Tuesday, July 07, 2009
5 Powerful Pictures...I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH Matthew 16:13-17
What do you think of when you think of “the Church”? Do you think of several old ladies knitting or something more? Little boy and his dad coming to church. “Bet you it won’t do me any good either.” George Bernard Shaw once said, "If you destroyed all the churches tomorrow, people would the very day afterwards begin to build them back again because the church stands for something vital and essential." As Jesus left the church to do His work once He had departed this world you might expect Jesus to have spoken of the church often. Actually, there are only two instances recorded in scripture where Jesus used the word church. The first is here in Matthew 16:18 Rick Warren in "The Purpose Driven Church" writes: "Absolutely nothing will revitalize a discouraged Church faster than rediscovering its purpose." A discouraged Church is one without a vision. A dying church is one without a vision. A declining church is one without a vision. A defeated church is one without a vision. A decimated church is one without a vision. A Church without a goal is like a church on a merry-go-round. It may have a lot of activity but very little productivity. Many churches are just going through a religious routine on Sunday. There is no reason for their existence other than they are a Church and they are supposed to have 2 or 3 services a week. They are a lot like the two men that were observed working along side the road. One would dig a hole and then go about ten feet and dig the next one. The other worker was following behind him filling in the holes. After watching this unproductive behavior for a while, curiosity was peaked. "What's going on here. What are you men doing?" "Well, replied the first man, My name is Jack, I dig the holes; that's Charlie, he fills in the holes; and Roy, he's off today, he plants the trees." Many churches are just doing their little thing, locked into their routine, Sunday after Sunday, not getting anywhere, not doing anything productive, and dying all the while.
Super-hero saving the earth or galaxy. Our assignment is even greater. We are a royal priesthood intended to advance God’s kingdom until He returns. We are the SAS! We are the NBT SAS! We often don’t think of the church as a gathering of Kingdom Special agents whose role is more critical than any earthly profession.
The Context. Speculation about identity of Jesus has been escalating. The Pharisees and Sadducees want to see Him work another miracle (16:1). Miracle-working Messiah. In that context, but in private meeting with His disciples, Jesus asks who people believe Him to be. Speculation is rampant. The Key question is what His disciples have come to believe. They utter most radical declaration ever to come from human tongue—“You are the Christ (Messiah King) son of the Living God.” This confession changes everything. If you believe this all of life’s focus must be altered by this truth. It is in the context of the confession of His messianic identity that He declares His intention of building the church. Don’t miss the significance—we cannot declare that Christ is our King and not love His church. It is His bride, His field, His building. He came to establish it, He died to redeem it, He sent His Holy Spirit to empower it, and He will come again to take His royal bride to Himself.
The Lord Jesus at the pivotal point of His ministry, points from Himself to us! With 5 Powerful Pictures
1. “Upon This Rock”—The Firm Foundation
A friend of mine worked as a building Inspector. They had trouble with one builder who repeatedly took the reinforcing steel out of the foundations of his houses he was building after it had been checked by the inspectors. The fine was very minimal, but the damage immense! One day they set up a telephoto camera above the area where the builder was working. They took photos of him removing the reo (reinforcing iron) from the foundations after the inspection, took photos of him washing it off and sending iut back in a truck! They sent away the film to be developed which took 6 weeks, to develop and return, then fronted the builder. Already he had completed the building of the house. Not only did he get a fine, he had to demolish the house ( a much heavier fine).
The foundation is priority. It is built first and determines the size and dimensions of what can be built upon it. Just what is the foundation of the church? I believe that Paul comments on this truth in 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 where he speaks of the roles of Apollos and himself in the planting of the church at Corinth. Note verse 11—“Christ alone is the foundation. Peter’s confession to the Christ is the foundational truth that is at the very basis of all we are and do. If God laid His Son in the ditch, what do you think He must desire to build upon it? Nothing small about the work of the church. 11 because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid—that is, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. Paul issues a word of warning based on this foundational material.1 Cor. 3:12. Every believer is called to build. This is not optional. The only question is the quality of the material. Wood, hay, and stubble have no value and no permanence. Gold, silver, and precious stone speak of value and permanence. Has anyone told you that all of our service to the King will be tested by fire (3:13). We will be rewarded for all that remains. Caution: Paul is not talking about someone losing their salvation (15) but he is warning about wasting a lifetime of opportunity.
