We are precious stones bought by Jesus with a great price

1 Kings 5:15 Solomon had seventy thousand who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains, 16 besides three thousand three hundred from the chiefs of Solomon’s deputies, who supervised the people who labored in the work. 17 And the king commanded them to quarry large stones, costly stones, and hewn stones, to lay the foundation of the temple. 18 So Solomon’s builders, Hiram’s builders, and the Gebalites quarried them; and they prepared timber and stones to build the temple.

Solomon’s quarry was a place where large stones are carved out at very great cost and work, and then transported to be placed in the temple. I could imagine the cost of such works, tons of rock without modern lifting tools. Today, if you visit the quarry, there are some stones left behind, incomplete by the workers. Solomon’s quarry or Zedekiah’s cave is a 20,000 sqm quarry near the old city of Jerusalem.

They carved out the stones in the exacting dimensions so that they can be placed in the temple as is. There was no further work on the stone. At the temple, the stones would be put in place, and laden with wood. All day long, they would be abiding in the presence of God. During the construction, the workers would toil day and night with little light. And today, tourist can visit the place with modern electrical lighting. But in the temple of God, the man made light of self effort, is replaced by an ever bright light of God and Jesus, the sweet incense unto God. The light is rest, glory and majesty to us, the precious stones who behold it in the House of God.

In Zedekiah’s cave there remains incompleted works who missed the purpose they were destined for so are many churches who missed the calling of God. The half completed works still in darkness, represents some who once have tasted Jesus, just like Judas who heard the best sermons and saw miracles  first hand. At the end, he too rejected Jesus and was not saved. In fact, no one was saved until Jesus rose again and when Jesus breathed into the disciples at the upper room, the precious price was paid in full for the rocks to be received into God’s house.

We live in a period of great contradictions. We have Love Singapore wearing their white clothing hoping to reflect their own light even not mentioning that one of their own misused 24 million of funds to support an endeavor in Hollywood. When we wear white, we take Jesus off the center. It is not our righteousness but His. Satan’s trap for the church is to take Jesus off the center.

When we stand on our own righteousness claiming that we could follow God’s laws, in the darkness, we will fail even to abide by the basic moral laws of the land as in the case of the Kong Hee trial. The churches are put into a trap by Satan to be law based using gays as the wedge issue. The law only amplifies our sin and need for God’s grace, hence we will put on the white robes and tombstone of hypocrisy hiding our works in darkness that even the world would be surprised by.

Unfortunately, many inclusive churches have discarded entirely the bible and christ centered christianity of the mega churches we so despised. In many inclusive churches, we light our own light in the cave and play church within the quarry. It is hard work without Christ redemption and resurrection to pay for the costly stones. The world is not anti God but anti Christ. Surely, we are not like the world.

We can try extracting ourselves from the quarry or saving ourselves even calling the resurrection crazy, but we will stay inside the cave with our own small light. It is not about the welcome, or the worship, but we have made God the Creator as the centre, rather than Jesus as God and Saviour. When the price is not paid, we will be in the quarry even if we place a label called “Church” at the entry. We too have failed and are perhaps far worst than the mega churches. It takes too much effort to keep this dim light glowing.

We have only one gay church in many cities yet we bring people not into the light but our own small camp fire in the quarry. People leave because they are desperate for the rest in the light of God that couldn’t be found in the man based religion we offer. We say we no longer run or hide and become authentic. But in the dark quarry, we have to constantly blow the small candle to keep it burning. The cave is an uncomfortable trap of darkness.

There is a barrier between God and man. The walls in the old temple was not put there by men but instructed by God. We may light the inclusive light but it will be our own small light in the quarry where God becomes a mystery because we cant see God. The price must be paid and accepted to be bought out of the quarry and into the body of the temple, the body of Christ. The Christ centered kingdom is not replaceable with a man centered kindom.

Some even say that the Mainline Liberal churches in the US are not dying but failing. Surely, these churches have tasted the goodness and power of God. They are half there, but are like half finished stones. Still in the quarry because they didn’t let the workers finish the job but wanted to save themselves in the name of doing love.  No one like the darkness, and heat and stale air in the quarry. That is why people are leaving the church so is many of our inclusive churches.

The now former presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori acknowledged that the Episcopal church is bleeding like the woman with the issue of blood. But if the church considers Jesus as a good religious leader and not God nor the way to salvation, there wouldn’t be any redemption. They are waiting for resurrection when they don’t believe in miracles nor a physical resurrection. Perhaps the bleeding of the church is metaphorical.

The liberals have been shouting from the mountain top saying that all christian groups are declining which is true because the churches need to grow by at least 1 to 1.5% per year to keep up their percentage as a total of the population. Therefore, a church denomination having 100,000 attendance in 1988, would need at least 150,000 in 2015 to keep up. But what the liberals are not advertising is that their absolute numbers are declining rapidly whereas the more Christ centered churches are not growing as fast in relation to the population growth but their absolute numbers are not falling.

The decline of the liberal Episcopal church is quite amazing. In 1988, the attendance was 1081K. In year 2000, it was 865K, and in 2014, it went down to 600K. Jesus said that the gates of Hades will not prevail if the church is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. When we built our churches based on small little rocks still in the quarry, we will fall for the devil will overcome the church. Ironically, the Episcopal church even though the smartest and the riches didn’t bring in a commonwealth.

The progressive churches are condemned by their prophecy. Their Bishop John Spong said in 1988 that the church must change (ie be inclusive and reject Jesus virgin birth, deity and resurrection) or die. Therefore, by their own words, the Episcopal church is not falling but “dying”.

1 Chro 29:3 Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silver: 4 three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses;

The price is so costly to build a household of God made by the precious stones. There were 80,000 workers.  Three thousand talents of gold. One talent is already 50Kg of Gold. And you know, Jesus paid the price. He is more precious than Gold and silver sacrificed for us that we can be carved out of the quarry as a large beautiful block placed in the household of God for the dwelling and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

We are but precious stones bought at a great price, and placed at great cost in the House of God. It cost Jesus everything. We don’t need to play churches down in the dark quarry, but we stand amazed at the light and presence of God. The problem in the world is not a lack of belief in God. Many even kill in the name of God. The problem is being anti-Christ, and not anti-God.

Mat 16: 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus was talking about the gates of hades, referring to a temple in the cave where they were worshiping gods who sacrificed children into the fire where the river of Jordon flows. It was a portal to hell. He then questioned the disciples who do you think He was? a question that every church must answer. It is no House of God even if it is God centered but not Christ Centered, because it is His rigteousness before God not ours.

If we want our church to be blessed, to grow and be a blessing to the GLBT community, like Peter we are to acknowledge that Jesus is the Rock, the Saviour, God Himself. Jesus was the portal to heaven whereas the religious faiths they were worshipping was a portal of Hades to hell.  Only through Jesus would people come into our church becomes precious stones in the House of God seeing the light of God, and finding rest in the presence of God. People need the Lord, they don’t need religion.