Jesus’ Present Building Project

Steve Viars March 18, 2018 Matthew 16:13-23
Outline

Genesis 1:12 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Colossians 1:16 - For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Matthew 5:23-24 - Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

Luke 7:11-15 - Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:10 - …each man must be careful how he builds on it.

Matthew 21:42-43 - Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.”

6 characteristics of the Way Jesus is Building His Church

I. Jesus Builds with Accuracy – “Upon This Rock”

A. A possible play on words

B. The centrality of the apostles’ teaching.

Acts 2:41-42 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

C. The critical role of the church today

1 Timothy 3:14-15 - I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

II. Jesus Builds with Intimacy – “I Will Build My Church.”

A. The meaning of the word “church”

B. The importance of the word “my”

As Architect, Builder, Owner, and Lord of His church, Jesus Christ assures His followers that they are His personal possession and eternally have His divine love and care. They are His Body, “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), and are one with Him in a marvelous, holy intimacy. “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). Christ is not ashamed to call them “brethren” (Heb. 2:11) and “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16). That is why when men attack God’s people they attack God Himself. When Jesus confronted Paul (then known as Saul) on the Damascus road, He asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). By persecuting Christians (see 8:3; 9:1–2) Saul had been persecuting Christ. (John MacArthur, Matthew 16-23, p. 31)

III. Jesus Builds with Confidence – “The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail.”

A. Meaning

B. Great news for the people of God

1 Corinthians 15:54-55 - But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

2 Corinthians 5:8 - …we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Acts 2:24 - But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

Hebrews 2:14 - Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil…

IV. Jesus Builds with Sacrifice – “I Must Go to Jerusalem.”

A. The logic of the passage

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

B. Not sure why Peter reacted so strongly

Matthew 16:22 - Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”

SEATTLE, WA—Responding to his owner Matt affectionately calling him a “good boy” for fetching a stick, local Calvinist canine Rupert reportedly reminded him that “according to the Scriptures, nobody is a good boy.”

“We’ve been over this, Matt. We’re all corrupted—every one of us,” Rupert reportedly said to his owner after stopping mid-stride to address the glaring theological error. “How can you call me a good boy when we have all been marred by the effects of sin?”

According to witnesses, the dog went on to lecture his owner for several minutes, stressing how easy it is to forget who we really are in light of God’s blinding holiness and our desperately fallen nature.

“Do not call me a good boy—I am a depraved wretch,” he added before picking up his stick and continuing to play.

C. There is an important point in Jesus’ response

Matthew 16:23 - But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

V. Jesus Builds with Diversity – “You Shall Be My Witnesses.”

Ephesians 2:11-14 - Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…

VI. Jesus Builds with Power – That Day There Were Added Three Thousand Souls

Acts 2:41 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 

- Would you agree this am that Jesus Christ liked to build things?...how hard of a case would that be to make from the Word of God?

- let’s try the opening words of Scripture…

- Genesis 1:1–2 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

- did Jesus have anything to do with what happened next?...no doubt…

- Paul affirms -- Colossians 1:16 - For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

- I believe that part of our being made in the image of God is liking to build things…

- do you remember this moment from the grand opening of our Northend Community Center?...

- we’re going to have an Innovation Corner in the center where folks can come and take painting classes, host repair cafes, sewing classes, pottery…a place where you can just make a mess if that’s part of the process…

- well, why would these young ladies in the northend be looking forward to “building some stuff”?...because that’s an important part of the image in which they’d been made…Jesus loves to build things…

- can you imagine if on one of the days of creation you were invited to watch?...

- let’s say Jesus was about to make some bears…which according to one of my family members is the climax of the creative process…

- imagine what it would have been like if you got to watch…

- well, if time allowed we could trace that theme all around the Bible…

- what was Jesus doing during His teaching ministry?...building…here’s a random example…

- Matthew 5:23–24 - Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

- what was that?...Jesus helping people build, or in this case, rebuild relationships…

- I wonder if that day some men and women acted on Christ’s words?...probably…

- what about His healing ministry?...the day I was preparing this message part of my personal Bible reading was from Luke 7…which contains this tender story…Luke 7:11–15 - Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

- I’m pretty sure that qualifies as building…and remember, Luke – the author of this gospel was from what occupation – a physician…

- can you imagine if you had been invited to watch that?...

