Christianity 201

May 23, 2013

Jesus is the New Temple

Jesus A TheographyI am currently working my way very slowly through the book, Jesus: A Theography by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. The book explores various aspects of Jesus’ ministry and goes beyond the simple ‘womb to tomb’ biography by dealing with the pre-incarnate and post-incarnate Christ. I’m currently about half-way through the book and landed on this section where the authors enumerate the various places where Jesus takes on the role that Israel formerly ascribed to ‘temple.’  This is taken from pages 171-173. I encourage you to visit Bible Gateway or Bible Hub to check out the various references in context.

  • The Jews understood that the temple was the one place on earth where heaven and earth intersected.  It was the extension of the garden of Eden, the playground of angels and humans.  Jesus was God and man.  He was the joining together of God’s dwelling and the dwelling of humans.  Jesus is the reality of Bethel, the “house of God,” which is marked by commerce between the heavens and the earth.  (Recall Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28, where angels ascended and descended from heaven to earth, and Jesus’ words to Nathanael in John 1 that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s house.)
  • Jesus identified Himself as the tabernacle of God, the fulfillment of the tabernacle of Moses, where God’s glory rested.  The words of John 1:14, He “dwelt among us”, literally mean He “tabernacled among us.”  In the same text, John went on to say “and we beheld his glory.”
  • In John 2:19, Jesus said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  John then informed us, two verses later, that Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.
  • In Matthew 12:6, Jesus announced that he is greater than the physical temple.  The physical temple was a signpost.  Jesus is the reality.
  • In Colossians 2:9, Paul says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus in bodily form.  In other words, Jesus is the dwelling place of God.
  • In John 20, Jesus breathed into the disciples.  They were now a new creation.  He then gave them the word of proclaiming forgiveness to sinners.  Forgiveness was the rule of the temple in Jerusalem.  The temple afforded forgiveness of sins by the sacrifices that were offered there.  Now Jesus, the real Temple and the real Sacrifice, offered forgiveness.  And those who were part of the Temple, His disciples, declared it as well.
  • In His ministry in Galilee, Jesus was acting and living as though He were the temple itself.  He was fulfilling all of the temple’s functions.  To have your sins forgiven in that day, you had to go to the temple.  Jesus was subverting this system by offering forgiveness Himself.
  • After the temple of His body was destroyed, Jesus rose again on the third day.  Fifty days later, at Pentecost, thousands of Jews were converted to Christ.  They were the “living stones” that were “hewn out of the one Rock,” which is Christ.  In Mark 14:58, one of the witnesses at Jesus’ trial said, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man'”.  These living stones became the building blocks for the house of God.  Jesus, the real Temple, had increased.  Now the church has become the temple of God on earth.
  • In Acts 2, an unusual event occurred on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem.  The Spirit of God fell on 120 disciples of Jesus.  They spoke in tongues, and tongues of fire appeared on their heads.  The real temple of God was being born right in the midst of the old physical temple.  The tongues were the reverse of what happened in Babel.  At Babel sinful men tried to achieve unity by creating a tower to reach the heavens.  God judged their effort and confused them by scrambling their languages.  At Pentecost the Spirit of God united them, they spoke in other tongues, and they understood one another.  The fire on their heads is reminiscent of the fire that fell from heaven on the temple when it was dedicated.  The new temple of God is not built with human hands.
  • The temple was a signpost of a future reality.  It was God’s dwelling place.  It was the place of forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and wholeness.  It was the place of God’s presence on earth.


April 4, 2012

God Doesn’t Hand You His Will, He Wants You To Find It

I really enjoy the writing of Charlotte, NC pastor Steven Furtick.  Unfortunately, his blog has been reconfigured and is now a collection of video clips from current and past sermons. Perhaps we’ll include some here soon, but in the meanwhile, here is one of his last written blog entries from last month, titled His Will Isn’t The Point.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

There’s a reason God’s will in specific situations is so difficult to know sometimes. There’s a reason that not everything is black and white. It can be difficult to discern God’s will for a lot of situations.

Who to date.
Where to go to college.
Who to marry.
Where to move.
What job to take.

And it’s not because you’re not praying. You’re probably praying a lot. It’s not because you don’t want to know His will. You probably aren’t lacking that desire.

But according to this verse in Proverbs, it’s because God conceals.
But why? After all, that seems counterintuitive to God’s purposes and using you in them.

The reason isn’t because God doesn’t want you to know His will. He wants you to know it more than you want to know it. God has something so much greater for you instead.


God’s not up in heaven hiding His will, hoping you’ll never be able to find it. But He does play hide and seek. He doesn’t just want us to find His will, He wants us to find Him in the process. Because if His will was in plain view, we would seek it instead of seeking Him.

That’s why he conceals it. That’s why it’s so hard.

The point isn’t for God to make His will plain. His will isn’t the main objective. He is the main objective. He wants you to discover Him above all else.

As you run after God and his good, pleasing, and perfect will, remember these two truths:

God isn’t the shortcut to your best life. He is your best life.
God doesn’t want to give you the guide for your life. He wants to be your Guide.

The scariest possibility for your life isn’t getting God’s will wrong. It’s getting God’s will right but barely coming to know God in the process.

You could love the right woman but lose your first love.
You could find the right career but then make it your god.

That’s why He doesn’t just write His will for you in the clouds. At the end of the process, He wants you to know something far greater than what you should do next with your life.

He wants you to know who He is.

~Steven Furtick

November 24, 2011

Mary’s Song

The following is from a new edition of a book by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Magnify The Lord, which is based entirely on Luke 1:46-55.  This arrives just in time for Christmas and Advent meditations.

…Why is Mary magnifying the Lord?  Why does her spirit exult in God her Savior? She really surprises us with the answer.  It is not primarily because of what has happened to her.  She does not mention that: it comes in but that is merely an incident in her hymn of praise.  So what is the cause of her adoration, of her praise?  It is because God himself is who and what he is, and because of what he is doing with respect to the world.

Mary’s eye, in other words, is not upon herself. You see how certain parts of the Church have so abused and made an utter travesty of this. Mary is full of humility. She refers to herself as what she is — ‘the low estate of thine handmaiden.’ There is nothing here about the ‘mother of God’ and about ‘the queen of heaven.’ Mary is not thinking about herself. Mary has seen something that makes her forget about herself and this is the ultimate test of a true understanding of what happened when God in the fullness of times ‘sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law’ (Gal. 4:4).

Mary is rejoicing not so much in the fact that she is to be given this great privilege, she has been reminded by Elizabeth of what this is and of how people are going to caller her blessed, and she repeats that, ‘from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.’

But that is not the thing that really moves her. It is what God is doing: this historic event, this climactic action of God himself.  She is humbled and grateful at the thought of the fact that she is to be given a part and a place in this, but it is the thing itself that moves her and makes her sing and worship.

She is filled with a sense of amazement, of worship, adoration, and utter astonishment. She sees the inner meaning of the action. She has a glimpse and a glimmering of understanding of the whole purpose of salvation, what God is doing in bringing forth his Son into the world, even out of her womb.

Now that is the secret of this song. And it is also the secret of the whole Christian position.  What is it that leads to worship and to praise, to exultation, to adoration? And the answer is that it is always the understanding.

The only singing that is of any value in the sight of God is that which is based upon the understanding, the understanding of the truth…

Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Magnify the Lord, pp. 19-20