Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Foundations of the Local Church - Part 2


This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on April 30th 2023  by Colin D Cruz. For the audio & video please click here. To listen to the worship please click here
Foundations of the Local Church - Part 2

Last week we began the topic, “Foundations of Local Church”.

In Luke chapter 24, we see that 2 disciples walking to Emmaus met Jesus. They were downcast because they had seen Jesus the Messiah crucified.
When Jesus asked him why they were downcast and what were those things they explained everything that happened to Jesus in verses 19 to 24.

After this, we see that Jesus speaks to them and tells them things written in Old Testament. The question is – What did Jesus speak to them?

Gospel is a part of God’s big plan. The way we see things is through the glasses. Our beliefs, interpretations, and the way we see things depend on the glasses through which we see.

All that Jesus spoke can be covered under 4 major themes:-

1.     The Messiah

2.     The Temple

3.     The Kingdom

4.     The Salvation

All these 4 intertwine and make a beautiful tapestry. Today, let us look at the Temple.

What was the first temple? It was the Garden of Eden. How can we define Temple? A temple is a place where people meet with God. In Genesis chapter 3, we see that God met Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. After sin, they were cast out.

The next meeting point was the Tabernacle built by Moses. The third temple was the one in Jerusalem built by Solomon. Sacrifices were offered there for different kinds of sins and thank offerings etc.

When Jesus began His ministry, where was the temple? The physical temple was in Jerusalem.

John 2:19-22 - 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

So, while Jesus was on this Earth, His body was the temple. As we have already seen, the temple is a place where people met with God. Could a leper go to the temple in Jerusalem? Could women who were bleeding go to the temple in Jerusalem? No!

But in the streets, everyone and anyone could meet with the Living God. Even the unbelievers could meet the Living God.

God’s plan is to cover the earth with His glory. Jesus ascended into heaven. Physically He’s not here. So, where is the temple?

1 Corinthians 3:16 - 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

We are God’s temple. His presence is in us.

God’s plan is to fill the earth with His presence. When we come together, Holy Spirit comes and we are the temple of God.

1 Peter 2:4-9 - As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”[b]

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”[c]


“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 

Collectively, we are the temple of Jesus Christ. That’s God’s plan – To fill the earth not with just physical temple but with people of God taking His presence everywhere. Every church is an expression of the presence of God.

Revelation 21:1-4 - Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Jesus is going to come down upon the earth. This is what we are looking for. One day there will be a new heaven and new earth. We are better off than Adam and Eve. They could sin in the Garden of Eden. But when there’s a new heaven and a new earth, we will not sin. There will be no sorrow, no pain and no crying.

Now we see a little bit of heaven on earth as we witness healing and miracles. But it’s not complete.

The temple took the following everywhere –

1.     Presence of God

2.     Power of God

3.     Purity of God

1.     Presence of God

You are the light of the world. What am I doing on this earth? Whatever you are, a teacher, student, engineer, doctor etc., you are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

How can we be light and salt? We may not have the power to do big things but we can stand up for justice, righteousness, fairness and truth. Wherever you are – school, college, club, office, we always must bring the righteousness of God.

In the Bible, we see the woman who touched Jesus was healed. Now, when people touch us, they are touching God’s presence. We need to go into dark situations and give light - healings, lives we live, words we speak, things we do etc.

For many years there was slavery. But William Wilberforce abolished it. If you see, largely Christians do these things – fighting against sex trafficking, slavery etc.

From our church, the Marriage app makes a difference. I’ve been thinking about the persecuted Christians these days. There are 300 + cases against Christians. All of them are false. This is the way of the enemy.

During the time of Daniel, a law was passed that people should not to pray to God.

Similarly, laws are being passed in our country. Just as Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, Christians are being thrown into prison.

The ADF and Persecution Relief groups are standing up with the persecuted Christians helping them fight their cases.

My thought is to intentionally mobilize funds so that the cases can be fought, bail can be provided and families of the imprisoned believers can be taken care of.

Along with prayers, we must do something more.

John 1:5 -  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

As we support these organizations, our light is shining in the darkness.

2.     Power of God

Acts 19:11-12 - 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Wow! What an amazing power!

Acts 5:14-15 - 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

For the power of God to work, purity is needed.

3.     Purity of God

John 2: 13-16 - 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 

If you want to see the power and presence of God, purity is needed. All sinful habits and sinful thoughts must be replaced with good thoughts.

One of the things we can do is fast and pray. This is not to get God to do things for us but to humble ourselves. By fasting, we humble ourselves and we ask God. It is up to Him.

All promises are fulfilled in New Testament and now it is being outworked till Jesus returns. Wherever you go, take the light of Jesus.

Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again),  Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English-speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service.  Word of Grace is part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.  

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