What Jesus Teaches About His Church
Roy Blizzard III © 2014
Text: Matthew 16:13-20
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. KJV
Perhaps somewhere there is to be found the finest Church in the world. Perhaps somewhere in the world there is a Church which has endeared itself to the very heart of God. Perhaps on some obscure crossroad where Churches stand there is a Church which because of its sacrifices and work with others is loved by the Master above all others. Maybe it’s in the wildwood or by the boulevard where this Church is found or maybe the Church is in our own neighborhood.
Where is this Church, which Jesus is looking upon, that He loves so much? On what continent is it placed; in which country? Arthur Tappan Pierson, a famous Presbyterian who lived in the 1800’s, once said that Carr’s Lane Church in Birmingham England was the finest Church in all the world. Others at other times have claimed that this Church or that Church is the greatest Church and that this would be the Church that Jesus is coming for in the last days.
But search where you will my friends, no such Church as I spoke of in my introduction will be found. But, somewhere in this old world will be Churches that are striving towards the ideals found in the groups of believers in the first century.
But let’s first try to understand what “Church” is in the first place then we may be able to see why it is so hard to find a true New Testament type Church. What is “Church”? Well in Greek the word is ekklesia which means people gathered together. But that really doesn’t help us does it. According to this, any gathering of people are called church. We have to look further. Now according to Hebrew there were four types of individuals that made up the Kahal of the assembly of Jews which could enter into the Temple to Worship God; Priests, Levites, Israelites, and Proselytes. Now does this make sense? If we are grafted into the Tree of God then we become a singular part of the larger “Assembly” which can come into the presence of God to Worship Him.
So what does Jesus expect of His Church that is called by God to Worship Him? In order to know this we have to turn to the New Testament to see what the first believers were doing and what we were commanded to do.
1) They were reading and studying their Bible, the Word of God. Herein many of the Church of our day have failed. Didn’t Jesus say to “search the scriptures”? But alas,, today this Bible studying seems to be a lost art. Wide spread neglect of the Bible even among Church people is appalling. I dare say that few Church people today can name all the names of the books of the Bible, much less tell another what is inside each one.
Even many of the Church’s leaders are not interested in the true study of this great book. They would rather waste inordinate amounts of time arguing whether or not Jesus spoke some particular word in the New Testament when they are not even qualified to make that determination. It has always been a mystery to me why so many of our Church people will take their religion second hand through pastors, lectures, TV shows, and other peoples books, but they will not even go and crack open the single most important book ever written for themselves.
Timothy, one of the Great Apostles, told us to, “ Study to show thyself approved unto God…”, yet how many of us ever open and study God’s word? You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who doesn’t study would you? It really is a mystery to me my friends why we profess a Faith in a book we know so little about.
It was said that one of my distant relatives, Sir Walter Scott, as he was slipping to eternity, called to his attendant to bring him the book. To that the attendant inquired, “What Book, sir?” To which sir Walter replied, “There is but One Book. Bring me the Bible.”
2) Jesus taught his Church that they should be a praying Church. This is the secret to the early Church’s Power. The members of the early group of believers continued steadfast in the Apostle’s Doctrines, fellowship, communion and prayer. These Apostles were praying men and our Church today must be filled with praying men and women. A great tragedy today is that among the Church’s members most will have plenty of time to go to the movies, business meetings or club activities etc, but how many never spend a minute in prayer?
A Church that neglects prayer is a Church that is hazarding its Spiritual Power, for Prayer is Power! Prayer will remove the mountains in our lives. The Holy Spirit swept 3,000 souls into the Kingdom on Pentecost. That was Spiritual Power. This is what comes to us through Prayer and it is ours for the asking if we will earnestly seek God and His existence. We will have to pay a small price for it and that is we must put away from our existence those fleshly desires and put Jesus first. There are three places we go to put Jesus first and these are: 1) Gethsemane – the place of prayer and seeking the face of God. 2) Calvary – the place of pardon and grace. 3) Pentecost – the place of Spiritual Power. It takes visiting all three places to serve in Jesus’ Kingdom.
3) Jesus taught His Believers that they should be a soul saving Church. Jesus was interested in the well-being of the people around Him, not just the physical well-being,but the Spiritual well-being as well. We were commanded by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 to, “19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
This is the mission of the Church, to Go out of our homes and off our easy chairs and Teach the world around us about God and how he loves us and desires to make us whole by causing us to exist in an intimate covenant relationship with God through Baptism and empowered to work in Jesus’ Kingdom by the Holy Spirit. The Early Church was born out of a Spiritual Revival. If we expect our Church to grow then we too must experience a Spiritual Revival. Jesus commanded us to Do this, and woe to the men and women in the Churches who don’t teach their members to Do so.
