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departed; Herod’s temple was no longer the temple of God., the temple of His presence. Where then was the temple of God? The Lord Jesus was that Temple, for in the fulness of time “the Word was made fleshy and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”, John i. 14. For thirty-three years He was the Temple of God among men; for thirty-three wonderful years the actual and visible presence of the Lord Jesus was known among the sons of men. The glory was no longer in that Jewish temple; it was in Him. But He who was the Temple of God is no longer here; He has ascended to His Father’s glory. Where is the temple of God now?; the Church is that temple. When the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit descended and a new temple was formed. Out of the nations, out of Jews and Gentiles, God is taking a people for His name and constituting that people a holy and beautiful house where by His Spirit He dwells. Here was a “sign" indeed! The Lord Jesus died and rose again not to startle godless, truth-hating men into faith, but to make possible a new temple upon which the glory of God could rest, and through which the truth of God could be made known. The Church of God, therefore, is not an Old Testament institution; it is God’s new building. Such is the structure of God’s house, and we need a new zeal in our exposition of it. In this matter of church building, many today are doing that which is right in their own eyes; with wood, hay and stubble they are laboriously building up that which one day will be pulled down and burnt up. May ours be a church life of gold, silver and precious stones; only the best is good enough for God and only the best will He reward. More than this, we are to be zealous for -
The Doctrines of God’s House. Christianity is essentially a system of truth, and this truth is set forth in the form of doctrines. These doctrines are not to be held lightly or loosely; they are peculiar and fundamental to God’s great system of redemptive mercy. The modernist has little time for doctrines; for him it is the spirit of Christianity that matters and not the doctrines. But nothing could be further from the truth; doctrines are to God’s house what mortar is to a building, and without them there is nothing to hold the edifice together. Or to change the figure, Bible doctrines are to the Gospel what flesh and blood, bones and muscles are to the human body; the one cannot live without the other. Take away the doctrines of Christianity and it becomes like a man without flesh and blood, bones and muscles; nothing but the spirit remains. It may be a very beautiful spirit, but a disembodied spirit would be of little practical use in a world like ours; hence the futility of modernism. We shall, therefore, be sadly wanting if we are not zealous for the doctrines of God’s house; we shall be like bricks without mortar, with nothing to hold us together. How can we show our zeal for these doctrines? By adorning them, and this is something we can all do. We cannot all reveal, or expound, or apply the doctrines, but we can all “adorn" the doctrines; we can let the power and beauty of God’s truth be seen in our lives. Thus the complete Christian will be zealous for the doctrines of the house of God, and these doctrines have one common centre; they find their centre in the cross. The atonement, the propitiation that the Lord Jesus made for our sins, is the great central doctrine of the Gospel, and from this great fountain all the other streams of doctrine flow. Again, we must be zealous for -
The Ordinances of God’s House. Preaching is a divine ordinance. Our Lord said to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”, Mark 16. 15, and preachers have been doing this ever since. In this dispensation it is largely through preaching that God is saving them that believe; teaching is a divine ordinance, and for this purpose God has given to the Church pastors and teachers “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”, Eph. 4. 12; this means of edification is exercised in the assembly, so we are under obligation not to forget “the assembling of ourselves together”, Heb. 10. 25. Our collective assembly witness is very important to God’s purpose. Nor must we forget the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; we are well aware that many view Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as being of little or no importance, but it is enough for us that our Lord instituted and commanded them, and His immediate followers practised them. These things are not trivial or unimportant, they are not something about which we can please ourselves; they are binding on the Church for all time. The more Christendom has departed from the scriptural simplicity of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the more men have been compelled to introduce human ideas and organization. Where Baptism by immersion in water and the Breaking of Bread at the Lord’s Supper are excluded, then that Church is not a Church in the New Testament sense of the word; it is simply a religious organization. Let us not, therefore, boast of our zeal for God’s house if we can neglect or pervert the ordinances of that house. If we are churches, if we are assemblies in the scriptural sense of the word – if we are Christians in deed and in truth, the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will constantly command our jealous care and consideration.
Briefly, one further thing here, what is our zeal for the holiness of the house of God? It is written, “holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever”, Psa. 93. 5. We do not cumber and disfigure our houses with unlovely things, but what about “the house of God, which is the church of the living God"?, 1 Tim. 3. 15. Of that spiritual house we are all members, and if we are not holy we are cumbering and disfiguring that beautiful house. May it be ours to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts.