Monday, August 13, 2007

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. (Psalm 63:2)


David found life-giving pleasure in looking upon God, and we can do the same by looking at Christ. But where can I find Christ? We can find Christ where David found God, in the sanctuary.

We can find Christ in the sanctuary. Where is that? Psalm 27:4 says the house of the LORD is where David wanted to always dwell. He wanted nothing more than to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD...in his temple. But the tabernacle God had Moses build and the temple Solomon built and the one Herod built have been destroyed. Certainly, this doesn't mean we can't find a sanctuary to see God in, does it? Well, let's see what Jesus has to say about that.

He said to a Samaritan woman a couple thousand years ago, Believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (John 4:21) The Samaritans had constructed a temple on Mount Gerizim and argued that theirs, not the Jews' temple was the true temple. But Jesus told this lady that this contraversy would be obsolete soon, because, he goes on to say, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. (John 4:23). So someone could rightly say now that our worship is not confined to a geographical location; we who trust in Christ can see God in a different kind of temple, in spirit and truth.

What does Jesus mean when he says true worshipers will worship the Father in...truth? I believe he unfolded the meaning of that in a previous statement to this Samaritan woman, You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (John 4:22) Samaritans did not know what they worshiped, that is, they did not worship in truth. They rejected all of the Old Testament Scriptures except for the first five books. So their knowledge of God was sorely limited. Worshiping God in truth has to do with knowing God as he has fully revealed himself in all the Scriptures. And Jesus says that means knowing that salvation is from the Jews. The Savior of the world is the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Only if you trust in Jesus can you be saved from your wrath-deserving sins to worhip the Father in truth. Jesus is our sanctuary, the truth in which we can look upon God.

Jesus says, God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. What does it mean to worship God in spirit? First God takes the Scriptures that he breathed out and shows Jesus to us in them (Jesus said ...the Scriptures...bear witness about me - John 5:39). And God then miraculously causes our spirit to live by his Spirit (It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life - John 6:63). Therefore we can commune with him, worshiping him spirit to Spirit. Then he makes our spirits live more and more vibrantly, joyously, abundantly through the truth of his word.

"The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God; the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit; the funace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit; and the resulting heat of our affections is powerful worship, pushing its way out in confessions, longing, acclamations, tears, songs, shouts, bowed heads, lifted hands and obedient lives" (John Piper, "Desiring God" p. 77).

This "true vision of the greatness of God" is what David saw in the sanctuary. I've said that our worship is not now confined geographically, for we worship in spirit and truth. But does that mean that we can be individualistic worshipers who say that the invisible, universal church of the spirit is sufficient as our sanctuary? No. Although God's church is universal, it necessarily manifests itself in visible, local assemblies. Practically speaking, if you want to look upon God in the sanctuary, you need to gather with other believers who worship in spirit and truth. Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together... (Hebrews 10:24-25). You need to gather with a church who worships God in Christ as he has revealed himself in the Bible. Then you will resonate with David's prayer, So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

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