Summary: As we begin the book of Acts, Jesus gives the church her "fighting orders" - Wait and Witness.
"The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Throughout history, there have been many great armies. There have been armies that have conquered nations. Armies that have defended nations. Armies that have established nations. There have been large armies, small armies and everything in between.
There is one constant about every great army. Every army that went on to make a difference in the world had one thing in common – they were all headed by a great leader.
Alexander the Great
Each one of these men has gone on to make his mark in history by leading great fighting forces.
But I want to talk about an army today that none of these men could defeat. In fact, all of these men together, with all of their military genius and all of their military forces and weaponry would not be able to defeat the greatest fighting force ever established.
There is an army – created thousands of years ago – that still exists today – that has won major victories in every nation of the world. Marching under the banner of one general, this army continues to fight and win wherever it goes.
Of course, I am talking about the army – the church – of the Lord Jesus Christ. This morning, I believe that God wants us to know that we are members of the greatest fighting force that has ever been established in the history of the world.
Turn with me to Matthew, chapter 16. (Read verses 13-20)
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15He said* to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
Let me read verse 18 one more time. This is a very important verse:
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
When Jesus said that he was going to build his church, he was not talking about a building with four walls, pews, a pulpit and a piano. He was not talking about establishing a fortress in which his followers could go into and protect themselves from the forces of Satan.
When Jesus said that he was going to build his church and the gates of Hell would not be able to overpower it, he was talking about a fighting force that would be so strong that even the gates of hell could not stop it! Literally, Jesus was saying that we would be invincible. There is nothing on earth that can defeat us.
He began this army with 12 men, one of which deserted. Today, what began as a small army now numbers around 1 billion strong! And Jesus said that we couldn’t be stopped. The kingdom of Light would overthrow the kingdom of darkness.