Summary: This the is final message of this series. This message focuses on how we get between The Rock (Jesus) and the hard place when we choose the ways of the world versus following Jesus and His teaching.
The Rock and the Hard Place Part 9
This message will conclude my series “The Rock and the hard place.” In this series I wanted to accomplish a couple of things. First I wanted you to begin thinking about who your heavenly Father really is and what He stands for. Secondly I wanted you to understand the authority that we have in this world and how that authority is linked directly to our faith which links us directly to God. I wanted you to understand that knowing and understanding who God is includes believing and acting on what He has said in the Bible without compromise and without apology. Once we have this assurance deep down on the inside of us as an unshakeable truth, we will begin to grasp who we truly are – sons and daughters of God Almighty – who have everything we need to complete the assignment our Father has for us. That’s a very quick summary of the previous messages.
The message today may not seem like it fits but it’s just as much about faith as the others. This is the message that actually started Barry’s and my thinking about the whole series. I intentionally saved this message for last because I want to drive home a point that we must understand, sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place because we are standing on the word of God against a world that does not want us to. In this message the Rock is going to be God, not our troubles, but the one who is there to get us out of trouble. Let me explain.
If the Apostle Paul were to suddenly appear today, I’m not sure he would recognize the Church. He would see very little difference in the thought and behavior of those who say they are Christians and those who are not Christians. He would see very little difference in the way those who say they are Christians treat people and those who are not Christians. (Sometimes non-Christians treat people much better!) He would see those who call themselves Christians supporting the same things as those who are not Christians. He would see men and women in the pulpit saying “You live in God’s grace. All of your sins, past, present and future, have been covered by the blood of Jesus. So you don’t have to worry about repenting for those sins.” And, if I were the Apostle Paul looking at what the body of Christ had become I would ask “How did this happen?” I will tell you.
I. The Rock
Many of us in the body of Christ have found ourselves between “The Rock and the hard place.” Turn to Matthew 16:13-19. “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And 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. 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. 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."
In this passage we see Jesus asking the disciples two questions: (1) who do men say I am and (2) who do you believe I am? This is crucial because what was most important to Jesus was not what the people thought, but what the disciples knew. After telling him who the people say he was Peter speaks up and says “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” How could Peter have known that with such conviction? Jesus answers this question in verse 17, “My Father has shown this to you Simon.” Then Jesus says “Peter, My Father has just revealed to you who I truly am and upon that rock – upon the revelation you just received from Him about who I am – I am going to build my church.” The rock that Jesus spoke of was not Himself but who He was and who He is to us. Some have taught that Jesus was speaking of Peter and that He would build His church on the shoulders of Peter, but this was not the case. Peter was one of the disciples, but Jesus was not building His church on Peter – He was building His Church on the knowledge of who He was and what this meant for our lives. This is why the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! Those gates cannot prevail against the revelation of who Jesus is and who we are because of Him while they could stand against Peter. Don’t get this confused! Jesus then tells Peter “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." In other words, I will show you how to live in the kingdom of heaven with authority on earth. What were these keys? Very simply everything Jesus taught and preached. Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Everything Jesus taught were “rocks” – demonstrations of His life and how to live as a member of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. His teaching leads to a life of spiritual fulfillment, not only for us, but for those we interact with. This is why it is so important that we do more than just worship with each other. Lives are at stake and change is within our hands!