Who are we anyhow ?

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Synopsis of   Who are we Anyhow ?

We’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:  Matthew 16:13-19           When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  14  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.  15  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  16  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  17  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.  18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

I want to discuss Verse 18        And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

On these words Christ promises to build His church on the truth of Peter’s and the other disciples’ confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, as seen in  Acts chapter 2.  But, notice that Jesus uses a play on words. He calls His disciple Peter, or in Hebrew “Petros” which means “small rock or pebble.” Then He goes on to say He will build his church on Peter solid confession.

Number 1 – Think about this; Jesus, who is the Rock, the first great foundation of the church, according to 1st. Corinthians 3:11. In fact, Peter himself states that Jesus is the “living stone” …. “a living stone”…. “the stone the builders rejected,  in 1st Peter 2:4-5. Yet Peter and the others disciples, and all other Christians, become the part of the structure of spiritual house that God is building. That’s number 1.

Now, number 2.  Nowhere in Scripture is it stated that Peter would be the supreme and infallible authority above all other disciples. Now …. it is stated that Peter should have infallible successors who would represent Christ and function as official heads of the church. For a further discussion on this topic I will present those facts a little later in this message.

However, for the moment lets look at the statement, “the gates of hell shall not prevail.”  The gates of hell represent all the demons and strategy that Satan can marshal in an attempt to destroy the church or to withstand its mission in the world.

Two thoughts here….  First thought — This passage does not mean that any particular believer, or local church, or fellowship of churches, or denomination; will be immune to doctrinal error.  Jesus warned believers, and churches, of possible deception and failure. Sorry ‘bout that ! You can check it out in: Matthew 24:10 – Revelation 2:5 – and – 3:1 – and 14:16.

And, Second thought —  What this passage does mean is that in spite of Satan doing his worst, the church that Jesus Christ is building, cannot in the end, be overcome by Satan. God’s true church will rise up in faith, authority and power of the Holy Spirit.    (By-the-way… by true church I don’t mean the church that you think is true; but the church that God thinks is true. ) The church that Jesus built and is building cannot ever be destroyed by sin, bondage or oppression; nor successfully be resisted by Satan.

Born-again Christians,  we win !

Next I want to hash out Verse 99     And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  Yes, God’s Kingdom is to be entered. And, the keys represent all authority for entry. The keys are also related to the binding and loosing as stated in the balance of Verse 9: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus, whom the Father gave all authority in Heaven and on earth delegated His authority, represented by the keys, to Peter and the church. The church ?  Yes, and that is you and me. We, same as Peter and the disciples were to carry out the Great Commission. And…. and…. get the wax out of your ears; that is first and foremost our purpose in life. We were called not just to salvation, but also to discipleship. We have the authority to “bind” and to “loose,” here on earth. According to the Spirit-Filled proclamation of the gospel, we are in full authority to affect not only our own lives but lives of others, beginning with families placed under our parentage authority.

You see the binding and loosing is an already accomplished provision, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. It’s been paid for, and is now released on earth through the church (us). What did Mark say in Mark 3:27 – No man can enter into a strong man’s house. And spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his home.

Have you ever thought that the problems you are having with wayward children or grand-children is caused by their home being bound. Wake up…. you have the keys. Don’t just moan and groan, bring it to the cross…. rattle your keys…. demand your authority. Perhaps you are acting like a person trying to protect his property with an arsenal of guns, but never thought to purchase ammunition. We are the church !

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Who are we Anyhow ?

Good and joyful day today to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite, we’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from: Matthew 16:13-19

Matthew 16:13    When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven

First, just for clarification: notice Simon Peter answered Christ but Christ spoke to Simon Barjona.

The word “Bar,” simply means, “son-of.” So Christ was acknowledging, He knew this Simon Peter, as being the son of his father whose name was Jona. Today this seems strange to us. We simply use the suffix, “Jr.”

It did not seem so strange to me, being a Louisiana Cajun. We did, and still do, the same thing. Supposing there were two boys named Joe Trosclair. One was the son of Carl Trosclair and the other was the son of Bob Trosclair. How did the locals differentiate when speaking of one of them. If they were speaking about Joe whose father was Carl Trosclair; they simply named him, now catch this.

Carl-a-Joe – C-a-r- l-a-J-o-e . In other words, Carl of Joe Trosclair.

Enough, about that. Lets get on with the bread of life. I want to discuss Verse 18       And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it

On these words Christ promises to build His church on the truth of Peter’s and the other disciples’ confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, as seen in Acts chapter 2. But, notice that Jesus uses a play on words again. He calls His disciple Peter, or in Hebrew “Petros” which means “small rock or pebble.” Then He goes on to say He will build his church on Peter solid confession.

