Summary: Jesus said, He will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. However inner turmoil and division by the saints to groups within the church can greatly hinder the mission of the church.
In It To Win It—We Are The Church—Building Up The Church
We are starting a new series today called “In It To Win It.” Some of you may remember a couple of years back, a despised and rejected by many basketball player made a decision to return to Cleveland to play once again for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He came to back to Cleveland with the single focus of winning a championship title. It was nice to win the division title, but it wasn’t enough. It was good to win the Eastern Conference title, but it wasn’t enough.
It was good to win some games in the finals. But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until, they won game 7 of the NBA finals that the team was satisfied. You see they had been “in it to win it.” There was a time when they were down 3 to 1, a position no team in the finals ever overcame to win a championship. Some of their own fans said “its over”. They won’t win on the on Golden State’s home court. But they did it, because they were “in it to win it.”
New Life At Calvary, I want you to know that we are in the playoffs for the cause of Jesus Christ, we are down 3 to 1. What do we want to do in the coming year. Are we going to be “In It To Win It”, or are we just going to show up to play in some games and be satisfied with just being a team in the league on the corner of e. 79th & Euclid..
Can I tell you something, LeBron had JR, Love, & Irving at his side along with his other teammates. We have something even more awesome. We have God the Father, Jesus Christ The Son, & power of the Holy Spirit along with our teammates called the church. Don’t you know if the Cavs could rebound for a sensational victory, that we as a church can rebound and win.
How many of you know people who like to do a lot of smack talking about their team? If you’re going to do a lot of smack talking, you better have a team that’s willing to back you up with some victories or you are going to be embarrassed in the end. You might not know this but Jesus did some smack talking about us.
Before he start talking, the first thing he wanted to know was “who do you say that I am?” If someone were to ask you who do you say that Jesus is, what is your response going to be? Is Jesus simply someone in your past who died for you and rose from the dead for you so that you might have life? Or is Jesus a living reality who controls your ideas and shapes the way you live and view the world today. So that you are so committed to Him, that you are in it to win it when it comes to this Christian walk.
The disciples said to Jesus some people think you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, and still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. But Then Jesus said, “who do you say that I am?” You see all those answers looked back to the past to define who Jesus was. But Peter saw that it wasn’t a matter of who Jesus was, but who is He now. Peter said, “You are the Messiah the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon, because My Father revealed this to you.” When God reveals to us, the reality of who Jesus is today, we are blessed because we become part of the foundation upon which the church is built. Now here is where Jesus does some smack talking.
He has a group of followers made up of twelve leaders or apostles all who are going to forsake him in his time of need, one who is going to betray him. Jesus himself has no political power. He preached one sermon, and got so many people angry at him that thousands of them turned away and quit following him. He knew that he was going to be arrested and nailed to a cross and most of the followers who would be brave enough to be at the cross would be a group of women.
Against all these odds, Jesus says to Peter, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” That sounds to me like Jesus was in it to win it. After Jesus rose from the dead is when the church began. It was just a tiny religious sect in the Roman Empire. It’s early leaders were arrested, thrown in jail, and some executed but it survived. It’s members were thrown to lions, some dipped in tar to be set on fire as street lamps, some beheaded, some stripped of all their possessions all because they were bold enough to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.