Christ, The Church, The Commission
#5: All Authority Matthew 16:13-19
Introduction: Perfect Church Building
A very famous and wealthy architect went to his pastor and said, "I’ve talked with the deacons and the church and we want you and take the family to the Europe, the Mediterranean Islands and then the Holy Land everything will be my gift to you. While you’re gone we are going to do some work on the auditorium and it will be a surprise when you get back.” The pastor had always wanted to take a long vacation to far away places, especially the land of Jesus’ birth and so he said thanks and the family packed caught a plane and took off on an adventure.
After three months they returned home and were at the airport by the architect church member. He took them to the church and they went into the sanctuary.
"This is the finest thing I’ve ever designed," said the man. "No expense was spared and it is the perfect place for you and the members."
The pastor was impressed, the building looked brand new, it fit the land and the community wonderfully. It was truly impressive. But there was something the pastor couldn’t figure out. There was only one pew, at the very back of the church.
"You built a church with only one pew? Don’t you think we’ll have a few more attend than that?" asked the pastor?
"Well, now there are some surprises that you’ll have to wait until Sunday to see." the rich man said.
When the time came for the Sunday service, the early arrivals entered the church, filed onto the one pew and sat down. When the pew was full, a laser triggered a switch, a circuit closed, gears meshed, a belt moved and the singly rear pew began to move forward. When it reached the front of the church, it came to a stop. At the same time, another empty pew came up from below at the back and more people sat down. And so it continued, pews filling and moving forwards until finally the church was full, from front to back.
"Oh this is wonderful!" said the pastor, "Marvelous!"
The service began, and the pastor started to preach his sermon. He was excited, he hadn’t preached in 3 months, and he had just got back from the land of the Bible. He launched into his text and it was going to be a long one. When 12 o'clock came, he was still going strong, and there was no end in sight. But then, suddenly a bell rang, a light flashed and a trap door in the floor right behind the pulpit dropped open and the pastor disappeared.
The congregation cried out, "Oh, this is wonderful! Marvelous!"
This morning I want us to consider the real designer and builder of the church, Jesus Christ. And the church he built truly is wonderful and marvelous. It is the pillar and ground of the truth, and it has been commissioned by it builder and founder to preach the Gospel throughout the world. This is our last message in the series, Christ, The Church and The Commission and I could not think of a better text than Matthew 16:18 where Christ tells us of the plan, the perpetuity and the power of His church.
Now after today, you are all going to be a bunch of contrarians. Now knowing some of you folks, you don’t need a sermon to do that, but I’m talking about Independent Baptist Contrarians, not just contrarians in the general sense. After you hear what the Lord told His church, you’ll find that there are very few others who will agree with you in all the details of this passage. And that’s okay, because the Lord didn’t call us to be in agreement with everybody, but we better be in agreement with Him when it comes to His church.
This is the 4th in the series: Christ, The Church and The Commission. We have looked at and hopefully been inspired and instructed by God’s Word in these truths about the Commission and the church.
All The World - Acts 1:8 …ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth
All Your Need - Philippians 4:19 God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
All She Had - Mark 12:44 they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
All Come In - Luke 14:23 compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
All Authority – Matthew 16:18. Let’s turn to Matthew 16:13 and look at the importance of the church to Jesus and to the continuation of His work until He returns.
Jesus, The Rock - Matthew 16:13-17
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? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 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.
Who is Jesus? The Disciples have been drawn apart at a critical time in their life and in the ministry of their Lord and Messiah. In a sense they go on a spiritual and physical retreat to the regions of Cesarea Philippi
Listen to this description by Alfred Edersheim, "Nestling amid three valleys on a terrace in the angle of Mt. Hermon, it is almost shutout of view by cliffs and woods. Everywhere there is a wild medley of cascades, mulberry trees, fig trees, dashing torrents, festoons of vines, bubbling fountains, reeds and ruins, and the mingled music of birds and waters. The views, sheer down the precipitous sides of the mountain, into the valleys and far away are magnificent.” Now I want to go.
