A Chip off the Old Block
Here we find the first mention of the church in the New Testament, coming from the Greek word ecclesia [ecclesia], which means “a called out assembly.” The law of first mention urges us to take very seriously this word church.
1. The church’s foundation.
v. 18 Many have mistakenly interpreted this verse to be saying that Peter is the foundation of the church, the first pope, etc. But we know the church cannot succeed on the fallible foundation of a sinful man, who just a few verses later had thoughts inspired by the devil, and Jesus said ‘get thee behind me, Satan!’ This is the same Peter who cursed and swore and denied Christ publicly repeatedly. Even after he was filled w/ the Spirit, later in his ministry, he made a major doctrinal blunder in Gal. 2, and the Apostle Paul had to confront him about it. Can the church be built on a man? You can try, and may even appear successful in the eyes of some for a while, but it’s a shaky foundation that WILL crumble.
a. The person of Jesus Christ.
Let’s compare scripture w/ scripture:
1 Corinthians 3:11
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
How did Peter interpret being called a stone?
1 Peter 2:4-6
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand...”
In the OT, the rock was always a symbol of God, not man...
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
1 Samuel 2:2
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
Oh, the security, stability, and strength of our Rock that will not roll!
In the original language there is a play on words when Jesus said ‘thou art Peter = “petros” = a little rock, a chip off the block. But then He continues and says, ‘upon this Rock’ [new word] = Petra = a large rock, bedrock, a foundation stone.
Jesus said that to the Jews He was a stumbling stone [Rom. 9:32]
To the Gentiles He was the crushing stone [Dan. 2:34]
To Israel He will someday be the chosen stone [Is. 28:16]
And to the church He’s the cornerstone!
b. The plan of Jesus Christ.
v. 18 “I will build MY church.”
Jesus was born into the family of a carpenter. And a builder He became indeed. He’s involved in 2 building projects: one in heaven [mansions] and one on earth [church].
1 Peter 2:5
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Master Builder!
The church’s foundation...
2. The church’s future.
v. 18b ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’
a. We have an enemy.
The church has an enemy dedicated against it. In the days of Jesus rulers would gather at the gates of the city to meet and plan and strategize. [Like Lot, who was a leader in the gates of Sodom] Satan and his hordes meet and plan, and there’s a bulls eye atop a church like this one...he’s got us in his sights! I’m thankful that I Jn. 4:4 says
1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
The devil tries to hurt the church from without and within. From without he uses persecution, and from within he uses many tools:
Disgrace—a pastor or leader has a major moral failure.
Dissention—a member becomes disgruntled and the church unity is in danger.
Discouragement—we’re a fellowship, but we’re weakened when members miss services. Satan wants to ruin our communion by you not being in your place, and he wants to harm the faith of many by you falling away.
Distraction—he wants to take our eye off the real goal of keeping people out of hell and put it on social issues, etc.
But good news: the same verse that says we have an enemy continues and says we have the victory!
b. We have the victory.
Sometimes local churches fail, but only when they don’t build on the true foundation, and the true church will never be defeated!
Ill.—after Jesus’ resurrection the church moved out from behind closed doors and marched into the Roman Empire, led by the Apostle Paul himself, and that mighty empire couldn’t stop the church. In the days of the apostasy Martin Luther and the reformers stood up against organized religion of that day, and even the powerful Catholic control system couldn’t stop the true church. More recently, Russian communism set as one of its goals to stamp out the name of Jesus Christ, but those walls fell and behind it we found Christians by the thousands meeting underground for years, now set free, and the church rolled on! The worldwide terror war is really a war on God’s people, the Jews, and those of us who believe on a Jew named Jesus...in Christian America, specifically, the church. It’s a battle from without, and yet beware America, you “quote” Christian nation. For from within comes a battle cry of humanism, atheism, and liberalism that denies our foundations and threatens our future as a nation. But no matter what may happen, the church will roll on!
The church’s foundation, future...
3. The church’s function.
a. A door of opportunity.
v. 19 ‘the keys of the kingdom’
Notice it’s not the keys TO the kingdom. There’s a lot of silly jokes about saint Peter standing at the gate of heaven, holding the key, but it’s all just a misunderstanding of this verse. In truth, God gave the church the keys to unlocking the gospel to help people be born again into the kingdom of heaven. And in Acts that’s exactly what happened...and it was Peter who opened the doors not only to the Jews, but the Samaritans and all Gentiles. And every time you witness to someone or invite them to church you are opening to them a door of opportunity—and this is the function of the church.
b. A door of authority.
v. 19b This was a familiar phrase to the Jews, for rabbis would often speak of ‘binding’ and ‘loosing.’ [Bind = forbid, loose = permit]
This does NOT mean that people on earth will dictate what God does in heaven, but actually the other way around. God is ultimately in control of the church, and Christ is the head of it!
And the local church is given the authority to carry out the work of heaven. Don’t ever let the world scare you, or governments threaten you church...we ought to obey God rather than men, and I don’t care if our tax exemption is lost, we ought to speak the truth no matter the cost...we have been given the authority and the responsibility!
May God’s will be done at FBC, not man’s will. May we reach out to all He leads us to, not just those we are drawn to. May our message be unadulterated, written in heaven and not on earth, and may our message be as looooong as He wants rather than as short as we may wish!
For this reason when we have a business meeting and cast our vote, we need to be in touch w/ heaven in prayer so we may come together in unity, and when we find ourselves in disagreement may we be quick to join together in concensus rather than to impose our own will on the church! “Thy will be done today on earth as it is in heaven.”
Ill.—a man who raised ducks tried to teach another to do the same / he had been taught to keep each breed in separate pens or they’ll breed indiscriminately and turn out worthless / the man agreed to keep them separate / he went behind his house which was by a riverbank / built 4 pens / it came a major downpour and the river approached the duck pens / it reached them and then raised them / it continued to rise until they floated freely with each other. Let’s allow this story to represent our prayer lives...
...when our prayer level is low we will be divided into factions, but when our prayer level is up, we all swim together!
If you’ve never been saved, consider walking thru this door:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
It’s a privilege to be living stones in a church built on the foundation of Christ!
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