My Thoughts . . .

Monday, January 21, 2019

The word “sanctuary” first appears in Exodus 15:17. It is from the Hebrew word miqdash which means “a consecrated thing or place. . .chapel, hallowed part, holy place, or sanctuary.”  God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle tent.  This tent would be special because of God’s presence.  A room within this tent was called “the most holy place” (Exodus 26:33-34) or “sanctuary” (Exodus 25:8).  This “most holy place” or “sanctuary” was later transferred to the Temple.  This is where God’s presence would be, and their sins would be removed (Exodus 23:27-28).  There were certain rules connected with the Tabernacle and/or Temple and what could and could not be done therein.  Prior to Jesus’ arrest he told his apostles that the Temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24; Luke 21; and Mark 13).  It would no longer be needed because God would change the location and rules of His new temple.  Some have missed this biblical fact as demonstrated by our speech and thoughts.

The first recorded case of a church building was in the fourth century.  With time and use this building became known as the Christian’s Temple.  The assembly room was where Christians contacted God to worship Him.  This assembly room was referred to as “the sanctuary.”  Did God destroy the Temple in 70 A.D. so a church building could take its place?  Is worshiped restricted to a specific holy place?  Didn’t Jesus make it possible for us to worship God anywhere with or without walls (John 4:21-26)?  Did early Christians meet in the Temple courtyards because it was God’s special place to receive their worship?  When persecution robbed them of that location, did God switch His presence to specific houses?  If so, which ones appear in holy writ as those specific places?  They aren’t there, are they?  When Rome’s persecution began and saints assembled in the catacombs, did those putrid places become God’s sanctuary?  Does God dwell in man-made constructions or did Jesus make that place the hearts of believers?  Where is God’s house?  Is it a man-made habitat or the heart?

When Paul wrote to the assembly in Corinth, he reminded them that THEY were “the temple of God” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:16-16; 6:19).  THEY were and are God’s dwelling place!  Christians are God’s sanctuary!  They are God’s holy place!   He referred to the Corinthians as “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).  Purchasing a meeting place and occupying it four hours each week does not convert it into God’s house, temple, or sanctuary.  Under the second covenant, saints are the unique dwelling place of God.  They are God’s house (Hebrews 3:6).  Christians are the “body of Christ.”  Christ is the head of his body which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  The biblical expressions “body of Christ,” “church,” “temple of God,” “temple of the Holy Spirit,” and “sanctuary” refer to those people God has added to the saved.

Some recognized this biblical truth and refer to Christians as God’s sanctuary, holy place, or temple.  If the heart of the Christian is God’s 24/7 dwelling place.  This understanding produced a name change, replacing the term “sanctuary” with the word “auditorium.”  However, changing descriptive names doesn’t necessarily change one’s view.  The mouth may vocalize “auditorium” but the heart may continue to think “sanctuary.”  Problems are not always solved by a name change.

Some continue to honor the auditorium as the Jews respected the Temple.  Jesus, speaking of “in spirit and in truth” worship, did not locate it in a specific geographical site (John 4:21, 23-24).  That worship is produced in the heart.  Your heart and mine are that temple!

Christians, as God’s temple are “holy” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  Our presence does not make the building nor grounds “holy,” neither are they a “holy place” when we leave.  Holiness is in the heart of the saint not in the ground the building sits on (Romans 12:1).  We are not God’s temple, holy place, or sanctuary only four hours each week.  We are his sanctuary 24/7.  Where does God’s word limit “in spirit and in truth” worship to a few hours in a specific geographical location?  The Bible doesn’t, but we do!  Why?

Perhaps the reason some identify a man-made structure as God’s “sanctuary,” is because such a view excuses them, giving them time off from being godly?  Is that New Testament Christianity?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Are we a four-hour Christian, four-hour temple, or four-hour house of God each week?  Wouldn’t that mean we are godless temples more than we are God’s dwelling place?  Do we “present our bodies a living sacrifice” only four hours each week?  Are we “holy” and “acceptable to God” only four hours each week?  Is that what “reasonable service” or “worship” means?  Does that view not teach that God dwells in us only part time?  If during the 164 hours he is not dwelling in us, would that not make us god-less?

It’s our choice.  Either the Christian is God’s dwelling place, sanctuary, or temple, or a man-made building is.  If the Christian is, then he is in God’s presence 24/7.  That’s a good time to worship Him!