For centuries now man has worshipped God in temples called church. Men have felt justified by this approach to worship and have followed such traditions because that is what has been handed down to them from their forefathers. But what if I could destroy this image in your mind with two Scripture passages and rebuild it in one? Would you change your mind about how you approach God and worship Him? If you don’t care you don’t need to read any further. But if your curious, please read on and judge for yourself.
I want to start in the book of Acts. Quoting from what the first martyr in Christ proclaimed before his death.
44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen, 45 which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, 46 who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built Him a house.
48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?
50 Has My hand not made all these things?’
I will point out that the last two verses above were a quote from the prophet Isaiah. Chaper 66 verse 1. In one brief moment Stephen has declared that God does not dwell in temples made by man. That is one witness. And Scripture declares that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit.
So then what is the temple? Did Jesus have anything to say about this? Yes I know that He did. Let’s look into the Gospel of John.
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since 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 the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had 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.(John 2:13-21)
Here our Christ has just driven the merchants and money changers from the temple. Men had accepted this temple that was rebuilt after the Israel’s return from Babylon. They thought of it as a temple inhabited by God. Did God need this temple? No. But it would serve a purpose until Christ. For God declared
11 Then the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying: 12 “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” (IKings 6:11-13)
But now let’s look again at the Scriptures above from John’s Gospel. The Jews react to Jesus by asking Him who gave Him authority to cast out the money changers. It’s like they were saying “hey, what’s the big deal”. So Jesus declares “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 21 says that He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Do you see it yet? Do you see Christ has destroyed the idea of worship at a place called a temple or a church? That He is the temple to worship and worship at? For in the following time after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven the disciples of Christ have no temple. But they did preach Christ to the Jews at the temple.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:42)
There’s one more verse I promised to help rebuild this idea of what the temple really is. It’s imperative to look at what was written and meditate on the full ramifications of what this means.
Here we go.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (ICor. 3:9-16)
WOW! Isn’t that amazing?! We who are filled with the Holy Spirit saved by the blood of Christ are knit together as God’s temple! Both man, woman, boy and girl! We are all One in Christ Jesus!
We don’t need to waste time and money on building churches, maintaining buildings. There is no need to set aside money for insurance or any other worldly considerations. All our gathered resources can be focused on preaching Christ crucified for our sins. Just the way He called us to do it. Just as His last command was given before He ascended up to Glory.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:18-20)
The only necessary tools we need are Scripture and our witness for the Gospel of Christ for men to be saved. We can gather wherever we are called. Be it in a home or any building with the realization the we are the temple of God with Christ as the cornerstone and the apostles and prophets as the foundation. May Christ bless you and keep you in your walk with Him.