Look Who’s Here

by Pastor Alan Dunn

We in the New Covenant participate in a great Exodus.  Christ, buy more about our Passover Lamb, clinic has delivered us from Satan’s dominion.  We are now aliens, recipe sojourners in this wilderness, en route to our Promised Rest in the consummated Kingdom.  In this wilderness we, as ancient Israel, are called to warfare.  In this wilderness, we are also called to uphold the worship of God.  If we are to be successful in waging war, and if we are to uphold God’s worship, it is absolutely essential that God Himself be with us.  Exodus 33:14-16 And [the Lord] said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Then [Moses] said to Him, “If Thy presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.  For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Thy sight, I and Thy people? Is it not by Thy going with us, so that we, I and Thy people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”  Our identity and security in this wilderness journey is that God dwells among His people.  The rest of Exodus concerns the construction of the tabernacle.  The book ends with the glory of God’s presence filling the tent (Ex 40:34-38).  In Leviticus the sacrificial system is regulated – why?  The sacrificial system provided the atonement necessary for the holy Lord to dwell among sinners and not consume them in His holiness.  God gives His people the provision of atonement, and they, relying upon that provision, make priority of worship.  The priority for a wilderness people is worship: experiencing the presence of the living God.

When Jesus commissioned His church to wage war by making disciples, baptizing them and forming them into local churches to be taught obedience to His commands, He also gave this imperative: Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mt 28:20).  Lo is a command given to individuals.  Pay attention to this.  See this.  Experience this.  I am with you (plural): the church.  Let each Christian see and experience this: the presence of the living Christ dwelling in the midst of His people.  Our priority during our wilderness journey is to worship the Lord who walks in the midst of His lamp stands, who builds His temple for His dwelling out of living stones: regenerated believers.

Here is why we are adamant about committed churchmanship.  “Lo!  God is here: let us adore, and own how dreadful is this place; let all within us feel HIS pow’r, and humbly bow before HIS face.” (Gerhard Tersteegen: Trinity Hymnal #308)

Why do we embrace the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath?  Because the essence of Sabbath blessing is living with God.  From creation, through the Old Covenant, into the Incarnation of the Lord of the Sabbath, through the New Covenant first day taste of resurrection life, on into eternal Sabbath Rest, the essence of Sabbath blessing is to know the presence of God Himself.  The sanctity of the Lord’s Day is the presence of the Lord of the Sabbath who dwells in the midst of His gathered people.  Lo! I am with you.

Why do we adhere to what we call “The Regulative Principle?”  Because God is here!  We bring no strange fire before Him.  We do not behave before Him as the nations behave toward their idols and gods.  We approach Him who says Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it (Dt 12:32).  As Ligon Duncan says in Give Praise to God, we “Read the Bible, preach the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, and see the Bible.”

Why our emphasis on exegetical, expository preaching?  Because in God’s presence, we would focus on God’s words and hear the voice of our Shepherd.  We would not gather in His name and then give our ears to the words of politicians, entertainers, or listen to ourselves.  Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord (Acts 10:33).

Why our emphasis on corporate prayer?  My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations (Mk 11:17).  We are His house and He has the right to determine what His house will pursue: prayer for all the nations.

Why our concern for the ordinance of baptism?  Because baptism depicts our union with Christ.  It announces that we are dead to sin in Christ, and alive to righteousness in Christ.  It makes us transparent to Christ, embedding us into Christ’s death and resurrection.  It marks the initiation of our discipleship and transitions us out of the world into union with Christ’s Body the Church where we demonstrate our discipleship to Christ by loving other disciples in obedience to Christ.

Why our concern for the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper?  Because during the Supper we commune with Christ.  I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me (Rev 3:20).  The word dine is the word supper in 1 Cor 11:20 where Paul urges us to eat the Lord’s Supper.  We remember His past work as our Passover Lamb.  We fellowship with Him as our living exalted Lamb.  We have a foretaste of the Marriage Supper (Rev 19:9 – same term) of the Lamb.  Lo!  I am with you.

Why our concern for fellowship, for purity of speech, and for the one-anothers” of biblical body-life?  Why our concern for distinctive gender roles, for disciplined family life?  Why do we endeavor to cultivate a climate of order and reverence in corporate worship? Because we are a holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Eph 2:21,23) and we would not quench nor grieve away the Spirit from His own house!  We’re to look and behave in such a way that if an unconverted or untaught man comes among us, he will recognize something of the God who created him reflected in the beauty and orderliness of our worship.  We’re to proclaim the words of God so that he will experience God addressing the secrets of his heart.  He will be impressed, not so much by us or by the preacher, but by God: he will fall on his face and declare God is certainly among you! (1 Cor 14:25)

In this wilderness, we need to be a worshipping people.  We desperately need God to dwell among us in power.  We need to experience His presence which will delight our souls and transform us into Christlikeness.  As we experience Him dwelling among us, we will then be victorious in spiritual warfare.  We will witness of Him.  Our witness is determined by our worship.  If we would be effective in witness, we must know what it is to live with God – the God who dwells in our midst.  Look who’s here!  Lo!  I am with you.

Categories Articles | Tags: | Posted on May 29, 2012

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