We were assisting a friend, a pastor who was planting a church in a nearby suburb. I was asked to begin attending the meetings, and help "shape" the formation of the new church. After a few weeks there, it occurred to me that what we were seeing in our fledgling meetings was an attempt to duplicate, to "copy and paste" the the "mother church" into this new location. One night, before the folks had arrived for worship, my wife and I rearranged the room, moving chairs into a circle, eliminating the "platform" for the speaker, and then, instead of preaching to them, I merely asked a single question: "What is the church?" The following is what came to me after several people shared their concepts and definitions of "the church."

My simple definition was "The church is A Place for the Presence of Jesus." Here's the essence of what I shared that night.

Really, you have to "get" this concept first. Without this simple, yet profound comprehension, we will never understand the essence, the purpose or the substance of the thing we call "church."  God lives eternally everywhere both within and without the dimensions of time and space; yet He chooses to live in us.

The history of the Bible can be reduced to this single theme: It is the continual desire of God to find a dwelling place with man.
In Genesis 3:9, man has chosen to abandon God and God comes looking for Adam; looking for a place to dwell. He calls out, “Adam, where are you?”

He had created Adam after His own image, and God, the Three in One, a social Being looked at man and declared, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

In Eternity before creation, God was not alone. There was fellowship between the Father, the Word and the Spirit and when God created man, His desire was to dwell with; to enjoy fellowship and relationship with His creation.

God desires to remain among and not to merely visit us; it is God's intention to dwell and not to stop by occasionally to grace us with His presence. God longs to establish a home within our hearts and lives.

The Apostle asks rhetorically for emphasis, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16.

We have looked for temples in the architecture of man-made buildings. We have assumed that God indwells our structures. David, King of Israel discovered the error of reducing the dimensions of an omnipresent Creator to the puny limitations of the efforts of man's hand.

Recognizing God's desire for a place to dwell in the earth, David, the man after God’s own heart, purposed to build God a house, but David could not see what God saw.

Settle yourself and listen to the conversation between Yahweh and Nathan the prophet. God is speaking, and His words are recorded in 1 Chronicles 17. "You shall not build Me a house to dwell in. For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought up Israel, even to this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wherever I have moved about with all Israel, have I ever spoken a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?' " 'Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a name like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. Also I will subdue all your enemies. Furthermore I tell you that the Lord will build you a house.” (emphasis mine).

Solomon, David’s son would build a house for the Lord. And on the day of the dedication of that great Temple, Solomon declared, “I have surely built You an exalted house and a place for You to dwell in forever.”

And nothing in all of human history would rival the beauty and the majesty of that temple.

Upon Solomon’s proclamation, fire fell from heaven and the priests could not stand to minister. Never before in human experience had God met with man in such a tangible and powerful way as He did during the dedication of the “house” that Solomon had built for God. This was a high and holy moment in the voyage of mankind, but even in that splendor and majesty and holy atmosphere, Solomon could not see as God sees and exactly three hundred and seventy four years later, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed. The place that had contained and had vibrated with the Glory of God was no more.

An interesting note:

The number three is the number of God.
The number seven means completeness.
The number four stands for earth and all of creation.

If we look at these numbers, three, seven and four, we might conclude the following:

God (3) completed (7) the use of created things (4) to represent His glory at the destruction of the Temple of Solomon.

Another way of looking at the significance of 374 years is to consider the numbers “300,” “70” and “4.”

Three hundred is symbolic of “the faithful remnant.” Seventy means “prior to increase or multitude.” Four is again “earth or creation.”

Looked at this way, we might interpret 374 as “The faithful remnant just prior to a multitude from creation” or “the Church immediately before a great harvest of souls.” (Number designations according to Kevin Conner, Interpreting The Symbols and Types

Could it be that when God declared that “the glory of the latter house will be greater than the glory of the former” He was indicating a “New House” a “New Church” a “New Temple” – indeed our own lives - that would contain and disseminate, broadcast, circulate and propagate His glory to the world around us? That in fact, God was pointing to you and to me, to those of our current generation who are recognizing that a building and a system and a program and a denomination and a governmental / ecclesiastical structure and a clergy-lay separation cannot contain, meet with, house or accommodate what God is doing in this hour of history?

I think a portion of the above bears repeating:

...in fact, God was pointing to you and to me, to those of our current generation who are recognizing that a building and a system and a program and a denomination and a governmental / ecclesiastical structure and a devilish and false clergy-lay separation cannot contain, meet with, house or accommodate what God is doing in this hour of history?

 
The Great Temple of Solomon was destroyed because anything built with hands will eventually and surely be destroyed. If man makes it, man will destroy it.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Hebrews 9:11

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven. "Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:25-29.

It was God, remember, Who promised that "the glory of the latter house will be greater than the glory of the former.”

2 Corinthians 6 says this: You are the temple of the living God.”

God promised, "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Eph. 2:19-22

What is the Church? Simply put, it is a Place for the Presence of Jesus. It is within us, it is all around us by virtue of the presence of those in whom the Spirit of God dwells. It is both within and without the walls of our church buildings. It is there when governments deny the existence of him. It is there when repressive governments forbid believers to assemble together. It is there through all the liberal preaching, the social preaching, the religious hierarchies and religious excesses. It is there so long as you are here to embody, to be the church, to provide a Place for the Presence of Jesus.

God simply wants a place to dwell within us first of all, and then in His church – the collective “us” so that as He is, so are we in this world so that the world around us might see Jesus. .....That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

grace and peace,

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