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Guarding Your Steps at the House of God

By Joe Boot/ March 6, 2016

Series  Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  The Church

Scripture  Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

The centrality of the temple speaks to the centrality of God in all of life. With the privilege of access to God comes the responsibility to guard our hearts and lives as we approach the King of kings.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 5:1-8

Sermon Notes:

  1. In these verses the teacher points out for us the answer to the human plight, which is found in the covenant people, their fellowship, and their calling.
  2. There can be no technocratic solution to a religious problem; the answer to the human condition is covenantal and relational.
  3. Solomon’s reference to the house of God is to the temple he had built with its ordinances.
  4. The temple was modeled after the Garden of Eden, and was central to God’s redemptive purposes in history.
  5. Solomon’s temple was a micro version of the cosmic temple. The temple illustrated God’s manifest presence to the old covenant people (1 Ki. 8:22-30).
  6. The centrality of the place of worship says something about the centrality of God for the social order.
  7. In Christ, the physical temple is replaced with access to God directly by faith. Now God’s own people, filled with the Holy Spirit, are the temple of God.
  8. Under the new covenant there no longer exists a sharp distinction between sacred and profane space (cf. Matt. 18:20; Gal. 6:10; 1 Cor. 3:9, 16-17).
  9. We still have spaces set apart for worship; but God is in our midst wherever we worship, preach, pray, or fellowship.
  10. To guard our steps as we go to God’s house, implies several things:
  1. that attending church is to be routine; we’re to respect God’s creational pattern of weekly rest, worship, and communion feast;
  2. that we’re to be reverent in entering the presence of God. With the privilege of access to God comes a responsibility. Truth transcends us because it is in God. He is our Creator, Redeemer, Lord and King, therefore we come to God with honour and reverence; yet we come boldly (cf. Heb. 4:16);
  3. that we must embrace a biblical realism about the house of God. Man is often dedicated to his own vanity, dreams, and delusions; but God’s temple is a place of total realism and total meaning. We’re to submit to God’s Lordship over all of life. As we systematically preach through the Scriptures, God confronts us. The household of God is not fully sanctified and there are many fools in the visible church. There are hypocrites in every sphere of life; some may prove to be false brethren; some are sinners in need of sanctification like the rest of us. We don’t abandon the house of God because fools abide there. Participation in worship does not make the fool acceptable to God (cf. Ps. 51:16-17; Lk. 18:13-14). God’s house disrupts our excuses and denials. Fools possess the religion of the unstoppable mouth; they multiply God talk; they think that what they think and feel is what God thinks and feels. The fool is quick to promise and quick to make excuses;
  4. that we enter into God's Sabbath rest. Rather than our wandering thoughts, we orient ourselves toward Him. We're not to be hasty or impatient or presumptuous in our attitudes; our words are to be few because the priority is listening so that we will know what to say (Matt. 6:7-8).
  1. God has not abandoned the world ruined by sin, but in it he has planted a garden.

Application Questions:

  1. What is the significance of the temple of God for humanity?
  2. Describe the Majestic One with whom are we meeting when we come for worship.
  3. How is God’s transcendence necessary for the universality of truth?
  4. What does it mean to guard our steps when we come to our God in worship?
  5. How should we handle the fact that there are fools in the house of God?
  6. What should be the characteristics of our prayer? Why?