Summary: When we meet together in worship of Jesus, this passage tells us we are a temple of God and that God’s Spirit dwells in our presence. How do we take hold of that power and how do we avoid damaging it?
OPEN: A man was stranded on a deserted Pacific island for years. But one day he saw a boat coming into sight, and he waved frantically … eventually he caught the skipper’s attention. The boat came near the island and the sailor got out and greeted the stranded man.
They talked for a bit… and as they talked the sailor couldn’t help notice there were 3 huts on the beach. After a while the sailor asked, “What are those three huts you have here?”
“Well, that’s my house there.” Replied the stranded man
“What’s that next hut?” asks the sailor.
“I built that hut to be my church.”
“Oh, ok… but what about the other hut?”
“Oh, that’s where I used to go to church.”
APPLY: Now that man had had problems in his first church and his solution was to build another church on the beach to worship in. HOWEVER the only person on the island was HIM!
Now, of course, that’s a silly made up story… but it perfectly illustrates a point someone else made in a poem they wrote:
If you want to have the kind of church like the kind of church you like,
You needn’t put your clothes in a bag and start a long, long hike,
You’ll only find what you left behind, for there’s nothing really new,
It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your church; because it ain’t the church, it’s you.
I. The church at Corinth had a problem
They were a group of people who seemingly argued with each other about just about everything
· They argued over food at their potluck dinners
· They argued over who was baptized by who
· They argued over who had the best spiritual gifts.
· They argued about church discipline
· And on…and on… and on…
A church like that would drive me nuts!!!
ILLUS: I once preached about the church at Corinth, and I told my audience that if I had lived in that day I’d have taken my family ANYWHERE OTHER than to that congregation’s church building. I wouldn’t have gone to their church one minute longer than I had to. I’d have given up on that congregation.
But God didn’t give up on them. God gave them every conceivable gift known to the church of that day. In fact, I Corinthians 12 mentions gifts that aren’t talked about any place else in Scripture.
NOW if I’d been God, I’d have packed up all those gifts thrown them into the trunk of the car. And I’d have got in my car and drove away as far as I could from them. But God didn’t do that. God didn’t give up on this group of believers.
And Paul - Paul didn’t give up on this congregation. He wrote two LONG letters to this church. He spent more ink on the letters to this church than any other congregation or individual ever received.
And now in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul makes this dramatic statement: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
Paul was telling them that they were God’s church… And the SPIRIT of God dwelt inside their collective hearts.
You see… when the Church is collectively gathered in one place THAT’S where the Spirit dwells.
Jesus said “where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
We have the promise of Jesus that – if only 2 or 3 of were gathered to worship Him and praise His name… He would be here! He would fill the place where we worshipped.
God gave us an image of how this works when the 1st Old Testament Temple was built:
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it.
When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’”
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD.” (II Chronicles 7:1-4)
It is God’s desire to fill HIS place of worship.
He filled the Old Testament Tabernacle when it was built by Moses
He filled the Old Testament Temple when it was built by Solomon
And HE HAS FILLED His church which was built by Jesus Christ
Jesus said “…on this rock I will BUILD my church….” Matthew 16:18
It’s HIS CHURCH… and whenever we honor Him by gathering together: