The Church of Jesus Christ is the temple of God in our world today. The foundation of this temple is described in the Bible, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22. I believe the reference to prophets is the prophets of the Old Testament. We are not built upon the writings of the prophets, but upon the prophets themselves. This means that they are part of the temple of God. Therefore the Church was in existence in the Old Testament. However, it was not called the Church. It was the body of faithful ones, the true worshippers of the Old Testament. God said to Elijah, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” I Kings 19:18. These were the faithful ones of Elijah’s generation, but there have been faithful ones in every generation since Adam. They are not all Israelites. The prophet Job was more righteous than most Israelites, but he was an Uzite, probably of the family of Uz (grandson of Shem), but not from Abraham. One person who sat with Job and spoke to him was Elihu, a Buzite, descended from Abraham’s brother Nahor. Therefore, there were people who worshipped God that were not Israelites.
The first stone of the holy temple of God is Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone of the building. He was in the beginning before Adam was created. He walked and talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Years later He walked and talked with Abraham. Years later He wrestled with Jacob. Years later He spoke to the boy Samuel at Shiloh. Years later, when He was born as a human being, grew up, and went about doing God’s work in Galilee and Judea, He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58. By saying that, He was declaring that He is God. He is the beginning and the end. He placed himself as the first stone in the temple, and He will place the last stone. At some time in the future the temple will be complete and then He will descend from heaven to set up his kingdom. He said of himself, “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?” Mark 12:10-11. A man-made temple will not be accepted by God. He only recognizes the building of living stones that has Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.
The final group of people that form the foundation of the temple of God is the apostles. They were like the prophets of the Old Testament in that they brought the word of God to the people and set forth doctrine for the Church. We recognize their writings as scripture, equal to the Old Testament as part of the written word of God. They were representatives of Jesus Christ after He ascended into heaven. Some people wonder if there are apostles today. I believe there are people with the gift of overseeing groups of churches and planting new churches like the apostles, but they cannot originate doctrine. Doctrine for the Church was finished and set forth in the Bible and cannot be added to. That was the teaching of the Reformation. There is a warning at the end of the Bible. It applies to the book of Revelation, but I believe it could apply to the whole Bible: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19.