The Goal of the Church, #2
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: (I Corinthians 9:26)
In any endeavor it is important to have a correct goal, or mark. It is impossible to run a race wholeheartedly if there is any confusion concerning the direction of the course and the location of the finish line. One cannot run to win when there is no clearly defined mark. But this is the condition prevailing in Christianity.
The scriptural goal of the Church is to become the eternal house of the Lord God of Heaven.
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
The goal of Christianity is not where we go but what we become. The goal of our redemption is the forming in us of the eternal Tabernacle of God, the holy city, the Wife of the Lamb. The Christian salvation is God-centered, not man-centered. The Holy Spirit is building something for the pleasure and use of God. Our pleasure and benefit are secondary in importance.
We need to repeat often, in the twenty-first century, the concept of God-centeredness. God was not created for man's benefit; man was created for God's benefit.
At the time of the Exodus, God revealed His intention to create a dwelling place for Himself:
Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:17)
And a little later:
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
Again, in the New Testament:
Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)
The Lord God of Heaven desires a house, a place of rest. God already has a temple in Heaven and His will is being performed there (Isaiah 6:1). However, God's intention is to live in the earth among the nations of people He has created.
In the beginning the Lord God walked on the earth, as described in the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis. In the last days His throne will come down from Heaven to rest on the earth for eternity as portrayed in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation. God is creating a house in which He can dwell among people on the earth.
God loves the nations of people whom He has created. But the nations have no spiritual light. They have no access to the Presence and blessing of God.
God's solution to this problem is the creation of a living house in which He can dwell forever on the earth and through which He can rule and bless the nations of saved peoples of the earth. This living house is being formed from living stones.
The living stones are people whom God has separated from the remainder of mankind for the purpose of serving as His royal priesthood. Some of the living stones were born Gentiles; but the character of the New Jerusalem, the eternal Tabernacle of God, is of Israel. It is the new Jerusalem and the elect Gentiles are an integral part of it.
To be continued. We extend permission to make as many copies of this essay as you need, in both paper and electronic formats. Please include the following statement of copyright:
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