The Community Of The Temple


The Old Covenant temple was a shadow/signs/foreshadowing of the New Covenant temple.

The New Covenant uses ‘body’ in two ways: us individually, and the church corporately.(1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and Colossians 1:24, 1 Peter 2:5.) 


1. A temple is still a testimony.Individually and corporately, we are a “city on a hill” that shines light into the darkness. As ambassadors, we “take God’s name” and carry it with us. When we build a church as a place to gather and worship Jesus, we “take God’s name” for our church. 

2. A temple is still a place of sacrifice[1]where we offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) which is the entirety of our lives (Romans 12:1). There are just no more sacrifices for the remission of sin, but the sacrifice of worship remains:

· Not to get God to respond, but as a response

· Not to pay off a debt, but to celebrate a debt forgiven. 

· Not of something else, but of ourselves

· Not a portion, but all. 

· Not occasionally, but daily (1 Corinthians 15:31)

3. A temple is still a place of worship. 

     A. It’s A TransformativePlace of Worship

·“Those who make [idols] will be like them, as will all those who trust in them.”(Psalm 115:8) 

·“What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.”[2]

·“Human identity [is] inextricably linked to what we worship. Who we are and what we worship are just two sides of the same coin.”[3]

     B. It's An Expressive Place Of Worship - We all express something about who we are by what we do. That’s inescapable. ““A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”(Luke 6:45)  

     C. It’s A Communal Place Of Worship – New Covenant worship is certainly not less than personal worship, but it’s more than that. It requires community. (Acts 2:46-47Hebrews 10:25). It’s not a biblical option. There was no concept in the early church that one could thrive as a Christian without being in steady, purposeful, close church community. 

A.   New Covenant Community corrals our theology.Our crazy ideas are supposed to be constrained in community. When we talk about heresy in the history of the church, we can get this wrong idea that a bunch of bullying people in charge piled on those they didn’t like or with whom they simply disagreed. At least in the early centuries of the church, this was not true. Arguments between friends lasted for years, sometimes decades. Often, it was not that the idea itself would shipwreck someone’s faith; the problems was that eventually, if they followed that idea to its conclusion, it would shipwreck their faith. We need community – biblically literate community – to keep us on the right path. Let me give a few examples. 

1.   How do we read the Bible?I once had a person who told me that the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son was the problem. I said, “You know that the father is God, right?” She said, “I had a dream that everyone else’s interpretation is wrong.” That’s a reason church community exists: theological guardrails.

2.    What are God’s attributes?Does he know the future or not? Open Theism is a trendy way of thinking about a God who discovers the future as we do and responds to what He too is learning. This is not a good trend. We can listen to a podcast or read a book alone and here a new idea like this and try to wrestle with it on our own, or we can bring new ideas into face-to-face community so that iron can sharpen iron. 

3.   What is God’s character like?Can a loving and just God send people to an eternity in a darkness away from the light of His presence or not? How do we understand Old Testament violence? God seems really angry in the Old Testament and really nice in the New Testament. Am I reading this correctly? What kind of God do we serve?

4.   How do we apply biblical principles?

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and others, but what does that mean? Put up with everything? Never criticize?  Too often this becomes, “Well, I can’t say anyone else is wrong.” Sure you can. “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” (Galatians 6:1) In the community of those who take on themselves the name of Christ, love – which desires the best for others – is honest and kind. We gently and humbly challenge when challenge is needed. “Who am I to judge?” You are a child of the King who has been given the standard by which to do exactly that concerning the path of life. [i]But you are to do it withlove inlove.

 B. New Covenant Communitybuilds godly friendships/peer groups/establishes norms. There is something really, really important about the steady influence of godly peers. We navigate the world with a lot of assumptions about what is normal and good. 

· Is my money mine or God’s, and what does that mean?

· Should I get married? If so, what kind of person should I marry?

· What is normal for how I think about and treat women/men?

· What kind of entertainment should form me?

· What is important in life: a good sex life? Money? A hot body? A big house? A family? A meaningful vocation? My character? Righteousness? Cheering for teams from Ohio? 

· How should I use social media?

· What is happening in the world (news sources)?

· What are my priorities in life? 

· What is the best way I can use my vote in the next election? 

· How do I read the Bible well? 

· What should I do with this kid who is driving me nuts? 

· How do I balance all the obligations in my life? 

· What is the good life, anyway?

This starts from the time we are children. Parents, we send our kids a message about the importance of church and the importance of what forms us by how consistently and deeply we engage with our church community. Is a weekly service part of the rhythm of our life? Do we get them engaged in children’s ministry and youth group whenever we can?  Do our schedules and conversations show that church life is a priority? Temples form temples.

