, that is the fullness. That fullness is the very expression of God. On the one hand the church is the dwelling place of God, and on the other hand the church should be the fullness of God. Just to be the dwelling place of God is not adequate. We must be the fullness of God. Then the church can express God. When we overflow God, we have the fullness of the One who fills all in all. Then we become the full expression of the all-inclusive and wonderful God.
The Manifestation of God in the Flesh
Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:15-16, tells us that the house of God is the church of the living God which is the pillar and base of the truth and which also is the manifestation of this all-inclusive God in human flesh. When we come together with the fullness of God, an outsider would realize that this is the manifestation of God in the flesh. Although we are flesh, we overflow God. Among us is the manifestation of the invisible God, and this manifestation is the expression of God.
This expression which is the church today will consummate to the uttermost in the New Jerusalem, which will be the eternal tabernacle. All of God’s redeemed people will be one corporate entity, the New Jerusalem, to express God for eternity.
(Concerning the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)