Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Picturing A Consecrated Church

Numbers 7:1 Now on the day that Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it with all its furnishings and the altar and all its utensils; he anointed them and consecrated them also.

So far this week we have considered the topic of consecration.  Consecration is when I decide to concentrate every area of my life on God.  That means I may choose to abstain from some things in order to draw closer to Him.  As we have labored to show, consecration works in cooperation with the Spirit's work of sanctification which He is working forth, constantly and progressively in our hearts. (Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Peter 1:4-11)

As we consider the importance of consecration from the pattern set forth by it in Numbers 5-7, we can note the following areas:

1. Consecration of our hearts (Numbers 5)
2. Consecration of marriages (Numbers 5)
3. Consecration of one's entire life (Numbers 6)

Today as we look at Numbers 7, we see the activity of consecration as it pertains to entire nation.  We could easily apply this point to be that of corporate consecration: when an entire church, nation, or Christ driven group consecrates itself to the Lord. 

How does a church retain its level of unity and peace with one another
Years ago the late Dr. W.A Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Dallas for over fifty years, was asked a question regarding the incredible unity witnessed among his hundreds of staff members, Deacons and other church leaders.  Dr. Criswell noted that his church had an agreement that centered around being right with God. I summarize his answer:

"We here have followed this principle, that if I'm right with God, and your right with God then we will be right with one another.  However if we find ourselves in disagreement and discord, then we wait, pause, and pray, getting our hearts in tune with God once again.  Once we have done that, we then can walk together, thus moving forward as a church."  Through Dr. Criswell's comments runs this theme of consecration. 

Why consecration is worth it
Numbers 7 was recalling those tender days when the tabernacle had just been finished.  Exodus 40 records this same timeframe.  What an amazing year it must had been, to go from bondage in Egypt to worship of God at the mountain.  The very structure He so ordained to be his house was completed.  We know from the parallel passage in Exodus 40 and Leviticus 8 that the Shekinah glory of God fell and filled that place.  Now the priests and the whole nation were being called unto consecration.  Consecration of their gifts, animals and lives. 

Why such effort? Why such expense? You read through the 89 verses of Numbers 7, and see rituals and offerings.  Its not until the very end you see the point of corporate consecration in Numbers 7:89 - "Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him."

The Church together ought to aim for corporate consecration
When you look at how the early church in Acts 2:41-47, they had "continually devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching" (Acts 2:42) Furthermore, all of those who had believed together had "everything in common". (Acts 2:44)  Nothing is more beautiful than when a church has consecrated itself among its membership to love Jesus Christ together. 

When the members of the New Testament church have consecrated their hearts, marriages and lives the corporate act of consecration follows.  Christ is building His church, and desires her to be in experience whom she already is by position: a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Bride of Christ.  When a church has corporately resolved to consecrate itself to the Lord, revival results and lives are changed.  May we aim to be what God wants us to be in Jesus Christ!

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