Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Mathew 1:17
Mathew 1: 18-25 Mathew 2: 1-23 Mathew 3: 1-17 Mathew 4: 1-11 Mathew 4: 12-25
Matthew 5:1-12 Part 1 Matthew 5:1-12 Part 2 Mathew 5:13-16 Mathew 5:17-26 Mathew 5:27-37 Mathew 5:38-48
Mathew 6:1-8, 16-18 Mathew 6: 7-15 Mathew 6:19-34 Mathew 6:25-34 Mathew 7:1-12 Mathew 7:15-23
Mathew 7: 24-29 Mathew 8: 1-17 Mathew 8: 18-34 Mathew 9: 1-13 Mathew 9:14-26 Mathew 9:27 - 10:31
Mathew 10:32-42 Mathew 11:1-31 Mathew 12:1-21 Mathew 12:22-50 Mathew 13:1-23 Mathew 13: 24-43
Mathew 13: 44-52 Mathew 13:54 -14:12 Mathew 14:13-21 Mathew 14:22-36 Mathew 15:1-20 Mathew 15:21-31
Mathew 15: 32-39 Mathew 16:13-23 Matthew 16:24-28 Matthew 17:1-13 Matthew 17:14-27 Matthew 18:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20 Matthew 18:21-35 Matthew 19:1-12 Matthew 19:13-30 Matthew 20:1-16 Matthew 20:17-34
Matthew 21: 1-11 Matthew 21:12-17 Matthew 21:18-22 Matthew 21:23-46 Matthew 22:1-14 Matthew 22:15-46
Matthew 23:1-39 Matthew 24:1-31 Matthew 24:32-44 Matthew 25:1-46 Matthew 26:1-13 Matthew 26:14-54
Matthew 26: 54-75 Matthew 27:1-26 Matthew 27:27-66 Matthew 28:1-20    
           

 

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Matthew 16:13-23

 

“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 [Elijah], 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.  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [Greek: petros, a small rock], and upon this rock [Greek: Petra, a large rock] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  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.  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.  From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord:  this shall not be unto thee.  But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan:  thou art an offense unto me:  for thou savoured not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

 

Short Term Missions and a night of prayer

 

“Let’s open in our Bibles to Matthew chapter 16.  As mentioned in the announcements, there’s the tractor-trailer, I guess it’s not the tractor, but the trailer’s outside.  That’s something that just kind of came together, somebody in our church who was just burdened for what’s happening down in the Gulf area, part of the Fitchburg Exchange Club, they kind of decided as a group collectively, and they contacted us to see if we wanted to be part of it.  But sending relief down to the South.  Well anyway, I had that, and then I was contacted by a pastor, good friend of mine whose actually on our church board, and asked if I’d go with him to Mississippi for two days.  They’ve got teams going out of their church down there to do different things related to the relief, and had teams going today and next Sunday, but wasn’t feeling that things are completely in order down there.  Of course folks are just kind of overwhelmed even now down there.  So, he asked if I’d go down with him, and just the way it was working out, I prayed and sought some counsel, and it just seemed to be the Lord’s will, so today, this afternoon a few of us are heading down to Jackson and heading down.  And I guess we’re not even going to bed, we’re driving all night tonight, and all night tomorrow night, boom, boom, boom, boom.  And ah, just going to different churches, so these teams can go down also, this trailer that’s outside can go down and really work to be a blessing.  So, if you’d keep that in prayer.  But who knows, maybe in the next couple weeks we’ll also, and I’m sure over the next several months maybe send a team or two down, we can just go down and love our brethren there, and especially serve just the communities, but even the Church, it’s even an added blessing of just washing the feet of the saints [in service], those who are suffering and going through hard times.  So, keep that in prayer if you would.  [Comment: This was the Katrina disaster.  These were Short-Term Missions being organized to help the disaster victims.  For more about what Short-Term Missions are, log onto:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm.  They are a good way for local congregations to serve others when local disasters strike anywhere around the world, as well as lending local church support to various Christian missions worldwide.]  And that God would also just give clear vision the next two days while we’re down there, exactly what churches to work with and what’s the best strategy in this time.  Then you heard too in the announcements, and I will talk about it a little in a minute too, but this Friday night is this night of prayer.  We did two, we kind of spearheaded I guess you could say two large prayer gatherings last year as a church, one at the ski mountain, September 18th last year, Stand New England, and then the Pray For Marriage thing at The Civic Center in March, March the 10th.  We’re wondering about whether it would be the will of God to do another one.  And coincidentally, earlier in the summer we had been praying, maybe God was saying something, we’re trying to work it out, ‘Lord, are you leading?’, and we actually reserved a place for September 17th this year, and a couple months went by, kind of debating if it was the will of God or not, and so now we come to Hurricane Katrina and all these things, and then the President declares September 16th to be a national day of prayer.  Earlier in the week I had actually met with some pastors, that I really feel in my heart that we’re to organize a time of prayer.  And so we were talking about October 21st, and then when the President announced what he did, and especially the statement he made related to that.  Last year I was asked to be for Worcester County the coordinator for the National Day of Prayer, and the very day, you know, it’s like Friday, it’s a week till next Friday, can we honestly organize a large prayer gathering again, and you know God will bring whoever he wants to bring.  I was debating, and I was just sort of talking to pastors and we decided to go for it.  And then right after that I got contacted by the national day of prayer folk, and was asked ‘Would you set up something for September 16th,’ and I said ‘I guess it’s the will of God, we’re kind of already doing this, now you’re asking me to do it.’  So I would ask you, as I was with pastors this Wednesday morning, one pastor brought up this point, he said, ‘We got into this situation about Hurricane Katrina and trying to discern what is going on in our nation, and we were talking about this, and pastors were burdened, and one pastor had a piece of paper with 2nd Chronicles 7:14 on it that he brought to us, and he was just talking about ‘You know, shouldn’t the Church be praying right now, and seeking the face of God?  What is going on in our country?’  And I responded as we were discussing this and another thing, I said, ‘You know, it would be, you could say, depressing, it’s a sad deal, at times like this in a culture, society, if the Church isn’t really standing up, and isn’t especially praying at times like this.  There’s a lot happening in our nation, has been for a few years.  And you can think about all the different things, from Hurricane Katrina to the US Supreme Court, even in this State [of Taxachusetts] of more ballot initiatives trying to define marriage in a traditional sense, things like that.  What do you do?  Boy, things going on, I could give you the long list, and you’ve probably got a longer one.  But it would seem, an alive church is a church that prays.  And so I’d ask you, if you have the time, maybe if you don’t have the time, you’d make the time.  But on this Friday night, two hours.  Other churches, you know the word got out quickly in other churches, and a number of churches early this morning are announcing it and putting it in their bulletins, and things are just kind of happening.  But if you would consider being at the Best Western on Friday night, we’re going to do it a little different this time, if you’ve been to the ones in the past where we’ve had a bunch of pastors onstage, and the pastors have prayed.  And this time, we’ve been led to keep it real simple, it’s just going to be facilitated prayer, and the congregation’s going to pray, and we’re going to even have the congregation pray out loud, we’re going to just facilitate it and have songs, and as we’re gathered in the Ball Room, just folks are going to lift up prayers.  And you could pray about that.  Because it takes one little goofy guy, even a nut-case if you want to say, that really would make it bizarre for everyone.  You know, there’s always that danger ‘We’re going to open it up,’ and this one guy comes whose bizarro, and we’re all like going, ‘What in the world’s going on here?’.  So pray about it, that it would be in order, that the Spirit of God would lead that time.  And historically, in times of darkness, that when revival has come, there has been prayer.  And so I would ask you to keep this Friday night, Best Western, most of you guys know where it is…right there off the highway, and in the Ball Room, two hours.  Well let’s look at Matthew chapter 16, in fact, let’s say a word of prayer, and we’ll pick up with verse 13.  ‘Lord as we come to this point of looking again to your Word, we are thankful that we can stop and consider what you might indeed say to us.  I do believe, Holy Spirit that you are the giver of life, and God that you speak to us.  And as we go through your Word I ask that you would lead this time, that you would speak to each one of us individually.  Maybe some of us who are here have never ever heard you speak to us.  Personally, I pray all of us, by your grace, we hear your voice today.  Maybe some have never given their hearts to Christ, and I pray especially for them, before this time is done, that they have Christ in their heart, as their Lord and as their Savior.  Holy Spirit be upon us, meet us in this time, be upon myself as we go through your Word, in Jesus name we pray, amen.’

