teleios: having reached its end, i.e. complete, by ext. perfect. Original Word: τέλειος, α,
The object of Christian spiritual formation is to become like Jesus. Although this is universally accepted, this truth leads to two difficult questions. The first question, is, what does that look like, for me, today, where I am now in my spiritual journey, and by extension, what do I need to do today, to please the Lord and to continue making spiritual progress. The second question is, what does becoming like Jesus, ultimately really look like, and can it actually be attained? And so we want to know, where am I actually going in this spiritual journey? What is the destination, the teleos of the journey, and just how much like Jesus can a person reasonably expect to become? Although the scripture is extremely clear that the Lords intent is that we should be conformed to the image of God’s son, there is a tacit understanding, that we will always fall far short of that goal and that nobody, really, becomes anywhere close to becoming exactly like Jesus. Along with that tacit understanding is a tacit convention ( it varies according to denomination and school of theology) which defines what that teleos, that spiritual maturity, aka comforming to the image of Jesus actually amounts to. Generally speaking, in my experience, that convention teaches that it is sufficient, and to many theologians, only possible, to become like Jesus in our character and our behaviour, fulfilling the law of love, and operating in the fruit of the Spirit. The Tabernacle Journey challenges that convention and teaches that we can become like Jesus not just in character but also in holiness, power, and authority,which is what I believe the scripture means by the phrase, the fullness of the stature of Christ. The Tabernacle Journey is a map , provided by the Lord, which reveals how an average person can attain to this precise teleos, the fullness of the stature of Christ.
The Tabernacle reveals Jesus, and its revelation of Jesus is always relevant and appropriate to one’s current level of spiritual maturity. For instance, the revelation of Jesus to a sinner and unbeliever, at the altar of sacrifice, ie the cross, is that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away our sins. To please God, the sinner, at the foot of the cross, need only believe on His name and confess and repent of his sins. At the cross the sinner is not expected to be like Jesus , except in the area of surrender. As Jesus is surrendered to the father so the sinner is asked to surrender to the father.
At the Bronze Laver, Jesus is revealed as the priest who cleanses and sanctifies us.Here at the bronze laver, the Lord, removes our old tattered garments and gives us a robe of pure white. To please the Lord the newly saved pilgrim need only to wait upon the Lord until the Lord finishes this work of sanctification. Here the pilgrim becomes like Jesus in patient obedience. Waiting is hard work. Waiting is a mortification of the flesh which is much more difficult than it appears. However, if, while he is at the bronze laver, the pilgrim patiently waits, he is obeying, according to the level of his maturity. He is being just like Jesus, and is pleasing to the lord, and is completely within the will of God in terms of his level of maturity.
So we see from these examples how the Tabernacle shows us how to be like Jesus , here and now according to our present spiritual maturity. However the Tabernacle Journey also shows us very definitely, the teleos, that is, what it is that we are intended to ultimately become, in Christ.
The Ark of Covenant is the Teleos of the Tabernacle.
The ark of the covenant represents Jesus in His transcendent power. Scripture says of Jesus that in Him all the promises of God are yeah and amen. The ark itself, contains three representations of God’s provision for the needs of His people. In the ark were the golden pot of manna, representing God’s provision for physical needs, the stone tables of the law representing God’s provision for spiritual and moral well being, and Aaron’s staff that budded, representing both his provision for leadership and government but also His power over death. Jesus, in his earthly ministry manifested all of these elements of the ark. He fed the five thousand, and turned the water into wine. He was the living bread that came down from heaven. He taught his disciples and the multitudes Gods truth, and embodied in Himself, the law, and finally, He provided the spiritual leadership for the church through the calling of the apostles. Moreover he demonstrated His power over death through the resurrection of Lazarus and through His own resurrection.
As we consider the ark of the covenant, we realize that it represents that which is most powerful, sacred and holy regarding Jesus. The ark was closely guarded in every way. It was housed in the Holy of Holies, and entry could be gained only through the holy place from which it was separated by the heavy curtain , the veil. Moreover it was symbolically guarded by the golden cherubim which spread their wings over it. This was, as it were, the heart of the heart of Jesus. The ark of the covenant represents the ultimate in intimacy with God Himself. And this is where we are to come “ for grace to help in time of need”. The ark is the place of God’s unlimited, boundless power. There is no need, that God cannot meet, according to the riches of His grace. The ark of the covenant represents the Teleos of God.
