The Church And The Nature Of God


I was glad when they said let us go to the house of the Lord” Psalm 122:1 NASB

What does the house of the Lord, or Church in our day, represent? It is a place where fallen man meets with God and God meets with man. It is a place where God’s Law is received, brings conviction and hope, and where one learns to put it into practice. It is a place where fallen man can discover God’s love, God’s patience, God’s grace and mercy, and see God’s nature. By understanding God’s nature one can respond to God with an expression of love through worship and godliness. It is a place God can use to bring about a new creation from sinful man and a child of God is born when forgiveness has been found and received, and worldliness is transformed to godliness and righteousness.

But what happens when the house of God becomes corrupt as it was in Jeremiah’s time. The Law had been lost in some dark corner of the temple. With the Law lost what were the priests teaching? What were the scribes writing? Sadly idolatry, false teaching, and worldliness had invaded the temple corrupting and deceiving the people. The people thought they were saved because they went to the Temple. Jesus found the same thing had happened to the temple and the religious rulers in His day and quotes Jeremiah 7 (and Isaiah 56:7) when He cleared the temple. I fear the same thing is happening today. When this happens the Church ceases to be the Church and becomes a club church.  Clubs tend to put more requirements (read traditions) on who can and cannot attend. In Jesus’s day the religious rulers had set standards regarding who was accepted and who was not.

So what does God do when the Church becomes a club? He sends a new voice. Before the nation of Israel had Kings God sent Judges.  Before the captivity of Israel by Assyria, God sent prophets. Before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, God sent prophets. Before the destruction of the nation and Temple in 70 AD God sent His son.  Jesus addressed the religious rulers and their rules in Matthew 23. He established the New Covenant and formed the Church and in Revelation 2&3 it is clear Jesus is concerned about how the churches represent Him.

The Church is to be salt and light. Salt represents the wisdom of God which comes from the Word of God. The Church is to reveal God to the world. That is what light does, it illuminates. Jesus said He was the Light of the World. What that means is that He was showing the world who God is. Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “God after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He also made the world. And He is the exact radiance of His Glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sin, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; NASB  

If we, the Church, are to call ourselves Christians, then we must be Christ like and represent God’s glory and nature to the world just as Jesus did, adding only to this the good news of the new covenant and the purification of sin. In the book of John we read of Jesus saying that he was doing what he saw the Father doing. He was teaching only what the Father was teaching. In the things Jesus said and did He shined His light on the nature of God so the world could see and understand God’s love for the world.

The nature of God is found in Exodus 34 .There God reveals His nature to Moses on Mount Sinai after the nation had made and worshiped the golden calf. We read in Verses 6&7 Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” NASB

The idea of God “visiting” the iniquity on future generations may be a little troubling to us until we see how the Hebrew word translated “visiting” is used in other verses. It is most used in making a count of troops and carries with it the idea of calling the troops together for inspection. However, it is first used in Genesis 21:1 where we read that God visited Sarah and did for her as he had said He would do in Chapter 18. God said that by the next year He would return and she would bear a son which would have been impossible at her age. Of course, nothing is impossible for God. The same is true for sin. God forgives iniquity, transgression and sin, but that does not mean sin goes unpunished. As He did for Sarah, He did for us what is impossible for us to do.  He gave His Son to pay for our sin. Jesus took the punishment for our sin but we must receive the gift of forgiveness of sin. How can one receive forgiveness of sin if they haven’t heard of God’s grace of forgiveness? The Church is to proclaim the Good News of the forgiveness of sin and the Holy Spirit convicts the world, guilt in regards to sin.

Proclaiming the Good News or Gospel is the work of the Church, but we must do so in a way that expresses God’s nature and glory in the way we live our lives in this world. We are God’s ambassadors and represent God and His wisdom to a world that is in desperate need of Him.

It has been said that Christians are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. This statement is from the pit. If Christians and the Church are not heavenly minded they will be no good at all! Their wisdom and message will be thrown out and trampled on. Matthew 5:13

I am convinced the only way to be able to express the nature of God is to spend time with our Lord in the Word of God. John tells us in John 1 that Jesus is the Word and the Word became flesh. If we want to hang out with Jesus we must hang out in the Word of God. We cannot give away what we don’t have.

Pastor Dave