Number 1 – Think about this; Jesus, who is the Rock, the first great foundation of the church, according to 1st. Corinthians 3:11. In fact, Peter himself states that Jesus is the “living stone” …. “a living stone”…. “the stone the builders rejected, in 1st Peter 2:4-5. Yet Peter and the others disciples, and all other Christians, become the part of the structure of spiritual house that God is building. That’s number 1.

Now, number 2. Nowhere in Scripture is stated that Peter would be the supreme and infallible authority above all other disciples. Now …. it is stated that Peter should have infallible successors who would represent Christ and function as official heads of the church. For a further discussion on this topic I will present those facts a little later in this message.

However, for the moment lets look at the statement, “the gates of hell shall not prevail.” The gates of hell represent all the demons and strategy that Satan can marshal in an attempt to destroy the church or to withstand its mission in the world.

Two thoughts here…. First thought — This passage does not mean that any particular believer, or local church, or fellowship of churches, or denomination; will be immune to doctrinal error. Jesus warned believers, and churches, of possible deception and failure. Sorry ‘bout that ! You can check it out in: Matthew 24:10 – Revelation 2:5 – and – 3:1 – and 14:16.

And, Second thought — What this passage does mean is that in spite of Satan doing his worst, the church that Jesus Christ is building cannot, in the end, be overcome by Satan. God’s true church will rise up in faith, authority and power of the Holy Spirit.    (By-the-way… by true church I don’t mean the church that you think is true; but the church that God thinks is true. ) The church that Jesus built and is building cannot ever be destroyed by sin, bondage or oppression; nor successfully be resisted by Satan.

Born-again Christians, we win !

Next I want to hash out Verse 99    And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: Yes, God’s Kingdom is to be entered. And, the keys represent all authority for entry. The keys are also related to the binding and loosing as stated in the balance of Verse 9: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven

Jesus, whom the Father gave all authority in Heaven and on earth delegated His authority, represented by the keys, to Peter and the church. The church ? Yes, and that is you and me. We, same as Peter and the disciples were to carry out the Great Commission. And…. and…. get the wax out of your ears; that is first and foremost our purpose in life. We were called not just to salvation, but also to discipleship. We have the authority to “bind” and to “loose,” here on earth. According to the Spirit-Filled proclamation of the gospel, we are in full authority to affect not only our own lives but lives of others, beginning with families placed under our parentage authority.

You see the binding and loosing is an already accomplished provision, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. It’s been paid for, and is now released on earth through the church (us). What did Mark say in Mark 3:27 – No man can enter into a strong man’s house. And spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his home.

 

Have you ever thought that the problems you are having with wayward children or grand-children is caused by their home being bound. Wake up…. you have the keys. Don’t just moan and groan, bring it to the cross…. rattle your keys…. demand your authority. Perhaps you are acting like a person trying to protect his property with an arsenal of guns, but never thought to purchase ammunition. We are the church !

Earlier in this teaching I stated that Peter should have infallible successors who would represent Christ and function as official heads of the church. Then I said I would present something on those facts. So, here we go.

Lets start out with the word church, which is what we have been discussing anyhow. And, by-the-way, the title of today’s message is Who Are We Anyhow ?

The Greek word of church is “eklesia.” Sounds familiar to me, because in French, even Cajun French, it is “egliese.” The Greek “eklesia” originally referred to an assembly of people summoned together in the New Testament it became “church, and referred to an assembly of people summoned together who are called as citizens of God’s Kingdom, as stated in Ephesians 2:19 – 20                                         Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;   20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone….

So the church was presented as the people…. the people of God. Even today the word “church” can mean the “local church” or “the church universal,” which is the company of all redeemed believers made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection.

In another place the church, in Greek “eklalee” ( e – k – l – a –l – e – e ) refers to the “called out” world now in God’s earthly kingdom. Ah-ha, so that means the church is composed of people separated from the world and it is inherent to the church’s nature.

So, Bro. Dick, just what is the church in plain English? Well, it is many things : First, as just stated it is God’s called out people. Also, it is the temple of God. It is known as the body of Christ. It is called the bride of Christ, indicating love and relationship. To some it is known as a spiritual fellowship To many it is thought of as a spiritual ministry. As, I have been promoting lately, it is also God’s army in spiritual conflict. It should always be known as the pillar of truth. Above all else it should be a group of believers with hope. Finally, the church is both visible and invisible. It is invisible as a body of believers united by living faith in Christ and it is visible by the local gatherings or congregations.

In mentioning believers united by living faith let me say further: Our salvation comes as God’s gift of   grace and is appropriated by the response of faith. To understand the process of salvation, we must understand these two words; “gift of grace” and “response of faith.”

