Our latest sermon “The Church Jesus Is Building” is now online. Here’s an excerpt to get you started:
This week, I believe there is something else Jesus would want to say to us in these difficult days– it’s the very thing He said to His disciples just before He began to warn them that difficult days were ahead for Him and for them.
In Matthew 16, we learn that as Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem for the final time, He “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21). Just before He told them these things He said this, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Now, imagine if Jesus had come just a few months before our pastor’s first extended medical leave and said, “Hey Metrocrest. I am building you. I am making you into a church who will glorify Me and will be good for you and the people you know.” What would we have said when our pastor had to leave for nine months? “Jesus, is this what you meant by building Metrocrest? Are You sure You’re for us and not against us?”
And no wonder Peter rebuked Jesus at this point: “Wait a minute. You just said that You will build Your church, Your gathering of Your people; and You said that not even the gates of hell will stop Your people from advancing. First, You’re talking crowns and now You’re talking crosses. First You say that evil won’t prevail, now you say it will. Which is it? No way, Jesus. That’s not what building Your church looks like.”
Sounds likes the American church growth philosophy to me. The American way to build the church says, “Jesus, you don’t understand the ABC’s of building a church. Let me explain the ABC’s to You: building a church that overwhelms the gates of hell obviously means bigger and better things should be happening. We should have bigger and better ABC’s: A is for bigger and better Attendance, B is for bigger and better Buildings, and C is for bigger and better Cash flow. All this talk about suffering, taking up a cross, crucifixion, resurrection, blood, sweat, tears . . . Far be it from us, Lord. This shall never happen to us.”
Remember how Jesus responded to Peter’s philosophy of church building? I imagine He responds to the ABC’s of church building the same way: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23).
I’m convinced that in these difficult days at Metrocrest, Jesus wants to encourage us with these same words: “I will build My church.” We must remember that He said I will build MY church . . . the church He planned from all eternity to purchase with His own blood: Acts 20:28 “…the Church of God, which He obtained (ESV) [Greek “acquired”; NASB “purchased”; NIV “bought”] with His own blood.”
So, if building the church isn’t about bigger and better Attendance, Buildings, and Cash flow, then what does He mean when He says He is building His church? Does He have a blueprint for this hell-halting house of God? The prophets of the OT called it the New Covenant, and our text this morning, Ezekiel 36:22-28 describes what that blueprint includes . . . .”
I’m convinced that we have to believe what He says and not what we see. Jesus said He is building His church, and the New Covenant tells us He is building us to be a New People who are marked by a New Purity, a New Passion, a New Power, and a New Partnership.