A Message to the Church
A rightly balanced Church is led by the Spirit in line with the word of God. However it has to have its eyes continually fixed on Jesus. The Bible tells us we should be steadfastly looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12 v 2) and as we continue to look on Him we will be changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3 v 18).
Jesus Christ is the living Word of God. We have the Bible the written Word of God, however it is the Holy Spirit who reveals it to us and makes it living. The Bible bears witness to us of Jesus. In John 5 v 39 Jesus says, “search the scriptures, --- they bear witness concerning me”. See also Luke 24 v 27.
The Holy Spirit also bears witness concerning Jesus. John 15 v 26 says, “But when the Comforter (the Spirit) is come, whom I will send to you from the Father --- He shall bear witness concerning me”. John 16 v 13 to 14 says that “when He is come, the Spirit of truth, He shall guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear He shall speak; and He will announce to you what is coming. He shall glorify me for He shall receive of mine and shall announce it to you.”
The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the truth to us and to glorify Jesus. The word of God is the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Jesus also said that He was the truth.
Any Church that wants to see the Holy Spirit move needs to preach Jesus. The Spirit will witness to what is being said. To preach Jesus brings us into accord with what the Spirit is ministering. If a church lifts Jesus up then God will draw the people to Him.
In Revelation chapter 2 v 1-7 we read of the Church at Ephesus. God commended it for its endurance in standing against false brethren and false doctrine. However one thing He had against it was that it had left its first love. The first commandment is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and the second is like unto it, we should love our neighbour as ourselves. Our first love is Jesus. If we love Jesus we will want to talk about Him. Our meetings should surround round what the word tells us about Jesus. Every book in the Bible reveals Jesus therefore no matter which book we teach from it will always speak of Jesus.
These days we may get some good preaching but so often Jesus isn’t lifted up, rather He is only mentioned in passing. If we focussed on Jesus our problems would disappear into the background.
Jesus warned the Church at Ephesus that if they didn’t repent from leaving their first love He would remove their lamp out of its place. How many Churches today having stopped talking about Jesus have found that the oil (the Holy Spirit) has stopped flowing causing their light to go grow dim and finally go out. If we love someone then that is who we want to talk about. The emphasis is on the one we love.
In Revelation chapter 3 we read of the Church at Laodicea. They talked about themselves how rich and wonderful they were but God said they were wretched, miserable, poor, and blind, and naked. Jesus was left outside the Church knocking to get in.
What a terrible picture we have of the Church today, too busy talking, but not about Jesus.
The Bible says, “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but encouraging one another and so much more as we see the day approaching.” That day is the day of the Lord which we see is approaching so it is important that we meet together in order to encourage one another in Jesus. The more we worship Jesus the more we will become like Him. There is a time for teaching the foundational truths of the word and also the way to practically apply the word in our everyday living. This is the groundwork to prepare us for worshipping in the Holy Place.
Christians are like the Old Testament tabernacle or temple. Christ dwells in us by His Spirit. When we come together for fellowship, not only is He in each of us He also promises to be in the midst of us. He said that where two or three are gathered together in His name there He will be in the midst of us (Matthew 18 v 20). The Church is depicted as seven lamps with Jesus in the midst (Revelation 1 v 13, 20).
What a privilege we have to have Jesus in our midst yet if we ignore Him He will remove our lamp out of its place. If we talk about self rather than Him then He will not be in the midst but outside knocking to get in, are we too busy to hear Him? The answer is to repent while there is still time, if it’s not too late already.
What type of meetings should we have in order for God to meet with us and fellowship with us?
The tabernacle was where God met man in the Holy place which is also called the tent of meeting.
How did God meet man in the tabernacle?
The tabernacle was an oblong shaped court yard enclosed by a curtain of fine twined linen which was supported by pillars. There was only one door to enter the court and this was at the east side.
First we must enter by the door. This door was for everyone to bring their sacrifice. Jesus said “I am the door, by me if any man enter in he shall be saved”. He tells us to come to Him if we are heavy laden and He will give us rest. If we are thirsty He tells us to come to Him and drink. So first we must come to the door. Through the door the first thing we see is the bronze (or copper) alter of sacrifice. Bronze stands for the judgement of God and the alter of sacrifice is the cross which our Lord Jesus sacrificed His life upon. When He died on that cross the judgement and wrath of God against our sins fell upon Jesus. He carried our sins and bore the punishment for our sins. He died in our stead to atone for our sins. This is the core of the gospel. When we believe it we are reckoned as righteous.
