The term "sanctuary" has had many meanings throughout history. Its original relates to the word "holy," meaning "set apart for a purpose." The original sanctuary was the "Holy of Holies," found in the portable and later structural temple found in the Old Testament. The sanctuary of old served as a place of sacrifice, worked by temple priests - and the temple priests alone.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the temple sacrifices were no longer needed, as they typified His ultimate sacrifice for sin that, once and for all, was a means of salvation for humanity. Now all people could come to the Father through Christ, and were no longer in need of distant means by which to try and approach God. The Savior came, becoming a sanctuary within His body, and transforming us through his death, unto our lives.
The church (as in, the place where the followers of Christ gather to worship Him) has, thus, throughout history, taken on this representation of sanctuary. While each believer is now the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, having a place to gather to worship, to study, to experience and meet with God as a collective body, also represents a place of safety and security. Throughout history, the church building has been used as a place of refuge for those running from the law, from the government, who were homeless and needed a place to stay, for those who wanted education or greater spiritual development, and for those who found themselves otherwise in need of that sacred touch in their lives - to go to a place that represented separateness and peace.
As a result, the sanctuary is the holy place - a place that is not used for ordinary, common things. It represents the presence of God, present there, where people are able to meet with Him. It is a break from the ordinary, wherein people are able to meet with the extraordinary. At Sanctuary International Fellowship Tabernacle - SIFT we continue to herald this place of safety, where people seeking refuge from worldly cares, politics, and problems that so often plague modern churches are able to come, just as they are, and experience their God.