“And His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.’” (Matt. 24:1-2)
“And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)
The goal of the gospel of salvation, after “saving souls” [see Part I of this series] is to make people faithful temple worshippers. There are two issues I wish to discuss concerning this: making temples the center of Christian life, and the event-driven mentality it leads to.
In the gospel of salvation’s temple system you are encouraged to go out and save as many souls as possible, but it isn’t to make disciples of you or of them. If the goal was discipleship building huge temples wouldn’t be the focus of all the time, money, and attention. People would. Instead, we spend billions every year building and expanding houses of worship while “the least of these” Jesus spoke of remain in need across America. Truth be told, the goal is to get both you and those you evangelize in to their temples so they can become renowned as the biggest, most “successful” temple in town. Do they raise a lot of money for such causes? Yes, but the priority of giving is always the temple and what they give away is a mere pittance of what they pour in to facilities and all that entails in the way of staff, etc.
Why do our temples need to be so big? They operate as classrooms of higher education, not training grounds for disciples. If buildings were so central to the church, wouldn’t “the Carpenter” have built a few rather than condemning the one the Jews were most proud of? It is a system comprised of educated, seminary-trained professionals who are forever and always the teachers, and everyone else who play the role of the passive, forever-learning students. The teachers operate as they were taught to by their teachers, the professors in seminary within a classroom setting. The only difference is they are now the professors, church buildings are their classrooms, and temple worshippers are the students [I urge you to go to http://theawakenedchristianman.org/2018/01/05/the-trickle-down-effect/ for a more thorough explanation of this phenomenon]. Why the urge to constantly build bigger and bigger temple/classrooms? It is simply to hold more and more converts/students.
The classroom system is just the temple worship of Jesus’ day reconstituted. If you want to look at it historically, the Jews tried temple worship and it failed them, the Catholics tried it in the middle ages and it failed them [If you don’t believe this do a temple tour of Europe, where the most fabulous temples of all time have become nothing more than museums for paying spectators in perhaps the most spiritually dead place on earth], and now we’re trying it here in America. What was that definition of insanity?
As it has become today, spiritual life for most in Israel revolved around their temples where the Rabi’s taught and they gathered because they thought God hung out there. The pride of leaders and followers alike wasn’t God, but their system and places of worship. If the focus of the temple leaders then was God would they have constantly battled with, and then put to death, His Son? No, what they were truly all about was their religious system that gave them so much power over the people. Jesus came along and threatened temple worship with the lifestyle discipleship model of the gospel of the kingdom.
A final note before we move on: In the OT the existence of the Jews is a constant, recurring cycle featuring God lifting His people up from a low place and making them renown, then pride setting in fomenting a spectacular fall from favor and a return to where it began, just to start all over once again. The best description of this cycle is found in Ezekiel 16. What is pertinent to this discussion is to notice what marks the turning point from rising in God’s blessing to falling under His rebuke: “Then it was so, after all your wickedness — ‘Woe, woe to you!’ says the Lord God, that you also built for yourself a shrine and made a high place for yourself in every street. You built your high places at the head of every road…” (Ezek. 16:23-25). Is this not what we are doing today? Temple worship marked the fall of the Jews, the Catholics in Europe, and now heralds the end of modern Christendom in America.
Jesus’ gospel requires no elaborate, expensive facilities, and in fact is hindered by them because the gospel of the kingdom requires lifestyle mentality, the anti-event-driven mentality. This brings me to my second issue with temple worship: today’s Christianity has become a series of scheduled events in a building: whether it be a temple, living room, board room or coffee shop. Temple leaders want you to be certain to come to as many of these events as you can such as weekend services, a Bible study and other various meetings that won’t last for more than an hour or two. Those really on fire serve in the temple in additional ways, attend a men’s or women’s retreat once a year, and occasionally do a service day or a mission trip. But they’re all day trips from which people know they will return. That is what events are all about.
If you want proof of this just think of how we speak of these trips. We say “We’re going to” church, seminars, weekend retreats, rehearsals, etc. What does it mean, to “go to” something other than you plan to return to where and who you were before you went? And have you ever noticed how people [mostly men because there’s so little to excite them in the classroom] start looking at their watches towards the end of temple services? Under event-driven mentality the event is about over, the spiritual time slot has been filled, and it’s time to return to real life. Under the gospel of the kingdom you do not “go to” church, you are the church! Kingdom saints can no more return from being the church than they could shed their own skin!
The One who brought the kingdom of heaven to earth showed us a living gospel through the group of disciples, His community, He gathered. Thereafter the Holy Spirit showed us how that legacy was to be continued in His church by gathering His community shortly after Pentecost [for more on this see http://marketplacesaints.net/on-sand-or-rock].
The greatest difference between the two gospels when it comes to structure is when your goal is merely to “see souls saved” there is a minimal focus on what you do with them after they are saved. When your goal is to usher people in to the kingdom the effort only begins at conversion, for there is only one standard in the kingdom: “Disciples who observe all He commanded.” If minimal maintenance of the soul is your goal while you wait out this dangerous, sinful existence on earth in safety, then temple life is for you. But if you believe the kingdom of heaven exists here and now, and the goal is to engage life fully, bringing others in to it as full-fledged citizens of the kingdom at any cost then lifestyle discipleship within the community of saints, the way Jesus did it, is how it gets done!
This is what I now live for: to encourage, seek, and be a part of true Christian community before I leave this rock. While it is nearly impossible to find it now, what we have rejected in favor of temple worship God will soon force upon us, for time is coming soon when those who don’t gather in Christian community will perish, both spiritually and physically.
Consequently, there is a movement of the Spirit across America and indeed the world where saints are at last becoming hungry for two things: kingdom and community. I count myself blessed to be a part of, and hopefully a voice for, that movement! If you are as well, please visit my website www.Marketplacesaints.net and spend some time there, then let me know if we can hook up at Reconnectedchurch@gmail.com. People who are interested in shedding the shackles of modern temple worship and moving in to kingdom community are the people I want most to hang with!