4) The early Church was a “communing” Church. The New Testament says in Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Well they continued steadfast, but have we? Here we are today worshipping in stately cathedrals, elaborately adorned and furnished, but yet less than 25% of the Churches today gather around the Lord’s Table for Communion. Do you not know that it is within the Lord’s Supper that we find continued reaffirmation of our Blood Covenant with our Savior and the continual forgiveness and healing within the Blood of Jesus? 1 Corinthians 11:30 says, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many are dead.” When you neglect Jesus’ Blood then you move yourself out of His existence and realm and into the realm of the Devil – HaSatan and you become subject to his existence.
5) The early Church was an Attacking Church. They attacked the enemy of man and the gates of hell could not prevail against the onslaught. Satan was defeated, time and time again. The early Church didn’t just sit in the pews cowering in fear all the while hoping that satan would leave them alone. No. they marched out into the world and defeated satan face to face. They took back the power that satan had taken from man in the Garden and used that own power to defeat satan. You have to understand that satan was already defeated in the Garden by God’s design, all we have to do is reclaim that which we abrogated to satan when we covenanted with him in the Garden, by breaking that covenant with satan by joining Jesus’ Blood Covenant of the Cross. The early Church busied itself with the work of reclaiming to Jesus souls bound in chains to satan, forever dooming satan to defeat and ultimately to hell itself.
6) The early Church was a giving Church. They gave of themselves freely even to their deaths to spread the word of Jesus’ Kingdom. They gave their hearts and their minds to the spreading of God’s Word and of their resources to assist those who had none. Is it fair that we accept Eternal Salvation from those nail scarred hands and in return we give Jesus the scraps of our time and labors? Jesus died for the Church and it is certain that he would not give His life for the Church, establish it into the world, delegate Disciples for it to win the world and not leave the Church with a guide to help it deal with its earthly needs. In 1 Corinthians 16:2 is says, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
Jesus cared about our earthly needs and so should we. We also should not be hesitant to let the Church know about those needs. We should not be giving out of shame or guilt because some Pastor or Church leader has beaten us around the ears with the Tithing stick. No! We should give unto Jesus because we love Him and want to help those around us who need help. The same New Testament that teaches us about Baptism also teaches us to give because the Spirit of God is within us and that Spirit should be directing us where to give and what type of gift it should be. In Acts 3:6 Peter says, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Who wouldn’t want this gift over a few coins in a cup! Life! Life more abundant and powerful is a great gift, even more important than money.
You see, Jesus doesn’t require us to be millionaires to be powerful members of His Church. Jesus just wants us to give freely to others that Spiritual Life that He has shared with us. When we begin to follow Jesus in a closer walk with Him in His Kingdom, He will bless us so that we can bless others, some spiritually, some physically, but Jesus will fill the needs of those around us according to our hearts and our abilities.
When the Church of Jesus accepts the call to begin to give of its Spirit and resources back to the people around it all hell will begin to break loose because satan hates love and will do all he can to thwart the love of God from being spread upon the earth. The genuine caring for the community around us is what grows the Church. No amount of calling, no amount of Church programs, no amount of money spent on building massive brick edifices in the name of God will grow the true Church body of believers.
The Church that more nearly attains the goals of the “Ideal Church” will be the Church that more closely measures up to the teachings of Jesus concerning His Church and Kingdom. The Church that Jesus loves best will be the Church that DOES His will, Studies the Bible and proclaims His Gospel, adheres to His teachings, and goes OUT to seek out and SAVE those lost among us!
You know, we are all created in God’s image and likeness. Since this is so, that makes all men and women related to us all doesn’t it. Jesus’ Church it isn’t about what color of skin you have, what language you speak, or how much money you have. No, we are all God’s family and so we need to see all people through “equalization glasses” so to speak. We should have nothing more to fear from speaking to a stranger about God than talking to our own children about God. Jesus loves us all and will meet us all where we are.
Where are you today? Are you in a place of peace and safety within the Church? Are you worried about tomorrow and fearful about today? Are you filled with anxiety and fears and not sure about what would happen to you if you died today? If you have said yes to any of these, then you need Jesus and you need him now! Come now and accept Jesus into your life today and begin to exist within His existence and love and peace and Joy unspeakable.by