The Unbreakable Church
I m not a big technology person. Anybody else with me? I use technology, but I don’t enjoy it. There are never tech items on my Christmas list.
I typically look at it and think its a waste of money. I m like in just a few years, months, maybe days that thing is going to sit unused on my desk or a landfill. It has a life span. It is going to break. The things I most hate to spend money on are cars, technology, and sunglasses. You are going to find that cool pair of sunglasses that fit you just right, feel great, look good, cost a lot of money. You buy them and then a week later you get in your car, hear a crunch, and they are broken. I don’t like investing money in things that will break and be useless.
Some things you can’t win with. Somethings you can’t lose with. Investing in them will never fail you or let you down. When something is unbreakable that is what I want to invest in. We are in a series on the church. We are going to look at things that the church is supposed to be, we are going to look at some things that help us understand our vision and direction as a church. But today i’m here to tell you today that the church is one of those things that is worth investing in because it is unbreakable.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20 ESV)
Prop: The church built on faith in the Lordship of Jesus is on unshakable ground, and we should have an unshakable commitment to it.
- The Unbreakable Church is Built on a Confession
The focus of this passage is the rock that Jesus will build his church. Building something on a rock means it will endure, it won’t sink or wash away. It doesn’t crumble.
The key question is what is the “this” in verse 18. “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.” Some have interpreted it to be about who Peter is. They see that Peter is the rock that Jesus will build his church. This is where the Catholic church gets the primacy of Peter, and the apostolic succession that popes get from him where Peter’s role is passed down like an inheritance. But the rest of the new testament doesn’t show that about Peter. In fact, there are many churches in Acts that are not even started by Peter and he never visits. A great deal are started by Paul and the other disciples. That view is problematic.
It is better to see that this rock Jesus will build his church on is the confession of who Jesus is. It is what Peter says about Jesus. This interpretation fits better with the new testament. It fits with statements like confess with you mouth and believe in your heart and you will be saved (Rom 10:19).
The the confession is a statement about who Jesus is. He is the Christ, the son of the living God.
It is not that Jesus is a great speaker. It’s not that he is prophet. He is not just a personal advisor that you listen to and then may or may not do what he says. He is not just your copilot like you are on equal footing with him. No one is on equal footing with him, not Elijah, not John the Baptist, not president and certainly not your boss. He is the one that can deliver you from all things. He is the one that you are to submit to and obey in all things.
God’s people are to be about this profession. We are not going to be about a political parties. There is something greater than being democrat or republican. It’s not about being more effective in your work, it’s not about having a better marriage, or more obedient kids. It is about seeing and knowing who is your maker, your Savior, your judge. People can argue about so many things, important issues like immigration, walls, schooling options, road widening, but those pale in comparison to this confession.
The church is the one institution whose sole purpose is to testify to this truth and the power it has to change people. The church is not a space but a group of people who come together for this purpose, united by and for this purpose. It is all those people living this out.
We want to be about this confession. All that we do we want to have an eye to this profession. We want to help the poor and needy, we do that by meeting physical needs, but the greatest thing we have to offer is faith in Christ.
- The Unbreakable Church Knows the Power of the Confession
The priority of this confession is also seen in how it changes people.
Blessed through the confession. V18 “Blessed are you Simon… v18 you are Peter and on this rock i will build…”
It is the profession that evokes Jesus statement that he is blessed. In fact it is through believing and confessing that faith we receive the forgiveness of sins. We are blessed through faith in Jesus Christ. Not through what we do and achieve but by receiving what God has done for us.
"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." (Romans 4:7-8 ESV)
Power of transformation: Peter’s name is changed here. From simon to Peter, which means rock. Power of unbreakable. Power of blessing. Want my kids and others firm, solid, unmoved and unbreakable. That only occurs when you trust in the right thing.
Do you want others to encounter blessings. Do you want your kids to know the power of God’s grace and mercy. It doesn’t ultimately come from a better school, getting all A’s, making a game winning play, getting a scholarship, the newest iphone, the perfect mom and dad. It comes through faith in Jesus Christ. What your kids most need is a Savior who loves them, leads them, directs them in life, and forgives them. They need something unbreakable to trust in and that is what Jesus offers.
Connecting with the church helps you see a greater purpose to your life. Your life is not about getting a better job, or a new vacation. You have a higher purpose than making money. You value to your family is not your provision. We must see a greater purpose in all that we do, and that purpose is furthering God’s eternal priorities in the midst of temporal duties. A focused church leads to focused Christians. Yes, you work and have to get your emails out and people managed, but you are to do it with a mind to their eternal good. Yes, you need your kids well behaved, but more you want to give yourself to their eternal well being.
As the church is the center of what God is doing in the world, participation in that sets you on course and sharpens you to do what God is doing. I have never met a person who was excelling in discipling, reaching, loving others who was not also a vital part of church. I have met many who thought themselves to be but there was little fruit, little passion, little effect and their commitment to Christ church was also small. I do not believe anyone is going to be the person they want to be, the person making a significant contribution to the lives of others if they are not a part of Christ’s church.
- The Unbreakable Church is Victorious
The Gates of hell will not prevail. Would it be better if he said the gates of hell wont even show up. They won’t even try. The gates were a key part of the security of a city and fortified the city. Gates fail your city is sunk.
This could be a reference to the gates of hell holding prisoners, the dead, and the gates of Hades may have seemed impenetrable, until one going into the depths of its strong hold and comes out alive. Jesus broke its gates, ripped the hinges off.
There is a battle going on. Satan and Hell and at war. They are seeking to take you out. Don’t get lulled to sleep. I think some places Satan shows up in fierceness seeking to bully you with fear. There is blood pulsing through his face and venom coming out his mouth. Others times he slithers inconspicuously like a snake. He lets you have your fill, tempts you with ease, and luxury, and keeps his activity silent so you wont get off the couch to do anything about it. Marriages and families fall apart one small step at a time.
