You want to know why you need to belong to a church? Only by your belonging to that community of believers will you belong to a community that can stop hell. You can worship the Lord without going to church, but Dr. Tony Evans says that reasoning leads to a common mistake. If you are detached from a church, you are not in a position where Jesus Christ can help you stop hell ruining your life. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative.
They say thinking you're a success is the first step toward becoming one. Well today, Dr. Evans explains that when Christians do that, it's more than just our imagination at work. Let's join him as he explains. Today, I want to introduce you to what I call the agency of authority, the church. Now the Bible makes it clear, you don't have to turn there, but Daniel 4 26 says that what happens on earth is controlled by heaven. And we've already discovered that this world is run by angels.
So it's to the degree that we influence the angelic realm, that we control the earthly realm, or to the degree that we do not influence the angelic realm, that we do not control the earthly realm. Jesus says in Luke chapter 10 verse 18, he was there when Satan was kicked out of heaven. That's because he was the child born in Bethlehem, but he's the son of God from eternity past. And he says he was there when Satan was booted out and then tricked Adam and Eve into turning the world over to him. But then Jesus Christ gives his children, his disciples a prophecy.
And I want to make three points today that you need to follow closely, because what I want to say today could change your life. First of all, the church has been delegated spiritual authority by Christ. Let me say it again another way. The church and only the church has been delegated spiritual authority by Christ. Jesus has asked, who do you say that I am? They said, well, some say you're John the Baptist because you can preach. Others say you're Elijah because you can do miracles. Others say that you're Jeremiah because you have a passion for the welfare of Jerusalem. Others say you're one of the prophets because you predict the future. But then he turns to his leaders, his preachers, and he says, now who do you say that I am? Or do you talk like the crowd talks? It may be complementary to put Jesus's name next to all the other great leaders that have ever been around in earth eyes, but in heaven's eyes it's an insult.
Why? Because Jesus is in the class all by himself. He says, who do you say that I am?
And that's when old foot in the mouth spoke. Peter. Peter says you're Christ, son of the living God. In other words, we've discussed this because the question wasn't asked to Peter. The question was asked to the group. The word you is plural. Who do you plural say that I am?
Peter says we have discussed this and let me tell you what we have concluded. You are the Messiah. You are Christ, son of the living God. Jesus tells them, Simon, flesh and blood didn't tell you this. This came from heaven. That is a eternal heavenly declaration.
And let me tell you what I'm going to do with it. And here we go. Verses 18 and 19. I say to you that you are Peter, Petros in the Greek, and upon this rock, Petra in the Greek, I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. This was the first occurrence of the word church in the New Testament.
It was the word youth of an assembly of Greek citizens who gathered together to make government decisions in a city or district. It was also youth of a congregation gathered for religious purposes in Israel. Here, Jesus declares that he's going to build something and this something would be unstoppable.
Even hell wouldn't stop the building program that Jesus Christ was getting ready to enter into. He says, Peter, you're the spokesperson. You are the stone. That's what the word Peter means.
It means stone. You are the one who is going to speak, but I am not going to build my church on a preacher. I am not going to build my church just on somebody who can talk and pontificate. Well, I'm going to build my church, he says, on a petra, on a rock. The classical Greek word petra meant a group of stones that had become connected to form a rocky cliff or a large slab.
It had to do with the coming together of stones and when they were in proximity to one another or attached, they made bigger boulders. In other words, Peter, I'm going to build my program not on a man, not on a man, but I am going to build it on your confession that individual stones rally around to form a solid rock that will roll over hell. When Peter describes this, he says in 1 Peter chapter 2 of Christians, ye are all living stones.
Come together to form one spiritual house. In other words, God was going to build a community of believers. He was going to call this community of believers the ekklesia or the church, the called out ones who would be a separated community of believers who would operate in such a way with such spiritual finesse, with such spiritual victory, with such spiritual power that even the gates of hell would not be able to stop it.
Now, first of all, let's make some quick observations in verse 18. Jesus says, I am building my church. So Tony Evans, don't think for a minute you're building your church using my name. I'm building my church. So the only thing that will be able to stop hell is Christ Church. That's not a building.
