Series: The Finished Works

Sunday 11 February 2018 – Kobus Swart

1 Cor. 15:45-49; Isa. 66:1; 1 Kings 3:1, 9-13; (1 Kings 4);  1 Kings 8:1, 12-13; 1 Kings 9:1-9; 1 Kings 10; 1 Kings 11;  (Ex. 4:22); (John 1:29); Col. 1:19-20; (Eph. 1:10 -Phillips); Rom. 8:29-Msg; (2 Tim. 2:11); Heb. 2:9-11; Eph. 2:14-15–Msg; Matt. 11:28-30-Msg

Jesus – the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. He is also the second (a heavenly) man. (1 Cor. 15:45-49).

God has always looked for a house. Let’s look at the opportunity that Solomon had to build such a structure. (Remember to read the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament. Here we will see types and shadows).

Solomon built one of the most impressive structures ever, which attracted the attention of other nations. God gave wisdom and wealth (1 Kings 10). But Solomon turned away from God (1 Kings 11). He used slave labour to build a temple for the God who set slaves free. In just a few generations, the previously oppressed became the new oppressors. Those who were set free from Egypt were building another “Egypt”. Get the picture in modern days, where we are with the Church. Is Jerusalem becoming a new Egypt? Solomon imported horses and chariots from Egypt, which in modern language is the equivalent of tanks and fighter planes. He also exported them to the Hittites and Arameans (1 Kings 10). In modern language Solomon had become an arms dealer. Maintaining righteousness and justice? Hearing the cry of the oppressed? I do not think so! 700 wives and 300 concubines! These women turned his heart to other gods and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord His God. God’s intention was a house for Himself but look where it ended.

In the beginning, the Church that was born at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a fellowship of believers, centred on the living Christ. Then the Church moved to Greece and became a philosophy. Years later the Church moved to Rome and became an institution. Again, years later the Church moved to Europe and became a culture. Then years later, right into our recent history, the Church moved to America and became a business. From a fellowship of believers to a philosophy, to an institution, to a culture, to a business! This is sad but true.

Read The Message Bible’s introduction to the book of Galatians. “When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting or keeping them “in their place.” The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms, experience release or escape from it as ‘freedom.’ The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived.  It was a glorious experience, and Paul set off telling others, introducing and inviting everyone he met into this free life. In his early travels he found a series of churches in the Roman province of Galatia. A few years later, Paul learned that the religious leaders of the old school had come into those churches, called his views and authorities into question, and were reintroducing the old ways, herding all those freedom-loving Christians back into the corral or religious rules and regulations. Paul was, of course, furious. He was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong-arm religious tactics and intimidating the Christians into giving up their free life in Jesus. But he was also furious with the Christians for caving in to the intimidations. His letter to the Galatian churches helps them, and us, recover the original freedom. It also gives direction in the nature of God’s gift of freedom – most necessary guidance, for freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverted and often squandered……”

After 430 years of slavery, Israel (called the “Church in the wilderness” in Acts 7:38), escaped death and were set free by killing a lamb and putting the blood on the doorposts of each family-home. That was the beginning of the Feast of Passover.  In that deliverance, God looked at Israel as His “first born son” (Exodus 4:22). God wanted them delivered by having blood put on their doorposts. The New Testament shows us that, in fact, Jesus, was the first-born SON; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The underlying theme is that God is looking for a house; God is looking for a body, for a people that will put Him on display in the world – flesh and blood to show who and what God is. God is light, God is love, God is spirit, God is good – these are qualities that we must show the world. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Col. 1:19-20). By the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can actually see that His blood was put on the doorposts of the universe! He came to reconcile things on earth and things in heaven. God is waiting for an exodus from every religious structure; an exodus into the free life that is available in Christ. God is looking for an administration suitable. All things in heavens and earth will be consummated in Christ (Eph. 1:10 – Phillips). God wants to show the world the marriage between the divine and the human.

The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him (Rom. 8:29 – Msg). We died with Him so that Christ becomes our life (2 Tim. 2:11). … For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:9-11). The second Man, the first of a new humanity is now calling us brothers. He is the first born. The Church must put this new humanity on display. Get out of your religious mindset. The finished works of Jesus are to become our experience and be put on display in the world, free of religion.

The unique thing about Paul’s ministry is that he wanted to demolish the wall between the Jewish insiders and the non-Jewish outsiders. Paul came to break down the wall of division because in the death of Jesus Christ, the two groups were made one. We have to be careful not to divide the world into ‘Christians and non-Christians’. It may be technically correct but we must not build a dividing wall. Jesus came to take away the ‘sin of the world’. The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody (Eph. 2:14-15 – Msg). He opened the door and created a fresh start for everybody! God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. (Rom 8:29 Msg)

This new humanity is not the latest trend. This new humanity is in trouble when it only attracts a certain age group, a certain tribe, a certain culture or class or personality type. This new humanity cannot be divided. It is inclusive! Church is people! It is not buildings or institutional structures. God is looking for a body. Church is not about attending large meetings. They are a people who live a certain way in the world, who have authority that comes from breaking themselves open and pouring themselves out to see the world healed. It does not come from how right, how cool or how loud it is, or the latest music, or how convinced it is about its doctrinal superiority. It’s not about that! If we try to attract a certain group in society, we are missing the point.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matt. 11:28-30 Msg). We are surrounded by religion and we must not allow it to invade us. Open your eyes; we are called into the freedom of Christ. How much time you do spend quiet and alone with the Lord?

God is looking for a body, a temple that will show the world a real marriage between the human and the divine.