October 9, 2010 by Dwight Bernier
People read holy books, go to church or some holy service, do good things – and expect something to come as a direct result of their doing. The concept works in most of our worldviews because we’ve always been rewarded for doing things that we should be doing (or at least for trying to do them).
But Jeremiah and John give us different pictures than the aforementioned philosophy of works.
Jeremiah was a prophet in his day and brought prophecies to the people that were from God. He was called to tell the people (chapter 7) that their trust in the temple was bunk. The people essentially figured they could do whatever they wanted in life (worship idols, steal, murder, commit adultery, lie – it’s all there in the chapter) and essentially show up at the temple on Sabbath and things would be good. God would owe them at that point. But God had a different message for them. That if they were going to trust in a place, a meeting, a work to bring salvation for themselves, then God would not dwell with them. God says of these people that they did not obey the voice of the Lord nor receive discipline – but they wanted to be on the “nice list” with God because of their attendance at the temple. But these people missed something along the way.
John was a disciple of Jesus and one of the twelve who was with Jesus the majority of the time during Jesus’ several ministry years on earth. John recorded a conversation that Jesus had with some of the religious folk, who always went to temple, always read the Scripture and were even teachers of it (John 5). Jesus very bluntly told them that they are deceived to think that eternal life can be found in the Scriptures alone. These men were undoubtedly very knowledgeable in Scripture – but yet they were not hearing what God was actually saying because the author of Scripture was the One standing before them.
Jesus says we can’t find our life in the Scriptures but must find it in the One of whom all of Scripture points towards – Jesus. Scripture bears witness to Jesus and is all about His glory. He even says that the Father’s Word does not abide in us if we don’t believe Jesus. It’s not simply enough to read the Bible each day or memorize verses or listen to preaching – we must find our life in Jesus!
Both Jeremiah and John were pointing towards something greater than the temple & the Scriptures. They were pointing towards the true temple, Jesus, in whom we find our salvation and refuge, as well as the true Word, who was made incarnate and who dwelt among us. This Word will be before us for all of eternity, receiving the proper honor He deserves. In the new creation, there is no temple, because Jesus will be there.
May we not find our life in the spiritual disciplines, though they are necessary for our growth and reminding of the gospel. May we not find our life in the Church, though we are part of the body of Christ and called to be part of a local body. Our life & identity are to be found in Jesus, who has life in Himself (John 5.26)