That's not a program. That's a community of believers who cross racial, cultural, and class lines, Ephesians 2 says, that come together in order to reflect the confession of Peter that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. That is that community. That is what you are a part of. If you're not a part of that, call this building what you wish, but it is not a church because if it's a church, it has to be his church and that therefore it must be him that sets the agenda. He must be the authority. He must be the determinant, the one to determine how the church functions. So it's my church. He says the way you will know it's my church is hell can't stop you. You want to know why you need to belong to a church that Jesus can say is my church? Because only by your belonging to that community of believers will you belong to a community that can stop hell. If you are detached from a church, then that means that you are not in a position where Jesus Christ can help you stop hell ruining your life. Because he says I will build my community and with today we have the problem of Christians who want to live isolated Christian lives and I understand that it is the community of saints that God has ordained to be able to stop hell. That's why when you can't break through to God on your own, if you're part of the community of believers, they can join forces and help you break through to God with one another.
Sometimes it's hard to break through on your own. Sometimes you pray that you're blue in the faith and nothing happens. But Jesus says I will build my church and the gates of hell can't stop it. Now that means that you need to observe something else and that is that Jesus Christ is on the offensive not the defensive.
The reason why so many of us are defeated is that we are defensive Christians. That is we are trying to keep hell off our backs. We are trying to stop hell from messing up our lives. Instead of looking at what Satan is doing, Jesus says you need to take a closer look at what Christ has done. When you understand what Christ has done, then you're on the offensive. I will build my church and the gates of hell are trying to stop the building program of God. In other words, hell is on the defensive, not the church. So when you come in here and even when you leave here as part of the church scattered, you don't come to a place of defeat, you come to a place of victory.
And our task is to drum into your head and to have you to drum into my head that when you met Jesus Christ, you met victory because he is building a church and anybody who tells you you're not in victory if you know Jesus Christ is a liar from the pit of hell because I will build my church. What does he mean the gates of hell? Well the word gates was used of a symbol of authority. The elders met at the gates that was City Hall to make decisions. It was where the authoritative gatherings were to set laws for the community. Jesus Christ says that hell has gates, plural.
It has an authoritative empire that sets the agenda for your life. The demons got up this morning and decided by their authority this was going to be their agenda for you this week. And they have already planned it out. They've planned some, they're going to use your mate. For some of them he's going to use your children. Others of you he's going to use your boss.
Others of you he's going to use your circumstances. But the demons have had a meeting and it's called in Ephesians chapter 6 the evil day. That is when they meet and your name is on the table and they decide this is our strategy to discourage, this is our strategy to intoxicate, this is our strategy to defeat, this is our strategy to split up, this is our strategy to ruin, this is our strategy to kill, this is our plan to destroy them. What that describes are the gates. What do the gates belong to?
They belong to Hades. Notice what he says in verse 19, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. That is a nice way of saying authority. Keys in the Bible always meant authority. Isaiah 22 verses 15 and verse 22 keys meant to open or to unlock or to enter or to come out. Luke 11 52 reiterates this again, keys meant access to authority. Why is the word key plural?
Simple. The word gates is plural. For every hellish gate there is a corresponding heavenly key. He said I will give you the keys of the kingdom and what's it with these keys to the kingdom?
I'll tell you what's with them. Binding and loosing. What does that mean? Permitting or forbidding.
Access or lack of access. The Church of Jesus Christ as duly constituted, we'll show you why in a moment, has been given the keys to the kingdom of God, access to heaven, so that whatever the church declares on earth, if it agrees with the kingdom of God, has already been determined in heaven. In other words, there's a backup for anything you do on earth that's in concert with the kingdom of God if you are doing kingdom business, if you are a kingdom Christian, and if you are living a kingdom life, then you can have kingdom victory. So why are we not having kingdom victory?
Because we either aren't kingdom people or we are kingdom people and don't know where the keys are. Stay with us. Dr. Evans will point out where to look for those keys in just a moment. First though, I want to let you know about a couple of great resources we're recommending as a way to follow up on today's study. Tony's books, Victory and Spiritual Warfare, and Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfare. As we've been learning, many of life's problems are symptoms of the invisible spiritual battle going on around us. And either of these books, coupled with the two-volume 12-lesson audio series, Spiritual Warfare, can help you find ways to work through those problems using God's tools, tactics, and power.
It doesn't matter whether they're the everyday challenges we all face or the more serious attacks that show up in the form of substance abuse strongholds, sexual or emotional problems, or relational issues. We want you to get your own copy of The Messages in the Spiritual Warfare series and your choice of one of the two companion books as our gift. Just visit tonyevans.org before time runs out, make a contribution, and we'll say thanks by sending these powerful resources your way. Again, that's tonyevans.org, or call 1-800-800-3222, where resource team members are standing by around the clock to assist with your request. I'll have that contact information for you again after part two of today's lesson and this.
