Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Christ & the Church: Together We Are a Temple

You are here

Christ & the Church

Together We Are a Temple

Downloads
MP3 Audio (23.22 MB)

Downloads

Christ & the Church: Together We Are a Temple

MP3 Audio (23.22 MB)
×

In this message we will look at the relationship of Christ & the Church through the analogy of the temple where they come together.

Transcript

Christ & the Church: Together We Are a Temple

The bible often compares spiritual realities to features of our day to day existence to draw out some feature of that spiritual reality... Jesus compared the work of the holy spirit to the wind "you can't see the wind but you can see the results of the wind". Sometimes a variety of different comparisons are made about the same thing. Each drawing attention to a different aspect of the spiritual reality.

The relationship of Christ and the church is just such a subject. It is compared to a marriage, it is compared to human anatomy, it is compared to a shepherd with his flock, it is compared to a city with citizens, and it is compared to a temple.

SPS: Today we will look at the relationship of Christ & the Church through the analogy of the temple where they come together.

Christ is the Foundation of the Temple [Church]

The structure begins and ends with Christ, then we who are "in Christ" are the living stones that make up the rest of the building. This biblical analogy emphasizes themes of being fit together in unity, oneness of construction, sharing the same foundation and capstone which is Christ.

The word or phrase cornerstone was used in two ways:

  1. A stone laid to begin the building of a foundation for a building. Often it would be accompanied by a sacrifice and dedication ceremony. Even in America you can still see older buildings with a corner foundation stone that has and inscription of dedication carved into it This is how the phrase is applied in Ephesians 2:20-22 Ephesians 2:20-22 [20] And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
    American King James Version×
    .
  2. The phrase cornerstone was also used to refer to the topmost finishing stone put on top that finished the project. So, sometimes you'll see this “ben eber” translated as "head stone” Psalms 118:22 Psalms 118:22The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
    American King James Version×
    . Jesus applies this to himself in Matthew 21:42 Matthew 21:42Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?
    American King James Version×
    . In this context, Jesus enters Jerusalem for the final time, seated on a donkey's colt, hailed as king and Messiah verses 8-11. Yet within a few days the Jews would reject the Messiah who would complete God’s purpose For Israel.  And He would be put to death by the Romans.

Both of these ways of understanding a cornerstone are valid and applicable. Christ says " I am the Alpha and the Omega"... literally means "I am the beginning and the end"... "I am the stone that establishes the foundation and the stone that finishes off the building".

  1. Isaiah 28:16 Isaiah 28:16Therefore thus said the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste.
    American King James Version×
     Christ is the most important stone in the building... but He is also a stone that has been rejected by the Jews of the first century Romans 9:33 Romans 9:33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.
    American King James Version×
     [quote of Isaiah 28:18 Isaiah 28:18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing whip shall pass through, then you shall be trodden down by it.
    American King James Version×
    and Isaiah 8:14 Isaiah 8:14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
    American King James Version×
    ].
  2. Jesus has been rejected not only by Jews, but by humanity as a whole 1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:4To whom coming, as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
    American King James Version×
    .

His Church however,  is built on  foundational principles rejected by the world at large. Even by those who cry out "Lord. Lord". The true Church of God will always be on the outside looking in... so do not be dismayed by our relatively insignificant position and influence within society.

What the Temple Meant For The Jews [People of the Old Covenant]

The temple was the focal point of Jewish religious interests even if they lived in far away places. Jews directed their prayers and hearts towards Jerusalem and the temple there. It was there that the ordinances of sacrifice, the holy worship, and the mediation of the priesthood were carried out.

So, in those days… using the temple as an analogy for Christ would have a strong emotional connection with ideas of national pride and identity. Some of these feelings needed to be corrected and in many cases terminated... yet, some of these OT ideas simply needed to be reinterpreted in the new covenant.

