Summary: The words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 16 reveal the importance of the church as Christ reveals the ownership, foundation, power, authority, and mission of the church.
The Importance of the Church
Introduction: TEN THINGS YOU NEVER HEAR IN CHURCH 1. Hey! It’s MY turn to sit on the front pew! 2. I was so enthralled, I never noticed your sermon went over time 25 minutes. 3. Personally, I find witnessing much more enjoyable than golf. 4. I’ve decided to give our church the $500.00 a month I used to send to TV evangelists. 5. I volunteer to be the permanent teacher for the Junior High Sunday School class. 6. Forget the minimum salary: let’s pay our pastor so he can live like we do. 7. I love it when we sing hymns I’ve never heard before! 8. Since we’re all here, let’s start the worship service early! 9. Pastor, we’d like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas. 10. Nothing inspires me and strengthens my commitment like our annual stewardship campaign! While we laugh at these humorous statements, it raises the question, is the church important?
The words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 16 reveal the importance of the church as Christ reveals the ownership, foundation, power, authority, and mission of the church.
I. The Declaration of Ownership by the Architect of the Church, Jesus Christ.
A. “I will build MY church”
B. Once Arturo Toscanini was rehearsing the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. They played through the entire work without interruption. After the finale there was a long silence. Everyone was moved by the music. Then Toscanini spoke. "Who am I? Who is Toscanini? I am nobody. It is Beethoven. He is everything." In the church, Christ is everything. He is "all in all."
C. The Church of God apart from the Person of Christ is a useless structure. However ornate it may be in its organization, however perfect in all its arrangements, however rich and increased with goods, if the Church is not revealing the Person, lifting Him to the height where all men can see Him, then the Church becomes an impertinence and a sham, a blasphemy and a fraud, and the sooner the world is rid of it, the better. - G. Campbell Morgan in Giant Steps. Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 6.
D. The chamber of commerce meeting was called to order. After the reception of new members and the introduction of visitors, the chairman asked who of those present represented the oldest company in the community. A young man in the back of the room hesitated a moment, then arose and said: "I believe I do, sir. I am a minister of the gospel. The company I represent was founded some 1,900 years ago. And I am happy to say that it is still flourishing." His announcement was greeted with applause, for none of those present was inclined to contradict him. He did, indeed, represent "the oldest company" in the community. It was 19 centuries ago that the Founder of this "company" had said: "Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18). How true the intervening centuries have proved His startling prediction to be! On every continent and on the islands of the seven seas, from East to West, from North to South, the company of Christ’s redeemed have carried the message of salvation. It was that "company" that the young minister represented-indeed, the oldest, grandest, and the largest to be represented at the meeting, a "company" that you can belong to by simple faith in Christ the Savior. We are "fellow" citizens with the saints and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone (Eph 2:19-20).
II. The Foundation of the Church
A. “You are Peter (Petros) and on this rock (Petra) I will build my church.”
B. Petros – a pebble or small stone, Petra – a foundational stone
C. 1 Corinthians 3:11 “For no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”
D. The church is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and the profession of faith in Him by believers who comprise “living stones”
E. 1 Peter 2:5-7 “and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture: "Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.” Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,"
F. It is Christ’s church, not ours we are a part of it - He sets the doctrine not us - He is the head, He is the master. He is the one that died for the church not us.