Monday, July 19, 2010

YOU ARE GOD'S TEMPLE !


 TEXT : 1  Corinthians  3  : 16,17
 TITLE  :  " You are God's Temple  !"
 DATE  PREACHED  :  THE LORD'S DAY  - 18/07 /2010 

16 Do you not know that you    are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.


Let us begin by looking at those two  important phrases ,  “ you are God’s temple “ and  “God’s Spirit  dwells in you…( v. 16)  before we make some important  applications (vv.17-23) :

 1. YOU ARE GOD’S TEMPLE
The church of God is a very precious  institution .  We had previously observed  that  the  church of the NT is the  counterpart of the OT  temple . And here  in 3:16 we  see that the apostle Paul applies  that OT   image to the church when he says:  “ You are God’s temple…”.  He had already begun to talk about  God’s building in v.9 . He   had spoken about his own involvement in that building . He calls himself  “ a skilled master builder “ , not because he was bragging  , but because he acknowledged that God was behind this  (“according  to the grace  of God given to me “ – like Hiram  of Tyre   who  made the temple furnishings  under Solomon , a man full of wisdom , understanding and skill for making the temple furnishings1 Kings 7:14) . And Paul spoke about  the importance of  the foundation , and the fact that  more people were going to build on that foundation . He  tells us that that foundation is Christ  , and he tells us  that  we must be very careful  with what sort of  materials  we should build this temple .
Why was he saying all this  ? Because   the people at Corinth were  abusing  this  living temple .They were making more out of men than out of Christ .  They were in great danger of experiencing  God’s wrath  because of this (v.17)
Let us think  a little further about this metaphor of the temple .
We must not be to tempted to  think  of the OT temple simply  as a building . We must think of the purpose .  The temple was designed  as  a house  for the   worshippers  of  the sovereign God, Yahweh .  God’s  temple  was designed to be a ‘house of prayer for all peoples ‘ ( Matt  21:13  cf.  Isa  56:7) . It was  designed to be filled with worshipping people  and  with   life!  
And so , significantly,  we  find that  the  NT church  never refers  to  a place of ‘ brick and mortar’ ,  but as  ‘ living stones’  . 1 Peter 2:5 says that the church is a spiritual building , and each member in it   is a living stone. God Himself is the architect and builder of this living  temple ( Eph 2:19-22) .  The people  are  God’s  ( 1 Cor 3:9) . The Church  is  the people of the Lord Jesus Christ . He said : “I will build my church and the  gates of Hades shall not overcome it “ (Matt  16:18 ) . The church is made up of His sheep . He knows each one by Name  (Jn 10:3) . Their names have been recorded in His book of life  from before the beginning of the world ( Rev 13:8).  

2.     YOU  ARE INDWELT BY  GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT
The second  thing that  Paul says  about the church   is that she is    indwelt by the Holy Spirit .  Again , this is a significant statement , and to  appreciate  it we must consult the OT.  Surely the most significant thing after Moses  had the tabernacle constructed ( according to pattern)  , and Solomon had the  temple constructed  ( according to pattern) , was that  the glory of the Lord (the Holy Spirit)  filled  this place ( Ex40:34 ; 1 Kings  8:10,11) . Life came  into this building when  God’s presence  was there . This place was holy  not  because  the presence of the Lord was in this place  ! 
What makes the Christian  church unique  is that  she is  the place and  the people  indwelt  by the Holy Spirit .
When you stop to think about  all this you realize what deep things we are being taught here from the Scriptures . We are being reminded that the Holy Spirit Himself, the third person of  the Trinity , lives in and among us. God's powerful presence is with us in a  very  direct way .  He is here and involved and active, effecting and changing our lives with His mighty power. I have seen that power  in the testimonies that many of you have written in our  25th  Anniversary publication ,  due to be published soon . 
Sadly ,  however,   it is also true to say  that we can live and act as if the Spirit were not present, as if we were not His temple, as if He did not live in and among us.
The Bible teaches us  that the indwelling Spirit  may be  grieved , disobeyed , rebelled  against - as these Corinthian Christians had in fact  done.  Once that happens , the  effect of this behaviour is  that our liberty  is taken away , and  His  influences  are virtually invisible to anyone else.  We  may then be classified as  ‘ fleshly Christians’  (3:1,3)
To live by the Spirit  means to keep  in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16 ,25), by not  gratifying the desires of the flesh  ( Gal 5:16-17), and by  displaying  the fruit of the Spirit (Gal  5:22,23).