         

Spiritual-Vision Goggles

 

Verses 13-20, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I the Son of man am?’  So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’  He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter [Greek: petros, a small rock], and on this rock [Greek: Petra, a large rock outcropping, massive stone] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’  Then he commanded his disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.”  I actually had my wife do me a little favor this morning, call somebody in our church that was in Iraq not too ago, but I was thinking about this passage, and where we will go a little bit further, and I guess we won’t finish it all this morning.  We didn’t last service, so we’ll finish some of it next Sunday.  But I was looking at a principle that I saw in different verses and thought we’d talk about it.  But you know in Iraq, warfare today is different from what it used to be.  You know, you watch any of the movies about warfare 100, 200 years ago it was a certain way.  And now with technology it’s radically different, and one of the things that I was thinking about that really has changed warfare, and this is what I learned in the call this morning, is NVG’S, those Night-Vision Goggles, those night-vision glasses that they wear.  If you think about it, before in war, the night time was really a time of protection.  You could move your forces or you could sneak about in your little squad or your little spy-group (recon group) at night because it was a covering for you.  You could only be seen if the enemy first revealed himself with his light, you know what I mean, him shining the light on you.  So there was a way battle happened in the day-time, and it pretty much shut down at night.  [Now in WWII radar played a big role in night naval battles.  Off Leyte Gulf our ship-borne radar allowed us to see massive Japanese naval battle formations and then decimate them with radar guided fire-control in total night darkness.  Germans also were developing crude night-vision goggles which would see infra-red heat sources.]  Maybe folks were just moving around secretly at night.  But today with this technology, a soldier with his scope or with his goggles, it doesn’t look much different in night or day, those things light up the nighttime, so if you’re trying to sneak around, you’re just seen, it’s just like it’s the daytime.  It’s a different deal now with battle.  That’s one of the things that’s changed quite a bit.  And I think of those NVG’s and then I think of the Scriptures here, and I think of what it is to be a Christian.  And we don’t have NVG’s, but we have what you could say are SVG’s, spiritual-vision glasses.  When I became a Christian, the Holy Spirit came in me, I became born-again, and it really did change the way I see things.  Especially the way I see God and Christ, the way I see myself, the way I see the world, and also the way I see the Word of God.  The Bible was just ink on pages before the Spirit of God came into me.  And then the Spirit of God made it alive.  [Comment:  Now that’s interesting, because in a lot of the Jewish Torah Scrolls within the synagogues, they are written with this calligraphy type script that has the image of fire burning on top of each Hebrew letter throughout their text, showing that the Word of God is alive and burning with intensity, giving off light.]  It’s now alive to me.  So I love to be in the Word because it’s alive, it’s speaks into my life.  So, a Christian is like a soldier in a sense, he’s got these spiritual SVG’s on.  And we see things now differently, and I want to talk about that a little bit, because of the state of the Church in America today.  There’s a lack of the Spirit in the Church in America today, we’re loosing sight of truth, and what’s up and what’s down, and what’s right and what’s left, and what’s right and what’s wrong, you know, on and on and on---we are lacking the Spirit of God.  And it’s seen, and we’ll talk about that as we go on.  When I have a Bible study, when I prepare for a Bible study, as for example this morning, I pray this verse, I pray this exact verse and few other of the Psalms, but ‘Open my eyes, Lord, open my eyes, that I may see the wondrous things from your Law, Lord, open my eyes’, meaning, ‘I need a spiritual work here, I want to see your Word, I want to you to speak to me, and it takes these spiritual, these SVG’s.  Open my eyes Lord.’  And so when we come to the Word of God as we do now, of course, God open our eyes.  You know, when I see things in the Spirit, number one I see things differently.  Secondly, God opens my eyes.  When I see things in the Spirit or through the Spirit, thirdly, it gives me insight into the Spirit of the Law.  And when I see things through the Spirit, if I don’t see things through the Spirit, I do not see the cross for what it is.  It’s through the Spirit now that I see the cross for what it really is and what it means.  When I see things through the Spirit it then helps me live and want to live the right radical Christian life.  If I don’t have the Spirit, if I’m not walking in the Spirit, I don’t see it for what it is.  I don’t understand why I’d want to do that.  But in the Spirit, suddenly I see the Christian life, and I’m like ‘Wow!’, and what Jesus says I want to live that, for I see it for what it is because of the Spirit.  Now we won’t get to all of that this morning, we’ll pick up with some of that next week.  But starting with verse 13 as we’ve already read it, you see there Jesus comes into the region of Caesarea Philippi.  Now when we go on our Israel trips, and God willing we’ll go on one in March, we go up to this area of Caesarea Philippi, and it’s an interesting drive up there.  Because Caesarea Philippi, before the Six Day War with Syria, and of course all those countries that came against Israel in that war, and God just worked, and Israel defeated all of them.  But after that war Israel got the Golan Heights, and that northeastern corner there of Israel, they got it during this Syrian battle of the Six Day War, they got the Golan Heights and what used to be part of Syria (well for a good season was part of Syria).  So when we travel up there, it’s interesting as you’re driving in the bus, you see all these signs, I even took a picture of one.  But a bunch of little signs, little markers along the road, and you don’t see many of these in our country, but it says “Do not leave the road because of mine-fields”.  And so you make sure you don’t walk off the road, you stay in that bus, and you drive all the way up to Caesarea Philippi, because the Syrians had that area before, and they planted all kinds of mine-fields and nobody’s got the resources or the time to go find those mines.  But what’s also interesting about being in Caesarea Philippi is there’s waters there, springs form, and they form these beautiful pools of water, and there’s folks swimming, and it’s a beautiful oasis area there at the bottom of Mount Hermon, and there’s this rock face there.  And the springs that come up, actually, the sources of water contribute to a few others, but they form the headwaters of the Jordan River, the start of the Jordan River, the Jordan River starts there.  But they’ve done some archaeological investigation, and they found some ruins of old temples.  And we know in the time of Christ, now Jesus is really staying away from the area of Capernaum, the western area of the Sea of Galilee.  Herod Antipas, that Herod in that area, Jesus is staying out of this area because of all the animosity that’s developing.  It seems to be more of a dangerous area, with the Jews and religious leaders, but also even Herod there.  So he’s now in an area of Herod Philip, and it’s a Gentile area.  And because it’s a Gentile area, even the ruins that we see on the Israel trip, you see that there’s this ruin of this worship to the Baal, they’ve discovered that, it was significant in the area.  Also Herod Philip built a kind of shrine, temple to Caesar, you know there was Caesar worship at times, so dedicated to him.  Even the community in the area was named after him at the time.  And then there were these interesting temple ruins, and we see ruins of this when we go there, of the god Pan, the Greek god Pan, there’s the ruins of a temple there.  And it was a central area of worship for this god Pan.  And so when we go there today, even the name in Arabic today comes from that word Pan and the worship of Pan. 