- let’s take it one step further…what if you had been invited to help?...in one of Jesus’ building projects?...

- where He whispers to you – you wanna help me make some bears?...

- you wanna help me reconcile those two brothers…let’s go lead them through this process of reconciliation…

- you wanna help me with this widow’s son…go over and hug her tightly because she’s hurting and then get ready for something marvelous to happen…

- everybody in this room would say – I would do anything to be on Jesus’ building crew…please hold that thought and open your Bible to Matthew chapter 16…page 13 of the back section of the Bible under the seat in front of you…

- our church’s theme this year is Being Careful How We Build

- Paul told Christians that while our foundation is secure…

- 1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

- we’re still admonished to…1 Corinthians 3:10 - …each man must be careful how he builds on it.

- that’s the privilege and the task before us this year…

- now, between today and Easter…we’re focusing on some of the occasions in the ministry of Christ where He used the metaphor of building in His teaching ministry…Building Stories from the Master Teacher

- like when He spoke in Matthew 7 about a wise man and a foolish man…one who built his house on the rock and the other who built his house on the sand…

- and we can immediately picture what Jesus was talking about…

- how much easier it would have been to do it in sand…how it would have looked the same as the person who built on the rock…

- until the day…the storm came…

- and the Lord then explained that wise people not just hear the Word but act on it…foolish people just listen and walk away unchanged…

- and you immediately ask…regarding both your salvation and your sanctification…am I building like a person who’s wise, or a person who’s foolish?...

- there’s even children’s SS songs that go right along with the story…which shows how powerful the metaphor was on that occasion…

- now this morning brings us to a very critical place in the Word of God…

- regrettably by now the Jewish leaders had officially rejected Christ as their Messiah…

- we read about that in Matthew 12 – when the Jewish leaders commit the unpardonable sin…

- later in this book Jesus will say of that event…Matthew 21:42–43 - Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

- well, in the chapter before us…you can imagine how dejected the disciples were…all along they had hoped that Christ would establish a physical kingdom with the Jewish nation and crush the Roman empire which was ruling over them…

- and now Christ is less popular than ever and there’s plenty of reasons to question what’s going to happen…

- so Jesus takes them to Caesarea Philippi – known for being surrounded with jacked cliffs in which the pagans had erected statues of their idols…thus its reputation for being the city of the dead gods…

- and in that setting Jesus pulls back the curtain on his upcoming building project…

- and before this is all over…He’ll essentially say…you wanna watch?...but not just that…you wanna help?...

- read Matthew 16:13-23

- now, we’ll read further from the book of Acts in a little bit…but that’s enough to get started…

- we’re talking this am about…Jesus’ Present Construction Project…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for Six characteristics of the Way Jesus is Building His Church

I. Jesus Builds with Accuracy – “Upon This Rock.”

- if you’ve studied this passage before, you may have heard or read that Peter’s name means small stone [from Petros] whereas the word Christ selected for rock is from Petra…a rocky mountain or peak…

A. A possible play on words

- some have taken this to believe that Christ was saying he was going to build the church on Peter…which is curious for sure in light of the rebuke he receives a few verses later…[Get thee behind me Satan]…

- there’s also no evidence throughout the rest of the gospels that Peter is singled out as the favored one…he often spoke up but he also often put his foot in his mouth…

- a few chapters later the mother of James and John comes and asks for a favored position for her sons in the kingdom and the Lord certainly doesn’t say – sorry, that’s reserved for Peter…instead he points to the importance of a servants’ heart on the part of everyone in His kingdom…

- so the point is – the rock of Peter’s confession – that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God…but certainly also, the confession that Peter and the other apostles would faithfully proclaim after these events came to pass…

- but there is nothing more important in this building project called the church than having a clear and accurate understanding of the Person and work of Christ…

- that’s why in the book of Acts, we don’t see people paying homage to the apostles as people…but there is an emphasis on…

B. The centrality of the apostles’ teaching.

- we’ll talk more about how this was fulfilled in a minute…but here’s a sneak peek to the day this was fulfilled – the day of Pentecost…Acts 2:41–42 -          So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

