When I think about how many brothers and sisters in Christ have added to the depth of my experience with Christ, it is humbling. It is also glorifying to Christ that every believer takes His place before the throne of God, doing the Master’s bidding, proving their faith by their obedience for all the world to see.
As I was reading Michael Ferguson’s article [“The Forgotten Art of Obedience“], I was completely overwhelmed by the Father’s love. Moreover, I felt the pressing unction of the Holy Spirit.
This is what my fellowship with Michael [and the fruits of his labors] does: it stirs up the gift of God in me!
I particularly recommend a close examination of the 2nd chart in his article.
The Worship that Jesus Wants
God is the Author of our worship, not man: and Christ is our chief example in the faith. What did Jesus say about worship?
The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is,when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God has commanded us to worship Him in spirit and in truth–and nothing else will do–for our manner of worship is intended to communicate God’s character to the world.
Unlike those who worship the gods of this world, we do not have a holy place; rather, He has given us holy hearts and made us a holy people.
Our God does not live in temples built with human hands, but in temples of flesh: and His church is built of lively stones [hearts knit together in love] that form a perfect temple of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:2; 1 Peter 2:5).
Where there is perfect love for one another in the hearts of an assembly, all of His gifts complement each other perfectly.
Having been granted a more perfect covenant and way, why would we want to return to the trappings of the old covenant: a Levitical priesthood, ritual sacrifices, and temples made of stone, brick, and wood?
God is not in these things.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,dwelleth not in temples made with hands. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.
Yet, men followed their own wisdom and built special temples for God.
The long-term effect of such a simple error is a return to the letter of the law and an Old Testament view of God:
the reinstatement of rituals [activity and routine as a substitute for obedience]
the reinstatement of the Levitical priesthood [a caste system of elite saints who transformed a spiritual vocation into a professional career]
the reinstatement of the tithe [reducing God to a form(ula) for blessing]
The reinstatement of an official holy day [as opposed to a lifestyle of holiness]
a proscribed [officially approved by men] manner of worship that corrupts a true understanding of Christ’s atoning work
An understanding of God that is communicated through culture [rather than by revelation]
Legalism [imposing standards upon men that God did not author, burdening their souls and drawing them away from true obedience to God]
Condemnation of true worship
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
–1 Samuel 8:4-5
Israel wanted a king, and gentiles wanted a building, so that they could have holy buildings and locations, just as the pagans do. You know, something ‘official,’ which means ‘created by the hands of man.’
It is true that early believers met in temples:
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
However, we must understand, they did not fund the building of these temples. Moreover, they went there to reason with men concerning the gospel, proclaiming Christ, as the temple courts were public places (Acts 13:44, 16:13, 17:1-3, 18:4,11).
Notice the correlation between they went to the temple daily, and Godadded such as should be saved daily. They went to the temple to preach the good news: God added to the church daily; and they continued, house-to-house, in daily corporate worship too.
They were not going to the temple to satisfy ceremonial law: for they were now living under the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). This is why the scriptures says they continuedwith one accordin the temple: their unity was in Christ, not in participating in temple worship [which had never unified them in this way].
They had received a greater rest from God through Christ and had reason to proclaim it there!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with meeting in a public place or coming together in larger groups.
However, nothing that God calls us to do requires reliance upon the world’s ways.