#1 (The “I Will” Series)

"I WILL BUILD MY church!"


TEXT:         Matt. 16:13-28


INTRO:       The world does not have a high opinion of the church for the most part; consider the following statement in a local paper:


ILLUS:    The Christian Communications Laboratory relates the story of a small Midwestern weekly paper which ran a story saying, “We are pleased to announce that the cyclone which blew away the Methodist church last Friday did no real damage to the town.”  Kind of scary!  Perhaps our failure today is not that we kill the King's Son or practice violence and bloodshed so much as being irrelevant and without impact.  -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 448.


Unfortunately, there are many Christians that don't view the church much better!  Jesus died to build His church and His final marching orders to His followers were quite clear, His final comments said nothing about church programs, nothing about worship styles, nothing about liturgy; in fact His final comments to His believers were only about one thing – "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel."  His directive was meant to build His church!  In some places this directive is not a priority anymore ... consider the following:


ILLUS:     * France has twice as many Muslims as Protestants.

* There are more spiritist healers in Paris than medical doctors, priests and pastors combined.

* Europe is the only continent where the church is growing more slowly than the population. -- Servant Magazine, May/June 1989


PROP. SENT:   The Bible teaches us that the church is to be a triumphant power on Earth, not even the gates of Hell will destroy it; only apathy, unbelief, and disobedience can hurt it!


I.  CONFESSION OF THE church   16:13-20


A.   Proclamation   16:13-18

1.   When Jesus and His disciples arrived in a quieter area Jesus decided to ask them what the general views were about Him.

a.   He asks the disciples to respond with what they were hearing on their travels, how Jesus was viewed by the crowds.

b.   Since Jesus was nearing the close of His ministry this issue became a main focus.

2.   Their responses reflected the prevailing opinions about Jesus which fell basically into 3 camps:

a.   That Jesus was John the Baptist, presumably resurrected from the dead!

b.   That Jesus was Elijah the prophet.

c.   That Jesus was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets of old.

d.   Jesus did have some similarities with these three, but He was not one of them!

3.   While many were willing to concede that Jesus was unusual, they were not willing to concede that He was UNIQUE!

a.   They didn't mind thinking of Him as some past person returned from the dead…

b.   But they were not willing to confront the possibility that He was not history but was the present and the future!

c.   Many people today are willing to give Jesus an unusual place in history but they are not willing to face Him as the God of the present and the future!

4.   The people of Jesus' day were trapped by their religious activity, they had lost the focus and power of their faith, it only focused on keeping the institution alive rather than being alive, this can happen today to!


ILLUS:    Some churches are driven by finances.  The question on the forefront of everyone's mind in a finance-driven church is "How much will it cost?"  Nothing else ever seems quite as important.  Finances are foremost.  The most heated debate in a finance-driven church is always over the budget.  While good stewardship and cash flow are essential for a healthy church, finances must never be the controlling issue.  The greater issue is:  "What does God want us to do?"  We do not exist to make a profit.  The bottom line in the church is not: "How much did we save?" but "Who was saved?"  I've noticed that many churches are driven by faith in their early years and driven by finances in later years. -- Rick Warren, Evangelism for a Changing World, (Shaw, 1995), p. 5.


5.   Jesus now changes the focus from what others think to what they think!

a.   There is no more important question than the one Jesus asks here!

b.   How we answer this may very well determine our eternal destination!

c.   Ultimately it isn't how someone else answers this question that gets us into heaven; it is how we answer it!

6.   Peter shines here, he answers correctly that Jesus is the eternal son of God!

a.   His correct response nets him a very positive response by Jesus!

b.   Jesus blesses Peter and says that on this confession He will “build His church and the very gates of Hell will not prevail against it!”

c.   Jesus does a close play on Peter's name, in Greek his name is PETROS which literally means "Rock," and Jesus says, "Upon this ROCK (PETRA) I will build my church."  Jesus uses the feminine form of “Rock” in this second use of the term thus indicating that He is speaking about the confession Peter made and not on Peter himself.

7.   This is the main confession of the church – that Jesus is the Son of God!

a.   This is what we are to proclaim!

b.   This is what we are to believe!

c.   This is the foundation of the church; it is what the church will be built on, not money, programs, styles, etc., but upon the person of Jesus Christ!

d.   Are we professing this?


B.   Power    16:19-20

1.   Jesus promises them the “KEYS of the kingdom” ... to do what?

a.   To bind what has been bound by God, and…

b.   To loose what has been loosed by God.

2.   This is not an indiscriminate power on our part to DETERMINE what can be bound and loosed, it is the power to ANNOUNCE what God has said is bound and loosed ... the passive tense in Greek makes this clear.

a.   We don't walk around just "binding & loosing" whatever we feel like "binding and loosing" – we learn what God has bound and loosed and announce it as so!

b.   This requires knowledge of God's will and Word!

3.   It also demonstrates that the church has power!  There is no force, not even Hell that can destroy what God has declared He will build!


ILLUS:    In its column, "You Asked Us," the Canadian Magazine recently dealt with Hitler's use of the swastika.  Included in their article was the following statement.

   In the end, if his National Reich church had been established, the swastika would have replaced the cross.  Point 30 of the proposed National Reich church's 30-point program, drawn up during the war, read:  "On the day of its foundation, the Christian cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals, and chapels.  It must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika."

   History is the commentary on the folly of Hitler's dreams and on the futility of all who would seek to destroy the church of Christ.