 

“Who do men say that I the Son of man am?”

 

Now putting the different Gospels together, one Gospel says Jesus is alone praying, and then the disciples came to him, and then he posses the question of verse 13.  The other Gospels says that they’re walking along the road.  So we put it all together, it seems that Jesus is having a time alone, the disciples come to him, and then they begin to walk the roads in this area of Caesarea Philippi, and it says they’re walking along the road, and Jesus says to them “Who do men say that I the Son of man am?”.  Now I think it’s interesting, of course he’s the Son of God, he’s going a certain place with this question, he wants to see where they’re at.  This is a test question, and it’s checking out the heart here.  About this time, it’s only about six months or so before Jesus goes to the cross.  And so he’ll bring that into these verses too, they need to be at a certain place.  He’s preparing them for the future, they’re going through a radical time.  The hardest scene of their life is about to come, six months from now as their leader, their Lord goes and is crucified on the cross.  Well he says ‘Who do men say that I am?’  Well they turn and answer, they say, ‘Some folks say John the Baptist, and another disciple says ‘Elijah, folks are saying you’re Elijah’.  Somebody else says “Jeremiah”.  And there is even a belief, some of the Apocryphal beliefs that Jeremiah, before Jerusalem was destroyed earlier, went and took the Ark of the Covenant and hid it, and there was a belief that before the Messiah would return he would, Jeremiah would, or at least the Ark of the Covenant would be brought forth.  And so Jeremiah, or the other prophets.  Luke 9 says, one of them says, ‘One of the old prophets has risen again.’  Some people think one of the old prophets has risen again, Jeremiah, Elijah, one of those guys.  Now it’s interesting to me that it’s not all the same answer, they view him differently, different people view him differently.  And if you consider these people, they’re all pretty different.  You know, John the Baptist, well he’s kind of a fire & brimstone kind of guy.  Right?  He just says it like it is.  That was John the Baptist.  But then you take a Jeremiah, a Jeremiah we understand, personality-wise seemed to be very different, he was the weeping prophet.  He was very compassionate, he just wept, he was burdened, you could see his compassion.  Elijah was a guy of faith and miracles.  It would be quite a trip to hang out with Elijah, as we’ve been studying Wednesday nights with Elijah and Elisha, it would be quite a trip hanging out with those guys.  ‘Some say Elijah’, you know, because of the miracles and things, of course, because of the prophecy of Malachi 4:5.  But a wide range of people.  And I look at that, and that tells me that they saw different things in Jesus, they saw the compassion of Jeremiah, they saw that type of faith of Elijah, the saw the real boldness too of John the Baptist, they saw all these things in Jesus.  And no doubt he was the perfect minister, you know, all of those things are in Christ.  When you know the Spirit was working through these other men (the prophets), you’re seeing little glimpses of God, but here is Christ, God the Son manifested, you see all of it there.  Depending on who you are, you’d see a different angle of it.  And today as the Church, we are the Body of Christ.  And in me, some may see an element where Christ is seen in a certain way, and in you something else.  We’re all together, collectively as we are revived and in the Spirit, it’s radical in the community because they see a better picture of who Christ is, through all of us collectively together.  Well he says to them, they answer that, and then he says, ‘But who do you say that I am?’.  ‘Who do you, personally, say that I am?’  Clearly he’s going a certain place with that question.  Important question, no doubt, it’s an important question of anybody that’s ever lived.  It’s an important question for everybody in this room, you should be able to answer that, and by the grace of God, answer that correctly, and mean it in your heart.  The answer that you would give to that question is so, so important in your life, even today.  But also eternally in what your life is going to be after you die.  What, who do you say that Jesus is?  You know, a confession to that, the answer to that can determine even what is in your heart as far as salvation goes, ‘Are you really even saved, do you really know God?’  The answer to that, 1st John chapter 4, verse 15 says “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”  God is in him.  Peter, as you see there, says “You are the Son of God.”  John says that anybody that says that, that’s clear that they know God.  1st John chapter 5, verse 5, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  So the man that overcomes, the woman that overcomes, you overcome if you believe, if you would say “Jesus is the Son of God, and I know, and I believe it.”  Romans chapter 10, verses 9-10, referring to salvation, “But if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  [Comment: This is the beginning of the Salvation process, coming to realize this and to confess this.  This is a process which many in the Evangelical churches fulfill during an “altar call”.  But many of these Evangelicals mistakenly believe that’s it, they’re saved.  That is a somewhat inaccurate term, calling oneself “saved”, past tense, as a complete study of the words saved, being saved, and to save reveals it’s a process.  But this salvation process doesn’t end there at the “altar call.” God then places the Holy Spirit within such believers who have sincerely made such confession, and through the Holy Spirit leads those individuals in the ways of God, of overcoming sin in their lives, becoming more and more sanctified by learning to walk in the commandments of God the Father and Jesus.  Log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.  Such individuals then should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as Matthew 28:18-20 instructs, and as seen throughout the Book of Acts.  Romans 8 brings out that those who possess and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are in the process of being saved.  The ultimate saving of an individual takes place after their normal death and subsequent resurrection to immortality in the 1st Resurrection, cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16_2.htm.  This is merely a misunderstanding in terminology, and in no way implies those who have accepted Jesus in an “altar call” and then subsequently call themselves “saved” are not in the process of being saved, now having God’s Holy Spirit indwelling them.]  The Bible says salvation, your answer to that, if you confess and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, you will be saved [ie will be saved, future tense].  Then John says in 1st John chapter 2, verse 22, “Who is a liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ.”  He’s a liar, that’s what John says.  So your answer to that, to who Jesus is, is so vitally important.  Now, Jesus says, asks, ‘Who do men say that I am?’, but then asks, “But who do you say that I am?”  There’s this assumption, ‘They’re [i.e. the world] going to say one thing, but you should have a different understanding.  You’ve been with me, you’ve watched me, and God is working in you, the Spirit is working in you---who do you say that I am?’  He presupposes that they’re going to have a different answer.  And that is true, it is true, that as a Christian, with the Holy Spirit within me, I do see things differently.  If I don’t see things differently than the world, there’s a problem.  But I will, because the world, the carnal man, Romans will say, we’ll quote Romans in a moment, but the carnal man, the carnal mind sees things one way, but the spiritual mind sees things another way.  [cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13.]  I’ve got on SVG’s, when I became a Christian, I’ve got Spiritual-Vision Goggles on, and I’m not going to follow just what the TV says, the latest public opinion, when I go to the university the professors may be saying all these things about God and the Bible, but I have the Spirit of God, and I’ll go ‘Now that is just not truth, I don’t just buy that.   And yeah, I want a good grade, but I’m not just going to go along with the world.’  The Spirit shows me, I don’t even have to force it, the Spirit reveals this thing to me. 

 

What is the condition of the Church, Evangelicals today?