  1. At the time when Jesus was on the scene and the Church was initiated the temple was actually a reconstruction built by a king named Herod in the years just before Jesus was born. IT was similar to, but not the same as the previous temples: the original built in 966 B.C. by Solomon based on God's plan, and the restored temple built in 538-515 B.C.by Zerubbabel - a smaller version of  the original.
  2. In Jesus’ day the Sadducees controlled the position of high priest and cooperated closely with the Romans. The Sadducees themselves had little popular support but the temple activities were held in high regard by most Jews because it was an important outworking of the divine law which regulated Jewish life.
  3. Jews from all over the empire would gather at the temple in Jerusalem to observe the feasts. Think of Pentecost 31 A.D. when the holy spirit filled the disciples and they were able to preach to thousands of people from all over the known world who were gathered in Jerusalem for the feast.

What the Temple Meant for Jesus and His Followers [People of the New Covenant]

New testament references to the temple can be grouped under three headings: reverence, criticism, and reinterpretation.

  1. Reverence & Respect for a Divine Institution

In many ways the NT shows Jesus and the early Christians as faithfully sticking to the temple and its worship service. Jesus and His disciples demonstrated an attitude of respect and reverence for the temple, which was also, respect for God who put the system in place... respect for god’s temple was respect for God's authority.

Yes, there were problems. There was corruption... but there was still respect. Note: it is important to remember that God allows for failure. He grants authority to fallible human beings and does not take away their freedom to make bad decisions.

Here's a modern day parallel to consider: if the Church is in some way to be considered as the present temple of God… do you have respect for it as God ordained institution?... even if you have disappointments or criticisms of what its up to? How do you handle that tension in attitude and in speech? Do you still show honor and respect?

Examples of respect:

The gospel begins in the temple: a prophetic announcement is given to Zechariah about the coming Messiah Luke 1:9-17 Luke 1:9-17 [9] According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. [10] And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. [11] And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. [12] And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell on him. [13] But the angel said to him, Fear not, Zacharias: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. [14] And you shall have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. [15] For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. [16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
American King James Version×
. The Gospel record also ends with the disciples teaching in the temple Luke 24:53 Luke 24:53And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
American King James Version×
.

  1. Jesus would go up to the temple at the appointed times Luke 2:22-24, 7:10,14.
  2. Jesus used the temple as a place for healing and instruction Matthew 21:14 Matthew 21:14And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
    American King James Version×
    , 23
  3. Note: in Jesus day the local Jewish synagogue had become the true center for religious, ethical and moral instruction as well as practical worship for most of the people. So, we see Jesus and the Church that followed using the synagogue as a platform for teaching and proclamation.
  4. Matthew 5:23 Matthew 5:23Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you;
    American King James Version×
     presumes the propriety of bringing gifts "to the altar" ie. the temple.
  5. Matthew 23:32 Matthew 23:32Fill you up then the measure of your fathers.
    American King James Version×
     affirms OT understanding that the temple was to be considered God's throne, throne room, royal residence on earth.
  6. Even after the resurrection of Jesus the disciples consider it appropriate to praise God in the temple and to participate in its service Acts 2:46 Acts 2:46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
    American King James Version×
    , 3:1, 5:12, 42
     [used as a forum for meeting, instruction, and personal worship].
  7. Acts 21:26-28 followers of Christ, like Paul, still participated in temple worship practices. It appears that full understanding of the change in the administration of sacrifice and priesthood was not yet fully understood by the Church. These issues would later be fully worked out and explained later in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews spells out  a new and better priesthood to replace the old…  a new and better sacrifice for sin to replace the old. There would also be a new and better temple to replace the old!

Matthew 12:6 Matthew 12:6But I say to you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
American King James Version×
 there was nothing wrong with the old order of things [except for the abuses and sins of the people running the show]. But the replacement would be better... a better and more complete sacrifice for sin... a better more helpful High priest... and a better location for gathering place, for worship, for instruction. That better temple is the Church of God.

