“At that moment (when Jesus died) the curtain of the temple (which separated non-priests from God’s most holy place) was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split”
Matthew 27:51 (my notes added)
Have you ever heard the saying, “The veil was torn,” but didn’t know what it meant? The above verse explains it. In Jesus’ time, at the temple, where people went to pray to God and make sacrifices, there was a 3-foot-thick veil which only the Levitical priests could go beyond.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, they went past the veil to present blood offerings for the sins of the Jewish people for the previous year (see Hebrews 9:7). This blood, which was from the Jewish person’s best animal, reconciled their “sin account” with God until the next Day of Atonement the following year.
This is gross, I know, but God requires blood to forgive sins. As you can see, the Jews got forgiven for a whole year, not neurotically day by day, week by week, or sin by sin, as some think they’re being forgiven today. Further, asking never forgave the Jews, neither did behavior or attitude repentance. Only blood could forgive their sins (see Hebrews 9:22).
What’s amazing to me is the very moment Jesus died, that thick, heavy veil–which separated everyone except priests from the most holy place inside the temple–it was torn from top to bottom! (See Matthew 27:50-51). Jesus actually became our final blood offering to pay off our sin with God, once and for all time! No more animal sacrifices were needed! (See Hebrews 10:10,26, John 19:30).
Therefore, the building was no longer needed. That is, the temple. So now, on this side of the Cross, as New Covenant believers, we are the building, we are the temples. The actual Spirit of God lives in our physical bodies! We are no longer required to go to a geographical location! And I shouldn’t even say we, I should say the Jews. We Gentiles were never even invited to attend the temple. Yet still, as of now, we are the temples! Paul explains:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Further, priests are no longer needed to be middlemen who offer bloody sacrifices to God in order for a person to receive forgiveness. Jesus was, and is, the final priest! It was His very own blood–rather than animal blood–which was presented to God at the Cross for our forgiveness, once and for all time! (See Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:10-14).
I had to set all of this up because I want to point out the fact that a building is no longer needed to be close to God. Nor is any human priest or person required to approach God on our behalf (see Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16). We are the new buildings and Jesus is the final priest! He is a new priest, from a new tribe, which means He has brought in a New Covenant! (See Hebrews 7:12-13,22, 8:6).
What’s the New Covenant? Grace! IT IS GOD IN US, NEVER TO LEAVE AGAIN! It is His commitment to us through the blood of Jesus! Therefore, we are the Church! That is, all believers, all throughout the world, we form the Church!
To be clear, I’m not bashing church buildings or gatherings. I’m simply trying to get things lined up in our thoughts in regard to how we see church congregations and physical places of worship. The facts are this: we are the Church, and we go to church buildings. Sure, you can still call it church, but know that the real church is you–if you believe Jesus has forgiven you.
Many Christians have been lied to in regard to church building attendance. A law has been created which says, “Thou shalt go to church or God won’t bless you!” This is way off base and creates stress, fear, and anxiety.
Truthfully, there is no location on planet earth you can go to which will cause God to bless you more than you are currently blessed at this exact time. The Bible says we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing! (See Ephesians 1:3). That blessing is God Himself in us, permanently!
So how have we gotten to this point? Religion. Religion, as well as taking Scripture out of context. There are two primary Bible verses that have been incorrectly interpreted to create this church building attendance law:
- “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). This is one of the Ten Commandments. As I mentioned earlier, unless you’re Jewish you were never even given this commandment to obey. Second, the Sabbath is not on Sunday. It is from Friday to Saturday. (This is why Chick-fil-A should be open on Sundays! I need them waffle fries!). Even further, this was not a commandment to go to the temple. This was a commandment to not work or do anything productive. You basically had to sit in the house and twiddle your thumbs. And lastly, this verse comes from the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant has been replaced with the New Covenant. It is obsolete for Christians. Its only use is to funnel non-believers into grace once they realize how much of a complete failure they are at obeying all 613 commands. So–after the Cross, everyday became holy because Christ lives in us at all times! He Himself is our new Sabbath rest! (See 1 Timothy 1:9, James 2:10, Romans 14:5, Hebrews 4:9-11, 8:13).
- “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Again, this is not a commandment to go to a church building. This is loving advice from the writer of Hebrews saying, “Don’t be a lone ranger Christian. Get together on a regular basis with other believers so you can build each other up.” Meeting together is good! Going to church can be a wonderful thing if the love of God, our new identity, and the New Covenant is being taught!
So today, my friends, know this: You are the Church, I am the Church, we all are the Church! So let’s gather together to praise God, learn, love each other, comfort each other, and be who God has made us to be!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, today I want to thank you for teaching me the truth of the Church. It is us, your children. For so long, I was taught wrong. Help me to think of those teachers with grace, and thank you for setting me free from that mindset. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them have been force-fed the law of “Thou shalt go to church!” Ease their minds today and reveal that not all churches are the same. Help them to trust again. I pray that you lead them to a New Covenant congregation who understands your great love for us. They might not be able to find one in their area, it may have to be online, but don’t let the enemy torture their thinking any longer about church attendance. Reassure them that they ARE the Church! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!