Summary: jesus gives the keys for the churches survival in a hostile world
Intro: the other night a report was given that about 3000 churches close annually in the United States. When you hear a report like this the first thought is I wonder what attributed to the decline and closure of a church. Did it lose vision? Did it get older and not make adjustments to minister to the present culture? How can a church safeguard itself from becoming a statistic? In Matthew 16:16-19 we have some valuable keys to having a church that can survive in a shifting culture.
CHURCHES THAT SURVIVE
I. Recognize Jesus Christ–v.16 You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. For a church to be vital, for a church to thrive as the body of Christ, it must recognize Jesus as the Head. Anytime the body leaves it’s purpose and function as an organism, and becomes an organization, it loses it’s life.
Jesus is the reason, the purpose, that a local church is established. Whenever the programs, and plans of a church exclude Christ being glorified, it is on a crash course with disaster.
II. Spiritually Enlightened-v.17–you are blessed Peter because flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you. Churches must always guard against carnal reasoning over spiritual enlightenment. Peter recognized Jesus through spiritual revelation from the Father. A church that fails to operate in a spiritual realm will fail. Unless the Lord build the church, they labor in vain that try to build it. He is the Vine, we are the branches, without Him we can do nothing.
III. Personal Faith–v.18–upon this rock I will build my church. Jesus didn’t build the church on Peter, but on faith in Christ. Peter had a personal revelation, and supernatural experience that led Him to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. This faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour of the world, would be the rock that Jesus would build His church. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. When people are not challenged to carry a personal faith, a daily walk with Christ, a church loses it’s power. It becomes like a wave driven by the wind.
IV. An Unmovable Foundation–18b and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Satan cannot move an unmovable object. Faith in Christ, a strong foundation, being like a tree planted by the waters of life, will never be defeated by the demonic forces that try to destroy the church. No matter how many fiery darts are thrown at the true church, the shield of faith will quench all of them.
Churches that survive are those that are established on the rock of salvation. Those churches built on sand will collapse, but the true church will endure forever.
V. Walk In Spiritual Authority–v.19 and I will give you the keys of the kingdom. Churches are defeated when they move out of scriptural authority. When they move from what the Word of God says, to man made theology. Satan is only under our feet as we use the Word, the blood of Jesus, the Name of Jesus and the Spirit of God, as the weapons of our warfare. As soon as we use carnal reasoning, we will be defeated by every enemy.
VI. Personal Ministry–v.19b– whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Churches that survive are churches where people are trained to do personal ministry. No one wants to go to a seminar on fishing for 30 years and never catch a fish. People are often frustrated with the modern day church, because there is very little training in personal ministry skills. The church that Jesus builds is involved in one on one ministry to the unbeliever.
Close: for a church to survive it must allow Jesus to be the carpenter. If man builds it, it will collapse. The church is spiritual and it takes spiritual tools to build it.