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The Sanctuary Principle

An old error

Among the most common mistakes made in the Christian is the principle of the sanctuary. According to this principle, the building that the church uses to make their services and meetings is a temple, a kind of sacred place where dwells the deity, a place where the floor, walls and furniture which line the space are coated with special sanctity that should never be tainted.

That this principle is wrong is obvious - first, because Christianity is a religion without temples. Since its beginnings, the Christian church has never been required by any divine disposition to have a holy place where its members were to meet. If the Christians in Jerusalem gathered in the temple (Acts 2:46), we must remember that this magnificent building made by Herod belonged to Judaism, not Christianity. In addition, one should not forget that believers of Jerusalem gathered in the huge patios and porches of the temple (there did not exist auditoriums) because, being Jews, still retained certain Jewish customs relating to the practice of prayer (Acts 3.1).

You also need to stress that, like all those days in Jerusalem, Christians saw the wide spaces of the temple as places of social life, very convenient for your meetings and for preaching the gospel to the people (Acts 3:11; 4.1; 5.21,25, 42). Still, however, that might entertain these customs, the preaching of Stephen, delivered before the Sanhedrin, shows that even the Jewish believers of the New Testament period knew that " the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands ..." (Acts 7.48,49).

Moreover, it is known that the New Testament church, even in Jerusalem, met in the homes of believers (Acts 2.2,46; 5:42; 12:12). This fact becomes even more evident when observing the Christian communities scattered in various distant cities of Jerusalem, where the Jewish temple was. All those communities gathered in homes, never to worry about building a "sanctuary" (Acts 20:20; Rom 16.5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Col. 4:15; Fm 2).

In fact, for the Christian of the early church, the building of temples was a typically pagan practice (Acts 14:13; 19.27,35; 1 Cor 8:10). So much so, it seems, was only the third century of the threshold that the principle of the sanctuary began integrating Christian thought. The proof is that the oldest Christian church ever found is a house-church in Dura-Europos, which was built around 232 and destroyed in 258.

The alleged conversion of Emperor Constantine, which took place around the year 312, printed the principle of sanctuary with even greater force in the mindset of the church. According to noted historian Edward Gibbon, from that time this principle was fully accepted by Christians. With this, the pagan ideas of buildings dedicated to the gods were Christianized and the temples of Jupiter and Minerva were devoted to Christ.

Since then, many church leaders began to teach the seats where local churches meet are temples and, based on that, invented new rituals and strange restrictions have mercy on air, but which are useless.

For example, many churches hold "consecration cults" when they finish building a "temple" again. These consecrations often include furniture and fixtures such as banks, musical instruments and microphones. Other churches consider the pulpit the most sacred part of the "sanctuary" and do not allow anyone even tread there except pastors and preachers (such as janitors do to clean these areas?); still others prohibit between the "temple" out of hours services and the censor who talk there after the meetings ended.

All these practices prove that lacks many of today's ministers a more elaborate vision of what the Bible says about sanctuaries, especially the temple used in Old Testament. However, even a cursory study of this subject reveals that their analysis should involve two aspects: internal and external.

In its external aspect, the biblical teaching on the Jewish temple points to the provisions given by God about where it should be built the building (Deuteronomy 12.4-14), its dimensions, the way your furniture and fixtures should be arranged, the details about the practices to be carried out on the premises and the general rules on its use (Exodus 25-30).

The domestic aspect of teaching about the temple highlights the holy principles that each of the external factors aimed to convey. He is the author of Hebrews who clearly teaches that the Jewish temple, with its forms and utensils, was a representation of eternal truths and principles (Hebrews 9.1-10). It is known that they are unchangeable and permanent, while the regulations of external nature are mutable and transient.

The ephemerality of the merely exterior in charge of the house can be proven by the very historical testimony. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by General Titus in 70 AD and was never rebuilt. In fact, the Lord himself predicted this destruction when his disciples proved amazed at the huge columns of the temple of Herod (Matthew 24.1, 2). Let us note in passing that on this occasion the Master showed the enthusiasm with religious monuments of stone, so common today, is vain.

