Sunday, July 29, 2012

[Matt's Messages] “Jesus Will Build His Church" Serbia Missions Team Commissioning

“Jesus Will Build His Church”
Serbia Team Commissioning Service
July 29, 2012 :: Matthew 16:13-20

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."  "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"  Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  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.  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."  Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.” (NIV)

We will return, Lord-willing, to the book of Judges next Sunday, but this week, I felt led to preach on missions to go along with our Serbia Team’s Commissioning this morning.

I’ve been trying to drop ideas into our Serbia Team’s heads all along.

In the Spring, it was “Semper Gumby” “Always Flexible.” The Marines have “Semper Fi” Always Faithful. The Serbia Team has “Semper Gumby” always flexible in ministry.

This week when I met with the team for devotions, I encouraged them to memorize Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” That’s a great prayer–one that we should all memorize because we will all face things we are scared of as we attempt to be faithful to the mission Jesus has given us.

Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

And today, I have one more phrase that I want to tuck away into the heads of our Serbia Team as they head off.

And this is a phrase that needs to be tucked into the heads and hearts of everyone here whether or not you’re planning to go to Serbia this week.


“Jesus Will Build His Church.”

We learn this truth in our passage for today, Matthew 16:13-20.  

In these few verses lie one of the most important questions that Jesus ever asked and one of the most important promises that Jesus ever gave.  It’s a terrific text for talking about missions.  

I have just three points this morning, and I absolutely guarantee that (if you are listening) when I’m done you will remember all three of them.

Point #1.  JESUS Will Build His Church.

The key word in that sentence is JESUS.

JESUS Will Build His Church.

Let me ask you a question:  Who is Jesus?

That’s the question that Jesus was raising to the disciples when they were traveling through Caesarea Philippi.

Really, it’s the question that Jesus has been raising throughout the Book of Matthew.  He’s been forcing that question upon everyone He meets.  Everyone He interacts with. Everyone who hears about Him is forced to answer that question.

Who is Jesus?  What is His identity?

Jesus starts by asking the disciples what the word on the street was about His identity.  V.13.

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  “What are people saying about me?”

And the disciples knew what people are saying, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, or Jeremiah, or someone like them...a great prophet.”

Do you know that that’s the same answer that Muslims give to this question?  They don’t deny Jesus’ existence.  They call Him a great prophet.  But nothing more.  And that’s not enough.

Who is Jesus? 

Then Jesus asks the disciples (v.15), “Who do you say I am?”

And He’s asking us that very same question right now.

Who do you say Jesus is?

Simon Peter answers.  And for once, He gets an A+!  (V.16)

“You are the Christ (or Messiah), the Son of the living God.”

The Promised King, the Lord of Glory, Very God of Very God!

That’s who Jesus is!

Jesus, you are the Hope of Israel.  You are the Hope of the World!  You are God in the flesh.  You are the radiance of God’s glory!

Now, I don’t know how much Peter understood what He was saying.  It definitely wasn’t complete. It wasn’t until after the Resurrection that He began to have a full understanding of Jesus’ identity.  But he got it right anyway.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus congratulates him.  V.17.

“Blessed are you, Simon [Jonahson, he was Swedish, you know], for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

Has the Father revealed who Jesus is to you, in your heart?

Who Is Jesus?

You need to decide right now.  Because if Jesus is not your Lord and your Savior.  If He is not your Boss and your Rescuer, then you are lost, you are dying, you are in big trouble.

Many people want Jesus to just be their Friend. Someone they can count on in a pinch.  Someone who is in their corner.  But not much more.  They want Him to be a guiding light but not a Master. They want Him in the car but not at the steering wheel.

Jesus wants to be Lord in your life.  Jesus wants to be seen as the Son of the Living God who is King over all things.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," [that means BOSS!] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [that means RESCUED from sin and death and hell].”

There is no salvation outside of the identity of Jesus Christ.  In fact, Jesus builds his whole church on it.

In v.18, Jesus tells Peter who Peter is: “And I tell you that you are Peter [which means Rock.  His nickname for him was Rocky!] and on this rock [upon you and your God-revealed understanding of me], I [underline that] I will build my church...”

Jesus (the Son of the living God) will build His church.

Now, let me see if you’re paying attention.

Who is going to build the church? [Jesus!]

That’s right.  Jesus. Not Ernie DeGrasse. Not Curt or Stephanie Quick. Not Sheila Allen or Becky Forcey or Kendra Piotrowski.

