November 20, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
After examining in Wednesday’s blog Peter’s great confession in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God…,” today we are going to investigate To what work are we called as confessors of Jesus Christ? Let’s look at Matthew 16:18 and 19:
And I say also to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build
My church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. And I
will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind
on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will
be loosed in heaven.
Back on May 1st, 4th and 6th of this year I wrote three blogs entitled I Will Build My Church. These three delve into a more complete explanation of our two featured verses, so I won’t repeat it all here. But what I will emphasize is that the Church is built on Jesus Christ, not on Peter! The Greek word for Peter is petros – a stone. But while it may be a large stone, it is something that can be moved from place to place! Peter demonstrated such movement (unstableness) when he denied his Lord three times (see Mark 14:66-72). While he proved to be increasingly steadfast as he matured in his faith, Peter was not the stable rock upon which Jesus could found His Church!
But when the Lord said, “…on this rock I will build My church…,” He used the word petra for rock. Petra means a large immovable rock, bedrock. Jesus Christ is the solid immovable bedrock! (See I Corinthians 10:4). In I Corinthians 3:11 it says this: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Nothing else but Christ can serve as the solid foundation of the Church!
Further, it must be said that He owns the Church and He builds it! “…I will build My church….” It would go a long way toward the Church being what God designed it to be if we realized we do not own it, we are not in charge of it, nor do we ultimately build it by our will and plans!
So how does this tie in with our sub-theme today: To what work are we called as confessors of Jesus Christ? We are called to build the Church of Jesus Christ! And, no, this does not fly in the face of two statements made above – “He builds it,” and “…we do not ultimately build it…” We are only called to build the Church under the direction of our Lord! How do we do that?
The plan is actually shown if verse 19 of our scripture: “…I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” “The keys of the kingdom of heaven” – that which opens (or shuts up) heaven is the gospel and a person’s response to it! Think about it:
• Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” And what is God’s will? It is called “His [God’s] commandment ” in I John 3:23: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” Paul gave us the saving basics of what we are to believe – the gospel – in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4: “…Christ died for out sins according to the Scriptures…He was buried, and…rose again the third day according to the Scriptures….”
• Our desired response to the gospel is summed up (also by Paul) in Romans 10:9: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” It is that belief in (response to) the gospel – or lack of it – that opens the way to the kingdom of heaven – or shuts it up tight! And Christians are given the privilege of not only declaring that gospel, but also telling our listeners what the result of their response will be!
As said before, all this must be done under the direct leadership of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit within us! We cannot go off half-cocked and do it ourselves! Nor can we sit idly at home when God is telling us to go!
If we obey, we will be fulfilling that to which we are called: to build the Church under the direction of our Lord!