As we journey through the tabernacle, we can consider and accept, that, in Jesus, we become the light of the world. We can believe that we are to become a sweet aroma, as Paul the apostle states, “the fragrance of life to those who are being saved”. We can also accept that we become bread that is broken for our broken world..These are the symbols of the holy place. But canwe even allow ourselves to consider that it is God’s will that we should become like Jesus as representations of Gods power and authority, in the holy of holies. I believe that this is exactly what the Tabernacle is teaching us, and that ,yes, it is possible to become like Jesus, even in His majestic power and authority. There are of course, many scriptures that speak of us, doing the powerful works that Jesus did, and even greater things. Therefore we may conclude that becoming like Jesus in His power and authority is a permitted concept. But it is admittedly, a very difficult concept, and in my opinion, very few Christians have the courage and commitment to persevere in their spiritual journey to actually achieve this degree of spiritual maturity. History however, does record the lives of those who become very much ,“arks of the covenant”, in their lives and ministry. We consider such folk, giants of the faith, and think of people like John Wesley, Whitefield, Charles Finney, Amy Semply Mcpherson to name just a few. They themselves became the locus of God’s presence and power. Like Jesus, where they were , was where God was at work. Where they were, people were convicted of sin, delivered and sanctified, and many miracles, signs and healings took place. They turned their world upside for Jesus, and our world desperately needs such men and women today. So for the sake of the kingdom of God, it is needful that as many believers as possibly can, make it this far in their journey and become themselves arks of the covenant, the teleos of the Tabernacle Journey.
The purpose therefore of the Tabernacle, and of the Tabernacle Journey is to change God’s people, from glory to glory, until they are prepared in every way to enter the Holy of Holies and become arks of the covenant and thereby to become entrusted with the power and authority that is invested in Jesus.
The power and authority of Jesus, is of course, an overwhelming degree of power. Unless a person is fully prepared to handle it responsibly , this kind of power will soon be a person’s undoing. In the wrong hands it would definitely not be a good thing, and the Lord loves each of us far too much to harm us by entrusting us with power and responsibility that we are not mature enough to handle.
I see in certain church circles a tendency to rush immature Christians into the Holy of Holies, and encourage them to begin wielding the sword of Christ’s power over sickness and the demonic hosts. I consider this extremely unwise and moreover , I believe it is deceptive. We can easily be deceived into thinking that we are in the holy of holies ( spiritually speaking ) when in fact we may not as yet have even made it into the holy place. The physical tabernacle is only a shadow, a metaphor, for the “ real” spiritual tabernacle which is heaven. It is in THAT tabernacle that we actually make our spiritual journey, and in THAT Tabernacle we can only make progress as it is given to us, by the Lord Himself. Spiritual growth in not something to be grasped, but rather to be received. What we can do, however, is to fully engage ourselves in the tasks that prepare us to be ready to receive. The Tabernacle journey teaches us what these tasks are , and the sequence in which they are to be done.
These tasks are done in our daily lives, not in the tabernacle itself. These tasks are the spiritual disciplines which we all are familiar with. The Tabernacle is like a map. You don’t actually travel on the map, but you use the map to guide your journey, and the map shows you how you will get to the destination of your journey ie. your teleos. The Teleos is that we become like Jesus , in His character, His Spirit and in His power. And if we do everything that the Tabernacle teaches us to do, and allow the Lord to do in us, all that he has promised to do, we can be confident that we can actually attain to this Teleos, in a reasonable period of time.
There is nothing more to be desired than for a person to become the locus of God’s presence and power, and if it is indeed possible, then it is also a moral imperative. So much suffering, so much sin, so many souls are lost, because we, as God’s people, stop short of what He intends for us to become, in Him. The Tabernacle Journey, teaches us to fix our eyes on the destination, the teleos, as we journey patiently toward it, knowing that our labours and struggle, in Christ, will not be in vain.