Not Pastor Matt Mitchell. Not Judy Carlson. Not anyone here.

Jesus is going to build the church.

Imagine for a second that every pastor, missionary, elder, and church leader in the entire world were to disappear or die tonight.

What would happen to the church?

Well, no one would fall asleep during my sermon next week!

Seriously though, what would happen to the church if every pastor, missionary, elder, and other church leaders disappeared or died tonight?

Individual churches would suffer greatly. 

But the church would still be built.  

Because Jesus is building it.

Jesus Will Build His Church.

So a key word of application to us is that we should not try to build the church on our own!

How often I have been guilty of that!

It’s got to be God’s work, GOD’S WAY for there to be any lasting value.

That’s why prayer, for example, has got to be central in the life of the church.  When we get away from individuals, as families, as ministry teams, in prayer gatherings, in worship services, as leaders...we start to take the burden for building the church off of the shoulders of Jesus and onto our own.

But that’s not the way it works.  JESUS Will Build His Church...or no one will!

Serbia Team, here’s a word for you as you get on the plane. 

You can’t do it.  You can’t win a whole camp full of children for Jesus Christ. You can’t save their souls. You can’t build the church.  You are too weak.  You are too small.  You are too powerless.

Congratulations!  You don’t have to have that on your back.  It’s not your responsibility.

Do you feel that?  That monkey is off of your back.

But you do belong to a Lord Jesus Christ who has taken responsibility for it.  He’s promised.

He said, “I Will Build My Church.”  And He can do it!

Here’s point number two.  It’s going to sound familiar.

#2. Jesus WILL BUILD His Church.

Did you get that?

Jesus WILL BUILD His Church!

Emphasis here on “WILL BUILD.”

You see, this is a promise that we can take to the bank!

It’s not a MAYBE.  It’s not a IF.  It’s not a AS LONG AS.

He says, “I WILL do it.”  I WILL BUILD My Church.

The building of the church (on the God-Revealed Rock of Jesus’ Identity) is UNSTOPPABLE.

It is a done deal. It is a sure thing.  It is a shoe-in to win.

Jesus will invincibly, irresistibly, triumphantly construct His church.

And nothing will stop Him.

Not even the gates of hell.  V.18.

“I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Or KJV, “the Gates...will not prevail against it.”

Let me ask you a question. Are gates offensive or defensive? 

Gates are defensive, aren’t they?

The church of God is not on the defense, brothers and sisters.  The church of the living God is an aggressive force moving against the stronghold of death itself and rescuing people from death’s jaws.

“Hades” is the Hebrew word for Place of the Dead.

And everyone one of Jesus’ people will be saved from the second death.  Jesus holds the keys to Death and Hell (Revelation 1:18), and He won’t let death stop Him from building His church.

Death is our last and greatest enemy. But in His Resurrection, Jesus has defeated death and will kill death itself.

That’s why the Bible says, “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ...  Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Jesus WILL BUILD His Church.

Now, this is not a reason to stay home.  This is a reason to go.

This is a reason to get on the airplane on Friday.

Some people, when they are confronted with this promise think that they don’t need to get involved in Kingdom work.  They don’t need to go to Serbia. They don’t need to give money to missions. They don’t need to pray for the team. They don’t need to share Christ at work or in the neighborhood. They don’t need to help with MOPS or serve at Kids for Christ.

Because, after all, Jesus said, He’d do it!

We’ll just leave it to Him.

But that’s missing the point.  Jesus does this through us.

And this is a reason to think that it just might work!

Don’t go to Serbia if you’re on the losing team.  Don’t give money to missions if it may not do much good anyway.  Don’t help out at MOPS if it won’t amount to much in the long run. Don’t teach at Kids for Christ if those kids will be just as good off staying home and doing their homework as being discipled by you.

But it’s not a question.  It’s a promise!  Jesus said, “I WILL BUILD My Church.”

Anything Jesus calls you to do for the Kingdom will have eternal success!

It may not seem like it at the time.  Serbia Team, your efforts next week may seem like they aren’t working.  You might not see immediate results.

But it will not fail.  Your labor in the Lord is NOT IN VAIN.

In fact, Jesus promises to give the church what it needs to accomplish her mission.

He tells Peter in v.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.”

