They came into view through Jesus.
In Him, for the very first time, the grace and truth of God were fully manifested and main plain before humanity.
The Apostle John said it this way, "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1.17)
Prior to Christ's arrival on the scene, God had revealed His glory and divine nature through creation. He had demonstrated His power through miracles. And He had communicated His perfection through His Law.
But His grace and truth had never been fully understood, fully seen, or fully experienced until Christ came.
Jesus was the great clarification of God's character. He was the "radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature" according to Hebrews 1.3.
He answered our great questions about who God was and He gave us hope that even though we didn't deserve it, grace was available to us through Christ Himself who was the great truth of God.
So today, if you have questions about God's character, look to Christ. If you feel crushed under the weight of your sin and rebellion and imperfection, embrace the grace Jesus perfectly revealed. And if you want to know what "is", what really "is", then turn to Him in faith and discover ultimate truth.
He is the perfect and complete revelation of God.
What is the "Kingdom of Heaven" worth to you? More pointedly, what are you willing to give for it? What are you willing to give up for it?
Those are the questions that really define our sense of value, aren't they? What are we willing to pay for something, and what are we willing to sacrifice (not get) in order to make that payment?
When it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven, the answer to both questions should be: EVERYTHING!
We should be willing to give everything and give up everything to take hold of God's Kingdom. There is nothing so great, no One so valuable as God and His offer of grace and life in Christ.
Jesus says as much in this passage ... "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." - Matthew 13.44
As you read the story, you can almost see it playing out in your mind. A guy is taking a leisurely stroll through a field when he happens upon a hidden treasure. Maybe he sees something shining in the dirt or he accidently kicks a partially buried chest. Either way, he reaches down to examine what he has found and discovers it to be a treasure of surpassing worth. So he runs back home, sells literally EVERYTHING he owns in order to go and purchase the field thereby securing his rights and ownership to the treasure. And in the end, he has more than he started with!
That story becomes a lesson ... and a measuring stick to us as well. If we really has discovered the worth of God, His Gospel, and His Kingdom, there is NOTHING we own, nothing to which we can lay claim that is worth near as much. No career. No pleasure. No earthly, temporary treasure. Nothing. It's worth giving and giving up everything for!
So back to our original question ... what's the Kingdom of Heaven worth to you? What are you willing to give for it? What are you willing to give up for it? If God, through His grace, has allowed you to discover the richness of His glory and the beauty of His Son's story, it's worth everything you could give to fully embrace it!
Our building is a tool ... not a temple because God's presence isn't found in a place but in us as people.
Scripture says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God". (1 Corinthians 6:19)
In the Old Testament, God's presence was uniquely manifested in the heart of the Temple, a place called the Holy of Holies, and access to that space was limited to the just the high priest who could enter it only once a year.
Yet when Jesus died and paid the price for our sin which had separated us from the Father, Scripture says that the veil that guarded and closed off the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom. The symbolism of this moment helped us understand that Christ's sacrifice had eliminated the barrier between God and man and made intimacy with God possible for all who believe. That invitation to intimacy culminated in Acts 2 when God sent His promised Spirit to dwell in all who would believe in and entrust themselves to Christ.
Thus we became God's temple. We are now where where His Spirit resides.
So our building, as beautiful and special as it is, is just a building. It gives us a place to gather and worship, and it provides us with an incredible opportunity to do ministry in our community. Yet it is not the church. We are. It is not God's temple. We are.
So admire the beauty of our building. Be grateful for the opportunity it gives us to serve others. But remember that it is just a tool ... YOU are God's temple!!! So glorify Him in everything YOU do.
"Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. - Hebrews 12.26-29
We live in turbulent times, days of radical change and transition which seem defined by a constant state of upheaval politically, economically, technologically, and culturally.
And though moments like this often leave us feeling unsettled and insecure and longing for stability, there is a much greater change that is one day coming. Scripture says it will be a time when God will remove and remake all that has been made, both the heavens and the earth, the entire created realm.
As intimidating as that sounds, what’s important is not what will be removed but what will remain.
The writer of Hebrews calls it “a kingdom that cannot be shaken”. It describes the eternal rule and reign of a sovereign God in the new Heaven and new Earth prepared for God’s redeemed people, the Church, from every nation, language, tribe and tongue. (Revelation 5.9-10)
So if that is the eternal Kingdom and the one we see now that’s in a constant state of disarray and self-destruction is a temporary kingdom, then which one should we invest in? Which one should we allow ourselves to be consumed with? Which one should we chase after more?
The answer is obvious: the one that “cannot be shaken”.
So today, ask yourself … are you more entertained, more enveloped, or more attracted by a temporary life and experience that will one day disappear or the eternal reality of God’s unshakeable Kingdom?
How do you know? How can you and I evaluate our priorities? Take a look at your calendar, your budget/finances, and your relationships. Consider the sacrifices you make and who/what you’re willing to sacrifice for. These things will tell you and I which kingdom we are consumed with and which reality - the temporary or the eternal - that we are living for.
Our prayer is that God will compel our hearts with the greater Kingdom TODAY and that we will choose to passionately and consistently “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire”.