Summary: Using Matthew 16:15-18 I share some lessons about what Jesus mean’t by "the church."
Intro: A family was sitting in church on Sunday morning. The little brother was fidgety and whiney. Big sister looked at little brother and said, “why don’t you be still?” “Because church is boring”, he said. The big sister looked and at him and said, “church is supposed to be boring.” (www.sermoncentral.com)
There are certainly some misconceptions about the church. It is loved by so many, it’s also despised by many (due to scandal and abuse and other reasons), and a large portion of society is simply indifferent towards the church.
I want to look at a passage in Scripture from the book of Matthew. In Matthew 16:13-18 Jesus says some straightforward truths regarding the church. This passage has been a controversial passage. The debate has been over what Jesus meant by “on this rock I will build my church. “Rock” was more likely a name given as a promise of what he was to become not for what he was. He became a man of strength. The rock could mean, Peter himself, the faith of Peter, the confession of Peter, Christ himself or a combination of factors. We have to remember that the New Testament is about Jesus and not Peter. There could be a church without Peter but now without Christ. Peter is neither the head nor the foundation of the church. Jesus founded it and it stands or falls with him, and he is yet its living Lord and head.
Look at these lessons from Matthew.
1). The church is not a building.
Church is not somewhere we go, it’s not something we go to it is what we are. Jesus used the Greek word “ekklesia” This word means “a gathering of people; a called out people.” He meant the church is the people of God called out by Him. Jesus did not die for a building but he did die for people. Yet, you go to some churches and it seems the focus is not on people but on great buildings…on building structures. The focus of many churches is how extravagant and how big can we build buildings. Well, God is more interested in building up people. Now, I’m not against buildings. As a matter of fact we are right now in the process of looking for some land or another location to be our permanent home. We are just here temporarily. We are quickly running out of space. That’s why we rented the building next door to give us more room for our youth and children’s ministries. Our parking easily fills up. Nursery is running out of room. We need to make room for more people the Lord is going to send our way. As we go through this exciting, yet tideous process it is important that we stay focused. Not on a building but building up lives. We can’t forget that the church is people. Yes, I want our church to grow. I want this place to be packed—but we better make sure we’re building people up.
So, the church is not a building. Secondly,
2). The church is a new community.
You ever thought about the people who made up the first church? Jesus’s disciples. Those guys weren’t superheroes. Remember when Jesus was arrested? What did all of his disciples do? They ran! After Jesus rose from the grave and went back into heaven. He sent his Holy Spirit down and empowered God’s people. Those early followers were all together and when the presence of God came on them they began to speak in foreign languages.
This awesome act took place to show us that this new community wasn’t just for a certain kind of people—but all people. Every kind of language and place. This community knows no bounds!
Look at Acts 2:37-38 (Message) Jesus was preaching a message after being empowered by God’s presence. “Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do? Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact our Master God invites!”
Who did the Lord invite? The blind, the beggar, the prostitute. Why? The healthy don’t need a doctor but the sick do! This new community is made up of sinners bought by Jesus Christ himself! It is so dear to Jesus that he died for the church. Ephesians 5:25-27 “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.”