And I also say 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. Matt 16:18 (NKJV)
On Wednesday's we're doing a little "getting back to the basics" study concerning the church. Our discussion started by considering the perception of the church by those outside of it. As Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" I asked our church "What do people of our world say the church is?" The responses:
House of Hypocrites Community Service Organization
Country Club Place to get help (financial, physical, etc...)
Social Club Place to receive comfort
Childcare service Place of Entertainment
There may have been a couple of others, but these eight summarize the thoughts from outside the church. I then asked, "What do you say the church is?"
Believers who are baptized Organism
Bride of Christ Place/people of refuge
Family Business (Father's)
Community (of faith) Organization
Again, there may have been a couple of others, but these are the thoughts of those from within the church.
It is important to have an understanding of the perception of the church from the community, and it is important to understand how the church sees itself, but most important is to understand what the church is from a Scriptural standpoint. Over the next several Wednesdays we'll be looking at the church through the lens of Scripture. Tonight we laid a foundation by looking at the first use of the word "church" in the Scriptures, Matthew 16:18. Here's a summary of the teaching:
1. The Church Belongs to Jesus - "I will build MY CHURCH"
- Jesus conceived the church (MY church)
- He chose the church (we are the chosen BRIDE of Christ)
- He bought the church (Eph. 5:25)
Though WE invest ourselves in the local church, we must avoid the thinking that it is MY church. We can have membership or partnership, but not ownership of the church.
2. The Church is being Built by Jesus - "I WILL BUILD My church"
Jesus is building the church, but He is doing it through us. We are the laborers, and He is the contractor which means to very important things:
- We have to stay in close contact with the Contractor - our job is to do His work His way, and the only way to know how to do that is to stay in constant communication with Him. Pray first, then plan and work.
- We have to follow His instructions - the Bible offers the blueprint for the church. The Bible instructs us how the Lord wants to build His church, not our traditions.
3. The Church is Prevailing because of Jesus - "the gates of Hades (Hell) will not prevail against it"
- The church is to operate from an offensive position, not a defensive.
- "Building" implies expanding and the enemy cannot stop the church from growing (because Jesus is building His church).
- Rather than trying to "hold our own" or protect the "territory" that we already have, we are to be actively taking territory from the enemy.
Next week we'll talk more about the "prevailing church."