Into this beautiful, restful place Jesus leads his disciples and He planned more than just to remove them from the stress, strife and opposition of Jerusalem’s religious self-righteous. He bring them here to discuss the most important question of their time, our time and of all time. That question is, “Who is Jesus?” The Lord asks this question in two ways? First he asks, “Who do men say that I am?” Then after he hears their answer He asks, “But, whom do you say that I am?”
At the first question, the disciples call out answers to who the world thinks Jesus is, “Some say you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, some Jeremiah or just another of God’s prophets.”
When Jesus asks the second question it is Peter that gives the answer that all of them in their heart of hearts knows. Peter the bold, the dedicated, and almost always, the first, acts as the spokesmen for the rest and he says, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.”
You are the Messiah, the anointed one, the promised one, the hero and future ruler of Israel. You are God’s own son, very God of very God, God in the flesh, the son who the eternal living God sent to be our savior.
Peter’s answer is eloquent, powerful and eternally right.
The questions asked by Jesus of the Disciples that day, must still be answered by us today. Who Is Jesus, to the world and who is Jesus to us?
The world says he was a great teacher, the Muslims and Jews say he was a great prophet. According to a survey found in the book the Jewish 100, Michael Shapiro says that Jesus ranks second in importance of all the Jews of history. Moses is first, Jesus is second and Albert Einstein is third. You also have Sigmund Freud (4), St. Paul (6), Karl Marx (7), the Virgin Mary (9) and one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time Sandy Koufax (98). That’s pretty much what all the world sees in Jesus, a great man, a great teacher, a wonderful prophet.
But Jesus isn’t interest in that the world believes. He wants to know, what do you believe? His question is as direct and personal to us today as it was to the disciples over 2000 years ago. Who do you say I am?
Is Jesus truly God in the flesh, the very God of very God? Was He miraculously born of a virgin? Did He die on the cross paying the price for my sin? Three days later did He come forth from the tomb, in power over death, sin and the grave? Is He alive today, waiting to return and claim this world as His own? Who is Jesus to you this morning?
The Uniqueness of Jesus
Someone once wrote this observation about who Jesus is, "Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, but Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world's greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth.
"Yet, His unique contribution to the race of men is the salvation of the soul! Philosophy could not accomplish that. Nor art. Nor literature. Nor music. Only Jesus Christ can break the enslaving chains of sin and Satan. He alone can speak peace to the human heart, strengthen the weak, and give life to those who are spiritually dead."
“Who is Jesus?” is the only question that will matter in eternity. And we better know the right answer.
Jesus, The Builder - Matthew 16:18
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.
Jesus asked the disciples who they believe he is. Peter gave the answer, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God." Jesus then uses a play, actually a pun, to then promise his Church it would stand against the very gates of hell. He says, “Thou are Peter (gk. Petros, a small pebble or rock) but upon this Rock (gk. petra, large outcropping or ledge) I will build my church.
Jesus says there are two rocks here, but the rock I am building my church upon was not Simon’s nickname, Peter. Jesus would build His Church upon Himself, the Rock of Ages.
We see this throughout the Bible,
In 2 Samuel 23:3 He is the Rock of Israel, In Isaiah 8:14 He is the rock of offence In Daniel 2:34 He is the rock cut out without hands. In Psalms 95:1 He is the rock of our salvation.
Jesus is and always shall be the Rock upon which the church was founded. 1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s church would be built upon the unfailing foundation of the Lord, Himself. Peter failed time and time again, as did the other apostles, but Jesus never failed, nor will He ever fail. Peter is long gone, but the Lord is here even now. Peter has no power today, but Jesus has all power.
Jesus is the only foundation that can allow the church to stand until he comes back and takes it to heaven as His eternal Bride. Jesus’ promise that His Church would never cease until He returns can only be true if He supports, empowers and protects it.
Promised To Us
Listen again to the promise of Jesus the builder and founder of our church, “Matthew 16:18…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Even the Gates of Hell, the full and unrestrained power of Satan’s kingdom, would not be enough to destroy, slow down or stand against the Lord’s church.
The church has withstood the test of time, the test of martyrdom, the test of compromise and still stands today because it was built upon Jesus, the Rock of our salvation and His unfailing promise that it would prevail.
