III. THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD
[As the house of God, the church is the dwelling place of God. Ephesians 2:22 says, “In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.’’ The word “you’’ here refers to the local saints. Paul is saying that the local saints, the saints in Ephesus, were being built together in Christ into a dwelling place of God.
The church, the dwelling place of God on earth, is the place in which God can have His rest and put His trust. In this dwelling place God lives and moves to accomplish His will and satisfy the desire of His heart.
Because the church is God’s dwelling place, the church is where God expresses Himself. A house is always the best place for a person to express himself. The kind of person you are is expressed by your house. Hence, if you look at a person’s house, you will be able to tell what kind of person he is, because a person’s house is his expression. The principle is the same with the church as the dwelling place of God. In His house, His dwelling place, God expresses Himself on earth. This is the reason 1 Timothy 3:16 reveals that the church is God’s manifestation in the flesh. God not only desires to make home in the church and to have a resting place there; He also wants to express Himself in the church. He wants to practice His New Testament economy, speak forth His desire, and manifest His glory in the church. All that He is, all that He is doing, and all that He wants to obtain are to be manifested, expressed, in the church as His dwelling place.]
IV. THE KINGDOM OF GOD
[Ephesians 2:19 says, “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.’’ The term “fellow citizens’’ indicates the kingdom of God. All the believers, both Jewish and Gentile, are citizens of God’s kingdom, which is a sphere wherein God exercises His authority. As long as anyone is a believer, he is a citizen of the kingdom of God. This citizenship involves rights and responsibilities, two things that always go together. We enjoy the rights of the kingdom, and we bear the responsibilities of the kingdom.]
[Although the church today is God’s kingdom, we are in the kingdom in reality only when we live and walk in spirit. Whenever we behave according to the old man or live in the flesh or the self, we, in a practical way, are out of God’s kingdom. This means that when we are in the flesh, we are in the old realm of the fallen human nature, which has been fully usurped by Satan to form his kingdom. Therefore, a genuine Christian, if he lives in the flesh instead of in the spirit, may live in a practical way not in the kingdom of God but in the kingdom of Satan. Only when we live, walk, behave, and have our being altogether in our spirit, not in our natural man, are we in the kingdom of God and, in reality, are the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God, like the house of God, is a corporate person. The church as the house of God is a corporate person because this house is the family of God, the household of God. The kingdom is likewise a corporate person because it is also a corporate entity. Whether we are living in the church as the house of God or as the kingdom of God depends on whether we are living as members or as citizens. To live as members of the house of God is a matter of enjoyment, but to live in the kingdom of God is a matter of bearing responsibility and of being regulated. We are members of our Father’s household, and we are citizens of our God’s kingdom.]
(Lesson Book, Level 5: The Church—The Vision and Building Up of the Church, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)