RENOVATING THE TEMPLE OF GOD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 MARCH 1991
By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
2 Corinthians 6:16
As most of you probably know, my income comes from a construction management business; and in the course of our business activity, we manage a fair amount of renovation work.
In this process, we don't do very much structural or facade changing, but the inside usually becomes totally different.
This is very similar to our relationship with the Lord, and the spiritual changes that occur within us, when we commit our life to Him.
How does this occur?
Let's begin by looking at our preparation Bible verse for this morning.
Preparation Verse: 2 Corinthians 6:16
16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
"I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
Now why would God ever want to live within us?
We all (each one of us) know ourselves fairly well, and we know our sins, too.
Considering how holy and righteous God is, and our own sinful state, if you were God would you want to live within us?
No, neither would I.
This isn't saying that some of us don't really try to do what's right, and even feel sorry for what we do wrong, but that we still sin, unlike our holy God.
We should be extremely thankful that God doesn't think as we normally think.
If we are truly repentant, God will come in and dwell within us, just as He said.
We don't deserve it, but God does it anyway.
This is grace, pure grace, amazing grace.
Hymn: Amazing Grace
Within our commitment to the Lord, and contained within this hymn, are many of the basic truths of our faith.
Without belief, we cannot become aware of a God we cannot see; and without
stepping out in our belief, which is faith, we can never approach God.
By these basics of faith, we establish the criteria of what Christians are, and how they should believe and act. Let's recall these basic foundational truths, as we recite the words of the Apostles' Creed together.
Creed: The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen
Response: Gloria Patri
Now that we have established the fundamentals of our faith, and we have looked at ourselves to see our own sins as they really are, perhaps we should take a few moments in silence, repenting of our sins, and asking the Lord to forgive us.
And if we truly mean that we are sorry, and never want to do the things again that we repent doing, then thank the Lord for His grace and mercy upon us because of His faithfulness to forgive a repentant sinner.
Confession and Assurance:
What we have just done is a little internal renovation work.
Now, if we have done any renovation work in our homes or elsewhere, we know that first we have to remove the old and bad components, and then do the restorative work.
Just slapping on a coat of paint over a corroded and damaged surface, won't do the job.
Well, during one of the Passover seasons in Jerusalem, almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus came into the temple and realized it was in desperate need of some renovation work.
Turn with me in your Bibles to John 2:13-22, and follow along as we listen to what took place.
Scripture Reading: John 2:13-17
13. And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated.
15. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables;
16. and to those who were selling the doves he said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise."
17. His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."
Most people had to travel some distance to come to the temple, and they didn't bring along their own sacrificial animal to atone for their sins, as was the custom in those days.
They brought money, so that when they arrived in Jerusalem, they could exchange it for the sacrificial animal.
The offering of the sacrifice was to be a remorseful event; but these merchants were making it a joyful business transaction, for they were making a profit; and from Jesus' reaction, an excessive profit.
They were mocking the true meaning of the repentant act.
The people who were coming with a truly repentant heart would become angry over the excessive prices being charged, and thus add additional sin to their previous guilt.
Instead of repairing or renovating their souls, which was their original
intent, they would only succeed in punching holes in the wall.
Many would leave the temple in worse shape than when they came in.
Thus Jesus' righteous anger came forth, and he drove out those who had defiled the temple.
And He was also letting the people know that true repentance and forgiveness has nothing to do with killing an innocent animal.
The religious leaders of that time kept the practice of animal sacrifice, because it was a good business, and not because it lead people to repentance and the saving grace of God.
Look around us today, and note just how many people are turned off by the Church because they think the only thing we are interested in is money.
This is why I am against selling, or even fund raising, in the church; and why I would like to do away with the formal morning offering and just put the offering plates at the back of the church, as we are doing this morning; so that you would only give from your heart, and not out of obligation.
I know our God is faithful, those who truly love the Lord are faithful, and
that we would most likely have more in the end.
Jesus knew the same thing, and thus He began His renovation process.
Did those of the temple respond?
Let's see, as we continue our reading.
Scripture reading: John 2:18-22
18. The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?"
19. Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20. The Jews therefore said, "It took 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. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Those in the physical temple couldn't understand that the building and its function were to be an example of the real things that are in heaven.
In their presence was their Salvation, and they didn't recognize Him.
They had allowed the temple to fall into so much spiritual disrepair that they, too, were in need of serious renovation.
The act of selling, in itself, was not as serious as its compounded result:
First came the selling in the streets to help those who were from afar off; then it moved to the temple in the guise of being more helpful, when in reality it was for greed.
Those who were privileged to sell in the temple, would sell more, and thus became greedier.
Note how much more we pay for things in a place of entertainment than we do
on the outside.
The church and the temple are not places of entertainment; they are places of sanctuary with God, and for spiritually refreshing ourselves.
They are places in which we should come to be renovated.
Everything we do that dilutes that relationship takes away from God's intent.
He wants obedience instead of sacrifice!
As we become more obedient, there is less need for sacrifice and, thus, no
need for selling in the temple.
If we wish to do good with our money, then do good with it, and we will have an abundance; for the people will be caught up in the true Spirit of the Lord, and not in a church function.
What Jesus was saying and what I am saying, and have been trying to say, is summed up in Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25.
Follow along in your own Bibles as we read these words:
22. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom;
23. but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,
24. but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
God knows what He's doing, even if we don't.
The only way we are ever going to understand the ways of God is to believe His words, and heed his warnings, and commit ourselves to Him totally.
We need to focus upon God's original creation and heavenly intent, and not upon the concessions He allowed in an effort to minimize the sinful acts of humans and lead them back into His will.
We have to desire to be renovated, just as the words of our next hymn remind us.
Hymn: Whiter Than Snow
If we wash away the things that soil us and cause the eventual corrosion of
our soul, as rust upon unpainted steel, then we will find that we will have our
rust removed; and we will receive a coating of rust-proof paint.
We will receive the restorative coating of the blood of Jesus, that will prevent the rust of Satan from corroding us any further, and we shall be as new again.
Are we ready for this renovating process of God's grace in every aspect of our lives?
I pray so!
Your Comments are welcome
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