4.   All attempts to fight God's plans will fail ... as many have found out!


ILLUS:    The emperor Diocletian set up a stone pillar on which was inscribed these words:  “For Having Exterminated The Name Christian From the Earth.”  If he could see that monument today, how embarrassed he would be!  Another Roman leader made a coffin, symbolizing his intention "to bury the Galilean" by killing His followers.  He soon learned that he could not "put the Master in it."  He finally surrendered his heart to the Savior, realizing that the corporate body of Christ and its living Head, the Lord Jesus, cannot be destroyed by the onslaught of mortal men.  – Source Unknown


5.   Since Christ will conquer; why not join Him rather than reject Him!?


II.  COST OF THE church    16:21-23


A.   Price-tag     16:21

1.   Jesus begins to tell His disciples the cost that would be involved for their spiritual life to become a reality...

a.   He would have to suffer and die for them.

b.   Building the church would not necessarily involve ease or comfort!

c.   Too often today we have lost the reality of being a Christian, if the chairs are not comfortable, the temperature not just right, the service short enough, the requests for tithes kept to a minimum ... then we hold back from being a part of the church!

2.   The church is not just another marketing institution, it is a vital living entity that is the body of Christ!


ILLUS:     The early church was not market driven.  It did not make Christianity particularly user-friendly.  Converts had to go through extensive, lengthy catechesis and examination before they were accepted for baptism.  In the ultimate barrier to new member assimilation, those who did become Christians faced the death penalty.  Nevertheless, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church grew like wildfire. -- Gene Veith, Modern Reformation, Jul/Aug 1996, p. 6.


3.   The cost of our salvation was great, let's make sure we never cheapen the price by getting lost on petty things!


B.   Problem   16:22-23

1.   Peter demonstrates how easy it is to one minute be right on target and then lose focus the next minute!

a.   Where Peter had just been praised by Jesus as a "ROCK"... Jesus now calls him a "STUMBLING STONE!"

b.   Peter quickly falls from a "ROCK" to a stumbling "STONE!"

c.   It only took a minute for him to forget what God wanted and to insert what he wanted!

2.   This has always been the problem with the church through the ages, keeping the focus clear and correct!

3.   We must stay awake and not lose sight of what counts!


ILLUS:     In the Old Testament kings believed that God gave them direction in dreams. If they wanted to know what they were supposed to do in their administration, they would try to receive a direct word from God in their dreams.  If they weren't getting any messages in their dreams while lying in their own beds, then they would sleep in the Temple, where they believed it would work better. This is the origin of the time-honored tradition of sleeping in church.  I wanted to point that out even though those who would appreciate it most won't hear it. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 93.


4.   The reason why Jesus says to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan" was simple:

a.   Satan in the wilderness had tempted Jesus to avoid the cross ... this is exactly what Peter's statement meant, and so in this way Peter was suggesting the same thing as the Devil himself!

b.   How many Christians have fallen into the same temptation that Satan has always tried to use, that we can be Christians without paying any price-tag!

c.   Churches are full of people that have no desire to follow Jesus' command to preach the Gospel, to share the message of salvation, may this never be here!


III. CALL OF THE church    16:24-28


A.   Personal     16:24-26

1.   Jesus now asks for a price from His disciples too.  There is a cross bearing for each believer as well as for Christ.

a.   Christianity that exacts no sacrifice on its followers is no real Christianity!

b.   We too are to sacrifice ourselves for Christ and others.

2.   This is not always easy, but it is the call of the church!


ILLUS:    Kamikaze is the Japanese word for "divine wind."  And divine the wind was in 1281, never was a typhoon more God-sent if one were Japanese.  The typhoon crushed the invasion fleet mounted by the ambitious Mongol emperor Kublai Khan (Marco Poli Kublai) in the wake of his conquest of China's Sung dynasty.  To take the wind out of the sails of the United States naval juggernaut, the retreating Japanese organized their own kamikaze in World War II – a suicide air force.  Navy pilots slammed their bomb-laden planes -- and themselves – into American ships in the Pacific.  Twelve hundred pilots killed themselves taking out thirty four U.S. ships.  (Beyond Trivia)

   Today, we need "Christian Kamikazes" who will take the faith anywhere the "divine wind" blows regardless of the cost.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." – Source Unknown


3.   Why are you a Christian?  What do you see as your calling?

4.   The world is looking for godly men and women, the church in power!

5.   While the world just coasts along the church must not!


ILLUS:    When Arthur Rubinstein the famous concert pianist was in New York, someone invited him to attend church.  His answer: "Take me to a church that will challenge me to attempt the impossible."  Great people are attracted to great challenges and that's why we as Pastors need to dream great dreams. – Source Unknown


6.   Christ is going to come again one day, perhaps soon, what are we doing as the church?

a.   Not so much the institution we call the church, but the believers who make up the church, are we taking up our cross, are we sharing the Gospel, etc?

b.   This is the church's call!

7.   Christ will build His church and we are His workers!


B.   Promise    16:27-28

1.   God's promise is clear; He is coming again and He will reward those who live for Him!

2.   God never asks for something without giving something in return and eternity will be well worth any sacrifice we might make here and now.

3.   Some day all the petty things of this life will be all but forgotten, but what has been done for Christ will live on and on.

4.   Get in on the best building program in the universe – WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?


CONCLUSION:    The carpenter of Nazareth is still building His church today!  The church is God's building and we are the "living stones."  Not even the gates of Hell will prevail against the church!  Why not be a part of the only institution that will last for eternity, this is one building program you will want to participate in!