God’s Definition of the Church – is a sermon from Matthew 16:13-28 about a how to define the church: a group of believers changed and called by Jesus obeying God’s will to follow Jesus Christ as a witness to the world.
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The disciples came together and as a group and “believed” in Jesus Christ. In this passage, Peter is asked who the people think Jesus is. Then he is asked who he thinks Jesus is. Peter replies with the testimony that Jesus is the Son of God. This fact reveals a spiritual recognition that other people did not know. Not everyone will believe in Jesus Christ. God reveals His will to His people. But more than that, these were a group of believers. Christianity is a collective faith, not an individual faith.
Jesus wants people who will acknowledge him as a public faith. Being a Christian and being part of His church are not secret discretions. To put it another way, Jesus is in a relationship with you, but it should be an open and honest relationship. Jesus does not want prostitutes for believers – people who will only be with Him in private and for pleasurable reasons. He desires that we come together and publicly say that we are joined to Him.
Jesus builds His church. He changes the people. Peter is not the founder of the church. Jesus is the founder of the church – right here. He predicts that founding date – after the cross here in this passage. Jesus also reveals the nature of that church by changing Simon’s name to Peter. This shows first that Jesus will change people and their identities. That is why Jesus changed the name to Peter. My entire identity is changed. I am not the same person I was before. But more than that, Jesus calls everyone who claims to follow Him to a life of service to Christ. This life of service reveals power that only God can give to His church.
This power only happens when we obey God’s will. In this section, Peter wants to make Christ a King. But that was not the will of God at this point. God wanted Christ to be a Cross-bearer. So one lesson we learn is that God wants us to obey His will. Christ corrects Peter because Peter is not listening to God. He is listening to Satan. This reveals the importance of listening to God to obey His will.
Peter gets it right that Jesus is the Messiah. But the next minute, Peter gets it wrong by thinking that Jesus will rule as King at this moment. So we have to fight the selfish will that is in us, even when we know that Jesus has changed us. Temptation is something that each Christian will face. We need to learn to obey God’s will.
What is that will generally speaking? It is to follow Christ as a witness to the world. This is what Jesus means when He says to DENY MYSELF, take up MY cross, and follow HIM. There is a self-denial to following Jesus.
The problem is that the world teaches that we should fulfill our selfish desires. Jesus says to deny them, because, in the end, you can’t take your selfish desires with you to Heaven. You can’t take money or possessions with you to Heaven.
But there is a reward that is better than money and possessions when we follow Christ. God will judge the world and He wants us to work at preventing that judgment to as many as possible. That is where the works come in.
Our works are our acts of witness that we do to share Jesus. Whatever I do to share Jesus, which brings people to follow Jesus, will always be rewarded. We all need to be evangelists.
The goal of the church is to enlarge God’s family. It is in the birthing part of the family process, not the maintaining the old folks home mentality.
The church should be a place where we work to bring new children into God’s kingdom. The church should not be a place where we maintain a rest home for those waiting to die.
We need to be developing relationships with those who are lost. Jesus will talk about this later. We are to be a witness to others who do not know Jesus. It is the continuing mission of Jesus Christ. That’s from Matthew 16:13-28 God’s Definition of the Church.