God’s Temple/Tearing Down What Man Has Built

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?’
(Acts 7:44-50)

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.

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.

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16 Responses to God’s Temple/Tearing Down What Man Has Built

  1. This is really good, brother: clear and simple. I am still meditating upon it. I have a question that I will ask tonight when we gather for fellowship. I will want to talk about this then …

    Peace and grace,,
    Mark

  2. Loretta says:

    Reblogged this on Witnessing Encouragement and commented:
    “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.” Click the link to read the full article.

  3. Al Nelson says:

    Thanks for sharing TJ and Loretta. God Bless you in your walk in Christ Jesus our Lord. May His truth reign in our lives!

  4. cmardern says:

    Realize there is a dual layer to Jesus’ prophecy concerning the tearing down. He first was talking about his own body and the resurrection 3 days after his crucifixion and also He was refering to the church that after 2 days (thousand years) it would be rebuilt on the third day. He was talking about Hosea’s prophecy.
    Hos 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
    This is talking about tabernacles when the fallen church transitions from the age of pentecost to the age of tabernacles. When the latter house, the house in which this blog is referring is glorified. Hag 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

    Chris

    • Al Nelson says:

      Hi Chris, God Bless you in Jesus. I don’t think we are too different in understanding. Just as I quoted above from I Cor.
      16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
      Christ is the cornerstone of our faith with the prophets and apostles as the foundation. This is the temple that is being rebuilt from the beginning of His Glorious resurrection isn’t it? Isn’t each person that is saved a “brick” in the temple? The building of the temple is ongoing until it’s completion when Christ returns. Amen?

      • Al Nelson says:

        Also Amen on your Scripture references. They point to the passing of the old covenant and the new through Christ alone. He has truly renewed us in the shedding of His blood and resurrection from the dead! Glory to the Lord!

        Not sure what your thousand years reference means in regard to the building of the Body of Christ. Are you simply pointing to Christ’s return to gather the elect or something else?

      • Michael Reese says:

        Bricks are man made brother and each one is just like the other. We are living stones!
        1 Peter 2:5 NASB
        [5] you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

  5. Mister says:

    My question has to do with the commands, observances, rituals given to the church such as baptism, communion, discipline, bishop’s leading, head coverings for women and thousands of different issues. How does this work without an actual physical church?
    I am out if church now, but I consider it a wrong and sinful situation that needs to be resolved in my life.

    • Al Nelson says:

      Awesome question Mister. The only real concern I think you should have us who the Lord puts you in fellowship with and when. Don’t be in a hurry. The Lord may want you in the wilderness for a while. Just spend time with Him. I have been in and out of fellowship from season to season. Sometimes over years. Sometimes just weeks. Or once or twice. My only consistent fellowship is with my family and one brother out of state. Drop me a line sometime if I can be of any encouragement. (lastdaysoftheage@yahoo.com) Blessings in Christ.

      • Al Nelson says:

        So why is it so important for each disciple of Christ to walk in the wilderness? First we need to begin to detox from all the false teachings we have fed on over time. In other words everything you thought you knew needs to be tested against the word of God. Second, this is where you learn to hear from the Lord, depend upon Him and learn to walk in the Spirit. You may already be walking this path, but I say this for the benefit of others as well.

  6. I cannot agree more with this: “So why is it so important for each disciple of Christ to walk in the wilderness? First we need to begin to detox from all the false teachings we have fed on over time. In other words everything you thought you knew needs to be tested against the word of God. Second, this is where you learn to hear from the Lord, depend upon Him and learn to walk in the Spirit. You may already be walking this path, but I say this for the benefit of others as well.”

    The importance of fellowship cannot be underscored enough:

    We cannot gather at the EXPENSE of TRUTH, however: that is not a true fellowship.

    Al’s first comment is paramount [who does God want to put you into fellowship with?], as it implies that we gather according to the SPIRIT’S LEADING, and not simply as an expression of the cultural traditions of the modern church age.

    In essence, there is the VISIBLE church [known by characteristics that have nothing to do with Who God IS and what HE has DONE] and the INVISIBLE church, which is known only by God, as it is not named, does not advertise, and is not formed through the organizing of men.

    Peace and grace,

    Mark

  7. Mister says:

    Please tell me (sorry this is pretty random), but it is unsettling for me.
    Luther believed in the real presence, but Zwingli did not. Consequently, Luther refused to call Zwingli a brother. At the same time, Zwingli had no problem uniting with Luther and calling him a brother in Christ while refusing his real presence doctrine. Confusing……My background is RC, and I definitely do not believe in real presence. Is this an issue you would literally die for the way Christians were martyred in the Middle Ages? Or is this a secondary issue? I believe that the host is an idol, so how could this be secondary? Could someone be truly saved and believe in real presence? Talking about real body in the cookie/wafer/bread. All this comes from reading The History of Protestantism by Wylie. Please help. Am I too divisive? Uncharitable?

  8. Al Nelson says:

    So what is our source of Truth? Is it Luther, Zwingli, some one else? Does history play a role in interpreting the Bible?

    Scripture alone is my source of Truth. When I consider what other men have said about a matter I go straight back to the Bible to see what the Lord said there.

    14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (2Tim 2:14-16

    Who guides me? The Holy Spirit.

    12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15)

    The truth is that when men began to separate from Catholic tradition they didn’t wholly separate. I would encourage you to test all practices, whether they are of men or of God. Did God give clear instruction about the presence being a cracker? Did He say that the wine was literally His blood?

    I suggest reading and considering how Paul taught taking the Lord’s supper in ICor. 11:17-34. Then going back to read what Jesus and the apostles were doing at the Last Super and what was said. For we cannot detach the words from the activity happening at the time.

    In other words, I wouldn’t worry about an age old argument between 2 men long gone. I would just look to God and His Truth and rest in that. The more we simply rest in what the Lord said and teaches in Scripture, the more we are on the narrow path He told us to walk.

  9. Mister says:

    Thank you very much for your response. Much appreciated. My confusion came from the fact that both of them claimed their position was 100% biblical. Since I was deceived by man already once, I don’t want to be deceived anymore. On the other hand, I do not claim to know better than any of those two great historical figures. In addition, there’s a PHD at my work (claims to be born again), and derides me for not believing in the real presence. All this was the origin of my confusion and a field of devil’s play in my life for the last few weeks. Thank you.

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