The whole deal is about the confession! Convictions transform us. Change us! Make us! Nothing more important than our convictions about the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the definition of a “Christian” Acts 11:26 For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
2. “I Will Build”—Supernatural Empowering Some members are like the old man that had been a member of the church for 65 years. The new pastor said to him one day, "Being that you have been a member here for 65 years, I guess you have seen some mighty big changes here." The old man answered, "Yep, sure have, and I've been against all of them." There are many thing's one should be against. But even more important is what one is for, such as DOING GOD'S WILL AND AS A CHURCH BEING AND DOING WHAT GOD CALLED US TO DO! He is doing this job. What do you do for the King that requires supernatural empowering? Are you living in the “safety zone” of what I know I can do? Quit! The Holy Spirit has empowered you to participate in the supernatural invasion of the planet. In Eph. 1:19 Paul prays that we would know the full empowering available to us which is based on the power that raised Christ from the dead.
The Canadian Magazine recently dealt with Hitler's use of the swastika. Included in their article was the following statement. “In the end, if his National Reich Church had been established, the swastika would have replaced the cross. Point 30 of the proposed National Reich Church's 30-point program, drawn up during the war, read: "On the day of its foundation, the Christian cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals, and chapels.... It must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika." History is the commentary on the folly of Hitler's dreams and on the futility of all who would seek to destroy the Church of Christ.
3. “My Church”—The Intimate Identification Greek word “ecclesia” is used for church. ek” “exit.” “kaleo” “called out.” When OT was translated from Hebrew to Greek (Septuagint Translation), the word for congregation of Israel was “ecclesia.” We are God’s called out people. We have been redeemed by Him for service to Him. The intimacy is found in the pronoun “my.” We are His! We can call Him “abba, Father.” We belong to the King and thus have been called to a royal service. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Keith Green wrote a song : The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight ’Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave And you, you can’t even get out of bed
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead Come on get out of your bed
How can you be so numb Not to care if they come You close your eyes And pretend the job’s done
4. “The Keys of the Kingdom”—Royal Responsibility Keys represent honor, authority, and responsibility. (use illustration of getting car keys or being given keys to the city). We have not being given the keys to an earthly city but to the kingdom of God. We understand that keys provide or prevent access. What are the keys? Simple—The Good News of the King. King came to earth, shed His royal authority, took upon Himself human flesh, becoming obedient unto death—death on the cross—that we might become His children. Peter; Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 11 Significance of tongues pointing to every tribe people and nation Daniel 7:13 I continued watching in the night visions, and I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. 14 He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.
There is no message more critical and no responsibility more awesome. We lock people out of the kingdom when we fail to get outside the building that houses the church and declare this Good News of the kingdom.
It seems that churches everywhere are doing things today To try to bring their attendance up by giving things away.
They're running buses all over town in a way they think is dandy Giving all the boys and girls that ride some bubble gum or candy.
And maybe they'll have a contest give the winner a free plane ride Or offer them a ten-speed bike that would make one swell with pride.
God does not use this kind of plan to save one from his sin But uses visitation to bring the sinner in.
So if you're using this unscriptural plan perhaps you'd better stop Or your rewards in heaven might be just a lollipop.
Some churches are driven by finances. The question the forefront of everyone's mind in a finance-driven church is "How much will it cost?" Nothing else ever seems quite as important. Finances are foremost. The most heated debate in a finance-driven church is always over the budget. While good stewardship and cash flow are essential for a healthy church, finances must never be the controlling issue. The greater issue is: "What does God want us to do?" We do not exist to make a profit. The bottom line in the church is not: "How much did we save?" but "Who was saved?" I've noticed that many churches are driven by faith in their early years and driven by finances in later years. -- Rick Warren, Evangelism for a Changing World, (Shaw, 1995), p. 5.
When Arthur Rubinstein, the famous concert pianist, was in New York, someone invited him to attend church. His answer: "Take me to a church that will challenge me to attempt the impossible."
5. “The Gates of Hell Will Not Overpower It”—The King’s Promise
Other uses of gates of Sheol, point to the power of death, and the power of death broken by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isa 38:10 Hezekiah king of Judah after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness: 10 I said: In the prime of my life I must go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the rest of my years.
Job 17:13 If I await Sheol as my home, spread out my bed in darkness, 14 and say to the Pit: You are my father, and to the worm: My mother or my sister,15 where then is my hope? Who can see [any] hope for me? 16 Will it go down to the gates of Sheol, or will we descend together to the dust?
Job 38:17 17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Keith Green Swallowed into Earth's dark womb, Death has triumphed, that's what they say,
But try to hold Him in the tomb, The Son of Life, rose on the third day.
Just look, the gates of hell, they're falling, Crumbling from the inside out, He's bursting through the walls with laughter, Listen to the Angels shout! It is finished, He has done it, Life conquer death, Jesus Christ, has won it!
