Trusting Christ as the Rock of our salvation, the Living Stone as Peter calls Him, we also become living stones fitted together in His holy temple as we abide in union with Him. As the Father sacrificed Christ for us, we are in turn to offer sacrifices to Him in thanksgiving. God’s Word often describes the church’s worship and ministry in terms of the sacrificial language of the Old Testament.
One of the most consistent metaphors used in the Scriptures for the church is that of a temple. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, your local congregation should very much view itself as a place where the God of heaven dwells. As Paul asked the church at Corinth, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16).
As your church worships, as the very temple of the living God, then, this truth places on your congregation a solemn obligation. For temples are places of sacrifice. Clearly in the Old Testament, the temple the Lord commanded to be built in Jerusalem was dedicated by Solomon with a virtual river of blood coming from all the sacrifices (1 Kings 8:62–64), and it continued through the years to be a place where sacrifices by the people were offered.
With the coming of Christ and His ultimate sacrifice, Christians might be tempted to think that sacrifices are no longer necessary in the worship of God. After all, Christ offered Himself on our behalf. However, clearly the church in the New Testament, in union with its crucified and risen Savior, now has the duty to offer sacrifices to God appropriate to the new covenant age.
This responsibility is captured by Peter when he tells the church, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).