 

You know, our understanding of Christ is effected by the Spirit in us, and you know, I tell you, morally our country, man, slip-sliding downward, it’s not good in our nation, what’s going on.  And there’s no doubt, part of the problem, a big thing, is the Church, the condition of the Church in America.  This poll was recently in Agape Press, Newsweek also had this poll, August 23rd it was in Agape Press.  Maybe you saw this.  Fred Jackson writes these things.  And this is alarming, I would never have guessed this.  But listen to this.  There’s a new poll out which points to growing rejection among Evangelicals that Jesus is the only way of Salvation.  For years most Evangelical Christians have been taught and accepted the words of Jesus in John chapter 14, verse 6, where he states, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  But now a Newsweek/Beliefnet poll is showing a shocking number of people who call themselves Evangelical and ‘born-again’ have come to reject those words.  The question in the poll read this way, “Can a person who isn’t of your religious faith go to heaven or attain salvation or not?  [Comment:  Now that would depend entirely on what “religious faith” is being talked about or one holds.  If it’s merely another Christian ‘faith or denomination that is orthodox’ the answer may be “yes”.  Sort of a trick question.]  According to the poll results, more than a thousand adults 18 years of age or older, 68 percent of the Evangelical Christians surveyed, believed that good people of other faiths can also go to heaven.  Nationally 79 percent of those surveyed said the same thing.  With an astounding 91 percent agreement among Catholics, notes Beliefnet.  Beliefnet’s spokesman, Steven Waldman calls the results pretty amazing.  “Evangelicals are among the most church-going and religious attentive people in the United States,” Waldman writes.  “And one of the ideas that one is most likely to hear from their ministers at the church on a given Sunday, is that the path to salvation is through Jesus, and of course, through Jesus alone.”  In the light of that, “How” he asks, “How could so many Americans toss aside such an essential element of theology?”  Waldman believes the best explanation is found in the Newsweek cover story that grew out of the survey.  The conclusion it draws is that “Americans have become so focused on a very personal style of worship that is forging a direct relationship with God, that spiritual experience has begun to supplant dogma, or teaching based upon the authority of the Word of God.”  So, he says, Newsweek, the Evangelical Church has gotten so into experience, that the Word of God isn’t so central and important anymore.  So, a majority, 69 percent, two to one now, Evangelicals.  If you were to ask three Evangelical Christians who say they’re born-again, two of the three would say “Jesus Christ is not the only way to heaven, you can get there other ways.”  [Comment:  Now that would leave me to believe that the genuine number of people that make up the entire Body of Christ in the US is much, much smaller than one would expect or think it is.  Scary thought.  Apply the spiritual hat-pin test on yourself, cf. II Corinthians 13:5.]  Now, that’s alarming to me, because of what Jesus himself said.  And also what Jesus himself did, as we go on.  That’s alarming, that that would be the case.  Now is that true in this room?  If we were to divide up into three sections, with two of the three sections in the room go “Jesus isn’t the only way.  There’s other ways you can get there.”  If that’s the case, then we have lost sight of the cross.  We don’t even know what the cross means anymore.  It’s like we’re kicking sand at and spitting on the cross.  Because the cross, God sent his own Son, and that’s what it required so that I could know God and have fellowship with him.  God’s Son had to die in my place.  And if I don’t see it that way anymore, that’s a scary deal in the Church in America.  I pray it’s not true in this church, and I would guess it’s not true like that in this church.  But maybe there are some that are here, that you have come to think that ‘Well Christianity is just one way, it kind of fits for me, kind of works for me.’  That’s a statement that you’re lacking the Spirit of God in your life. 

 

The Holy Spirit of God helps me see who Jesus is

 

Because when I have the Holy Spirit [indwelling within me] I see the truth for what it is.  I see the Word of God for what it is, and I see Christ for who and what he is, and the cross for what it is.  It’s the Spirit that does that.  Peter, you know, he makes this confession, clearly the Spirit’s in him, he says ‘I don’t see you as a prophet, I see you as the Christ, you are Christ the Son of the Living God.  You’re God in flesh, God the Son.’  Now when he says the Christ, of course he’s referring to the Messiah, the Anointed One, that thought being in the Old Testament, when somebody was to become king, Samuel went to Saul and Samuel anointed with oil Saul, meaning, ‘You’re anointed now, you are the king, you are to be the king of Israel.’  And so the Christ, meaning the coming King, King of kings, who will establish his earthly kingdom, the Messianic Kingdom, and he’ll rule and reign.  That’s what the nation of Israel is looking for.  [Comment:  see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm to learn about this soon-coming Kingdom, our future reward, what we are in spiritual training for.]  So the Christ, ‘I believe you are the Messiah, you fulfill all the prophecies, you are the Son of God, you’re Divine.’  Now Peter had a similar confession back in John chapter 6.  At that time, earlier, if you put the Gospels together, it’s earlier in time, historically.  In the area of Galilee, in the city of Capernaum there was this mass exodus from Jesus, this desertion, as he began to teach very narrowly what it means to follow him and to know him.  People were like, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with him, that doesn’t work for me.’  But yet Peter at that time, confessed to a very similar thing.  And so here he does now, and the idea being ‘I’m not going with popular opinion, this is what all of them say, but this is what I believe.  Whether it’s popular or not this is what I believe.’  In response to that, verse 17, Jesus says to him, he says, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  “Blessed” is “happy” are you for believing this, happy, the life of the Spirit is a life of joy, it is a life of peace, and it’s a life of happiness.  ‘Happy are you for believing this.’  There’s a relationship that you have, there’s a work of the Spirit, you know God, and there’s an experience that does go with it.  As a Christian, I do have experience, man.  I don’t seek experience, I seek God, and with that I have experience.  “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah…”, Bar is the Hebrew word for son, so son of Jonah, Simon Peter, son of Jonah.  “…for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”  You know, he’s saying ‘It’s a supernatural thing that you have this discernment.  It is a God thing that you are saying this.  You did not arrive at this by yourself, it is the Spirit of God within you.  So you in a sense have these SVG’s on, spiritual-vision glasses, your eyes have been opened.’  And when I am a Christian, a Christian is a transformed life.  I’ve the Spirit within me, I see things differently, my eyes have been opened.  The Bible says that those who are not in the Spirit, those that do not have Christ [indwelling them], those that are not born-again, they’re spiritually blinded.  I was spiritually blinded before.  [cf. Romans 8:9-16; 1st Corinthians 2:9-13]  In fact, the Bible says, Paul says that the devil seeks to blind the mind and the eye of the non-believer.  So I don’t see things a certain way.  Without the Spirit I look at the cross a certain way, without the Spirit I look at Jesus, and say ‘Jesus, yeah, yeah, he was a good person.’ You know, you take Islam, Islam says ‘Jesus was a great prophet, he was one of the great prophets, however, he’s not the Son of God.’  And going further [with their blinded eyes], because he’s not the Son of God, also they say that he went to the cross, but he did not die.  Islam teaches that Jesus went to the cross, but Islam teaches that he did not die, he could not have died and risen from the dead…[tape switchover, some text lost]…And Peter’s here, and he’s saying ‘You are the Son of God’, I mean the Spirit is showing him this.  And it’s a supernatural revelation, and you’ve been made spiritually alive, you are born-again.  Before Christ I was dead spiritually, the Bible says, I was in a state of being dead.  And now that I’ve had this experience one day where my eyes were opened, and I began to hear [and understand] the Word of God, and think ‘This is true, I see this light in the sense of spiritual light, I put my faith in Christ and I was born-again, meaning I was spiritually made alive.  [Comment:  In this sense, the term born-again is ok to use.  But do not assume we have been born-again as we will be in the resurrection to immortality, and attach the term born-again to the thought of already having attained to immortality.  This is a wrong use of that term.  Salvation is a process we go through until we attain to the resurrection to immortality.  The salvation process begins with this new spiritual birth that takes place in our minds via God placing his Holy Spirit within our minds, which many Evangelicals use the term “born-again” to describe.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm for a full treatment of this subject.]  So, to be a Christian is to have your eyes opened.  You remember earlier, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11, verses 25 to 27, we noted this, Jesus was standing just before, and he was saying “Woe to you Corazin, woe to you Capernaum, woe to you Sidon”, he’s going ‘Woe to you’ to these communities, he says you know, ‘Capernaum, if I had been in Sodom and Gomorrah, and had done in Sodom and Gomorrah what I did in your communities, before you guys, they would have repented, and they would have turned to me.  But I’ve been in your communities, and I’ve been before you, I’ve taught all these things, and I’ve done all these things, but you’ve rejected me.  Woe to you, woe to you.  It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you, Capernaum.’  He says that, and you remember, he stops right there.  He’s still close to the Father, and he goes right into this time of prayer and worship, it says “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank you Father, Lord of  heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes, even so Father, for it seemed good in your sight.  All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him.”  Meaning, nobody knows the Father, except that to whom the Son, Jesus, who the Spirit has revealed the Father to him.  So to come to God is a supernatural thing, the Spirit of God reveals, opens my eyes.  So for you and I to be in the Spirit, we see differently, but we also have our eyes opened.  With that then, when it comes to evangelism, when it comes to our town, prayer is so important, because eyes have to be opened [by God].  You know, you can have the greatest Bible study, you can do the greatest outreach, you can have the best philosophical debate at our State College, you can use the greatest media equipment and be more culturally relevant than anybody, but if the Spirit of God is not there opening eyes, it will not achieve anything as far as leading people into the Kingdom of God.  Prayer is vital.  And that’s why prayer, this Friday, for our community, at a time like this, where in this State and across the nation millions are rejecting truth, they’re rejecting morality, we’re so quickly going one way [the wrong way], prayer is key, prayer is so key.  If there is a church that cares, it’s a church that prays, and says, ‘Oh God, bring light, oh God open the eyes, just remove the darkness that’s just blinding so many eyes.  You know, I’m told in, Paul said in 2nd Corinthians that our battle is not carnal, it’s not physical, but we have a spiritual battle, and we have spiritual weapons.  With these weapons we can actually tear down strongholds.  And there’s all sorts of strongholds in our culture and society today where people are just blinded.  And you can just talk until you’re blue in the face, it takes the Spirit, a work of the Spirit to bring that light.  I see things differently because of the Spirit, my eyes are opened. 

