Church According to Jesus

There are two times in which our Lord spoke of “church” directly in the Scriptures

The first time Jesus mentioned the Church was when He and His disciples went to Caesarea Philippi on a retreat together

A city in what is now in the Golan Heights in Israel

Nearly uninhabited currently but once a thriving city dedicated to the Greek god Pan

A tourist destination during the time when Jesus was ministering in Galilee

While there Jesus gave His disciples a “pop quiz” (Matthew 16:13-20)

He wanted to see what they were thinking and where they were at regarding who He was

The first question of the quiz was easy:

“Who do people say that I am?”

This one was fun for the disciples to answer

Everyone jumped in on the discussion, each with his own theory

It is always easy to talk about the mistakes of others and what they thought

However, the disciples didn’t realize that this was only a warm-up question

The second question was the real test – THE most important question anyone will ever answer

Jesus asked:

“But who do YOU say that I am?”

The Bible doesn’t tell us this, but I imagine it suddenly got real quiet.

I can also pictures all the glances that were so on fire with enthusiasm a moment earlier now falling slowly to the ground

This question is much harder to answer because it is personal

If you get it wrong, it is YOU who are at fault

And, this is one question you don’t want to get wrong, because all of eternity hangs in the balance

This is foundational to everything in life and in death and the after life

The weight of this question made the air thick with tension

I can imagine all of the disciples slowly turning their heads in Peter’s direction, just hoping he would speak up as he often did and get them all off the hook

Peter, probably uncomfortable with silence, was ready to oblige

In one special instant he lifted his voice with boldness and a sense of power and said,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus must have smiled at that moment, and the tension instantly lifted

Peter must have felt a surge of pride

He would later need to be humbled by Jesus

Jesus was then to give Peter a blessing that would touch his life, and ours, forever:

“Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah, because you cheated on the test! You got the answer from someone else. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

In essence, even today, we all need help if we are to answer the question correctly: “Who do YOU say that I am?”

To know Jesus – really know Jesus – we all need help from heaven

We won’t come to know Jesus and who He really is just because we have a high IQ

We won’t know Him personally by studying the right books

It is not intelligence, family heritage, or nationality that helps us to know Jesus

We come to know who Jesus is by revelation – – – – By God showing us who His Son is

It is all by grace – – and only by accepting God the Father’s help can we truly come to know His Son, Jesus

The mind of Christ

His plans and purpose for our lives

AND, most important, how His Church is to function and what it is to look like

THE FOCUS of this teaching:

If you want to discover Jesus’ understanding of His Church then you start where Jesus started in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 16…

Everything about Church begins and ends with a single question: 

Who is Jesus to you?

Even if you get everything else right but skip this important question, we are not truly the Church

Church begins with Jesus:

Who He is and what He has done

It is all about Jesus, and if it  begins to be about something else (someone else), then it stops being the Church as Jesus meant it to be

Who is Jesus to YOU?

The answer can only come from the Father – not from a seminar or a sermon

If in your answer to this question Jesus is King of kings, then Church will reflect that

If Jesus has all authority of heaven and earth and is always present, then Church will be different

But, if Jesus is docile, passive, and indifferent, your church will be as well.

Jesus went on:

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell shall not overpower it.”

In only one sentence, Jesus says more about how Church should be than countless theologians say in a library full of books

There are FIVE THINGS I want you to see about the Church according to Jesus

1> JESUS BUILDS THE CHURCH (not talking the building)

There are many opinions on how to build a church – books, seminars, DVD’s

There are many church planting organizations and systems out there in Christendom

All designed to help people build the Church

But, they miss the point – If YOU are building the Church, it isn’t the Church

Jesus did not say, “And upon this rock YOU will build My Church.”

Jesus, and only Jesus, builds the Church

If we build a church that is based on:

Our ideas

A charismatic pastor

Some new technology

A new methodology

The way it was 30 years ago – 20 years ago – 10 years ago

Anything else…

Then we will have a church that is inferior to that which Jesus would build

Jesus builds the Church … and we must wait on Him to receive a revelation of how He wants to build where we are

Then, as He reveals the next step, by faith we step out and do what it is He tells us to do

Never forget: It is not your church or my church – it is His Church

2> JESUS OWNS THE CHURCH (not talking the building)

Jesus bought the Church with His own blood

Acts 20:28 “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

He didn’t promise that “He will build YOUR Church.”