C. New Covenant Communityoffers accountability.We are all on the same page (basically) about who God is and what He has called us to do. Community lets us encourage, challenge, applaud, confront, cry, laugh. I don’t know what I would do without the godly people in my life who have done all of these things. Those temples form this temple.

· They remind me what I ought to find entertaining, not just what I do find entertaining, and that’s a different standard than the world’s standard. 

· They let me know when my words hurt rather than heal, and that’s a different standard than the world’s standard.  

· We talk about politics from a temple perspective, not just a CNN or Fox perspective. 

· We talk about marriage and parenting and friendship and they give me temple advice.  

· We talk about money and things, and they give me a Heavenly Kingdom perspective, not an American Empire perspective. 

· We talk about #metoo, and Black Lives Matter, and immigration, and abortion, and Gillette commercials, and whether or not a baker should make a cake for a same-sex couple, and how to think about and respond to the transgender phenomenon with truth and grace, and how to address poverty – you know, all the easy stuff :)

And we don’t always agree, but it’s Temple Talk. I know I am talking with people who are being transformed into the image of Christ, and part of that transformation happens even as we wrestle together as we are pursuing God’s truth, temple to temple. 

D. New Covenant Communitybears each other’s burdens.Life is hard. Life is harder alone. This is so important that the law of Christ is fulfilled when we bear each other’s burdens! (Galatians 6:2)

· Financial.I am becoming increasingly aware that I have a worldly view of money, not a biblical one. I think it’s mine, when the Bible is clear that God intends for His children to help others and bless the world with what He has given them. When the Holy Spirit is poured out in Acts 2:38, it brought koinonia—a Greek word meaning “fellowship.” We see what that means 44-45: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone who had need.”in Acts 4, believers with wealth and possessions frequently sold them and gave money to the apostles, who distributed it to the poor in the church (Acts 4:34-37). Acts records that there were no needy persons among them. 

· Emotional– the church is intended to be the place where we weep with those who weep. We pray for our friends and our children; we ‘lean toward’ people and enter into their lives by listening to the cries of their hearts. This is best done with people who know you. People get to know you over time. 

· Historical– Our history is not our destiny, but our history deeply influences us. One way we bear burdens is to walk with people as they unpack their family of origin, the legacy of their sins, the legacy of sins done to them, the reality of how their churches or schools or neighborhoods played a formative role in their lives.

· Spiritual– If you have lived long enough, you have wrestled with God. It has good biblical precedent JWe need to let others wrestle with our spiritual battles with us. Where is God? What’s the deal with prayer? What does strong faith look like? Why is there so much pain in my life or in the world? 


[1]“If there be any lesson which comes out of this great truth of Christians as temples, it is not a lesson of pluming ourselves on our dignity, or losing ourselves in the mysticisms which lie near this truth, but it is the hard lesson - If a temple, then an altar; if an altar, then a sacrifice.‘Ye are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, that ye may offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God…’ all for the sake and by the might of that dear Lord who has given Himself a bleeding sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, that we might offer a… sacrifice of thanks and praise and self-surrender unto Him...” – MacLaren’s Expositions

[2]Greg Beale, We Become What We Worship.

[3]A modified quote from Timothy Keller’s book on Jonah

[i]Here’s another example. Will Christians ever be sick or unhappy or depressed or lonely if they are really loyal followers of Jesus? Well, let’s look at the disciples and apostles and read the history of the church. We stand on the shoulders of giants who were often broken and spilled out for the sake of the gospel. 

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning;they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith…” (Hebrews 12:35-39)

The writer of Hebrews does not equate comfort and ease with godliness. Outside of the biblical record, one can simply look at the history of ‘great Christians’ to see what God allows in the life of His children to accomplish His purposes.  Does God heal? Absolutely. But God’s mysterious sovereignty does not always relieve us of hardships. 

·  David Brainerd, American missionary to Native Americans, died at age 29 of tuberculosis. 

·  Oswald Chambers(My Utmost For His Highest) died at age 43.

·  Dietrich Bonhoefferwas hanged by the Nazis at age 39.

·  Fanny Crosbywas never healed of her blindness.

·  Joni Erickson Tadawas never healed of her paralysis.

·  Eric Liddell, who went to China as a missionary, died of a brain tumor at 43.

·  Jim Elliotdied at age 29 when he was speared to death by Auca Indians in Ecuador.

·  Paul Little(Know Why You Believe) died at age 46 in a car accident.

·  Keith Greendied at age 28 in a plane crash. 

·  Hudson Tayloronce wrote,  “I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.”

·  Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Bunyan, Handel, Isaac Newton, Charles Spurgeon, Florence Nightingale, Randy Alcorn, Sheila Walsh, Lacrae – all had or have depression as a “thorn in the flesh” that God saw fit to leave with them, perhaps to show that His grace is sufficient. [i]