Our guest blogger today is Matei Branistareanu. He is our dear friend and Brother in Christ who is a church planter and missionary in his native Romania. We have partnered with him for over a decade making disciples in numerous villages in Southeast Romania. In today’s message, Matei talks about the Temple. I encourage you to listen here as you follow along. I have made some grammatical changes to the text for understanding.
In Acts 3-4 we see Peter and John evangelizing by helping people to enter the Temple through the gate called Beautiful. What is your mentality about the Temple? You will always go to the temple if that is the true temple of God. It is a place unto which you will be always be going up. Meaning that you are below and the Temple is up high. When you are sad or upset, down trodden, had a rough run in with the wife, instead of wandering the streets to drown you troubles, or to wash your laundry in public, you go up to the Temple. There is where you can find the blessings of comfort and help.
Is the Temple that kind of sight to you? In Luke 19:1, Zaccheus climbed a sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus. He was up and Jesus was down? No! Jesus said to him, “Zaccheus get down in a hurry for today I must remain in your house.” In Luke 18:10 and 14, “Two men went up to the temple to pray.” The temple was located on Mount Moriah. It is a fortress of escape located in plain sight. A Christian is a Temple. 1 Cor. 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
How do you see the Temple? The way you perceive this Temple will lead your work and your service. Are you heavily burdened coming to the Temple? Are you anxious to come to the Temple? Would you bring your children who are doctors or engineers or that have some high position to the Temple? Would you not? When you enter the Temple without humility, the Temple is low in your estimation and not high. Then I understand why you don’t invite them to the Temple! Be honest! Is that the way that you are seeing the Temple? The impotent saw the Temple inaccessible. He might have thought that he would never be able to make it into the Temple. Are you needful of forgiveness or healing ? How do you see the people in the Temple? People of low esteem? Do you believe that there is God’s presence here and he can heal people and let them enter through this Wonderful Door which is Jesus Christ ? Who is going up to the Temple? Peter was going up with John. Would you invite someone to go up with you? With whom do you fellowship during the week? Who is your John or Peter?
Solomon’s Temple had 12 gates. The beautiful gate was toward the sun rising (Neh. 3:29) which led to the women’s court. This gate made of Corinthian bronze and shined in the sun light as if it was made of gold. This beautiful gate is a powerful contrast to the impotent [people] sitting by it. In today’s time this is still remaining true. We are having now-a-days churches and some of them even cathedrals, but at their gates people are sitting impotent. In that it is seen the beauty side by side with the helplessness. At the Temple people were coming to give in order to have good success. In our times not even this is practiced anymore. Therefore we do not have the impotent or beggars; someone [that] we might lead into the Temple. Those people gave money in the Temple in order to find favor with God. There was wealth study of today churches. It was found that there is so much property and assets that it could be said of it to be the richest organization in the world, but without spiritual power. What a contrast! An impotent man and a beautiful gate. The impotent could not enter in by it, but he was not allowed in in either. Was he unkempt?
There was once a beggar who used to come to church. He had an odor. The brethren of the church were irate over this man coming and they appealed to the Pastor to ask him not to come any more. The Pastor has addressed the man as follows, “Please go home and ask the Lord regarding our church and see what the Lord will say.” The next Sunday the man came back. He was the same smelly and unkempt. At the door of the church the Pastor asked the man and he replied, “I prayed, but the Lord said he does not know about this church anything either.” Obviously, He never entered that church. Oh how well it would be if the impotent man would enter that gate. He would not have to beg anymore. He would not have to stay at the gate hoping for a few copper coins, oh the riches that are found on the other side of the gate. If he would only know…. the little servant girl in the house of Naaman the Syrian. Brethren we do not live to just give help to someone, but to evangelize them and help them to enter through the gate. I believe if the two Apostles that were passing by the gate they would have had a problem if they had money. They might have given him [the beggar] money but not healing and acceptance before the Lord. Unfortunately with money it is easier to deal with some people’s matters, but if we evangelize them, then we have to follow up. (John 5:6-8)
Who wants to be like Peter and John? Who is the beggar? Does still exist beggars waiting for something that they do not know? If you think that there is nobody in spiritual need that means you are not a Christian. Peter and John did not meet by chance. They worked together. Do you have a Peter or a John? As a nation, the people of Israel have problems from birth as it is said in 1 Kings 18:21, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?” In Acts 3:4 Peter and John were one in the Spirit. They spoke together, “Look at us.” What authority, what spiritual might, what testimony! We cannot go to heaven with our testimony damaged. Acts 3:5 reveals the lack of wisdom of the world. Romanians think that money is the main problem of our country, but it is not. It is not money that gets us out of our lack, but it is our faith and that faith in Jesus will heal our nations. (2 Chr. 7:14)
What part of the Temple program do you like the most? A father said to his son who was asking for money that, “If you can open up my fist than you can have the money that are there.” The son grabbed the father’s hand and began to wrestle with that fist to get it opened, but after some time he was getting tired to no avail. Then the father made like he was getting tired too and let go for the son’s sake. Somebody has asked the father why he is doing all this with his son. The father answered, “I want my son to have fellowship with me by having to go through this. I want his heart attached to mine and get real close to me.” There is no need for us to tell to God what our needs are. He already knows, but he is giving us a time of wrestling with Him. In this way a dialog is being developed and fellowship takes place. He wants us close. He does not want to be just a store house from where we get what we need. You could not tarry with me for one hour? The hour of prayer. Do we spend an hour in prayer? Well we do not come to the prayer service and at home we are very busy. Spiritually impotent! Among us the youth do not pray; neither do the kids in the secular schools, but they are having very much success. First in the things of the world but last in the things of God!
At what time are you going up to the temple? At 3:00 p.m. during the heat of the day? Were the camel rides air conditioned? For these people it was not difficult to go? We can tell why – spiritual impotence – I believe that is more like it. When the clock strikes sharp on the hour, it is time to go. What was your reason for going up to the Temple? I do not know, the Lord knows. The Jews would go to the temple three times per day. What is wrong with these Christians? They are lazy people that is why they go to the church so often for they don’t like to work. At the ninth hour again is the time of the sacrifice when the High Priest would offer the incense with the prayers of the saints. Are you coming at the church presenting your life pure and well like incense?
“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk! And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God” (Acts 3:6-8) Once he was healed, his healing was authentic and he stayed close to the Apostles. The accent therefore it is put on, “In the name of Jesus Christ” [because] He is the One who can heal. Later on in Acts Chapter 4, we see this same man staying by Peter and John in prison full of joy in the Temple, but also in jail. We are not only Christians in good weather, but on bad weather too, right?