  1. Criticisms of Current Abuses & Condemnation

In both the old and new testament a major problem with people's attitudes about the temple was that it gave a false sense of God’s approval... “God’s temple is among us so we are safe... both spiritually and physically”.

A possible parallel to our present situation: if we were to put too much emphasis on being in the right Church on the right day… and not enough emphasis on allowing our full participation in that Church change us.

John 2:13-22 John 2:13-22 [13] And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [14] And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: [15] And when he had made a whip of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; [16] And said to them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. [17] And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up. [18] Then answered the Jews and said to him, What sign show you to us, seeing that you do these things? [19] Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [20] Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days? [21] But he spoke of the temple of his body. [22] When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
American King James Version×
 this is an example of both reverence for the temple... at the same time a criticism of it's corruption and abuse. They were turning the temple into a market... even if they were providing a helpful service they were using abusive and dishonest business practices... Plus, they were taking over valuable space in the courts of the temple and crowding out people who came to worship.

A parallel for us: we are warned not to treat the Church of God as a means of gain... whether its corrupt leaders who want money and status, or people who hang around looking for a handout, or those who use their personal wealth as a means to gain status within the church. Also, we must be on guard that we are not making it difficult for people who want to approach God in spirit and in truth.

Mark 13:2 Mark 13:2And Jesus answering said to him, See you these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.
American King James Version×
 Jesus announces condemnation upon the temple in clear and graphic words. The very stones would be torn down. But as we read earlier Jesus also used this prophecy as an indication that the temple would be replaced by that which is better. His prophecy was big news... lots of people knew about it, it was used as a charge against Him on the night of His trial Mark 14:57-58 Mark 14:57-58 [57] And there arose certain, and bore false witness against him, saying, [58] We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
American King James Version×
… “this man blasphemes and says He will destroy the temple” 

Note: Jesus did not say He Himself would tear down the Jerusalem temple and build it back in three days. This is false charge as Mark tells us.

Only later would the Church understand that He was referring to His own death, 3 days and nights in the tomb, and His resurrection. In both cases the actual destroyers were the Romans. They conducted the execution of Jesus in 31 A.D. and they destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D.

  1. The Replacement of the Temple

Jesus words were also a proclamation that the material temple made of stones and timbers would be replaced by a better dwelling place for God...within and among the believers, His Church, His Body.

We understand this change to a new and better temple in two ways:

  1. Individual Believers as temple 1 Corinthians 6:19 1 Corinthians 6:19What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
    American King James Version×
    ; 2 Corinthians 6:16 2 Corinthians 6:16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    American King James Version×
    -17 - in both cases understanding the individual as the temple of God is a call to have a new seriousness about sin, personal holiness, purity, order and authority. This is as important today as it was yesterday.
  2. The Church of God collectively as temple 1 Corinthians 3:1 1 Corinthians 3:1And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.
    American King James Version×
    0-16 the context implies this refers to the collective body of the congregation [those who disrupt the unity of the Church are destroyers of the temple]... Ephesians 2:19-22 Ephesians 2:19-22 [19] Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [20] And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together grows to an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom you also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
    American King James Version×
     [the Church is a temple made up of all races]... 1 Peter 2:5 1 Peter 2:5You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
    American King James Version×
    -7 [it is a place where spiritual sacrifices are performed -

Spiritual sacrifices are not real when they are only in your mind. Spiritual sacrifice becomes real through your interaction with other people. This is especially so within the Church where members meet face to face.

Together Christ and His People Are a Temple

It is time for you to take your presence in God’s household seriously. It is time to enter into the courts of the Lord with respect for the foundation it is built upon, with honor towards who is present there with you, with joy that you are included, and with zeal for its reputation and success. Hebrews 12:18-29 Hebrews 12:18-29 [18] For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) [22] But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel. [25] See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: [26] Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. [27] And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. [28] Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: [29] For our God is a consuming fire.
American King James Version×
.