Summary: To keep impacting those outside the church for Jesus, we must keep the vision we were given, and not replace that vision with the memories of yesterday. Nor can we replace our calling with our comfort.
I know that many of us are planning on helping out at the Leukemia Benefit right after church for 3-year old Christian Bentley, so I am going to offer a shorter message this morning so we can get up there on time.
There are some who might not understand why we cut our sermons a little short for different reasons, but James said to be "doers" of the word and not merely listeners only. And one of the best ways to "do" is to take the love of Jesus we learn inside the church to those who are outside our church. And today, we shall be doing just that at the Leukemia Benefit we co-sponsored for little Christian.
My message this morning will be about the church. There seems to be some debate, not only about who really started the church, but even more debate over how to handle the church. In some churches, you will see one person in charge, while in others you will see a group of men in charge. In some churches, you will find the focus is primarily on those outside the church and in some you will find the focus entirely on those within the church.
And in today’s world, you will find some churches that claim to be Godly churches that teach many ungodly things. So it behooves us, from time to time, to sit back and take a good look at the church to find out who started the church, what the purpose of the church is, and how, as the Family of God, the church affects us.
First of all, the church was …
1. CREATED BY JESUS HIMSELF
‘When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you,” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
There have been many who have read this passage and thought that Jesus was going to build his church on Peter; that Peter would be the head of the church. Jesus was not referring to Peter as the rock, but was referring to Peter’s belief and faith in Jesus as the rock.
And surely, that belief and faith in Jesus as our Christ is the rock that the church is built on, is it not? For without the belief in Jesus as Christ, or without the faith in His promises, we would have a nice social club, but we certainly would not have a church. So, we not only see in this passage that Jesus is the architect of the church, but that he built it upon a foundation in Himself, as the Messiah.
Let us keep in mind that the church is not God’s first building project, either. The first thing God built was the universe; which would house the earth He built; and that earth would house the church He built.
‘In the beginning, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.’
‘ … See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.’
Jesus Christ is the founder of the church, and as such, He is the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the block that identifies a building. When we build our lives on the foundation of Jesus, we will be identified as Christians because He will be our Cornerstone.
Many churches call themselves Christian churches, but do not see Jesus as anything other than a good man or a prophet of his time. But Scripture tells us of the perilous line they are walking.
‘No one who denies the Son has the Father …’
The word “Christian” means, “being like Christ”. How can a church, or people, call themselves “Christian” if they are not trying to be the same as Christ? The answer is - they can’t. Satan has pulled the wool over many eyes, and they can no longer see the truth. This verse clearly tells us that if we do not have a relationship with Christ, there is no way we can have a relationship with God – period.
So, those so-called churches who espouse their belief that any old road will take you to Heaven, or that some other leader is the Messiah, well they are just wrong. They have no right to call themselves Christians because they do not follow Christ, and they have no right to call themselves a “church” because Jesus Christ owns the church!