 

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”---what does that mean?

 

Verse 18, “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.”  Verse 18, now we get into some verses, and I noted this last service, I’ve been praying about it, and maybe not too long into the future we’re going to start a Sunday night service.  Although I’m always reluctant because I don’t want to effect our prayer.  I learned long ago when we started to have a prayer-meeting that was effective, it really blessed the ministry here all around.  And so we’re all busy, and maybe we’ll just move the prayer-meeting earlier, but the last thing we want to do is create a service where now nobody goes to prayer, because, man we need to pray together, Tuesday morning, Sunday night.  But you get to passages like this and this text, and it’s like ‘Boy I wish I had a different time where we could just go through this and just dissect it theologically.  And it’s not appropriate on Sunday mornings, some of you will go, ‘Man, you’re boring me as it is, have mercy, have mercy.’  You know what I mean?  But Sunday night, different kind of crowd, we could just hit this real quick during the day and we could go and dig into it on a Sunday night.  We haven’t done that yet, but we will in the future.  So I’m going to go through it quickly, but try to bring out a few things here.  There are different opinions as to what is meant there.  Jesus says, “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.”  What does he mean, “on this rock I will build my church”?  There is a word-play going on here, clearly.  Because “Peter”, the Greek word is petros, the Arabic word is Cephas.  Petros and Cephas means stone, a piece of a rock, a fragment of a rock, a stone.  So he says you are Peter, and of course he changed his name from Simon to Peter, you are this stone.  And then he says “upon this rock”, so clearly he’s drawing an image here, he’s making a point.  [And the Greek word for “rock” is petra, which means a very large rock or rock outcropping.]  Now, different interpretations, and you and I may have to agree to disagree.  There are different interpretations about what this means, and what follows here.  There are some that take this to mean, what he’s saying here is that Jesus is saying that ‘You have such a place in the Church, Peter,’ that basically, as he does, he goes to Rome (it is believed), and because you are this ‘rock’ the Church is going to be built upon you, and you are going to have a certain place, integral place in the Church, and so that after you die, I mean, you’re going to be given these keys, and you then through apostolic succession are going to give these keys to this other man after you, and these keys I’ve given to you, you are in such a place Peter, that you’re this rock the Church is built on, so that these keys will be given from you, Peter, to the next guy and the next guy.’  So we have this theology of the pope, that Peter was the first pope, and that when he died, these keys that Jesus speaks about in a moment are given to the next successor after Peter, and through all the ages and here we come today.  So that today, you could say about the pope in the Vatican, he is this rock that the Church is built on.  [Comment:  The actual history of the Catholic church is so nasty, as to how it developed, that it kind of proves the falsehood of this theology, by the mere proof that the Holy Spirit couldn’t have been operative within this group of people or church calling itself the Catholic Church.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm to view this history.]  Now, there is that interpretation [and it is basically the Catholic Church’s interpretation], very common obviously.  I personally do not accept that interpretation, and I’m going to give you my reasons quickly as to why, and then, although I’ll be honest with you, some of you who are sitting here, boy there is a struggle going forth about all this truth.  But there are a number of reasons why I believe that interpretation doesn’t fit.  For one, as I understand from 1st John, when I study the Bible, the Holy Spirit is my Teacher.  And I should be able to teach something out of the Word of God without anybody having to come to me and explain a certain thing out of the Word of God, I should be able to, if I study it, and come up with ‘This is a sense of what it means.’  I don’t think there’s any chance that I would today, if I didn’t know anything about anything, I just had the Bible, and I study this, that I would come up with the deduction, just sitting there, that the Vatican, the man there in the Vatican, the pope, is this same man, and he is this ‘rock.’  I don’t think you would come up with that, that deduction.  Somebody has to come to you and say ‘Let me explain this to you.’  See what I’m saying?  For one, that stands out, because generally when it comes to teaching that isn’t sound, that has to happen, somebody has to come and ‘explain it to you.’  In fact, with the Catholic Church there is not an encouragement to go study it yourself.  ‘Don’t go study it yourself, let me explain it to you.’  False teaching always comes in that package.  So, secondly, the New Testament is translated from the Greek.  Now did Jesus speak in Aramaic or Greek?  It seems that he probably spoke in Greek, the Greek was the common language at the time, and this particular statement is made in Greek.  [See Oskar Skarsaune’s In The Shadow of the Temple to see how immersed Judea was in the Greek culture, and Greek was the 2nd most common spoken language in Judea, and often the most common language spoken, because all financial commerce was transacted in the Greek language, it was the language of commerce in the whole eastern Mediterranean.]  If it was made or written in Greek, you have a grammar problem here.  Because the word petros in Greek is in the masculine gender, and the word for ‘rock’ is the word petra, which is in the feminine gender.  And there is, if you do a study in Biblical interpretation, there is a rule in the Greek that says if there is a feminine word, it cannot refer back to a masculine pronoun.  Meaning that when Jesus says what he says, he says “on this rock”, that word “rock” is not completely tied into “Peter” is the point.  If he says this in Greek, grammatically you have a problem, one’s in the feminine, one’s in the masculine, and that breaks the rule of grammar in the Greek.  Now, if he says it in Arabic [Aramaic], some say he must have said it in Aramaic, those who have a different theology will then say he must have said it in Arabic [Aramaic], because they understand that’s a problem if it’s in Greek.  It’s in Greek right here, originally in the text.  If it’s in Arabic [Aramaic] then Cephas, which is the name for Peter, which clearly it’s the same.  However in Arabic its neutral, no gender.  So that solves the problem.  But then you have the challenge is you’re kind of taking away from what Jesus is saying because he’s saying ‘You are a rock, you are this type of stone [small rock, pebble], and upon this rock [huge rock or outcropping]’, he’s drawing an analogy, he’s making a point.  