Summary: THE CHURCH IS A LIVING ORGANISM MADE UP OF BORN AGAIN BELIEVERS.
THE CHURCH: THE PEOPLE OF GOD
JAN. 20, 2019
LAST WEEK WE STARTED A SERIES OF MESSAGES ON THE CHURCH. PEOPLE HAVE MANY DIFFERENT IDEAS OF WHAT THE CHURCH IS, AND IT IS MY HOPE THAT AS WE STUDY WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT THE CHURCH, THAT WE WILL GET A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT WE ARE TO BE AS PART OF THE CHURCH IN THIS PART OF OUR WORLD.
LAST WEEK I HOPE WE CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT THE CHURCH IS A LIVING ORGANISM, WHICH IS MADE UP OF BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, NOT SEPARATED BY DENOMINATION, WHO WORSHIP ALL OVER THE WORLD.
THIS WEEK WE ARE GOING TO CONCENTRATE ON THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE UP THE CHURCH. PEOPLE AND THE CHURCH HAVE A RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP, PEOPLE GAIN THEIR IDENTITY FROM THE CHURCH, AND THE CHURCH GAINS IT’S IDENTITY FROM THE CHURCH. THIS MEANS WE HAVE A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY TO BE THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN ALL ASPECTS OF OUR DAILY LIVES.
OUR PASSAGE TODAY CONTAINS FIVE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE THAT CAN BE OF GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT DURING TIMES OF STRESS AND TRIAL.
BY WAY OF CONTEXT PETER HAD A VERY IMPULSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. ONE MINUTE HE IS READY TO DIE FOR HIM AND THE NEXT HE DENYS HIM, JUST AS ONE EXAMPLE. IN MATTHEW JESUS ASKS THE DISCIPLES, “WHO DO PEOPLE SAY THAT I AM?” THE DISCIPLES GAVE A VARIETY OF ANSWERS ANT THEN PETER SAYS THIS:
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 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. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
THIS PASSAGE IN 1 PETER IS SAID BY MANY TO BE PETER’S COMMENTARY TO THIS PASSAGE IN MATTHEW. PETER LOOKS AT FOUR ASPECTS OF OUR SALVATION EXPERIENCE THAT IF WE REALLY TAKE TO HEART CAN TRANSFORM OUR CHRISTIAN WALK, AND HELP US UNDERSTAND WHY JESUS SAID THAT THE VERY GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT.
POINT ONE: WE ARE LIVING STONES
Vvs. 4-8 SPEAK OF CHRISTIANS AS BEING LIVING STONES, WITH CHRIST BEING THE LIVING CORNERSTONE, AND TOGETHER BEING BUILT INTO A SPIRITUAL HOUSE. THIS IS A STATEMENT OF UNITY BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND CHRIST.
THE CORNERSTONE OF A BUILDING WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT STONE OF THE BUILDING. ALL OTHER STONES TOOK THEIR SIZE AND SHAPE FROM THAT ONE. IT UNDERWENT SEVERAL TESTS OF STRENGTH AND DURABILITY.
HERE PETER IS SAYING THAT WE AS LIVING STONES ARE GOING TO BE MOLDED AND SHAPED, TO FIT TOGETHER WITH THE CORNERSTONE TO BUILD A SPIRITUAL HOUSE WHICH WE CALL THE CHURCH.
WHEN YOU DEAL WITH SHAPING STONES THE MAIN INSTRUMENT IS A HAMMER AND CHISEL, AND IT IS A SLOW PROCESS REQUIRING MUCH PATIENCE. IT IS A PROCESS THAT AS WE ARE MOLDED INTO THE ROCKS THAT JESUS WANTS US TO BE, CAN INVOLVE A LOT OF PAIN AND CHANGE, BUT WILL MOLD US INTO A STRONG BUILDING, WHICH MEANS THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS WILL BE STRONG AND UNITED. IT MEANS THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER WILL SHARE THAT UNITY AS WELL.
PETER CALLS ON THE WRITING OF ISAIAH AS HE SPEAKS OF THE CORNERSTONE.
ISAIAH 28:16: So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic
ISAIAH WAS WRITING AT A VERY DARK TIME FOR ISRAEL. THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN KINGDOMS WERE FAR FROM THE LORD AND THE LORD WAS PREPARING TO DISCIPLINE THEM FOR THEIR DISOBEDIENCE. THEY WOULD BE SENT INTO EXILE AND THE NATION WOULD NOT REFORM UNTIL 1948.
IN THE MIDST OF THIS DISTURBING NEWS GOD THROUGH ISAIAH OFFERS THIS GOOD NEWS. GOD WOULD GIVE A TESTED AND PRECIOUS STONE FOR A SURE FOUNDATION. THAT CORNERSTONE WOULD BE JESUS CHRIST.
PAUL IN SPEAKING TO THE EPHESIAN CHURCH USES THIS SAME PASSAGE IDENTIFYING CHRIST AS THE CORNERSTONE.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.