His plan of battle, you know, it fooled them all, They led Him off to prison to die, But as He entered Hades Hall, He broke those hellish chains with a cry. Just listen to those demons screaming, See Him bruise the serpent's head, The prisoners of Hell, He's redeeming, All the power of death is dead!
It is finished, He has done it, Life conquer death, Jesus Christ, has won it! Just look, the gates of hell, they're falling, Crumbling from the inside out, He's bursting through the walls with laughter,
Listen to the Angels shout! It is finished, He has done it, Life conquer death, Jesus Christ, has won it!
There is nothing that can stop the advance of the Kingdom. Death can’t, Hell can’t. The devil can’t. The Lord Jesus is Victor and He will overcome!
All attempts to fight God's will will fail...as many have found out!
The emperor Diocletian set up a stone pillar on which was inscribed these words: For Having Exterminated The Name Christian From the Earth. If he could see that monument today, how embarrassed he would be! Another Roman leader made a coffin, symbolizing his intention "to bury the Galilean" by killing His followers. He soon learned that he could not "put the Master in it". He finally surrendered his heart to the Savior, realizing that the corporate body of Christ and its living Head, the Lord Jesus, cannot be destroyed by the onslaught of mortal men.
The early church was not market driven. It did not make Christianity particularly user-friendly. Converts had to go through extensive, lengthy catechesis and examination before they were accepted for baptism. In the ultimate barrier to new member assimilation, those who did become Christians faced the death penalty. Nevertheless, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church grew like wildfire. -- Gene Veith, Modern Reformation, Jul/Aug 1996, p. 6.
J.O. Fraser, a missionary to China many years ago began to experience a great depression. All that he had believed and rejoiced in seemed unreal. Even his prayers seemed to mock him. The depression, self-pity closed down on him until he realized that behind it all were the powers of darkness seeking to overwhelm him. They were overwhelming until he realized that deliverance comes through resistance on the ground of the Cross. He realized that he could have victory in the spiritual realm any time he wanted it because the keys of the kingdom were his. Friend, Satan's greatest weapon against Christians is to make us feel defeated, depressed, and discouraged. He will try to overwhelm you any way he can, but victory can be yours by using the spiritual weapons God has given us. Claim the promises, the power of God's Word, use them as weapons against Satan every chance you get. Listen, it's hard to be depressed, passive, or scared when you take to heart the promise of Ep. 2: "Our life is hid with Christ in God who hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Next time you feel overwhelmed, depressed, focus on your position in Christ, not your condition in life.
The image is of the church plucking lost humanity from the grasp of Hell itself. The church’s mission is too important for us to play our church games. This earth and all that is in it is passing away, but we have been called to an “unshakeable Kingdom” (Heb. 12:26) and for that reason we must serve the King acceptably.
Wesley's Covenant Prayer United Methodist Hymnal.
And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing bonds to our covenant God, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.
This taking of his yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint us our place and work, and that he alone be our reward. Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations, and temporal interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us in Christ, who strengthens us. Therefore let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve in his strength never to go back.
Being thus prepared, let us now, in sincere dependence on his grace and trusting in his promises, yield ourselves anew to him:
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
In a chapel in Southern France, the great Emperor Charlemagne is buried. Otho of Lomello, Count of the Palace at Aachen in the time of Otto III, would claim that he and Emperor Otto had discovered Charlemagne's tomb: the emperor, they claimed, was seated upon a throne, wearing a crown and holding a sceptre, his flesh almost entirely incorrupt. In his lap is a copy of the N.T., and his finger is pointing to a verse. It is Matt. 16:26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? A later story, told by In 1165, Frederick I re-opened the tomb again, and placed the emperor in a sarcophagus beneath the floor of the cathedral
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."
An evangelical lady once asked Wilberforce, the liberator of the slaves, if his soul was saved. He answered her, "Madame, I have been so busy trying to save the souls of others that I have had not time to think of my own."
Drifting snow and bitter cold threatened the lives of Indian evangelist Sadhu Sundar Singh and his Tibetan companion as they crossed a Himalayan mountain pass. Fighting the "sleep of death" as they began o freeze, they stumbled over a mound in the trail. It was a man, half dead from freezing too. The Tibetan refused to stop but continued on alone, but the compassionate evangelist Sadhu could not leave him to die. Instead he bowed down to scoop the man up to carry him while his companion went on without him. It was a constant struggle carrying the man through the snowy pass. However, the more he struggled the warmer he became, and his warmth passed through to the nearly dead man helping to revive him as well. Before they finally reached a village they found on the path the companion that had gone on without him alone...now frozen dead! The companion had sought to save his own life and he had now lost it, while Sadhu who was willing to lose his life, found it...and saved another man near death!