I have a beautiful & wonderful wife with 4 equally beautiful daughters. As husband and father there is not a day that goes by that I do not love them and seek their best interest. I can honestly say that never has it crossed my mind to be permanently separated from them. They belong to me and I belong to them because we are blood-related family.
Likewise, Christians belong to Jesus and Jesus to believers because they have been blood bought family.
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”
1Peter 1:19 “you were ransomed with the precious blood of Christ”
Quote: “You can’t love Jesus and be lackadaisical toward his bride.”
This statement was made to remind us that Christianity is not a solo lifestyle. As a fish was made for water so a Christian was made for God’s church.
Today we begin a series called “God’s Body” to gain a greater understanding of our role together as Christians and church members; to be sure both are not exclusive of one another.
If someone left an infant on the church door steps we would do everything possible to care for the child and help provide him/her a loving environment and faith-filled home.
When a husband and wife have children they do all they can to love and lead that child to health and maturity. Even medical research shows that infants and toddlers are not able to grow properly without physical touch and provision from a family.
And as children grow and mature they gain greater accountability and are expected to transfer responsibility for their own development from full dependence to semi-independence. If this does not occur then that means there is some sort of dysfunction or disability among persons in that family.
Likewise, the church is the spiritual parents for new believers. They love and disciple them toward Christian maturity, expecting them to grow into maturity in order to serve and share their faith with others. If this does not occur then dysfunction occurs.
Further, some believers keep themselves as spiritual orphans because they are inactive or bounce around multiple families. In today’s vernacular this is called church hopping. Something is wrong with either the child or the system if the child cannot stay connected to a family. Christians today must learn to grow with a faith family, flaws and all, or they will orbit in spiritual orphan-hood.
Hebrews 10:23-27 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
It is significant to note that each of the NT books/letters were written not just to pastors or church leaders but to the church – gathered Christian believers. Christians were expected to gather for worship, instruction, fellowship and then scatter for evangelism and mission.
Let’s examine Jesus’ view for His church and how that applies to us today.
EXAMINE God’s Body is Broken Matthew 16:13-28
In the context of this chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has been training the twelve disciples through teaching and application; truth is meant to transform and be lived out. The disciples have learned from Jesus and have followed in his example of service. In previous chapters (14-15), Jesus miraculously fed the 5K and 4K through the service of the disciples. Jesus has reached a climax in his ministry with great crowds following him.
In this passage we can see 3 requirements of God’s church.
God’s church requires personal faith (Matthew 16:13-17)
After miraculous feeding upwards of 20K, Jesus could have grown the crowds to his own celebrity status and built his fan base. Instead, Jesus calls the crowds to be one of his cross-bearing followers. He asked his disciples about the perception (street/market knowledge) of his identity. The response was that perhaps Jesus was one returned from heaven: John the Baptizer, Elijah (Malachi 4:5), Jeremiah or one of the prophets (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). Then Jesus changes the question from the group to the individual – “But who do you [disciples] say that I am?”
Peter speaks for the other disciples saying Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Peter’s response is not stating Jesus’ last name – “Christ”. Christ (χριστος) is actually a title meaning “anointed one”. In other words, Peter was declaring Jesus to be the Messiah and promised Deliverer & King of Israel. Further, Jesus is divine – the Son of the living God. Jesus is the living God rather than the dead gods of mythology.
The district of Caesarea Philippi was originally called Paneas, after the Greek God Pan. Caesar Augustus took over the region and gave it to his son Philip and thus the name in this passage.
Jesus commended Peter’s response for correctly noting the identity of Christ in the midst of imprecise and polytheistic views of God.
ð Faith in Jesus is personal; it is not a social media poll or group decision. Christianity requires the individual to turn over their trust from one object to the person of Jesus Christ.
- God has no grandchildren, you must acknowledge Jesus’ identity as no one can do it for you.
- God is interested in more than a single decision of salvation – He wants supreme devotion.
ð Fundamental to Christianity is Jesus’ primacy. Jesus is not one of many Gods or multiple paths to eternal life. Jesus is not a genie-god catering to human comforts. Jesus is the God of heaven and earth, who is King, Lord and Judge.
ð Foundation of God’s church is Jesus. Your view on Jesus will determine your view on life and relationship to the church.
- High view of Jesus then participation in God’s church and proclamation of God’s truth.
- Low view of Jesus then minimalist view and participation in God’s church.
- Essentially becomes pluralistic and politically correct views of God and morality.