- see, from the very first day, there was concern for accuracy…

- I checked on the Family Promise building this week while they were laying the block for the foundation…and I always wondered how they got everything square especially in a foundation system that has all sorts of angles and cut outs…

- it was fascinating to watch their concern for accuracy on one of the very first days of the job…just like we see here…on the very first days of the church…

- this points to…

C. The critical role of the church today

- later the apostle Paul would describe Christ’s building project like this…

- 1 Timothy 3:14–15 - I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

- on Monday I was walking back into the building and I came across one of the men who serves in our counseling center walking with a couple from our community back to his office…

- do you know what was about to happen?...Jesus was going to continue to fulfill His promise…

- people often come and report – our marriage is broken…our family is falling apart…

- and what does Jesus do about that?...He’s the Messiah, the Son of the Living God…and He uses His truth to draw people to Himself…with accuracy…upon this rock…

- well…the man from our church…what was he doing?...was he watching…or was he helping?...[is this a trick question?...]

- I think there’s a real sense in which the answer is…both…

- anyone who’s ever done that kind of work knows that the Holy Spirit of God is doing amazing things through the power of His Word…in a lot of ways, you’re just watching…

- but there’s no question about the fact…you get to help…build with accuracy

II. Jesus Builds with Intimacy – “I Will Build My Church.”

- the building metaphor can sound sterile and impersonal…but that’s not case at all…

- consider…

A. The meaning of the word “church”

- the original word is ekklasia…

- ek is the preparation for out of…kalew is the verb “to call”…

- the church is group of men and women God is calling to Himself…as individual people…

- Scripture tells us that Christ knows the number of hairs on your head…including those that may have been left behind in your comb or brush this morning…

B. The importance of the word “my”

- As Architect, Builder, Owner, and Lord of His church, Jesus Christ assures His followers that they are His personal possession and eternally have His divine love and care. They are His Body, “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), and are one with Him in a marvelous, holy intimacy. “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). Christ is not ashamed to call them “brethren” (Heb. 2:11) and “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16). That is why when men attack God’s people they attack God Himself. When Jesus confronted Paul (then known as Saul) on the Damascus road, He asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). By persecuting Christians (see 8:3; 9:1–2) Saul had been persecuting Christ. (John MacArthur, Matthew 16-23, p. 31)

- at our recent church family night, our Passion Play choir sang for us…and that was delightful for all sorts of reasons…including the broad diversity of ages and some folks who have around Faith for a long time and others who are relatively new…

- but it was a living example of what Jesus promised…a group of diverse people who had one thing in common – their love for their Savior – their Lord – their Messiah…

- and their desire to serve in the Passion Play with the hopes that others will choose to follow Him to…

- well, as they do that…are they watching, or are they helping?...

- both – they are using their God-given voices…which sometimes can melt a person’s heart in a setting like that…but they also have a front row seat to watch the Lord at work…continuing to build His church…

III. Jesus Builds with Confidence – “The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail.”

- this too is a phrase that people interpret in different ways…

- some see this as the forces of our adversary attacking Christ and His people…

- and that’s true and the Lord stands ready to give us victory for sure – greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world…

A. Meaning

- but the word translated “hell” is literally the word hades or place of the dead…

- many believe that the point here is the gates of hell is speaking of death itself…and the point is the wonderful news that death has no power over the church that Christ is building…

- there’s no question the Scripture clearly teaches that…

B. Great news for the people of God

- which is why Paul mocks death in the marvelous resurrection chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15…

- 1 Corinthians 15:54–55 - But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

- that’s because for a follower of Jesus Christ…2 Corinthians 5:8 - we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

- [discuss the time with the Ummel family recently…watching the Lord build people who were hurting, and counting it a privilege to help]

- Peter emphasized this truth too in his message on the Day of Pentecost -- Acts 2:24 - But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

- which is why the writer of Hebrews could affirm - Hebrews 2:14 - Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

- can you think of a better building project to participate in – than to help others have confidence to face what our world considers to be the “king of terrors’

IV. Jesus Builds with Sacrifice – “I Must Go to Jerusalem.”

- what is the logical progression between the promise in verse 18 to build His church and the proclamation in verse 21 that He must first go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and be killed?...