Theologians have called it the militant church. We are in a battle. We recognize there is a battle. This is part of being a Christian, its knowing there are not just idle forces at play in the world. We have an enemy attacking us.
Church. This may not surprise you to see, but it should. The Old Testament is a concern with God building his holy city, Jerusalem. With him establishing his presence in the temple. But in the new testament there is a change to this. We see that God is ultimately establishing a new heaven and new earth. He will be with his people in perfect fellowship. Now, in this age, his presence is no longer confined to a particular locality, but it also is not given in all its fullness. God meets his people when they gather in his name. He is establishing a heavenly assembly, and that heavenly assembly is being gathered through an earthly assembly.
God’s purposes, plans are prevailing through the gathering of his church. An ordinary assembly of people focused on him and his ways. Buildings come and go, but God’s work is forever.
It is easy to give up on something that you think is failing. Do you realize that the church is not failing and never will fail. All the churches in the new testament are gone. Physical buildings are in ruins, but the church continues. God work moves forward. Jesus bought the security of the church with his own blood, he will not let it fail. It will prevail because of his resolve.
Pluralism, communism, humanism, spiritualism, rationalism, deism, arianism, socinianism, liberalism all the different movements against Christ and yet his church still stands. And when we trust in this confession we know none of these have any power over us. God’s purpose will prevail, it will win and overcome. Whatever challenge you have know God’s purpose is greater. His church is unbreakable.
Habits of Church
We see the importance of the church in the new testament life. But we need to move to application. If we are going to build a church here these theological truths should affect our habits. An unbreakable church leads to unbreakable habits. If the gospel is going to penetrate our Christ hardened country it is going to take healthy churches. Just as healthy people have healthy habits so too healthy churches must be composed of people with healthy habits. Things we need to do to build a healthy church.
- Personal Commitment to God.
What is done in heaven should impact what we do on earth (v19). We should want to see God will done on earth as it is in heaven.
Peter gave his life testifying to who Jesus is. It had an impact on his life. It should have an impact on us too. No strategy, no program, no outreach can make up for indifference. Indifference is our greatest enemy.
If we are going to thrive as a community of God’s people it requires all of us going deep in God’s word and who he is and intentionally living that out in all of life.
- Commitment to Attend and Participate.
We should want to be where Jesus is. We should want to be where he is working. We should want to be where he is. “Do not forsake the gathering of the assembly” (Heb 10:25).
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (Mat 18:20 ESV). Yes, Jesus meets you in your quiet time and on the ride in listening to the latest sermon. But he is present uniquely when his church gathers. The gathering of the church impacts those outside the church.
Note Jesus resolve toward the church. Do we have a similar resolve.
Every time I go work out I think, “do i need to do this?” I have better things to do. Its ok to not go. My failure to workout is a stewardship issue. Failing to be a part of the body of christ is a Lordship issue. You profess faith in Jesus but your actions say ease and comfort is your God. It’s hard to get to church.
Prize our meetings. Expect to be met by God expect to be used by God. Say hello to people. Give a hug. People come to church feeling bad for what they have, done wondering if they should be here. Invite them to lunch. Ask how can I pray for you. Do this with guest. Do it with people you know. Share verses God has put on your heart.
Spurgeon. “Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth…
- Commitment to Fellowship.
I want there to be habits of being in relationship with others.
I want you to so want God glorified that you are finding way to get with others to talk about life, to pray with one another, to discuss what you can do to reach out to others, to bless them, to share the gospel, to show the love of Christ, to invite people to our church or activities.
Some of you feel connected and it is only because you are in a small church that has experienced little growth. That can hide some of the bad habits of not having a lifestyle of knowing others of praying with others.
- Commitment to Reach Others
We are in a battle. People are dying and going to hell. Are you moved by this? Do you want to help others?
We can’t control who comes to faith, who walks through our doors. But we can control who we are around who we invite.
Pick one person in your office neighborhood, gymn, grocery store, restaurant. Who is God calling you to love unconditionally. Who is God calling you to spend time with in this next season. Who is he calling you to invite to church. To share your struggles with.
- Commitment to Give Financially
Tithe: tithes were brought to the temple. They were given to support the ministry. In the New Testament they are given to the church, the apostles.
Do a study on tithing (who received it).
The church is the focal point of God’s purposes. It should be the focal point of our giving. I say that unashamedly. I am a pastor of a church, it could be self centeredness. I have worked at parachurch organizations, i know they provide a real value. But I know that those organizations are nothing without healthy churches. I give to those organizations, but first and foremost I give to the church. Scripture mentions tithes and offerings. I tithe to the church. And view others as opportunities to go beyond that.
Give to where you are present. Globalization.
Start somewhere. If tithing feels like too big of a jump then start out with 1% or take 3 months and do it. I m not so much concerned with getting more of your money as I am with you getting more of God.
We are in a place where we are not simply trying to maintain a church, we are trying to rebuild a church. We have been trying to do this despite not having a core of folks who are committed to these things. We have some who are, and we are grateful for that. I m not mad or upset, it’s to be expected in a replant. We are the healthiest we have been since I have been here. We have the foundation of ministry structures that I think will reach this community and people willing to lead them. But the fact of the matter is that we still need a significant push forward. We need people willing to step in and do these things. Until we get that we are going to continue putting ahead. We need a core of people who are doing all these things. Not just a few or some.
It’s a privilege to be part of God’s church. Its messy, but the work we do is unbreakable. HIs church will prevail and we ought to give our lives to his mission in the world. Our investment in God kingdom will never end up in a landfill. It will prevail forever.