The Church Is Alive!
The Church Is Alive!
The Church Is Alive!
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? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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. 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.
It is so very, very, very important that you study your Bible, the Word of God!
SIDE POINT: If people will study the pages of a thousand text books to make sure they get their science or their math right, I should believe today that it would behoove the saints of God to have a love of studying the Word of God! That’s one thing we want to make sure we get right!
It is so often in our world that we see the misinterpretation of the Word of God. And if you’re not careful, and there is not a studious, prayerful spirit, you can fall into doctrines of this world.
Without studying, you can fall into trinitarianism. And without a desire to hear what God is really saying, you can miss out on the power of the oneness of God!!!
It’s important that we hear the Word as God gave it.
In our text, there is a often-quoted line that I would like to rectify tonight.
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.
Now, while this scripture specifically says “hell” within it, and we understand that the church and the people of God can and will overcome the powers of darkness, and hell itself, it is believed by many bible scholars that the writer was not referring to hell in that way.
While it says “the gates of hell”, another accurate english translation from the original text would be “the gates of Hades.”
Now - why is this important?
Now, “Hades” was representative of DEATH rather than HELL. When someone was described in this time as entering Hades, it did not actually mean that they were engulfed in flames, but rather that they had passed on in death.
As a matter of fact, you can most often substitute the world “Hades” for the word “death”.
Now - why is this important?
Well, if we take what we have just learned, and apply it to the scripture of , we find a whole new importance and meaning in this verse.
Because, this scripture would actually say: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of death shall not prevail against it!”
And I would submit to you today, that when Jesus turns to Peter, and He begins to say that the gates of death will not prevail against the church, He is actually implying that the church... IS… ALIVE!!!
Oh, my, my! You need to hear this today!
Right before Jesus prophecies of giving the keys to the kingdom over to Peter, He drops a revelation we need to understand and get ahold of here today!
And that’s that the CHURCH, God’s CHURCH, IS… ALIVE!!!!!
On all of our products we buy at the grocery store, printed on the side somewhere, there is a line. And that line is what we refer to as the expiration date.
The expiration date is when something has begun to die out, and is no longer worth the price.
But I am here to proclaim from this pulpit today that God’s church DOES NOT HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE! IT’S NOT DYING OUT! And whereas with a gallon of milk that’s outdated ain’t worth the price, to Jesus, THE CHURCH IS STILL WORTH THE PRICE THAT HE PAID!!!
God’s Church Is Alive!
You’ll have to excuse me today, but I’ve just come here to make a few statements about the church and give some reminders on this Pentecost Sunday!
I look at the nation of Israel, thousands of miles away form us tonight. And I watch as God’s chosen people, though they have done nothing deserving of it, are victims yet again of violence! And the world speaks of Israel with rhetoric that is hateful and hostile!
Yet, they stand tall.
At the same time, the world is attempting to discredit and downplay the effectiveness and the life of the church in 2018!
But let me give some truth here today: God’s church is ALIVE AND WELL on the earth! And the gates of death are not going to prevail!!!
THE CHURCH IS NOT DEAD!
THIS CHURCH IS NOT DEAD!
SIDE ILLUSTRATION: The site of the church tombstone.
This church is not dying, but living today! And we’re all a part of it!
And if you feel as if you are in a way dying out, as part of this church, WE WANT TO RECECITATE YOU IN THE HOLY GHOST TODAY!
His name was Honi. And he was living in a land of people who were losing faith quickly. There had been a drought which was destroying livelihoods and frustrating parents who were trying to provide for their families. Anger toward God was beginning to form in sItIf we have faith, it will be shown in our works - "Faith without works is dead." () But we have to focus ourselves on the work of the Lord! Find focus today. Start a new way of life. Do something for God!
In the midst of the confusion and frustration, Honi walked out toward theSoon the sprinkle picked up into a heavy rain. "Rabbi! The rain is abundant now! Come rejoice with us!"
Then he began to pray.
"God, I am not moving from this circle until you open the heavens and bring floodwaters down on our dying land." And there, he continued to pray in the circle while many were amused at him.
But at some point, one of the people felt a sprinkle or two on their head. And then it began to sprinkle all around. "Rabbi! There is rain!"
