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Do You Know God’s Address?

July 19, 2009
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Well, do you?  I have a stronger opinion on this now after having had a week to look into the matter.

Being that I’m a pastor, I have the privilege (and believe me, I know that it is a gracious privilege) to be charged with teaching people about God.  The only way I know to do this is to read his autobiography–the Bible.  Thus a major part of the privilege:  to be able to spend so much time with the Lord reading his Word, being with Him.

We’re still in the first series of messages at my new church and these messages are on “The Church, The Body of Christ.”  The wealth of truth in the NT on the Church is really quite something (to understate it).  For example, this Sunday we looked at Ephesians 2:19-22 where the Church is pictured as a temple:

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Since the temple is an OT reality, it was back to the past to learn what the temple was all about.  Basically, it was the place where God met with his people to receive their worship.  But long before the Temple was built by Solomon, God had been meeting with his people.  As I reviewed the Bible’s storyline in my mind, I came up with the following key moments in history where God meets with man:

At the beginning in the garden (Gen 1-2)

but disrupted by the Fall into sin (Gen 3)

At the tabernacle (Exodus 25) which turns into The temple (1 Kgs 8: ff.)

but disrupted by the idolatry of Israel (Ezekiel 8-11)

At the incarnation (Jn 1:14)

but “interrupted” by the Ascension so

Now in the Church by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 2 Corinthians 6:16–18; Ephesians 2:19–22) which leads to

The Finish in the new heaven, new earth & new Jerusalem (Rev 21).

Now the Lord met with many individuals outside of these crucial points in history, but these are the times and places where God came to live among his people in community and covenant.  Or, as the Scriptures will often put it, to “dwell” with His people so that He is their God and we are His people:

“Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.”

“So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests.  Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.  They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.”

“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.  And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

(Exo 25:8; 29:44-46; 1 Kings 8:10-13; Ezek. 34:23-27; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:22)

One more thought to draw it all together:  “Another development significant for the NT is the spiritualizing of the temple. Although the idea of the individual as a temple appears in the NT (1 Cor. 6:19), it is nowhere nearly as prominent as the idea of the community of believers as a spiritual temple” (New Dictionary of Biblical Theology).

Imperfect and deeply flawed as we still are, God chooses to live among and with His people, the Church.  Not merely individually (though so true)—but as we are being built together.  This is a message we individualistic Americans need to live in.  We are designed to live in community together because there God lives.

God’s address is the Church of Jesus Christ, the people he is building and joining together until He comes again!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Wes permalink
    July 19, 2009 11:07 PM

    I really enjoyed the sermon this morning, & this refresher was most helpful in solidifying things in my mind. I’ve always known that it was important to “go to church” and was aware of verses directing Christians to gather together & verses indicating that God would be in our midst, but I’m not sure I had ever thought much about how important it is to be “built up together” or that the community of believers is God’s dwelling place. I think this helps to explain why we can feel so out of touch when we miss even 1 week.

    I pray that God will continue to open my heart/mind to new truths (to me) in His word, & I thank you for this whole series of sermons. Even if nobody else is benefiting from them (though I highly doubt that), they have benefited me greatly.

  2. A Clay Jar Speaking permalink*
    July 19, 2009 11:45 PM

    Wes,
    Your words are beyond encouraging to me and I thank you for them. Most of all, for God speaking to you through me b/c He gets the glory!

  3. Wes permalink
    July 20, 2009 11:01 PM

    I just read David Dunham’s latest post, & I think it ties in very well with this message:

    http://christinthecity.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/the-ordo-communitas/

  4. Jane permalink
    July 21, 2009 8:03 AM

    Very powerful sermon yesterday! It’s really amazing to think about God choosing to dwell in such imperfect and flawed people like me!

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