And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:22-23)

I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. (Matthew 12:6)

What do I mean by temple worship? I am not referring to worship in a temple. I am referring to the human tendency to confound Christianity with temples, ceremonies, liturgy, rituals and rites.

The prophet Jeremiah addressed this idolatry: "Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these."  Jeremiah 7:4

Israel had forgotten God, but they had not forgotten the Temple

“…They proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord." Because of their sin God's judgment was coming. It was coming in the form of the armies of Babylon. In spite of Jeremiah's repeated warnings they found comfort in "lying words.”  They reasoned that they had nothing to fear for there stands the "the temple of the Lord.”

Likewise, many today put their trust in their temples. They are a "member", and their membership guarantees a place in heaven. Everyone else is going to hell, but they, by virtue of their identification with their temple, are not.

All types and systems were made obsolete by the coming of Christ, of whom they were only a foreshadow. The tabernacle of Moses, the law, and the temple with all its rituals, were all temporary measures---shadows of the real. The veil being rent signified a change; old things were passing away in order that a greater reality might take their place, the reality of Christ himself. He is "the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:26-27 NIV)

"A greater than the temple is here,” said Jesus. One greater than any earthly institution. And yet how often men prefer the clamor and activity of the system to the intimate knowledge of Christ.

    Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. (Matthew 24:1-2)

God's divine purpose is to free man from the worship of things, to the worship of himself. Man’s propensity toward the worship of things visible is well documented. Those things that God gave to bring ultimate glory to himself became idols. From the brazen serpent to the temple itself, man has proven his preference to worship things other than God himself.

    He [Hezekiah] brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:4)

In like manner, not one stone will be left upon another of all those idols, religious or non-religious, which displace the true object of worship, God himself.

In the Old Testament form of worship Christ was hidden in types and shadows. Then all was shrouded in mystery, but now God has chosen to reveal his son, the very image of himself. Man’s insistence upon rite and ritual is an unwitting attempt to shroud him once again in the shadowy and illusory realm of religion. Satan could love nothing more. For all that he must do to render the believer powerless is hide Christ from him. He must entice the believer to replace Christ with something visible. Religion is satan's favorite substitute for Christ.

The primary work of the Holy Spirit however, is to reveal Christ. The goal of His work in our lives is that Christ may be formed in us. Christ in us is the hope of glory! There is an ongoing stripping of the scaffolding of earthly religious systems. And of it, not one stone will be left upon another. God no longer dwells in temples made with hands. We are God’s Temple!

    "Christ Himself emerges from the framework of things, from all the scaffolding of past ages, from all the figurative and typological and symbolical, and transcends the things by His own Person." (T. Austin Sparks)

The Tyranny of Religion

    That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:35)

Killing over matters regarding religion is nothing new. It began with Cain and will not cease until the last trumpet sounds. A greater than the temple is here! And he who will exalt him only will know the lash of those religious zealots who are set to defend their ecclesiastical order, their temples.

    "For we [Ananias and the elders] have found this man [Paul] a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law."  (Acts 24:5-6)

Note their concern for the temple. There is no expression of concern for God's interests, only their own. Paul, whom these charges were levied against, posed a threat to their religious interests. And they were attempting to deal with this problem in their usual manner; they "went about to kill..." (Acts 26:21).

The natural man will protect his idols by killing all who threaten them. Here they were attempting to do the same thing to Paul that they had done to Christ only a few years prior.

If the last 1700 years of church history has proven anything, it has shown conclusively, that the nature of religion without Christ, is tyranny. Christianity is Christ, nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

God's Habitation

    Acts 7:49: 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?

    1 Corinthians 3:16: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

    1 Corinthians 3:17: If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    1 Corinthians 6:19: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

    2 Corinthians 6:16: What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Ephesians 2:21-22: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

All that the Old Testament tabernacles and temples foreshadowed was this truth; we individually and corporately are God's "habitation." We are His "temple" --His dwelling place.

He breached the veil. He escaped. He found a new home, a new dwelling place, a new temple. Old things have passed away, not one stone is left upon another, that a greater than the temple might inhabit His temple, built of lively stones, which we are.

It is an affront to heaven to recreate the old forms of temple worship. However Christianized they may be, they are as pagan as the worship of Baal. They replace the reality of the indwelling Christ with pomp and ceremony, and attempt to make a temple once again the dwelling of God. This is man's stiff arm in the chest of the heavenly Father who would draw near to embrace.

It occupies man's time doing something we call "the work of God" while the true goal to know him is forgotten in the frenzied ecclesiastical pace.

    "Theologically, the church does not need temples. Church buildings are not essential to the true nature of the church. For the meaning of the tabernacle is God's habitation, and God already dwells within the human community of Christian believers. The people are the temple and the tabernacle... A church building cannot properly be "the Lord's house" because in the new covenant this title is reserved for the church as people (Eph. 2; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 10:21)." (Howard A. Snyder, The Problem of Wineskins, Chapter 4)

    And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (Relation 21:22)

     John shows no surprise as he marks the omission of what one half of Christendom would have considered the first essential. For beside the type of religion he had learned from Christ, the churchy type is an elaborate evasion. What have the pomp and circumstance, the fashion and the form, the vestures and the postures, to do with Jesus of Nazareth? When mistaken for Christianity, no matter how they aid it, or in what measure they conserve it, they defraud the souls of men.

    It is because to large masses of people Christianity has become synonymous with a Temple service that other large masses of people decline to touch it. The working men would still follow Christ if He came among them. But what they cannot follow, and must evermore live outside of, is a religion expressed only in ceremony, and a faith unrelated to life. Perhaps the most dismal fact of history is the failure of the great organized bodies of ecclesiasticism to understand the simple genius of Christ's religion. Whatever the best in the churches may have thought of the life and religion of Christ, taken as a whole they have succeeded in leaving upon the mind of a large portion of the world an impression of Christianity which is the direct opposite of the reality.

    See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:8-10)

To superimpose the traditions of men upon our relationship to Christ is to be led away captive and befouled.

A greater than the temple is here! A greater than our traditions! The one who transcends all else. The mystery revealed Christ Jesus our Lord. He has come out of the shadows. He is the very image of the invisible God. "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Oh Father, on our journey to our temple, our final dwelling place, which is yourself and your son Jesus, may we decline all temptations to build again what you have discarded. Amen.

*For more information related to this article, please check out the following video: Bro Dave Ch. #12 - Temple Worship