Summary: Salvation is a personal matter but the church still has an important role in our faith, according to Jesus
1. "I really do not need the church. I grew up in a church and I was not too impressed. Saw these people come each week dressed in their Sunday best, not only their best clothes but in their best behaviour. They sounded so sincere but if I saw them during the week, they were ot dressed the same. Not only had they changed their clothes, but also their piety and their behaviour. Tat which I saw on Sunday had been put in the closet with their suits and dresses. I don’t need those hypocrites to be a Christian. The worst of it is that they think they can tell me what I should believe and how I should act. Who do they think they are? My faith is a personal thing - its between me and Jesus. The church only gets in the way. And so I believe, but you’ll never see me in a church again."
2. These are words I have heard from those who profess to be Christians but are not part of the organized church. These are words that many in our society say today.
3. Sometimes it seems that there are more "believers" outside the church than inside it. Those who would rather take Bible with them on a walk to a quiet place on Sunday morning than to come into a place like this.
4. These feelings are not just out there, they also are creeping into the church itself. We may still gather to worship, but we come with certain conditions. "I’ll take or leave what I want I want in regards to what is taught." Amazing how diverse we are - even in this room - as to what we believe. "Don’t tell me what to do or how to live. I’ll judge that for myself. God can speak to me directly"
5. This is why young people today - easy to reject teachings of the church.
1. Today we begin a couple of messages on the statement of the Apostles Creed which says "I believe in Holy Catholic church".
2. We say the words but to large extent we do not really believe or understand the role of the church and its place in our lives and our place within it.
3. As we look at passage we might even think that Jesus agrees with some of the critical comments about the church we hear.
4. Jesus is alone with His disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asks His disciples "Who do people say that I am?" Jesus knows the answer but what He is doing is teaching them an important lesson.
5. They replied that people called him John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah or a prophet. In other words that though Jesus came from God but they really did not know Him.
6. Jesus then lets the disciples know what is really important and this is what is important for us as well. He asks them and He asks each of us "But what about you? Who do you say I am?"
7. In other words faith and salvation is a personal and individual matter. It does not matter what others believe about Jesus or even what is taught in the church that will ultimately give you salvation.
8. Some say I would join a church if I knew I would be part of the true church. Some denominations even claim that they alone are the true church.
a. The question as to whether or not you are part of the true church is not answered by where you go to church or what your church teaches but by how you answer the question, "Who do you say Jesus is?"
9. Peter answered "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You are the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah. You are the prophet, priest and king. You are Lord and Saviour. You are the Son of the living God, you are God Himself.
10. If we answer like Peter, we also hear Jesus say to us (Mat 16:17). In other words, you are saved through your faith. But even that faith is not your own doing but God’s, He has revealed this to you and He has changed your heart.
11. If we stop here we might well say that we do not need the church. In a sense it makes me grateful that today people do realize they are not saved by the church but through their own faith and trust in God.
12. But as Jesus goes on He explains that this truth goes hand in hand with the truth of the that we also need to be part of a church. Both are essential .
13. In verse 18 Jesus turns to the matter of the church. This verse is one of the verses that has been debated much and for a long time. This verse in Greek begin with a pronoun "you" and "you" is also included in the verb (2nd person). Jesus is speaking here to Peter and He is emphasizing that fact. "You are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church."