“Remaining in the house of the Lord” — the threefold temple
Where do you find God? Everywhere, right? After all, He is omnipresent. And where do you experience God? The place where He is at home. Following is a divine service on the three places where God dwells
“An absolute nightmare for all translators.” — This was how Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider described the Bible text for the divine service he conducted on 30 July 2017 in Zepernick, Germany: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27: 4).
This is because, where the German translation says “divine service”, it says “beauty” in English and Spanish, and “glory” in French. “The psalmist knew: if I really want to enjoy the care of God in all its fullness, I must go into the house of the Lord,” said the Church leader before going on to interpret the temple in three different ways.
The service of God upon man
“In divine service we can experience God,” however, “this is not man’s service upon God. It is the service that God performs upon human beings.”
- “First of all, we become acquainted with the glorious will of God. So what is the will of God? God desires your salvation, my salvation, and the salvation of my neighbour.”
- “Even when all human beings reach the very limits of their skill and knowledge, God still knows a way out. God always has a solution. God always has an answer.”
- “Even if we have done something very terrible—provided that we feel remorse for our actions—God tells us, ‘All is well. I have forgiven you.’”
- “We can experience the presence of God in the celebration of Holy Communion, where God encounters us, and the Lord Jesus says, ‘You—I love you very personally. I died for you. I am here with you. I am very close to you.”
“I know that not every divine service is an outstanding event,” emphasised the Chief Apostle, and referred to the wisdom of the psalmist: “He wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord because he knew exactly that it simply would not suffice to come only once. — The activity of the Holy Spirit through word and sacrament can only be experienced over the long term.”
The nearness of God in fellowship
“If we want to experience the presence of God, then we cannot experience as a solitary human being. In order to experience the care of God in full measure, we must be part of the fellowship of the believers—in other words, part of the church of Christ.”
The plea to be permitted to dwell in the house of the Lord thus actually incorporates the following concrete supplications to God:
- “Help me to overcome—again and again—all the things that separate me from You.”
- “No matter what happens, please allow me to recognise that You, the dear God, have brought us together.”
- “Let us serve together. Let us work together. Let us overcome together.”
And how can the glory of God be experienced in fellowship?
- “Wherever the congregation assembles in the name of Jesus Christ, and prays together in the mind and Spirit of Jesus Christ, God will answer. He will not necessarily do what we expect of Him, but He will answer!”
- “When we see how God treats His children, how patient He is at times with one or the other in his weakness, and allows him to realise, ‘I still love you as much as ever.’”
- “When He comforts us through our brother, through our sister. And here we must say, ‘The dear God has just sent you to me.’”
The dwelling place of God within man
“Then there is also a third kind of temple: God, the Holy Spirit, has taken up an enduring dwelling within us,” emphasised the Chief Apostle. “May it also be our plea to experience the presence of God within ourselves again and again!” However, “for this to happen we must likewise go into the temple: we are to look into ourselves and think about what God has made of us, and what He intends for us.”
It is then that “thoughts are inspired by the Holy Spirit. He will not come and tell me whether I should buy a Peugeot or an Audi, or where I should go on vacation—He will not even tell me whom to marry! That is another matter. But the Holy Spirit will remind me what is important for my salvation, where I should set my priorities, and what I should do with my soul. He will give me orientation.”