Sunday Service (M890) | Mount Zion Church | 3 November 2019 | Jesus be the Centre | Ekklesia Sermon Series| Matthew 16:18
CHURCH is not only about the building. Church is about Christ! Church must always start with Christ, keep focus on Christ, then be finished by Christ at His second coming! The word ‘church’ occurs for the first time at the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus talked to Peter: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it Matthew 16:18 NKJV.” The original word for church is EKKLESIA, which means called out; a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly. CHURCH is about Christ who call us out from our homes, from our comfort zone, into public place, into a place where we can greet and meet other believers also other people. We are called out from darkness into His marvellous light. We are called out from nothing to be something; to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people! Not only to enjoy that marvellous light, but to PROCLAIM it, to proclaim the praises of Him. Back to the days when Jesus was doing His ministry in Israel, Ekklesia means an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). The citizens will obey the leader who had called them, they will leave whatever they are doing or what they want to do at that time, they come together at the same place, they will think together, discuss together, come in unity. And when the meeting had been concluded by the leader, the citizens will obey and do what they already had agreed together, they will declare the result of the meeting to the whole family, they will proclaim it! Jesus said that we are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. No people will light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven Mat.5:14-16. We are called out! Let’s pray so that we will have a sharp and wise understanding about church so that we will be able to fulfil this calling and to do His will without any fear since Jesus promised that Hades will not prevail against it!
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1Peter 2:9-10 NKJV
ON THIS ‘PETER’ I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
Jesus said that He Himself will build the church on Peter as the rock! While the first foundation must be Christ alone 1Cor.3:11, Jesus emphasized the importance of Peter as the rock that always be needed to build the church! The word ‘Peter’ means a stone or a rock. Who is this Peter so that Jesus gave a privilege to him by mentioning his name when Jesus explained about His church? His original name was Simon and he had a brother named Andrew, both of them were fishermen Mat.4:18. And start from Matthew chapter 18, Jesus called him with a new name, “You are Peter!” Peter was not a perfect disciple. Peter had so many weaknesses and even he made a big mistake by denying Jesus for 3 times! But the good news is Peter was someone who allowed Jesus to work mightily in his life so that his weaknesses and failures did not be a hinderance for him to raise up again! Jesus gave a special instruction to Peter: “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren Luk.22:32.” In spite of his weaknesses and failures, Peter became a rock because he returned to Jesus so that he was able to strengthen his brethren, even he stood up in the day of Pentecost and started the history of the early church.
A church must be built with the heart of Peter, an attitude of Peter, a commitment of Peter, a faith of Peter, even the action of Peter! Church is about people who are ready to be called out, from wherever they are and whatever they are, and ready to be transformed like Christ. We must come to God as who we are, but we are not supposed to remain as who we are because the glory of God will definitely transform us into His image, from glory to glory 2Cor.3:18. Talking about the character of Peter means talking about a character who transformed significantly and that is what a church need! We are called out so that we are NOT conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God Rom.12:2. Church is called out to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Eph.4:13, this is the vision and the ultimate goal for the church! And this goal will be able to be fulfilled if we have the action of Peter!
We must have a desire to be changed by Christ. Church is about the change of Christian! A church must be built in this attitude. In the day of creation, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created us: male and female He created us Gen.1:27! But then all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Rm.3:23. Jesus Christ came to save His people from their sins Mat.1:21. Not only saved, but Jesus also will bring our faith into a perfect man, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith Heb.12:2. Church is always about Christ and Jesus Christ will never stop to work something within us. Jesus said: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world Jn.9:4-5.” Jesus showed how His Father has been working until now, and so do He has been working Jn.5:17. Jesus will always bring the church to grow up and He will never stop, Holy Spirit will always be sent to bring a renewing to our mind so that we may have better understanding every day about what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God is! That’s why Christian must not stop to learn because we need to know the whole will of God Ac.20:27. Let’s open our heart and our mind and get ready to be changed. If we come to the church with this attitude, Jesus will give us the power to change! Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil Ec.5:1. We come to the church to be changed! Church is NOT a club where we can choose where to go according to our hobby. Church is about Christ who will change our life to be like Him. That’s why we need to transform from casual and cultural Christians to be committed and crucified Christians, a Christian who able to say: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me Gal.2:20.”
I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
Church must be very important thing in this world so that Jesus must build it by Himself. And church must be very special thing so that it belongs to Jesus Himself! Jesus bought church with a price 1Cor.6:20, church was redeemed with the precious blood of Christ 1Pet.1:19. Only Jesus that able to build church because the church meant to be eternal! Jesus did everything for church, Jesus built the church with His words, Jesus manifested the name of God to the church, Jesus gave His life for the church! God’s people in the day of Old Testament were not officially called as a church because they had not redeemed by the blood of Christ! For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins Heb.10:4. That’s why the Bible wrote: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life Jn.3:16.” Church belongs to Jesus because God had given church to Jesus, OUT of the WORLD!
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. John 17:6-8 NKJV
THE GATES OF HADES SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT
What is Hades? Hades, in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, with which his name became synonymous (Wikipedia). This word occurs 11 times in our King James Version Bible and was translated as hell (10x) and grave (1x). People in the New Testament understood Hades as the hell, the contrary of the heaven Mat.11:23, Luk.10:15, an eternal place where the devil and his angels dwell, a place of torments Luk.16:23, the place of the dead Ac.2:27, 31. For people in general, death has been a great fear because no one able to avoid it, even this kind of fear bring people in their lifetime subject to bondage Heb.2:15. Death is the biggest fear for this world, but the Bible wrote how death is swallowed up in victory!
54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:54-57 NKJV
When Jesus instituted church, He gave a very important and strong promise that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it! The church MUST NOT fear with Hades, the church MUST NOT subject to bondage of that fear, because Jesus is the builder of the church and He will always protect the church. What an amazing promise to all Christian who want to be the church! Death has its own sting and it is called SIN. The church was built by Jesus with the ability to overcome the sins! Jesus is the Saviour, He will save His people from sins and its power. Moreover, the church has the ability to be perfect and without sin! Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God 1Jn.3:9.
CONCLUSION & CHALLENGE
What it’s all about?
The most essential thing of church is Christ alone! Church is about Christ! Church must always start with Christ, keep focus on Christ, then be finished by Christ at His second coming! A church must be built with the heart of Peter, an attitude of Peter, a commitment of Peter, a faith of Peter, even the action of Peter! Church is about people who are ready to be called out, from wherever they are and whatever they are, and ready to be transformed like Christ. We must have a desire to be changed by Christ. Church is about the change of Christian! Church belongs to Jesus because God had given church to Jesus, OUT of the WORLD! The church was built by Jesus with the ability to overcome the sins!
Insights and impressions:
When Jesus is in the centre of the church, all eyes will definitely able to look upon Jesus. When we look upon Jesus, we will definitely see His glory. And there is a heavenly power within the glory of Jesus. A glory that able to change us, to transform us from glory to glory, ever-increasing glory, so the church will be like Christ and ready to be the bride of Christ!
During this week, let’s look inside ourselves and find at least one thing that need to be transformed to be like Christ. Let’s make a good commitment for that and invite at least 1 friend or family member to know about it and then assist us with that commitment. A commitment that kept in secret will be more difficult to follow it up rather than a commitment that disclosed to someone that close to us. Let’s have a faith that Christ is able to change our life to be more like Him day by day. AMEN.