Jesus gave Peter authority.  I think that the “keys” here are the Gospel and the authority that goes with the Gospel to say who is in and who is out.  That is, who believes in the true identity of Jesus and who does not.  The Gospel is the Keys to Heaven.

There are different takes on that, and I’d be glad to talk to you about different interpretations another time, but the point I want to make now is that Jesus is equipping Peter to be the Rock under the church. He’s making sure that the church is unstoppable.

He’ll equip you and me with everything that we really need for His Church Construction project.
He Will Build His Church.  Count on it!

Jesus WILL BUILD His Church.

And by now, you’ve probably guessed point #3.

#3. Jesus Will Build HIS CHURCH.

Emphasis on HIS CHURCH.

Who is this church FOR?


Not me.  Not you.  Not even “the people.”  This church that is being built is for the glory of Jesus Christ.

He is building A PEOPLE [and I guess it should be said that the church is not a building, it’s a people! Don’t be confused by these bricks up here. As our adult Sunday School classes have been learning, we are the bricks!] He is building A PEOPLE called out from darkness into light, called out from sin into righteousness, called out from the world to the Kingdom, called out from the path to Hell to citizenship in Heaven.  A PEOPLE for the praise of His glory!

Jesus is building a church FOR HIMSELF.

He does it by His blood.

Peter didn’t understand that.  In the next set of verses, Peter rejects Jesus’ prediction of his death.  But Jesus knew that His blood would build a church.

He bought a people for Himself on the Cross.

Jesus is building HIS CHURCH.

And so, you and I should get involved.

We should share the gospel.  We should allow ourselves to be used in the world-wide church-building mission of our Lord.

There are really only 3 options:

GO to the Nations and Share the Gospel
SEND Others to the Nations and Share the Gospel Where You Are
Or Be Disobedient to the Command of Jesus Christ.

In v.20, Jesus commanded them to NOT tell everyone who He was.  And that was for a reason for a short period of time. It was temporary.

But now, the marching orders are to tell everyone.  The end of the book (Matthew 28) says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...”

Or as we studied in book of Acts: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Including Pennsylvania and Serbia.

Jesus is saying, “Allow ME to BUILD MY CHURCH through you.”

Are you going?

My sister-in-law, Sharon Toews, is here with us this morning. She and her husband are in the process of becoming missionaries with Greater European Mission.

Her husband wants to lead short-term construction missions teams all over Europe.

And they would be based in Germany.

They are going.

Are you going?

We have had a number of missionaries return from the field in the last couple of years.

I am praying that God would raise up some of us here in this room to go into missions full-time as career missionaries.

Is God tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “I want to use you?”

Are you sending?  

Praying, giving, supporting, helping missionaries with their ministry?

Thank you to everyone who gave for the Serbia Team to go.

I love pastoring a church that can raise $13,000 from gifts and their budget to send a team to Serbia for a week.

I love pastoring a church that exceeds its most audacious goal for a Family Bible Week offering and sends not 4 kids but 6 kids to school in Haiti for the year.

I love pastoring a church that supports 8 missionary families around the world.  And is forming plans to support more.

This is a sending church.

Are you a sender?

Or are you disobedient to the command of Jesus Christ?

Are you sharing Jesus?

Let me ask you a question.

Do you think about every person you meet as either A) LOST or B) Your Brother or Sister in Christ?

They are either one or the other.

Are you sharing Jesus Christ with others?

Do you have a heart for the lost? 

Next month is our Good News Cruise. It’s less than a month away.

And we still need some key people to step up to help.

The point of the Good News Cruise is not the Cruise. It’s the good news.

The cruise is a creative way of getting the good news out.

Is there something you can do to help?

Today at the meal and meeting, Keith is going to talk about those ways that you can get involved.

Come along to the meeting and join up with the mission.

As we’ve said again and again: the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is the gospel.

Are you living for the gospel?

Are you allowing the Lord Jesus to build His church through you?

On the back of your bulletin, write down at least one thing that the Lord Jesus is asking you to do to be used by Him to build His church.

The Main Question for the World is: “WHO IS JESUS?”

We need to decide right now what the answer is to that.

And the glorious promise is that the answer to that question will be the foundation of an unshakeable people–the church of the Living God.

Jesus Will Do It.


Serbia Team, remember this over the next two weeks:


Lanse Free Church, remember this:


Take that to the bank and count on it, no matter how it seems.


And He’s calling us to join Him.