In addition, showing the importance of the temple in passing his physical appearance, Jesus said on another occasion, while talking to the Samaritan woman, the time to worship God in light physical places come to an end (John 4.19-24).

What matters, therefore, for the church of God, is the "inner aspect" of teaching about the temple. What meant all exterior provisions relating to the sanctuary? To what truths pointed those requirements? How can the church observe and live these truths today, at a time when stone shrines have no value at all?

Mediation and sacrifice

In response to all this, it should be noted, first, that the biblical teaching on the temple indicates the need that man has a mediator to have access to God. In the temple the "most holy place" was separated from the "holy place" by a veil that only the high priest transposed once a year in order to offer sacrifices for his own sins and those of the people (Hebrews 9.2-4,6- 8).

This meant that access to God remained closed (Hebrews 9.8), waiting for a perfect mediator through whom the sinner could draw close to the Father As we know, the mediator mentioned is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2.5,6;. Hebrews 9.11, 12, 15; 12:24). It was for this reason that, when he died, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Mt 27.51). This showed that the way of man to God just been opened.

The practical implication of this is that the Christian can now approach God with confidence (Hebrews 10.19-22) and with him enjoy good fellowship, mercy, grace and help (Hebrews 4:16), without, for example, the help a priest who should confess.

The fact that the veil have torn off also shows that the need of the temple as means of access to God disappeared. That means building a temple today (as did the UCKG) amounts to saying that Christ's work was not enough to open the way to the throne of grace to the sinner, needing it still sacred sites and special rituals to draw close to Lord and get your favor (Hebrews 9.8).

Secondly, the study of the truths that underlie the figure of the temple shows that the wrath of God raised by human sin can only be appeased by the blood (Hebrews 9:22). The righteous indignation of the Lord against all ungodliness requires atonement - and this can only be done with death. The existence of the altar in the temple and all the rituals of sacrifice for sin made therein point to this reality (Leviticus 16).

All this explains the necessity of Christ's death, highlighting its singular importance, since the New Testament teaches that, by his death, Christ made atonement for the sins (Rom 3:25; 1 John 2.2; 4.10), bypassing the believer God's wrath (Rom 5.1,9; 8.1) to offer a perfect and ultimate sacrifice, so supplying a need that the sacrifices made in the Jewish temple could not meet (Hebrews 9.11,12; 10.11-14).

In this particular respect, the death of Christ also shows how unnecessary the temple became, therefore, there is the place where the burnt offerings were made, its importance disappeared as soon as the Lord offered himself as final and complete sacrifice for sins, done once and for all (Hebrews 7.26,27).

The markedly bloody character of the rituals performed in the temple also reveals how God is holy and cannot bear the iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).

Assimilating these truths taught symbolically by the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, the Christian will understand better the meaning of the cross and also see more clearly how much God hates sin (Hebrews 10.26-31), as this can only be punished by death (Ezequiel 18.4; Rom 6:23) and, considering these things, try to live a pleasant life and straight (Hebrews 12.28,29).

The study of the temple, you can also obtain the principle that the worship of God should be governed by determinations emanating from his sovereign will (Hebrews 8.5). When one observes the many divine rules governing the cultic acts inside the temple in the Old Testament, easily concludes that it is a false idea that the worship of the Lord can be done the way the worshiper well understood.

The freedom granted by God, contrary to what many think, is not freedom without borders (Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16). Those interested in this kind of freedom must give up the condition of human beings and live like animals to give vent to every impulse of their natural instincts. But do it in the fields and forests, not during the worship of the true God. For Christian worship should not have room for troublemakers, but develop within the bounds of decency, order, reverence, fear and all that is acceptable (1 Cor 14:40; Hebrews 12:28).