And in Arabic the word for rock is a different word, it’s not Cephas.  And so, if you go to Arabic, you start to loose this sense, ‘Why would he even say that, what he’s saying?’  You’d be saying the same word twice.  The word for rock, precipice, big thing, the word for that type of rock in Arabic is a completely different word, it’s not the word Cephas, so it starts not to work if you go to Arabic.  [And it doesn’t work in the Greek either, the Catholic dogma on this, that is.]  It seems he said this in Greek, and now we have a grammar problem.  Then going a little bit further, if he [Peter] is the special entity, if he is the rock that the Church sits on, then you go to in just a moment, when we get there, and boy that’s kind of a shaky rock.  Because in a moment Jesus is going to look at Peter and go “Get behind me Satan.”  Now that creates a problem.  Then the response is, people say ‘Well he’s not in the Spirit at this time, this is of course before Pentecost, so you know, he’s still struggling.’  Now let’s go on the other side of Pentecost, we have a problem, because Galatians chapter 2, we read of a time where Paul had to rebuke Peter, because this is in the Spirit later, after Pentecost, where Peter does something that’s way out of line, and has to be rebuked for it, by Paul, firmly rebuked.  And so we have a challenge there too.  And then we have just other Scriptures, we have other Scriptures.  When it comes to the rock that the Church is built on, that laid foundation, the rock clearly, when you put all the Scriptures together, Paul said in 1st Corinthians chapter 3, verse 11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  He is that rock, he is the rock.  Peter himself later will write two letters that we have recorded in our Bible, 1st Peter chapter 2, he even writes too that Jesus is the cornerstone, and the church is laid upon him.  So we have a little bit of a challenge there.  All the Scripture, Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19 to 22.  If you take this to mean that well the apostles were the foundation this foundation, you have the Rock, Jesus, and then you have this foundation, and it’s true, the Church, the apostles stand as pillars in the Church.  And they do have that foundational layer [along with all the Old Testament prophets] and that is Scriptural.  But when it comes to the Rock [Petra] that stands, that Rock is Christ.  You know, Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19-22 you get that sense here.  “Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”  So all of them, not just Peter, but all of them.  Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, he is the Rock.  Well, you may see that a little bit differently.  What is the “rock” then?  What is the “rock”?  I believe the “rock” here, and I’ll be honest with you, it takes a little bit of deduction, so I’ll agree to disagree, but I believe that the “rock” is the confession that Peter makes, because Peter is---I came to Christ because I turned to Christ in faith, and I confessed his name and received him as my Lord, and I became part of the Church.  And so that’s always been true, the Church [Body of Christ] expands as you and I turn in faith to Christ and confess Christ.  [Comment:  But that is merely the beginning step, an all-important step, but only the beginning.  Then after you turn and accept Christ, asking him into your life, he bestows the Holy Spirit on you, into you.  Then you follow a life of spiritual growth and overcoming, overcoming sin, called the sanctification process.  Those that do this and are doing this are being added into the Church, greater Body of Christ, causing it’s expansion.  It’s not merely a simple confession of Christ and then going on your own merry way doing as you please in life, continuing to live in a lifestyle of sin, like the world.  Confession and accepting Christ into one’s life is only the first step, like a baby’s all-important first step in life.]  And so, the “rock”, Peter, small stone [petros], upon this “rock”, the confession, meaning this, he said “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  And it’s that faith in Christ, that is this work now, it’s Christ ultimately, he is the Rock, he is the Rock, and it’s our faith in him that now we’re placed on that Rock.  See what I’m saying?  [clear as mud, pastor, but Christ is that Rock, gotcha]  That seems to fit best with all the Scriptures, and when we do interpret Scripture we have to interpret it based on other Scriptures.  They all fit together.  If you come up with a passage that you’ve interpreted and it doesn’t fit with other Scriptures, then we have to go back and say ‘Lord, what does it mean?’  It has to fit with the rest. 

 

What are these “gates of Hades”?

 

The people, it was like the court, the people would go to the city gate, and that was where judicial and civil decisions were made at the gate.  There’s even gates you can see in Israel where there were benches right by the gates.  And that’s where the government house in a sense met.  And so when he says “the gates” he’s referring to all the strata and stratagem and the structure of Hades and darkness, the spiritual realm, the spiritual dark realm, the devil and all that’s with him, all of that government representing the strategy that goes with that, he says “will not prevail against the church.”  Now, many see in this, of course, ultimately when you say Hades, that’s the realm of the dead.  Now the word “church” here, this is the first time the word “church” appears in the New Testament.  It comes a bunch of times after this, a hundred and fourteen times, 90 times, just referring to a local assembly, and that’s what it literally means, “a called out assembly.”  Here though when he says “church” obviously he’s speaking of the Church in the bigger sense [i.e. what I call the greater Body of Christ], the whole community of all believers.  He says “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (the Church, built on this rock).”  The gates of Hades, now what does that mean?  Now people believe all kinds of different things about this, you know.  And gates represents, in the Old Testament in the Bible, gates would represent a place of authority and power.  And clearly it’s been defeated and it will not prevail because Jesus died and he rose to life.  And when he died and rose to life he defeated death and Hades, the Bible says.  So, many just see that as the point that is being made.  But I think also too, the sense that the Church is going to remain and stand in this spiritual battle.  I think that’s implied there too.  Although you don’t see gates chasing people around, it’s not like the gates are going to chase us, it’s not that sense.  Again it’s a spiritual battle.  [Comment:  But those under the sway of the unseen demonic forces, like the great false church, have chased after true Christians for centuries, and all through the Middle Ages, from 325AD onward through the 1600s AD and beyond.]  Obviously there’s light and dark, but the Church, you have a unique position, and greater is he that is in us than is the world. 

 

“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”---What does that mean?

