The Church Jesus Built, 1 of 4
“Building God’s Church at Center Point” Series 1 of 4
TEXT: Matthew 16:18
TOPIC: The Church Jesus Built
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
May 28, 2006
(Message 1 of 4 in the "Building God's Church" Series)
A preacher was once surrounded by a group of unbelievers. One of them said to him, “Preacher, do you believe a person can go to heaven without joining the church?” At which the preacher immediately replied, “Well of course you can.”
This group of unbelievers liked the preacher’s answer and patted him on the back and complimented him on being such a broadminded preacher.
Then the preacher said to them, “And may I ask you a question as well, and will you answer just as quickly?” They said, “Of course preacher, what is it?”
Then he asked, “Why would you want to go to heaven where we will be praising our Lord forever when you refuse to take time to praise Him here on earth? Why would you want to go to heaven to be with God’s people for an eternity when you scorn their fellowship and ignore their communion here on earth?”
My dear friends, the sweetest privilege in the world is to belong to God’s church, to be a part of the family of God here on earth. I love the church. My life, my whole being is consumed with the greatest institution ever created, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ours is the greatest mission, the greatest purpose, the greatest mandate, and the greatest privilege ever given to man, to be a part of God’s wonderful, eternal church.
This morning I am beginning a new Sunday morning series entitled, “Building God’s Church at Center Point.” I plan to preach at least four sermons around this topic of “Building God’s Church, right here at Center Point, Alabama.”
We begin with “the Church Jesus Built.” All that our Lord Christ ever did, and said was for our admonition. As we listen and learn of Him, we not only discover the most peaceable and enjoyable life possible here and now, but we also discover the most priceless gift of all, eternal life in the hereafter.
So as we seek to build God’s church here at Center Point, we have no better blueprint or model than that one that our Lord Himself presented to us in the bible.
If you will take your bible and open to the 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew 16, and then stand with me as we honor God’s holy word by standing together and reading God’s inspired word. Matthew 16 and one verse, verse 18, and I am reading today from the King James Version.
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.
Matthew 16:18, KJV
The first time Jesus used the word “church” is right here in this verse we just read together. And the word He used was the word, “ekklesia” which means, “the called out ones,” or “to be called out from.” The church of our Lord Jesus Christ then consists of those persons who have been called out of sin and disbelief to faith in Jesus Christ alone. Having given witness of that faith through believers’ baptism and voluntary submission of one’s self to a band of fellow believers who assemble themselves together in obedience to His word in order to fulfill His kingdom purposes.
Now, you and I, if we are a part of the born-again fellowship of believers, the called out ones, are a part of the church Jesus built. The bible says that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God, once you had not received mercy, but now, you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
I read of a New Testament that was discovered washed ashore on a Southern Pacific Island. The native who found it, read it, and organized a church according to the instruction in that New Testament Bible. The church, the institution that Christ loved and gave Himself for, is today a vibrant and living church, not because of a certain kind of history; rather, the church that Jesus built lives forever because it is characterized by three fundamental, foundational truths.
I. THE PERSON OF THE CHURCH,
I will build my church….Matthew 16:18
Explanation: Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Paul said, “For no other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid in Jesus Christ.”
(I Corinthians 3:11)
We sing, the church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. She is His new creation, by spirit and the word: From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride, with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.”
Peter said Jesus was the chief cornerstone. (1 Peter 2:6) And the Bible says that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. (Colossians 1:18)
Application: Your pastor is not the head of the church. The deacons are not the head of the church. The wealthiest, most prestigious family of the church is not the head of the church. Only Jesus is the head of the church.
One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Ephesians 5:25. It says, Husbands, love your wives; even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.
Here in this 16th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel our Lord asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” Do you see it there in verse 13? Then in verse 14 they answer Him, 14So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.
The church is built on Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is that kind of profession that makes us by faith a part of the church of which Christ is the head. Peter was not the head of the church. There could have been a church without Peter but there would never be a church without Jesus.
Therefore, the church we build in Center Point must continue to be a church that is built upon Jesus Christ, the rock, the chief cornerstone.
Now notice, number two,
II. THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH,
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16
Explanation: The people of the church are people of faith. People who have made the same confession that Peter made, that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed and chosen One of God, the Savior of sinful man, the Redeemer of all Creation.
As I said earlier, we are the called out ones, the living stones, joined together by our common faith in Christ. The Bible teaches that as members of His body, we have different functions, gifts, and roles, but of the same body. And the Lord has placed each one in the church as it pleases Him.
Paul wrote to the members of the church at Corinth and addressed them this way, 2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
No lovelier picture of the church is seen than that found in the 2nd Chapter of Acts. Beginning in verse 38, listen to the description of the people who made up the very first Christian Church. 38Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39“For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
40And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Vance Havner used to say, “The average church today is so subnormal that when one becomes normal, everyone thinks it’s abnormal.”
Application: The burden of this sermon is found in this point. As a pastor who loves the place of the local church, I am deeply burdened over the church in America today. As Vance Havner said, “The average church is subnormal.”
On any given Sunday in most churches in America less than 60 percent of members are present. The average church member today rarely supports his church at all their services of worship, bible study, or discipleship. Most members find it difficult to attend church consecutive Sundays. Even fewer give at least 10 percent of their income as the Bible teaches.
Would to God that the people of the church today catch a new vision and new commitment of the place of the church in their lives.
Too many members today are like the young man I heard about. His momma woke him up and Sunday morning and told he’d better get up or he would miss church. At which he said, “I’m not going today.” She said, “You’ve got to go.” He said, “Those people down there don’t like me. All they do is talk about. You give me one good reason why I ought to go to church.” At which she said, “I’ll give you two. Your 39 years old, and you’re the pastor. Now get up and go to church.”
Meeting in the Lord’s house has never been coercive to me. I look forward to the weekends because I know Sunday is coming. I love going to the house of God. I love to see the people of God. I love to hear the choir sing, and the congregation. I love to hear the word of God taught and preached. If I could, I would stand at the doorway and shake the hand and say an encouraging word to every person who comes to the house of the Lord.
David said in Psalm 27:4, One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.
III. THE POWER OF THE CHURCH,
I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19And 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. Matthew 16:18-19
Explanation: Look again at verse 19. “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The church is invested with a great authority; the authority not to forgive men their sins, but to publish to all men everywhere that their sins can be forgiven.
The church has the responsibility or the authority of being Christ’s witnesses in a lost world. We are to be His witnesses both visually and verbally.
Application: The task of the Great Commission, that is, making disciples becomes the priority of us all. Both the clergy and the laity have been invested with the authority of sharing this message.
Illustration: Edgar A. Guest’s poem hits home here.
“Leave it to the ministers and soon the church will die;
Leave it to the women folk, and some will pass it by;
For the church is all that lifts us from the coarse and selfish mob,
And the church that is to prosper needs the layman on the job.
Now a layman has his business, and a layman has his joys,
But he also has the training of the little girls and boys;
And I wonder how he’d like it if there were no churches here,
And he had to rear his children in a godless atmosphere.
It’s the church’s special function to uphold the finer things,
To teach the way of the living from which all the noble springs,
But the minister can’t do single-handed and alone,
For the layman of the country are the church’s cornerstone.
When you see a church that’s empty, tho’ it’s doors are open wide,
It’s not the church that’s dying; it’s the layman who have died;
For it’s not by song or sermon that the church’s work is done;
It’s the layman of the country who for God must carry on.”