You    are God's temple and  God's Spirit dwells in you !
Those are  significant  and weighty descriptions  , and  it tells us  something about the  way in which  God sees the church , and it tells us  how we  should look at the church!
We cannot  allow our  view of the church of Christ  to be  so   small and so weightless  .
It is sad that  so many Protestant , Evangelical  Christians  view the church with such casual indifference. Sometimes  it is the preaching of the church that does it .  We preach   about the necessity  of  salvation ;   we teach  our people the art of discipleship , and  about tithing, the use of spiritual gifts ,  evangelism and  missions ,  all good, valid, godly  disciplines in themselves  , but many Christians  are very individualistic  about  this . We are not always helped to see  that what we do is  done  for the common good and the glory of God in the church .  The church is a body and not a  bunch of individual limbs ( see 1 Cor 12)
The church is  the  biblical platform  to which we  must refer  time and again. We must hold ourselves accountable to  the church . The apostle Paul went out on his missionary journeys  from  and under the  authority  of the church at Antioch  and he returned to  report to the church  at Antioch
I believe that  the  doctrine  of the church  (ecclesiology)  is perhaps  the  most neglected  aspect   of current Christian thinking  .   Most  people  in our day  view the church largely from  the  perspective  of  a human  organization  ( or worse still  –  a building)  and not for what she really is –  a spiritual body – the temple of God , the bride of Christ  ! 
And it is  because  we ( like the Corinthians) have  considered the church  as  a mere,  man made organization and not as the temple of God  and not  as  the place  where the Holy Spirit  dwells. And because  of  that we have forgotten the real power of the church .
We have  forgotten that  a united praying   church has the power  to bind and loose  on earth – and whenever the church  the church prays unitedly she  shall  find a corresponding ‘ Amen ‘ in heaven !  (Matt  18:18)  . We have seen instances in  our church  of  such marvelous  power  when  against  human reason  and against hope  we as a church, trusted  God in prayer    for the  life of little Rachel Brink   !  

And yet we retreat into our  sinful ' default mode' , so very easily when we begin to doubt the power of God  through  a united church . We  fall back into our default mode  when we treat the church as an organization , and we think that we can solve the problems of the church through better programs  and more   novel ideas, when in reality  the power  is already given to us by our Head .  We don't need better  programs . We need  people  that assemble  under His Word and do what it says , and we need people that pray ! Knowing His will and asking according to His will  guarantees  that  we  shall have  whatever we ask in his Name !  

No thoughtful Christian can consider the state of our Namibian culture today without considerable grief . And we better stop blaming the world for all the problems. The world (natural men  - 2:14) around us can only do what they know best : that is to  sin  !
 God has put us ,  the church, His temple   into this world  as a balm , a dispenser of grace , as  His  healing agent  for the nations.
He has given  the church to the world  for the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-20) through the gospel .
The church is the disinfectant  and the light of the world . The  Lord Jesus said  to the church  : “  You are the salt of the earth , but if salt has lost its taste , how shall its saltiness be restored ? … You are the light  of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden….” ( Matt 5:13-16) .  Could the task of the church be any clearer ?

IF ANYONE DESTROYS  GOD’S TEMPLE … ( vv. 17 -23)
Perhaps it is time for me now  to remind you of v. 17ff   and take stock  of  what we would face if we  continually ignored  the fact that the church is God’s temple  and God’s people indwelt by the Holy Spirit  :
17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

The apostle Paul has warned us against building God’s work and God’s temple  with shabby  building material , and now let us beware of what v. 17  teaches . Paul says  that  if anyone  destroys a church  ( God’s temple)  , God will destroy him . These are chilling words, and they remind us  that  if we remove  the proper foundation ( Christ)  and substitute these with  other foundations  and if we build with poor materials ( poor doctrine; poor living out of the gospel; poor commitment levels  to Christ and his church)  , then we may well  find ourselves  in the position  of those in Matthew 7 :21-23 .

Let us  learn  to examine ourselves in this regard. “ Let no one deceive himself”.  Let no one boast in men . Let us boast in Christ .  God in Christ  has  given us all things  and we need not be  on the lookout for  human wisdom . The  wisdom  of God contained in this word  is enough . Through God’s Word all things have become yours  .  Make it you aim to  know  His Word , for His Word is above all things . Amen  .

2 comments:

John8com said...

May his Word dwell richly in us all. Blessings.

Brad

Joachim Rieck said...

Thanks for the encouragement Brad ! Greetings from Namibia, Joachim