Faith, simply put, is believing (not ho-hum believing) but truly trusting and expecting the risen Christ is our personal Lord and Savior. Faith, then, is a heartfelt personal devotion to your Lord. It must include repentance and obedience to the Lord and to his Word, (Scripture.) A precondition is that it is both an act of a single moment and the continuing attitude that must grow and be strengthened. What? Where did you get that from, Bro. Dick ? John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I just said, faith, then, is a heartfelt personal devotion to your Lord. Lets stop right there and look up the dictionary definition of Lord.    (a master – a person possessing supreme power and authority – invested with dignity and privilege – in scripture, a Supreme Being,, Jehova )

And, when I mentioned having a personal relationship with Christ, I’m saying that the new relationship allows us to become dead to sin, as we’re told in Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

That’s enough on the first half of the need for salvation. Now, let’s look at the second half – Grace.

In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself as a God of grace who showed love to His people, not because they deserved. But because of His own desire to be faithful to the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Want to review it, check out Exodus 6:9. Then study the Passover in Exodus 12:29 through 36, to see how God upholds His contract of benevolence; that is His grace being given to believers.

But, realize also that He gives grace even to unbelievers so that they may be able to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; as told in Titus 2:11    For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.

We must then remember that God’s grace must be diligently desired and sought. Hebrews 4:16   Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Be ye also careful, the reason being, grace can also be – resisted – received in vain – put out – set aside – and abandoned by a believer.

Our action can request grace of God — but – can also negate it. I suppose this is another of those “if-then” promises of our Father God. As I said earlier about the church, our salvation comes as God’s gift of   grace and is appropriated by the response of faith.

Bro. Dick, are you telling me that we Christians, having our faith and God’s grace are told, just as Peter was told, that we have the keys, that is the authority, to loose and to bind? Hey, hey – you’ve been listening. Yes, this is the authority given to Peter and to the church, that’s us, the contract to the Great Commission. As we just read in the slice of the bread of life for today it said in verse:             19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then take notice of the next verse: 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

 

Our Lord next declared the authority with which Peter would be invested. Who is this charging (authorizing) his disciples? It is Peter, passing it on to them to become disciples of Christ.

Now, they had no certain knowledge of the characters of men, and they were likely to mistakes and sins in their own conduct. In such matters their decision was right, and it was confirmed in heaven. But, hear this, all pretensions of any man, either to absolve or retain men’s sins, are blasphemous and absurd. None can forgive sins but God only. And this binding and loosing, in the common language of the Jews, signified to forbid and to allow, or that to teach what is lawful or unlawful.

As the title of this message asks: Who Are We Anyhow ? I believe it is safe to say that we are…. Disciples of Christ. So, let’s look at the definition of a disciple right out of the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary. Disciples are: one who receives or professes to receive from another — an adherent to the doctrine of another — Hence, constant attendants of Christ were called His disciples. Also, the word discipline is adjunct, or an appendage to, the word disciple.

By-the-way, I like to use the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary because it was printed long enough ago that it does not include today’s modern jargon that makes our words say things not meant. At least, that’s my feeling.

Back to being Christ’s Disciple. Some would say to me, but Bro. Dick the word of God says we are not to judge another. Yes, but we are to judge his fruit. When we, as disciples, are to bring to his / her attention to the slippery slope they are treading. And, I know full, as the sinner of my past, that anyone preaching to me, “;You’re going to hell, you’re going to hell” would never have gotten me to change my ways. Only when someone began to preach the love of Christ did they get my attention. That did not try to judge me out of hell, pointed out my lack of fruit in my life.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this requisite to not wanting to “judge” may be the cause of some of the problems we seem to be multiplying of waywardness of too many of our youth. With Father’s day just past I’m think of the fatherless homes and the attitude of parents trying to escape the God given responsibility of a parenting through not wanting to judge their children and not point out the rotten fruit that can and will ruin their lives and even their future family.

According to Paul’s word in Ephesians and Colossians, as well as the instruction of God in the Old Testament passages, parents are to prepare their children, who are His children as well, to prepare themselves for lives pleasing to God; not for their own pleasing and that of gaining popularity of the world. This means encouragement as much as correction.

Here is a list of thoughts for new parents:

  • Dedicate to God your children at the beginning of their lives.
  • Teach your children to fear the Lord with a reverential fear.
  • Teach them obey you by use of Biblical loving discipline.
  • Protect your children from ungodly influences: books, TV, movies, friends.
  • Make them constantly conscious of God’s awareness of their actions.
  • Help them by bringing them to a personal relationship with the Lord. By example?
  • Immerse them, and yourselves, in a spiritual church atmosphere with the Word.
  • Instruct them in the importance of the Holy Spirit. By example ?
  • Teach them that God actually has a specific purpose of their lives, and has instilled the              proper skills and aptitudes for it.
  • Have God’s word in family conversions and devotions.
  • Lift them up, individually, to God, everyday.
  • Have them know that you would go “all-out” for them, with the love of God.

Not only for your family, but for all the world to see, set you affection on things above.