The pure worship

Another truth that comes from the Old Testament temple analysis comes from its role in the centralization of Israelite religion. The study of the temple shows that God cared much about creating a central hub for true worship. Indeed, the Lord forbade many temples were built in Canaan. His order was that only one was built in the place of its own choosing (Deuteronomy 12.4-14). In fact, building a sanctuary in another location (such as the recently built in Brás, in São Paulo) would be to create a new religion, subject to other gods (1 Kings 12.26-33).

Of course, the centralization of certain worship the Lord had a purpose to preserve national unity and prevent the twelve tribes of Israel scattered throughout Palestine in touch with the different forms of Canaanite pagan cult, give rise to some kind of religious syncretism, committing that the moral and spiritual quality of the whole nation, then, inevitably suffer the terrible consequences of the breach of the covenant (Deut 28.15-68).

To avoid, or at least slow it all, God's law stated that the temple was one, being in place that God chose (Deuteronomy 14:23; 15:20; 16.2; 17.8), to which Joshua obeyed and installed the tabernacle in Shiloh (Js 18.1), where he remained for about three hundred years, until the days of Samuel (1 Sam 1.3).

Later, in the days of David, a new location for the temple was chosen by the Lord in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 21.18-22.1; 2 Chronicles 6.6). In this place, Solomon built a magnificent temple (2 Chr 3.1). After that, no other site was chosen by God for the building of your home. The temples built by the Jews after the Babylonian exile were all built in the same place that the Lord had indicated to David.

All this care of God to require the maintenance of a central and unique core for worship, it appears that he wants the service to its name is always free of contamination. Religious syncretism and so preached ecumenism are an abomination in his sight, since they imply the mixture of legitimate acts of worship with practical and superstitious beliefs, own demonic religions.

Flee therefore the Christian church of any kind of association with Romanism, Islam, Hinduism and the sects that seem Christian and are not. That zeal occupies more the mind of Christ pastors than will care to devote brick walls and wooden furniture.

It is also studying the biblical teaching on the Jewish temple that the believer finds eternal principles about the financial contribution to the work of God. It is known, for example, that in the Old Testament tithe was to be brought to the temple (Mal 3:10). However, this determination was intended to protect the principle that material goods should be used to honor God, being applied in their service (Proverbs 3.9).

Therefore, though, because there is no longer the temple, it is impossible today to fulfill to the letter of Malachi 3:10 precept remains untouched the above principle. Thus, every Christian who wants to act responsibly should cooperate financially to the work of God is maintained and carried forward in this world (Acts 4.34-37; 11.29, 30).

Here, as well, some examples of the internal aspect of biblical teaching on the temple. The problem with many churches, as seen, is clinging to the rules about the sanctuary in its outer face, knowing that the time of the stones of the sanctuary behind us.

This has raised concerns and huge spending on the construction of sumptuous buildings, has led people to spend precious time with planning solemn worship of shrines and consecration of its vessels and has made shepherds wear out with the creation and maintenance of rules about what may or may not be done in the "nature" of their temples.

All these huge portions of time, work and money could be better directed to a greater understanding of Scripture reigned in evangelical circles. Indeed, those efforts would no longer be employed in vain if all believers will pay more attention to the teaching of Jesus to the Samaritan when he said that the worship time to God in temples or sacred places was over (John 4.19-24)! What about the teachings of Paul, Peter and the author of Hebrews that unanimous, insist that the Christian church are the believers themselves (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; Hebrews 3.6, 1 Peter 2.5)?

Whosoever, consecrate a temple to God, consecrate himself; and who want to reverence inside a temple, has reverence for itself. Similarly, if someone wants to glorify God in a sanctuary, glorify him in his own body, with each member that composes; and any Christian want to worship the Father in a sacred place, adore it within himself in the temple of your soul, and with all your heart, for it is the kind of worshiper the Father seeks (John 4.23, 24).

Now what are numerous patent and does not require careful search. All that is rare and hard to see requires diligence in demand. That every believer is therefore part of the almost extinct class of men and women who are concerned about worshiping God in the true sanctuary of the heart.

Pr. Marcos Granconato
Soli Deo gloria

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