Temples, Old and Modern
NCW 28, Special Edition I (January 1996):
Answering the Third Rebellion
Q. The purpose of the temple in the Old Covenant was for the offering of sacrifices (Ezr.6:3). Aaron and his sons had that responsibility (1 Chr.6:49). In the middle of the temple was the "Holy of Holies" where the Ark of the Covenant stood (1 Ki.6:19) which contained nothing more than the Ten Commandments (1 Ki.8:9-10-11; Ex.26:33; 1 Ki.8:6). As I see it, the Temple had three main purposes: (a) to contain the Ten Commandments (which everybody knew), (b) to contain the Holy Spirit of God in a sacred place, and (c) to be the place where animal offerings were made.
What did Jesus say about the Temple? He said that He was greater than the temple (Matt.12:6-7) and that He talked openly about everything in the synagogues and temple where all the Jews came together (Jn.18:20). He also warned that many would come in His Name and say that they were Him, and told them not to follow them (Lk.21:5-8). When Jesus was crucified the veil of the temple was rent in two and there was an earthquake (Matt.27:50-51). He also prophesied that He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days (Mk.14:58). Obviously the "temple" was His own body.
When Jesus came back to life, He told them to receive the Holy Spirit (Jn.20:21-23. He never said that we were to go to the temple to make offerings for forgiveness or the remission of sins.
The Bible tells us about the new kind of Temple in the New Covenant. It says that God's people are the temple for the Holy Spirit and that the price for forgiveness has already been paid (1 Cor.3:16-21; 6:19-20). It says that Jesus is the cornerstone of this "temple" and that the saints are the building stones, a royal priesthood (1 Pet.2:6-10). Jesus said that those who come off victors will be made "pillars" in this "temple" (Rev.3:12-13) and that there is no temple in the Holy City, because God Himself and the Lamb is its temple (Rev.21:22). There is alot written about "God's Temple in heaven" , etc.
I don't want to draw too simplistic conclusions but the Spirit has witnessed to me that our Church and temple have been far from perfect. I believe alot of the principles we have been taught are wrong and that the Church has been organised in the wrong pattern.
God wants me to to believe in Jesus as My Lord and Saviour, and to show my love for Him by obeying His commandments. He wants me to be loving and forgiving towards other people, to not compare myself with them and to freely share with them all the love and knowledge God blesses me with. He has blessed me with His Holy Spirit, so I can hear His voice and serve Him always, if I stay humble and faithful and obedient. I can share in Jesus' victory over death through baptism and the Lord's Supper, when I repent from my sins and go into the New and Everlasting Covenant with My Saviour. I promise to live by His commandments and He gives me the right to be His daughter, to use His Name, to inherit His Kingdom, to come to Him for help and to comfort and to give His messages to other people.
I want to continue worshipping together with all the ones I love in our fellowship but I am no longer willing to subject myself to a system partly made of men. I hope everyone will come to the same conclusions!
As in your previous questions (on respect and the New Covenant), most of what you write is absolutely true but it is not the complete picture. Some of it is false.
You infer that New Covenant Christians go to the temple (amongst other things) to "make offerings for forgiveness and remission of sins" as though Christ had not in some way already paid for these. We do no such thing. I'm afraid you seriously misrepresent the Church. The temple is a place, like an ordinary church meeting place, only holier, where the people come to worship, be instructed, to pray, to enter covenants, to receive commissions, to sing, to confess sins, to petition the Lord for forgiveness, etc.. Never have we taught that forgiveness of sins comes through anyone else but Christ.
You quote John 18:20 out of context and ignore passages that show how Jesus took His disciples aside and explained the meaning of His parables which the masses were not supposed to understand. For Jesus there were no "private places" for Him to speak in the Temple at Jerusalem so He used the only Temple available to Him: nature and the homes of His followers.
New Covenant Christians discuss the deeper aspects of the faith in private in their temples and their homes, as Jesus did with His disciples outside in nature or in upper rooms. When Jesus explained to His accusers, the High Priest and the Jewish Council, that He has spoken openly to the world, in the temple and synagogues "where the Jews come together", saying nothing in secret, what do you suppose He meant when we know He spoke privately to His disciples in many places? As ever, a little background information is helpful.
Throughout His ministry the Pharisees and other rulers tried to fault Jesus in many way. They tried to find fault with His living of the Law. They questioned His morality. They questioned His loyalty to the civil authorities ("give to Caesar what is Caesar's") and hoped to accuse Him of insurrection. Indeed, these were the Jews' two prime accusations before Pilate: (a) that He overturned the Law of Moses, and (b) He claimed to be King (thus challenging Caesar's rule). Verse 19 does not tell us what questions the high priest asked Him, only that He was questioned about His disciples (remember Judas was a revolutionary Zealot before he was converted, as was Simon Zealotes) and His teaching. We must be very careful about drawing conclusions about His reply without knowing what the specific questions were. Bearing in mind that He did teach in secret, your conclusion that He never did (inferred) cannot be correct, unless you believe the Scriptures are contradictory.
This ought to serve as a poignant warning against coming to premature conclusions about Scriptural passages as well as trying to make scriptures fit pre-conceived ideas, which is only too easily done. Your selection of scriptures -- the way you have arranged them -- suggests that this is what you are trying to do.
We are delighted that you have discovered the Saviour in a new and vital way for this has always been the goal of the New Covenant Church . However, you have fallen into the trap of many evangelical Christians of believing that you now have no need of the structures which the Lord has established to bring newborn spiritual children to perfection. Though the light and truth you have obtained will last you a good while, were you to now try and live on the milk as a whole and permanent diet, it would sooner or later lead you to the very spiritual famine that brought so many people to this Church in the first place.
The challenge to you is to now is to "go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so" (Heb.6:1-3, NIV) and to beware of the grave dangers of rejecting what God has already witnessed to you of. And in the latter connection, you would be wise to read v.4-6.
 The person in question has since almost completely lost faith Christianity and, with others of the Third Rebellion, has challenged the authority of the Bible. Some have rejected the Bible altogether. None are attending any sort of church and regard themselves as surperior to other Christians.
This page was created on 8 May 1998
Last updated on 8 May 1998
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