The Church belongs to Jesus

He is building His Church and it cost Him His life (blood) – He purchased us and we are the Church

There was once a contractor who built homes in a small town somewhere in Europe. He built most of the homes for the people who lived in the village and was a gifted carpenter

Unfortunately, he was never able to afford a home of his own.

One day, the wealthiest man in town came to the contractor and asked him to build a house. He said, “I want you to build the finest house you are capable of, and I want you to spare no expense. I am going on a journey and when I return I hope that the house will be completed.”

The contractor agreed to the job and was about to begin when a thought struck him: “This wealthy man already has a few houses. I do not have my own. I will use inferior material, do a quick and sloppy job on the house, make it look real nice, and charge him the full amount. That way I can pocket the leftover money and finally afford to buy my own house. It won’t be much of a house, but at least it will be mine.”

This is what he did.

When the rich man returned he went to view the house and was very impressed. It looked beautiful from a distance. The wealthy man turned to the crooked contractor and said, “The house looks wonderful! I am so glad that you spared no expense, for I intend to give this home to a dear friend who deserves a house like this one.”

With that, he handed the keys over to the contractor and said, “Here is your new home, my friend.”

The contractor graciously received the keys to his new home, but his heart sank as he realized what he had done.

What kind of effort and quality of workmanship and materials would the man have put into the house if he had known it would be the place where he and his family would be living?

The Church is Jesus’ building project, and He fully intends to live in it – so it will be high quality (we will be good quality)

If Jesus is at work building His Church, it will be beautiful and solid (not talking about a building here – we are the Church)

Jesus does not do sloppy work

If our churches are falling apart and are not doing what Jesus designed them to do – win the lost …

If our churches are not healthy and reproducing more disciples and planting more churches…

It is NOT because Jesus has done a poor job BUT because we have taken the task upon ourselves and we are building the church … but it is not His Church

1> JESUS BUILDS THE CHURCH

2> JESUS OWNS THE CHURCH

3> THE CHURCH IS MEANT TO BE GROWING

If you drive past a building that is being built – a construction site – you see what has been accomplished up to that time

If you drive past it again a week later you most likely did not see the building smaller than you originally saw

When something is being built, it grows bigger, not smaller

Our verses for today state: “Jesus is building His Church”

That means that IF Jesus is building the Church it should be getting bigger and not smaller

The Church is meant to grow

It should experience spiritual growth … and seeing new souls brought into the Kingdom of God is part of that growth (numerical growth)

It does not mean that a local church just continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger

Just as a healthy believe (disciple) reproduces / births other disciples

So, a healthy, growing Church should be reproducing / planting other churches

Giving groups of people away to plant the next church

Most warm-blooded living things grow to a point and then reproduce

This was the plan Jesus had for the “body of Christ” – the Church that He is building

4> THE CHURCH THAT IS GROWING WILL FACE OPPOSITION (not talking the building)

Jesus said that we would face resistance as the Church starts to grow

He identified the antagonism as what comes from the pit of Hell (Hades)

Wherever the Church is alive and growing, hell is opposing it

One sign of a healthy church is that she faces hostility from hell

A preacher once said: “If you wake up in the morning and don’t run into the enemy head on, then maybe you’re going in the wrong direction.”

The Bible does not say to ignore the devil and he will flee from you

We must stand firm and resist the enemy

I believe that the enemy divides all people into two categories:

Those that he can ignore and those that he has to fight

I want to be one of those that he has to fight.

World War Two bomber:

“If you’re taking flak, you’re over the target.”

1> JESUS BUILDS THE CHURCH

2> JESUS OWNS THE CHURCH

3> THE CHURCH IS MEANT TO BE GROWING

4> THE CHURCH THAT IS GROWING WILL FACE OPPOSITION

5> THE CHURCH THAT JESUS IS BUILDING IS UNSTOPPABLE

The enemy we face is powerful

He has been around from the beginning of time and has been studying our strengths and weaknesses.