First let’s look at Collossians 4:6   Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how ye ought to answer every man.

A disciple’s speech must be pleasant – winsome – kind and gracious. It must be in a language that is from the operation of the grace of God. Being seasoned with salt may mean conversation that is appropriate for the moment, marked with purity and not corruption. This does not rule out fervent and stern words when necessary.

Collossians 3:1 If ye than be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on this earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in Glory.

It is fellowship with and love for Christ as a person that must always be kept central. This calls for personal communion with Christ. Communion may mean to you: The act if communicating the sacrament of the Eucharist, the celebration of the Lord’s last supper. It however, can also mean mutual intercourse or union in religious worship. In plain English it is having communication with your Lord and Savior. And, remember, it is co – munion. Not only speaking but also listening.

The beauty of this conversation is that it is not taken on cell phone, telephone, computer, letter writing, or visiting physically. All you need is your Bible, meditating on either your favorite verse or perhaps one that has always troubled you, or a preferred commentary, or copy of a favorite sermon. You may also make it a threesome with a spouse, or close brother or sister in Christ. He is already in your spirit, waiting to converse. Also, pray groups, with or without a planned objective of topic.

Paul had an idea. He said in Collossians 4 : 2 – 3 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I also am in bonds.

Now , that’s another idea; read this verse out loud and then pray of your Pastor. In fact — for me too.

Try this one. Ask the Lord what He wants to talk about today. It is much more exciting than using your “laundry list” of needs. Ask Him what He needs……… of you.

All of the epistles remind us that in the chastising that was done by God had a character we should try to duplicate when dis-cipling. Notice that He always began by complementing them for things they did well according to his Word. In chapter 1, verses 3-8 He gives thanksgiving for their Faith, Love and Hope. In verse 28 he then comments on their preaching, warning every man in all wisdom. Chapter 2 he acknowledges his concern for the church, as in verse 6 he refers to their having received Christ, so walk ye in Him. Verse 8 begins the warning, “be aware any man spoil you through philosophy…

seasoned with salt. By chapter 3 he begins to warn them to mortify their members and begins to list their sins. By verse 8 and 9 of chapter 3, he flat spells out their waywardness.

See what I mean: first – complement. Second – ease into their back-sliding. Third – warnings with list of their disobedient ways.

I believe if you look at each of the epistles you will find the same plan of action. We, as disciples, should practice these methods of ministering, as we all have been called to do.

Oh, Bro. Dick, I can’t see myself doing such as this. I am not prepared. You may not be, but I would remind you that it is never too late to begin to apply yourself; and…. and…. ‘though you are not prepared, He that is in you is bigger than he that is in the world.

Some well intended Christians become disciples of other men; some become disciples of a certain movement, denomination, or doctrinal emphasis. In the verse we have been studying about the scribes who become disciples, Jesus specified that these would become disciples of “the kingdom of heaven” (see Matthew 13:52). He was obviously emphasizing that they were not to become disciples of those on earth, or earthly things, but of His heavenly kingdom. Keep in mind, however, we are to   become disciples to those on earth.

The Apostle Paul is a good example of a disciple of the kingdom of heaven. He was one of the most learned men of his times. He had been a disciple of one of the most respected teachers of Israel, Gamaliel. He was an intellectual elite. For a time, this led him into direct conflict with the God he thought he was serving and was instead a vehement persecutor of God’s truth. That is where being a disciple of men or of a specific sect will lead you. Then, by possibly the most famous and dramatic of all conversions, Paul becomes one of the most powerful contenders for the gospel he had recently tried to destroy. How did this happen?

Of course, the Lord appeared to Paul on the Road to Damascus, which will not happen to everyone. Even so, there is an aspect of Paul’s conversion that must happen to everyone who would become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven—Paul had to be struck blind in the natural so that he could see spiritually.

This is not a statement against learning or even learning from a natural perspective. Some of Paul’s previous learning, even in philosophy and other disciplines, later helped him to both understand and promote the gospel. However, he first had to learn to see natural things through spiritual eyes, rather than see spiritual things through natural eyes. This is the key to being a disciple of the kingdom of heaven.

Seeing the natural through spiritual eyes instead of trying to see the spiritual through natural eyes is crucial, as we are told in I Corinthians 2:14-15: But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually evaluated.

It took God knocking Paul off of his horse to break through what was truly blinding him. It takes God to do this for all of us, but it does not have to be as dramatic as Paul’s experience to get the final result. It may be better the way most do it who attain to this — they humble themselves instead of having the Lord humble them. We are told that we can judge ourselves and the Lord won’t have to.

With all of this being said, the main point here is that we must have this transformation. This is why we must become “Disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven,” not disciples of the earthly.

So, Disciples…. until next Sunday     same time   me station     remember

America Bless God             and             God will Bless Americ

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