 

Verse 19, here’s another Scripture, what does it mean?  “‘And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’”  And we might not all agree on this, it’s taken different ways, some will take this in a sense of prayer, that in prayer I go and I bind, and I bind, and I bind this and I bind that, ‘I bind this terrible spirit in our community, I bind that’.  And when I do that, it’s then being bound and wrapped up in heaven, the power behind it.  Some take it that way.  And I do believe, I do pray this way, I don’t say ‘I bind you, the devil’, I don’t say that because Jude says not to say that.  But I do pray ‘Lord, bind, Lord bind just the power behind that right now.’  You know, tie it up and remove the influence.  But what is meant here?  You know, when you do Biblical interpretation, obviously you must ask.  ‘What did it mean to the audience at that time?  What would the disciples be thinking when he said this?’  That starts to bring a sense of the meaning…At this time, the scribes would carry on their sash a set of keys.  And it meant something.  And they had in their understanding, this was understood in the culture, the scribes had these keys, and they would bind and they would loose.  So that was going on with the scribes.  I would think when he says this they’re thinking related to what they have in their culture.  And so they would have these keys on their sash, and they would bind or loose, and what it meant is when something they interpreted in the Law was mandatory and obligatory, when something was like ‘You need to do this’, that is something where they would say ‘This is bound, you’re bound in this, you have to do this.  If you don’t there’s severe consequences.’  But you may come to something in the Law where, ‘Well, that’s not like that, it’s up to your discernment and what’s right for you’, and so in that sense it would be loosed.  That’s what the scribes did, and these keys represented that, this being bound, this being loosed, in the interpretations.  So, now you have this new thing, you have this Church.  [ie the scribes had the authority over interpreting the Law of God, the Torah up to the time of Jesus.]  Now the word “church” was actually Ekklisia in the Greek, was actually used in the Old Testament too.  But obviously there’s this new sense of ekklisia, this church, the Church.  So you have this beginning, ‘Peter, apostles, I give you these keys.’  I think the disciples would immediately think of the scribes, and so it would be like ‘Oh yeah, we go to the scribes and they say ‘For you, this is bound, this is loosed’.  So now, what does the Law mean in this new age of the Church?  Well the apostles now had that place, and we have the letters and things they gave us.  And you know, for instance, Old Testament Jew, Israel, fornication, adultery, Thou shalt not commit adultery, you’re bound, it’s not like ‘what’s good for you isn’t necessarily good for me, that’s the Law, big consequences if you don’t follow that.  Israel, honor the Sabbath, meaning, 7th Day and all the Sabbath laws that went with that.  Bound, right?  That’s mandatory.  Now you get to the Church Age.  Paul, the writer of Hebrews tells me, Thou shalt not commit adultery, bound, that’s mandatory, big [spiritual] consequences if I don’t follow that.  You know, if I violate that there’s consequences in my life.  But now what about the Sabbath?  It seems when I put the different Scriptures together, the Sabbath is up to you, choose which day you desire to observe, you know.  [Comment:  In Acts 15 and Romans 14, as most Gentile Christians interpret it and also most non-Torah observant Messianic Jews also interpret it, “days of worship” have been made an optional choice for believers during the Church Age.  Now Paul brings out clearly in Romans 14:22-23, that it is to be a matter of your own Christian conscience in this one particular area, as to what you ‘loose or bind’ in regards to “days of worship” and OT dietary laws.  With the Sabbatarian Churches of God, and those that belong to them, their Christian consciences guide them to believe the Sabbath and Holy Day commands are still mandatory.  And that is fine, and we are to respect that, and their choice.  Too often we Gentile Christian believers have slammed them as being legalists because of the choice their genuine Christian consciences have guided them to make.  We must not do this nor act this way toward them.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm.  But when Jesus returns to earth, the Law of God, pretty much as it was administered in the Old Testament, with 7th Day Sabbath and Holy Day commands will be restored, as the central law for governing the whole world.  Check out http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch4.htm to learn more about this and Sabbatarian Churches of God, what they believe and why.]  And I think Paul clearly lays that out and the writer of Hebrews, as far as what is to be my Sabbath and how I am to look at the Sabbath, see it’s different.  See what I’m saying?  So it would also make sense that Jesus is now saying, we’re commissioning, we’re in a new age, and go lead, and as like a scribe, teach and show.  And then you could say, any minister (pastor) is acting in that same role today.  Now you may have taken this and seen this in a lot of different ways, but you have to understand too, the Greek here is an important thing, in there’s a tense.  This verse does not mean that as a Christian, when I say ‘Go bind that spirit’, that then in heaven, heaven’s going to respond.  Or ‘Go bind that business’ and then heaven is going to respond like that.  That verse does not mean that, in that sense, in that order anyway.  I can’t pray that way, and that’s because, here’s the expanded translation, by Dr. Kenneth West, where he’s bringing out the more literal rendering of the tenses of the verb.  And this is what he has in his translation “And whatever you bind on earth, forbid to be done, shall have already been bound in heaven.  And whatever you loose on earth, or permit to be done, shall have already been loosed in heaven.”  Meaning, it’s already done, we’re just responding through the Spirit, the Spirit is showing us, ‘This is what the Spirit of God says, this is what heaven says,’ I respond to that.  It’s not the other way around.  Clearly, it doesn’t give you the option.  So, I do ask God ‘Bind certain things’, but I understand that they’re already bound in heaven, God is working.  Prayer, effective prayer starts with heaven on Friday nights, God has already got his will, and he’s already working his will through me.  That’s effective prayer, being led in the Spirit.  [Comment:  I will say this though, and this is through personal experience, God loves his children, and the children of his children.  One of my adoptive daughters was working for this nasty boss, who took advantage of her with wages and harsh treatment.  She ended up quitting as a result, and I remember just casually praying that that business would go out of business.  Less than six months later it was out of business.  I wasn’t “binding it” with this passage in mind, the way certain Christian groups will do, I agree with the pastor here, it doesn’t mean that.  But there are times when God will do a binding or loosing in response to protecting and looking after his kids and their kids.] 

 

The Spirit gives me insight into the spirit of the Law

 

Now, taking that a little bit further, and you’re thinking ‘Boy I wish this was at a Sunday night study, you’ve just put me to sleep.’  But we don’t have our Sunday night service yet, but here you go, you’ve got passages, we go verse by verse, we do it all.  Right?  And we could go a lot further with it.  Right?  But back to being in the Spirit, I see things differently, back to the Spirit, my eyes are opened.  I see here too then this sense of a scribe, that the Spirit in me gives me insight into the Spirit of the Law.  What does the Word mean?  How does it apply to my life?  The Spirit of God does that for me.  And that is so important, it is so important.  You know, the Bible, reading the Bible should be exciting.  There’s this picture, Jon Courson, if you’ve ever seen one of his commentaries, as he has on his commentary.  I’ve seen posters to it, you know, Christian places that have this same picture.  But it’s a man 2,000 years ago in the dress [clothing], he’s got a scroll, has got the headdress and everything, long gown there, and he’s sitting alongside of a stream and there’s a tree behind him.  And he has this scroll, and to me if I was to take him into 2005 I would see him with his cup of coffee and his Bible, you know.  But there’s this sense as you’re looking at him that this isn’t like work, this isn’t like ‘Ah, I’ve got to do this.’  This is like, he’s alone, this is like his favorite thing to do.  Just looking at the picture you feel that, this guy is having the best time of his life.  But then as you step back in the picture, I’ve shown people the picture and they don’t see it, and I say ‘OK, step back and look’, and they’re like ‘Wow!’.  But the tree behind this man, this big tree, as you start to look at it from another angle, suddenly you see that the branches actually form a picture of the face of Christ, in a very wonderful way.  And so what you have is this man sitting there, and you have Jesus looking down on him, in the picture.  And then in the midst of the branches is the Holy Spirit.  And so it’s conveying a truth that this man is having a great time, with the Word of God, and there is God, Christ, he’s just talking to him, they’re just fellowshipping, and the Spirit is there working and leading.  And I tell you, if you don’t get alone with the Lord because it’s not exciting to you, if you don’t get alone with the Lord because it’s not something that grabs your heart, it is indicative of a lack of the work of the Spirit of God in your life.  You’re not somebody walking in the Spirit.  If you’re like, ‘I’m trying to do my divo’s [their weird way of saying ‘prayer & Bible study’], but it’s like you’re like ‘Ah, all right, I do this legalistically, I have to do this or I’m a bad boy or a bad girl, so I do this,’ then it’s a lack of the Spirit…I remember I used to say ‘I know I’m supposed to do this Lord, and I try to do it…and somewhere along in my life it became exciting to me, I absolutely love to study God’s Word, I bum out, it’s depressing if I cannot get alone with God, get into the Bible, and let him speak to me.  Because the Spirit is alive.  And Paul, the writer of Hebrews says ‘This Word is living’, and if you don’t have that experience with the Word, of it being living to you, it’s because of a lack of the Spirit.  The Spirit makes me see things differently, it opens my eyes, but it also shows me the Spirit of the Law.  Now it’s not just print, now it’s not just the Law.  You know, the carnal man looks at the Bible and says ‘The Law’ and just sees the print, and interprets it just on face value.  I now can pick it up, and you can pick it up as a Christian, and the Spirit says, ‘Well no, this is the depth of it, this is what it all means.’  That’s why the man who doesn’t have the Spirit doesn’t understand.  He goes away going ‘Ah, wait a minute, this is what is says, you can’t say that.’  No, no, you don’t understand what he means, the depth of it.  Hey, we’ve just got a couple more verses, as we’ve got our last few minutes here together.  Verse 20, “Then he commanded his disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.” Well of course Jesus tells them not to tell anybody (verse 20), because if they start to say ‘Hey, this is the Son of God,’ it’s going to make things hard for them at this point.