The gospel meeting is for the ‘whosoever’ to come to the cross and leave their burdens there. The gospel meeting is important because it is the meeting we can bring unsaved friends to. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.
Next we come to the laver which the priest must wash at after offering the sacrifices and before entering the Holy Place to minister before the Lord. They are already priest, they have already been consecrated by being washed and anointed by Moses. They are set aside for the work of the sanctuary. They are Holy to the Lord. However if they did not wash at the laver before ministering then it could be punishable by death. The laver is the washing of water by the word of God. The Bible says that ‘He (Jesus) might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it might be holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5 v 26-27). In the Lord's prayer for the Church (John chapter 17) He asks that the Father would sanctify them by the truth, God's word. The Church is already sanctified by the Spirit when it is placed in Christ. Christ is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1 v 30). We are sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26 v 18). We are already called saints however there is a continuous work by the word and the Spirit in our lives that will produce a quality of holiness in our personal conduct. We are called to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7 v 1) in order that we might be unblamable in holiness at the coming of the Lord (1 Thes. 3 v 13). We are already clean but need those parts of our body cleansing which have been in daily contact with the world (John 13 v 5-10). This continuing work of sanctification is a result of our continually washing our hands and feet in the laver of water which is the word of God.
First we are justified and sanctified by faith at the cross then our hands and feet are continually cleansed by the laver of water. Of course the meeting depicted here is the Bible Study where we wash one another's feet (so to speak) as Jesus washed the disciples feet. We are still in the court yard as yet but we are preparing to enter into His presence in the Holy Place . As we study the Bible by the Spirit we will see Jesus. The word works on our mind and in our heart to transform us
The next place we come to is the tent of meeting. This can only be approached via the alter and laver which are in the court yard and the priest must visit these before he goes into the Holy Place, which is the meeting place where God will meet us. Only the priest can enter the Holy Place, nothing common or unclean can enter. All born again Christians are priest. No Church should stay in the courtyard. Our fellowship is with the Father and the Son and that is in the sanctuary, the tent of meeting, the Holy Place. This is where we feast on Jesus. In this meeting we are to spend time in His presence telling Him how much we love Him and thanking Him for all He has done for us.
Inside the Holy Place we have the seven branch golden lampstand, the table of showbread (bread of the presence), and the alter of incense.
The lampstand represents Jesus and His Church. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8 v 12) and His light shines through His Church. He is in the midst of the lampstand.
Jesus is represented by the table holding the showbread. There are twelve loaves of showbread representing the twelve tribes of Israel, but also representing Jesus Christ and His body. We are the body of Christ. This table of showbread also represents the communion table which we gather round to remember the Lord’s death.
Every Sabbath the priest ate the twelve loaves which had been in the presence of the Lord all week; they replaced these twelve loaves with twelve new loaves.
When we gather round the communion table we are gathered in His presence to remember Him. The meeting where we have communion is very important and should not be rushed over. Time should be spent worshipping Jesus and thanking Him for what He has done for us. This meeting was ordained by Jesus in order for us to remember Him, and the whole meeting should be given over to remembering Jesus. Even if we leave Him out of other meetings we should make Him the centre of this meeting. The main emphasis of this meeting should be to fellowship with Jesus and meditate on Him.
The alter of incense represents Jesus interceding for us in heaven. It can also represent the prayers of the saints as the Spirit intercedes through them (Revelation 8 v 3-4). The prayer meeting is the time the saints can come together and intercede.
At the far end of the Holy Place is a thick curtain, a veil, and beyond this is the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter here, once a year on the Day of Atonement, However when Jesus died on the cross the veil was rent in two from the top to the bottom. Jesus had made it possible for us all to enter. Here is the Shekinah glory dwelling on the mercy seat. The Holy of Holies contains the arc of the covenant with the law inside it. It is covered by the mercy seat which is solid gold with two cherubim of gold looking down on the law inside the ark. The High Priest took the blood of the sacrifice in once a year and sprinkled it on the mercy seat. It is here that God communes with us but we must be saved (washed, anointed and have the right garments on) for God to meet with us. Here we meet with God through the veil (Christ flesh) which was rent for us and before the mercy seat which is Jesus Christ our propitiation.
The Holiest is now our dwelling place. The place we need to continually abide in, which is only made possible by the shed blood of the Lamb of God. We enter with boldness and faith in the blood which cleanses our conscience from dead works. This is the place which Christ entered once for all and where we must abide in Christ in order to have fellowship with the Father and Son.
As far as meetings go I would see this as the revival meeting where heaven comes down and glory fills our souls. May it never end.
Mark Greenwood. October 2007