God’s church requires progressive faith (Matthew 16:18)
After Jesus commended Peter for his confession of Jesus as the Christ, He declared God’s ultimate purpose on earth. Jesus tells Peter (πετρος = small & single rock, pebble) that upon a greater rock (πέτρα = substantial & solid rock, mountain) He will build His church.
Much ink has been used to understand Jesus’ words in this passage, and in fact entire religions with millions of people have been created based on their understanding. Essentially the question is what is the “rock” (petra)
– Is Jesus installing Peter as the leader of His church?
- Peter refers to himself as a “fellow elder” (1Peter 5:1); a “servant” (2Peter 1:1)
- Paul rebukes Peter for racial discrimination against Gentiles (Gal 2:11-14)
– Is Jesus commending Peter’s confession for His church?
Acts 2:37-42 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
1Peter 2:4-8 (cf. Acts 4:11) “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”
Ephesians 2:19-20 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Scripture as a whole supports that Jesus was referring to Peter’s confession rather than his position in the church. The church is built on the apostle’s teaching of Jesus as the Christ and cornerstone; the solid rock.
Further, Jesus is not just the cornerstone but the architect of the church saying, “I will build my church”. It is a divine declaration and promise to the purpose of Jesus’ actions in today’s world. Someone may ask, “What is Jesus doing in the world today?” The answer should reflect this statement – “Jesus is building His church!”
The word for church (εκκλησια) is the first time it appears in the NT. The word refers to a community called out or summoned to a specific purpose. God’s people are called out of darkness and into marvelous light to declare God’s grace and goodness (1Peter 2:9).
The Bible uses various metaphors for the church: family/children (2Cor6:18;1Tim 5:1-2); Christ’s bride (Eph 5:32); branches on a vine (Jn 15:5); an olive tree (Rom 11:17-24); a field of crops (1Cor 3:6-9); a building (1Cor 3:9); a harvest (Mt 13; John 4:35); the body of Christ (1Cor 12); God’s house or a new temple or living stones (Heb 3:6; 1Pet 2:5); a priesthood (1Pet 2:5); the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1Tim 3:5).
Further, Jesus says the church is His possession; it belongs to Him. Jesus is the Owner, the Architect/Builder, the cornerstone, Shepherd, Savior, Lord and King over the church.
µ Since Jesus is takes serious view towards to the church, His followers should too. Jesus is actively building His church therefore
ð Our faith should have His fingerprints on our lives; heart, soul, mind and strength. Faith is not passive but progressive. Believers are to cooperate with Jesus’ work through consistent Bible study, prayer, fellowship & accountability as well as encountering God’s grace through gospel reflection.
- As a local church we are family. We are adopted children of God (Romans 8) and have become brothers and sisters in the Lord (?). We have become members of one another (1Corinthians 12:12, 27). Therefore we must commit & connect together to grow in Christ.
ð Our fellowship of believers should emphasize strengthening existing churches and starting of new churches.
- Church Health & Leadership Development – making disciples
- Today’s churches ~80% are plateau or declining à need revitalization
- Church Evangelism, Missions and Church Planting
- reaching unreached with little/no access to gospel
µ Gates of hell/hades shall not prevail against God’s church. The gates of death cannot hold persons in because Jesus is the Savior and Resurrected Lord who opens the gates. Death shall not prevail.
God’s church requires proclaimed faith (Matthew 16:19-27)
Jesus says Peter will be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. These are the keys to open salvation as Jesus says in Revelation 1:18 “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Upon Peter’s teaching the content of the gospel of Jesus Christ, persons receive salvation. Peter says in Acts 4:11-12 “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Salvation is not granted by Peter or the church but by Jesus; yet Peter and the church (believers today) are mouthpieces for this salvation.
The authority believers have to promise salvation OR to reprove sinners does not come from ourselves but from God’s word. We “loose” or “bind” based on the set standards and truths of Scripture.
ð Proclamation of this truth must go to every nation, every family, every house and every person.
ð Proclaiming our faith must include the full gospel: Jesus grace to forgive along with humanity’s need to surrender (repent) and see Jesus as spiritual redeemer and Lord of life.
- The charge not to tell anyone Jesus was the Christ was to ensure they had the full concept of Messiah who would not be a physical, military leader but a spiritual, suffering servant to die substitutionary for human sin and resurrect for the hope of eternal life.
µ Jesus, God’s body, was broken for broken sinners.
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1Peter 2:22-24
µ Jesus, God’s body is broken and by his wounds we are healed.
“Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world!
–Charles Spurgeon, “The Best Donation,” (No. 2234) an exposition of 2 Corinthians 8:5 delivered on April 5, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England.