His first attempt to destroy human life was against a perfect man and a perfect woman who were not hindered by a sinful nature and were part of a perfect environment – yet he succeeded

He has been perfecting his craft ever since

He knows each one of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities

He has an army of soldiers at his command

He and all of his forces are invisible and supernatural – and they surround us

They have been watching us our whole lives

When you picture the situation in this light – maybe you see church as a refuge or shelter

Maybe you see it as a fortress where we are defending the saints from the vicious wolf pack surrounding us and wanting to devour each of us.

But this description of church does not fit the one given by Jesus in the Scripture we are looking at (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church

Most people have a gate at home – a fence gate

It dawned on me one day that a gate is not an offensive weapon

Notice that there is no two week cooling off period before you can buy a gate

Police don’t pack loaded gates

Terrorists don’t hold victims “at gate point.”

We don’t send weapon inspectors overseas to discover “gates of mass destruction”

Dogs don’t run loose with a little sign around their neck that reads “beware of gate.”

Gates are not a threat – they are defensive, and the gates Jesus was talking about are not pearly ones – they are the gates of hell

The Church is to be on the offence, not defence … gates can’t hurt us

The Church has been held hostage at “gate point” for far too long

It is time we stop being intimidated by a gate

It is time for the devil to be back on his heels rather than the Church

The Church seems to me to almost always be in a defensive mode or posture

Some of us, it seems, don’t feel comfortable unless we are on defence – as if being on the offence is a sin

We are so defensive that it has become offensive (come on – smile – that was a cute play on words)

Any know who Auguste Rodin is?

He was a French impressionist sculptor

You may not know his name but you will recognize his work

He created The Thinker

 

What you may not realize is that The Thinker was really a study he had done to sit on the top of his greatest masterpiece, the Gates of Hell

For years we have been wondering what The Thinker is thinking about

No, he’s not wondering where he left his clothes the night before

The Thinker is contemplating an eternity of judgment separated from God

He is Dante, conceiving of the Inferno

The Gates of Hell that The Thinker is sitting upon described:

It is a tall, haunting work with seemingly countless figures writhing in passion, pain, and agony, sliding down into their judgment with The Thinker sitting above it all with a mood of regret and contemplation

Each figure has its own story and identity tied up with Dante’s Inferno or some other mythological story

 

 

 

This adequately sums up for us the cost of the Church remaining in a passive, defensive posture

If we sit back in our fortress frightened by all that seems to threaten us

We let countless souls remain captive to the forces of hell

We need to turn from defence mode and attack the fence – the gates of hell

Storming the gates of hell to set the captives free

This is the Church according to Jesus

CONCLUSION:

The Church that Jesus is building is a vibrant, authentic expression of Jesus’ love and truth in this dark world

And, with Jesus as the Head and at the helm the Church is unstoppable!

We should not be running from drug dealers, demons and darkness

If we truly are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) we should be running toward the darkness with the understanding that we cannot be overcome by darkness

We should take the light and jam it right down the throat of darkness

Folks, it is simply so much more fun to be “light in the darkness” than it is to be “light in the light.”

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”

He didn’t command us to shine

He didn’t suggest that we be brighter

He said, in effect, “You already do shine, you are a light – that is who you are!”

He then added that a light is useless if it is placed under a pot or a basket

A light should be placed on a lamp stand so that it gives light to all the darkness surrounding it (Matthew 5:15)

Last point…

Ordinarily, in the Greek language of the New Testament, a pronoun or subject would come later in a sentence, but Jesus placed the word “You” first

This would have caught everyone’s attention

The pronoun “you” is in a place of odd emphasis, as if to say, “You – yes, YOU – are the light of the world.”

He is speaking to you – yes, YOU (and me)!

Our greatest significance is found in the darkness, not in the light

It is time, as the Church that Jesus is building, to set the captives free

And, send the enemy running with his tail between his legs

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