 

Closing verses

 

 Verses 21-23, “From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.  Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to you!’  But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’”  Man, I can relate to Peter, one minute Jesus is going ‘Blessed are you Peter’, supernatural spirit of revelation, next minute, ‘You devil, get out of my face.’  Now basically that’s what he says.  I can relate to that, I can have a moment when, ‘Man, that was God, man.’  And a moment later go, ‘I wish I had just kept my lip zipped, that was so foolish what I just said.’  It’s a rollercoaster with me, you know.  So maybe you can relate to that.  But, six months to go to the cross, now Peter is seeing things, and the light is growing, and God is preparing them, and man, the cross is coming.  So Jesus begins to teach a lot on it at this point on out.  And when he says he’s going to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and the scribes, that is the Sanhedrin, all three parts of the Sanhedrin.  He is going to be officially executed, the government, not the Roman government, but the judicial part of Israel is going to execute him.  And so he’s letting them know to prepare them.  Well, here’s this man Peter, and the truth is, if I was listening to that and he was my Messiah and I loved him, out of love, I mean, Peter’s really showing a lot of love for Jesus.  But at this point in time he’s not in the Spirit.  He’s thinking carnally, he’s hearing about the cross.  Jesus is sharing with him the most wonderful thing you could hear.  Jesus is actually sharing with him what life is all about, he is sharing, all of history is being defined, this is what it’s all about.  This is the glorious treasure, this is glorious light.  This is not easy what he’s about to go through, but this is it, man.  And he shares, he opens this beautiful thing up, and Peter comes back and rebukes him.  And Jesus says ‘This is an offense to me, I opened up and just shared the most, this is life, I’ve given you some of the deepest light, people have not discerned this before and I’m sharing this with you.  And so Jesus rebukes him, rebukes him back, as he’s rebuked by Peter.  Well, when he says ‘You’re an offense to me,’ he saying ‘you’re a stumbling block.’  Interesting, when Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness in Matthew chapter 4, the same words, when that all was done at the very end of the three temptations, Jesus says to Satan, he says to him, he says ‘Away with you Satan’, those are the same exact Greek words, you can go in your concordance, ‘Away with you Satan,’ you come here, ‘Get behind me Satan,’ the same Greek words, it’s the same thing.  And of course, Jesus is saying, ‘This is being inspired by the Devil’, what you’re saying, this isn’t the Spirit of God. 

 

It’s through the Spirit that I see the cross for what it is

 

Now, as we hit our last point then with these verses, that tells me something, that tells me something.  It’s through the Spirit, it’s through the Spirit that I see the cross for what it is.  The carnal man goes ‘What!?’.  The carnal man doesn’t understand, and that’s what’s happening with Peter right here.  In Romans chapter 8, verse 5 Paul said this, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded [a meat-head] is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”  The carnal mind is enmity.  And that’s what’s happening here, he’s thinking carnally, like man.  He’s saying ‘Don’t do that, there’s another way, there’s another way.’  Of course the world says there’s another way, you don’t need the cross, come on, you can get there other ways,’ that’s just man, man, man, man, carnal mind.  But now in the Spirit I see the cross for what it is.  And when there’s revival in the Church, the cross, it’s always central.  When there’s revival in the Church, Christians, areas where there’s revival are suddenly looking at the cross, and we’re blown away by what we see.  I now look at the cross, I see my sin for what it really is, I see myself for what I am.  And then because of that, seeing the depth of my depravity, I then see the height of God’s love.  I see the incredible compassion and love that God has for me and what he’s really done for me.  And you can’t help but have worship, and joy, and praise, you can’t help but live differently when you see the cross for what it is.  And so, the Spirit.  As we end our time here and pray, we’ll pick up next week with verse 24.  It is interesting, we’ll go into another point next week, but when you’re in the Spirit you’re also, you’ll live radically for Christ, and that’s what he’s going to follow up with from this point on.  But it’s because of the Spirit I see things differently, my eyes are opened, it’s because of the Spirit in me I now am able to see the spirit of the Law, but it’s because of the Spirit.  Without the Spirit I do not see the cross for what it is.  But when I’m walking, overflowing in the Spirit, I look at the cross, and I go ‘Wow!’.  And you know, I was with a dear friend recently, dear friend, and this happens, I was there too, so I can’t judge.  I had two years in my life back in college where I got so far from the Lord, so far from the Church and the Bible.  I shared this on Wednesday night, but when I walked into a store one day, I was a Christian, and there were Christians outside handing out tracts, and when I walked by them, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I’m one of them anymore, I don’t even feel like one of them.’  They just seemed so different to me, that’s how far I’d gotten.  And it’s through the grace of God that I’ve gotten here today.  It’s amazing.  But I was meeting with a good friend recently and this dear friend is going through a similar season that I did, gotten away from fellowship, and out of the Church, and you know, you’ve got the spiritual battle and the world just going and going and going, TV set just going and going and going, and now he’s beginning to question things that I’m sure he’d thought he’d never  question before, thinking there’s gotta be other ways.  I mean, that’s like 69 percent of the Evangelicals…[tape ended because the pastor went way overtime:  Transcript of an expository sermon on Matthew 16:13-23, given somewhere in New England.]

 

Related links:

 

Short-Term Missions:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/Short-TermMissions.htm

 

Salvation, being saved, is a lifelong process:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16_2.htm

 

We’re in training for high leadership positions in the coming Millennial Kingdom of God:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm

 

True verses False Church, the Tale of Two Churches;

True Church:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1a.htm

False Church:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch3.htm

 

“Days of Worship”, optional choice during “the Church Age”:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch4.htm

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