And if we will but stand upon this promise, then Calvary Baptist church of Athens Texas, we will also prevail. We will overcome pandemics, lockdowns, even the loss of our loved ones. We will overcome fear, fatigue, apathy and anxiety. We will prevail not because we have any more power than fallible Peter but we will overcome because we as a church stand on the same foundation as that first church gathered in the valley of Ceaseria Philippi. We stand on the unshakeable rock of eternity, Jesus, Lord Savior and Returning King. When He comes back, His church will still be here, waiting for Him.
There is one more verse I want as to look at as a part of this study, here in vs. 19
Jesus, The Giver - Matthew 16:19
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.
What exactly did Jesus give that day when he gave the Keys of the Kingdom? The answer is almost as important as, Who Jesus is, because if we don’t understand it we will miss the power and authority that we as the church must have to carry out the commission Jesus commanded us to take to the ends of the earth.
Keys, in this context, represent authority. Once Jesus established the perpetuity, the continuance of the church, he then gives it authority. The keys are the authority given from the Lord to the steward, the servant who would carry out his will with his authority. The steward entrusted with this authority can now unlock any door as if he were the Master himself.
Example: If I gave my car keys to Bro. Harry, then he would know that I am granting him authority to drive my car. Please return it washed and with a full take of gas, brother. If I give someone my house key I would be granting them authority to enter my house. That key transfers my authority to them. This is exactly what Jesus did when he gave the keys of heaven to the church that day.
So, what do the keys of the kingdom of heaven open? It is not hard to understand, it is in the words Jesus used when He gave the gift. They are the “keys of heaven.” They open the door to heaven.
But, how do the keys open heaven? How does this work? Jesus didn’t hand a physical key to Peter. Heaven doesn’t have a physical lock and can’t be opened by a physical key. How do the keys given to the church open heaven?
Jesus just before His ascension, John 20:20-23 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Peter’s Sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 10:39-43 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
The key to the kingdom of heaven is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the key is the gift He gave that day to His first church.
We have been granted the highest authority under heaven and with it the highest responsibility to open the very doors of heaven to an eternity that is locked to a lost and dying world. Each time we preach, each time we send a missionary, each time we proclaim the story of Jesus Christ' death, burial and resurrection, the key to heaven is offered. When the Gospel is accepted, the key of heaven turns and heaven is entered! What glory, what joy, what a blessing and what an honor is ours.
Look what Jesus says to the Church at Philadelphia, Revelation 3:7-8 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:…
This authority given to us in the keys of heaven and the commission of the church cannot be given by anyone but Jesus Christ. It has been gifted to us and the Lord has never revealed any other that are entrusted with it.
In the Old Testament, Abraham once pleaded for Ishmael to be his heir, but God said, "Through Isaac." One time David was once driven from his God given throne but God would not honor Absalom. Nor can the church yield its God given authority to any other institution or well meaning group of Christians.
I know arguments can be raised and reasons given why the work of the gospel and the carrying out of the commission can be done by other agencies. They can show you how it is easier, how it is more efficient, how it is more economical to let a board, or fellowship or a convention do the work of the church, but Jesus never built these. He said, I will build My church. He never gave the keys of heaven to these, he gave them to his church
We may not understand it any better than Abraham or David. We cannot see how this works, any better than Peter could see how a small band of believers could stand against the Gates of Hell, unleashed through the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin and even the might of the Roman Empire.
But in faith realize this, we are not empowered to understand. The keys have been entrusted to us by Jesus the coming King. Therefore, what are we doing with those keys, with that authority and power? Are we going to all nations? Are we making disciples? Are we baptizing them? Are we teaching them all things?
We need no permission, we need no other authority, no outside power. What we need is fortitude, fearlessness and faith in the promise of Jesus our unbreakable Rock of Eternity.
We, the church of Jesus Christ, at Calvary Baptist, we have been given the keys of heaven. We have been commanded to go, disciple, baptize and teach. In our Rock, Jesus Christ, we have the power and the authority to tear down the Gates of Hell. Those gates don’t just stand out there in the wide and wicked world. No, there are gates of sin imprisoning our families, our schools, our community and our nation.
Will we take the keys of heaven and step up to those formidable gates, knowing that you can open them wide and set free the captives by the power of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ? The Gospel is the key that opens heaven and it is in our hands. Will we have the faith and courage to use that key?