Listen to the message
(To download: Right Click, choose “Save Target As…”)
Series: The Corporate Christ
Sunday 15 November 2015 – Kobus Swart
Isa. 66:1-2; (Gen. 1:26-31 – Gen. 2:1); John 1:1-2, 14; John 20:21;
John 17:5; 1 Cor. 12:12; Col. 1:15-17; Gen. 1:26; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:1-3;
Rom. 8:28-29; (Heb. 2:10); Phil. 2:5-8, 13; John 5:19; Mark 14:36;
Matt. 5:3; Ps. 51:17; John 14:2, 23; John 15:7; Ps. 34:18
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. Here is the answer: “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Is. 66:1-2). God is looking for a people in whom He will find not just a “house”, but also His rest. In order to get there, there was a certain route He had to take after the fall of man. In six days God created the heavens and the earth, then on the seventh day (which had no morning and no evening), He rested. Man’s first day on this planet was on God’s seventh day, the Sabbath. After the Fall of man, however, religion started to invade the earth.
There was a certain route that God had to follow to restore fallen humanity to Himself. Do we fully understand the Incarnation?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-2 & 14). In other words, God came in the person of His Son and tabernacled with man, moving into the neighbourhood (John 1:14 MSG). The problem we have with religion is that we have boxed God into church buildings on Sunday mornings, and somehow that has become very unattractive to the world. Yet, God has a plan and God’s plan will succeed with or without you and me.
We will have no excuse because of the way in which God did it by sending His Son and in a sense Himself. Jesus was sent and we must always add to that what Jesus said: “as I was sent so I am sending you” (John. 20:21). He was sent into the neighbourhood not into a temple building. He was walking the streets; He was breaking down religious walls and barriers. We must follow Him because as He was sent, so we are sent. With that in mind you can never make a mistake by studying our one and only model, the pattern Son, Jesus. We have just seen and read that before Jesus was born, He (the Christ) was. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John. 17:5). Following His ascension the word ‘Christ’ now includes us. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). Jesus came to multiply Himself in the form of a generation called ‘Christ’. You must get an appreciation of God’s method towards His ultimate desire to find a place of rest for Himself. God sanctified the seventh day, the Sabbath and set it apart and if you read deep enough He is talking about a people, not a day. God’s rest is found in a people. Religion has interfered with this throughout the ages.
Exactly who was this Jesus?
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. The only way God ever became visible was in His Son. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17). In other words, before heaven and earth were made, He was there. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Col. 2:9). God expressed Himself through His son. In Hebrews He is explained as follows: And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1: 1-3).
Understand what you’re going through in challenging times: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:28-29). If and when you understand these verses, you are aligning yourself with what God did through His Son. The Son was in the image of the Father, the exact representation of the Father’s nature and you and I are being shaped into the life of His son. Jesus was the first born of many brethren. Jesus came to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).
Can you see where the broader picture of Christianity has been stuck? It is about going to church and about religious habits. Look what God has in mind! He is looking for a place to rest. Jesus the Son was there before the world was, He came representing the Father. In order for God to restore fallen humanity to Himself He had to do it through a man. The Bible talks about the Son of God and the Son of man. Jesus made a decision. This man who was in the exact image of the Father emptied Himself and took on the form of a bondservant and was made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:5-8). In order to save man, He had to become man because the first man failed. The first Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. The good news is Jesus was the last Adam but He was also the second Man, the beginning of a new humanity. We are exhorted to have the attitude of Jesus. This man, this God, the Son of God, the son of Man who represented God and in whom the fullness of God dwelled bodily said: I do nothing unless I see my Father do it (John 5:19).
Now look what He had to do!
This is part of God’s restoration plan; this is the route God took to redeem fallen humanity. Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus. As the crucifixion was approaching, He prayed: “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). This was the Son of man praying. What does it mean? It means that He had a will of his own, but He laid it down! He knew what was coming; it was nothing to look forward to. All we need is to look at Jesus.
Beware of self-will! Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). What does it mean to be poor in spirit? The opposite is to be “strong in spirit” and that usually ends up in being self-willed, self-driven. The poor in the spirit is selfless, not seeking its own. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Ps. 51:17). The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18). Instead of bragging about your own dream, your desire, find out what is God’s will for your life. “Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will.” (Bonhoeffer)
God is looking for a house! “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. God is looking for a people who will be part of His household. What will they look like? “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa. 66:1-2).
Are you going through something that is not nice? In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2). ‘Where is a house that you can build for Me?’ (Isa. 66:1). He is not going somewhere to prepare a place for us; He is going to prepare you as that place! You are the place; you are part of the place He is building for Himself. It is a corporate temple, not a brick building. It is a painful process. He is building you as that place; which means that everything that does not belong there will be taken out. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). Do not put the brakes on, do not complain; do not go into rebellion and withdrawal. God is busy with us.
Can we honestly answer this question: How far are we in this process of becoming a house for God? For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). I want to know that what I desire is not my desire but it is God’s desire for me. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John. 15:7). What is it that I desire? I am asking God to put His desire in me so that I can desire that. I want to know that it is God that works in me to do His good pleasure, not my desire, not my dream but His good pleasure.