As they waited for his outburst of excitement and praise, he continued to sit within the circle, praying. He didn't so much as budge. "Lord, I prayed for floodwaters. I believe you will give it, and I'll be here until you do." He blocked out the rejoicing of the people, who hadn't seen rain in months. They were happy to receive only this.
Soon the sprinkle picked up into a heavy rain. "Rabbi! The rain is abundant now! Come rejoice with us!"
HEY - GOD WANTS A CHURCH THAT’S ALIVE!!!
Still he sat. The only response and emotion from him was in prayer. "This is not yet what I have requested. Lord, I desire the floodwaters. And when I receive your floodwaters, I shall rejoice. Until then, I will remain."
The people were appalled. If it were anyone else but their Rabbi, they would have tried to shake sense into him and showed him that all their problems were over. But all they could do was watch Honi pray in amazement.
Then came the floodwaters. And it was then that Honi stood in the circle - now a circle of underwater mud - and concluded before God: "This is what I have prayed for! Be praised, Oh Lord! Be praised!"
You can be content to settle for mere sprinkles. You can even be content with a steady rain. But the blessed child of God stays in that circle of prayer. Sister Kierstin wrote a piece for this bulletin a while back entitled P.U.S.H.: Pray Until Something Happens. And that is exactly what Honi did. It's what we all should do. But we shouldn't be content with just enough when we serve an almighty, all-powerful God.
The Rabbi had focus. Focus is something rare in our world today. We have so much technology and information before us that often we fail to slow down. It's easy to let our fast-paced life carry over into our relationship with God. We must learn focus. We have to draw a circle around us, blocking everything else out while we touch heaven!
Focus is setting up a bible-reading plan. Focus is worshipping in church when nobody else is. Focus is amen-ing the preacher every sermon. Focus is hitting the prayer room every service. Focus is walking to the altar at altar call with purpose. Focus is making prayer not just an every-other-day or Sunday-Wednesday thing - but a daily lifestyle! Focus is surrounding yourself with saints who can encourage you and build you up throughout the week. Focus is looking at a sinner, not for who they are now but for what God can make them to be! Focus is having a bible study with someone you know is lost. Focus is praying like it's going to happen.
If we have faith, it will be shown in our works - "Faith without works is dead." () But we have to focus ourselves on the work of the Lord! Find focus today. Start a new way of life. Do something for God!
God’s Church Is Led By The Holy Ghost!
Led out of Egypt, they had before them a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night!
I want you to understand that we aren’t here just being led about by our own desires. This ain’t some social club we’re here for.
As a matter of fact, one of the great treasures of this church - OUR church - is the fact that this pulpit is not tethered to anything or anyone!
The sermons and words delivered over this pulpit are not screened by some committee. We don’t get together with a group and make sure our sermons are appropriate and acceptable and comfortable.
No - the man of God is LED BY GOD! And as a result, when the hearers respond at the altar, THEY are LED BY GOD!!!
We don’t go around trying to find out what’s going on in your life so we can figure out what to preach. No, we don’t have to! The Holy Ghost leads, and what you need to hear comes out in the preaching of the word of God!
Thank God that God’s church is led by the Holy Ghost!
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
And this brings me to my last point today...
Conclusion: God’s Church Is Moving!
I want to leave you with one final point and scripture: God’s Church Is Moving!
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1 Peter 2:
“A peculiar people...”
Turn to somebody and tell ‘em, “You’re kind of odd!”
Talmadge French, an Pentecostal bible scholar believes that according to the original language of the text, the phrase in this scripture “a peculiar people” can more accurately be understood as “a moving people”.
A MOVING people. A MOVING church.
God’s church is alive! God’s church is led by the Holy Ghost! And God’s church is MOVING today!
For a good long while, God has been moving this church along in His will. And that’s not to say we haven’t encountered any storms or Red Seas.
But when you come to a Red Sea you don’t plant yourself down and say this is the end of the road for me!
In 2018 this church has committed to KEEP IT MOVING FORWARD!
And I don’t know about you, but as long as this church is moving, I’m going to be moving with it!!!
Is there anybody glad that they’re in a church that is ALIVE?!
Is anyone glad you’re in a church that is led by THE HOLY GHOST?!
Are you excited you’re in a church that is MOVING?!
Is there anybody GLAD ABOUT IT???
Let’s give God some praise today!!!