A. The logic of the passage

- the basis of our ability to be reconciled to God and united with one another is the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross…

- Paul told the Corinthians…2 Corinthians 5:20–21 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

B. Not sure why Peter reacted so strongly

- Matthew 16:22 - Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”

- this is one of those – I wonder if we’ll ever get to ask Bible characters questions like this in heaven – Peter, what were you thinking?...

- and it could have been an innocent – I just don’t want Jesus to die kind of response…

- although that doesn’t really make sense in light of the fact that Jesus said in the very next breath that He would then be raised again on the third day…

- it could have been that Peter was still focusing on the desire for a physical kingdom to be established to overthrow Rome…

- and victorious kings don’t die…

‑ it could have been that Peter didn’t want to hear about someone like himself needed a Savior to die in his place because that was the only way he could be reconciled to a holy God…

- sometimes that even gets in the way of a man’s relationship to his dog…

- this just in from the Babylon Bee

SEATTLE, WA—Responding to his owner Matt affectionately calling him a “good boy” for fetching a stick, local Calvinist canine Rupert reportedly reminded him that “according to the Scriptures, nobody is a good boy.”

“We’ve been over this, Matt. We’re all corrupted—every one of us,” Rupert reportedly said to his owner after stopping mid-stride to address the glaring theological error. “How can you call me a good boy when we have all been marred by the effects of sin?”

According to witnesses, the dog went on to lecture his owner for several minutes, stressing how easy it is to forget who we really are in light of God’s blinding holiness and our desperately fallen nature.

“Do not call me a good boy—I am a depraved wretch,” he added before picking up his stick and continuing to play.

- we don’t know if this is why Peter reacted so strongly…but it’s certainly a significant stumbling block to our culture

- regardless…

C. There is an important point in Jesus’ response

- Matthew 16:23 - But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

- there is nothing of greater interest to the Father than what was and what can be accomplished through the finished work of Christ on the cross…

- and that gets at the very heart of our theme this year – Being Careful How We Build…

- some of the church growth experts say that in order to build a church in this day and age…you have to avoid topics like sin, and blood, and death, and repentance…

- in fact, someone was telling me the other day that their houseguest at the BCTC reported that’s what he was taught in seminary and he was so refreshed to see the gospel being emphasized in so many ways here…

- So, sure we have all sorts of projects going on at our various campuses…but the way we’re careful in our building is to always focus the goal of our activity as glorifying God by living and proclaiming the gospel…

- like Paul said…Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

- so if we want to watch…and if we want to help Jesus build – we have to do it His way…

- so, how and when was this promise fulfilled?...please look over for a moment at Acts chapters 1-2…page 91 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- now Jesus has died on the cross and has been resurrected from the dead…He’s about to ascend to heaven 10 days before the day of Pentecost…

- read Acts 1:6-8…and when was that fulfilled?...

- read selected portions of Acts 2:1-13, 41

V. Jesus Builds With Diversity – “You Shall Be My Witnesses.”

- it would have shocked his disciples to hear their assignment to be witnesses in Samaria of all places…

- just like it would have shocked the people on the day of Pentecost to hear non-Jews proclaiming the Word of God to other ethnicities…

- and that was both sad and happy…

- sad that it was a sign of judgment to Israel because of their unbelief…

- which is why Paul would later say – I don’t want tongues to die out because then the judgement on unbelieving Israel will be complete although he clearly taught in 1 Corinthians 13 that the sign would cease and it did…

- but happy because God’s plan of blessing the nations with the gospel was clearly in focus…

- which is why Paul would tell the Ephesians…Ephesians 2:11–14 - Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.      But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…

- don’t you love watching and helping a builder who loves the nations?...

- we had a great example of this at our recent CFN…let me show you one of the testimonies for those unable to attend…

- aren’t different accents like that music to your ears?...

- now, I realize you might say for a variety of reasons – am I really able to help in an endeavor like this?...

- that’s why this last observation is so important…

VI. Jesus Builds With Power – That Day There Were Added Three Thousand Souls

Acts 2:41 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

- so there’s no question that Jesus loves to build things…

- and there’s also no question about the nature of the project that’s underway right now…

- but what are the questions…do you want to watch, and do you want to help?

 


Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video