It's one of God's great masterpieces, Alaska. And this coming August, 6 to 13, you can experience this unspoiled paradise with Tony Evans and the Urban Alternative on a cruise that will pamper you with luxurious accommodations, incredible meals, and a large variety of leisure experiences. Bask in the wonder of God's magnificent creativity on full display and delight in God's Word as you learn from Dr. Evans and other gifted teachers.
Those dates are August 6 to 13, so book your trip today because rooms are filling up quick. Reserve your spot at tonyevans.org. You know, in the story that follows, I don't have a lot of time to tinker with this, but it's a lot here. Peter tells Jesus he doesn't have to go to the cross in Matthew chapter 16. Jesus says to Peter in verse 23, get me behind me, Satan. He calls Peter the devil.
Why? Because Peter was trying to stop him from doing the agenda of God. He tells him at the end of verse 23, you're on Satan's agenda, you're not on God's agenda. And a lot of us don't have the keys because we're operating on hell's agenda, but we got good motives and we think having good feelings is the answer to the problem.
There's nothing wrong with good feelings, but you may need to make sure you're feeling good about the right thing. That is, you need to make sure that you're on a kingdom program. And how do you get on that program? He tells them in verse 24, if any man wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. To put it another way, if you're going to be on a kingdom agenda, you must give up rights to your life.
That's our problem. We have too many Christians who are still too in charge of their lives. And if you're in charge of your own life, you can't be part of this kingdom. If you are running your own existence, you can't have God's victory in your life.
You can't have answered prayer. If you are Schmo, Sunday morning only, if you are Nard to Garter, if you are one of these people who carry Christian as a name tag and have a Bible under your arm, but you do not die daily to carry the cross in such a way that you give up rights to yourself or as Paul put it, I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, lest I live, it is not I, it's Christ who lives in me and the life I live now, I live by faith of the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me, I give up my rights.
We still have too many Christians talking about what they want to do. There's no power in what you want to do. There's only power in the keys to the kingdom because there's no authority in your plans. There's no authority in your goals. There's no authority in your determination. There's no authority in your positive thinking. There's no authority in I'm my new year's resolution.
There's no authority in I'm never going to do it again. There's no authority in just going through just going through Christian paraphernalia. There is authority in the kingdom of heaven, but you need a key to get in. The keys to the kingdom stops the gates of hell, but that means you must die to yourself. Verse 25 says, whoever wishes to save his life must lose it. We've got too many people here saving their own life, living their own life, doing it their own way. You're not dead yet. And if you're not dead yet, God can't help you because you're going to do it with your own strength and your own life.
There's another thing I want you to know about keys before we move on. God will give you the keys, but notice whatever you bind and whatever you lose. In other words, authority, now follow me here, always demands responsibility. Power to get hell off your back because you're building heaven only works if you are fulfilling responsibility.
If you're not fulfilling responsibility, don't expect authority. If you're sitting back waiting for God to do it when he's already handed you the keys, you're going to be waiting a real long time, okay? God does not grow us up to keep treating us like a baby. He grows us up that we might take responsibility.
Let me show you an example of what I mean. Hold your finger here, turn to Exodus chapter 14 verse 13. But Moses said to the people, do not fear, stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, so far so good, which he will accomplish for you today. In other words, a miracle is going to happen to you, okay?
For the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. Not. It sounds good. It sounds theological.
God, I've got a problem. I've got the Egyptians on my back, the Red Sea on my front, and we're going to trust you. Read verse 15. Then the Lord said to Moses, why are you crying out to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.
And as for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the sons of Israel may go through the midst of the sea on dry land. After you prayed to me, after you've talked to me, after you know from me what I have decided to do, how come you haven't done anything? How come you haven't moved?
How come you haven't gotten up? How come you haven't acted on what you just amen'd? Amen only works when what you just amen'd, you're willing to take a step of faith on. Many of you have been amen'd for years and don't have any victory. You didn't amen yourself into a grave. Amen in every sermon, every syllable, every clause, every verb, every preposition, every prepositional phrase. You have amen'd everything that has ever come out of this pulpit and you still don't have power.
Why? Because after you said amen, you didn't get up and start walking toward the sea. Now let me tell you why it takes faith. It takes faith because the water hasn't parted yet. That's why it takes faith. God wants the sea.
Do you believe him enough to act on it? Dr. Tony Evans talking about trusting what we know instead of what we feel. Now if you'd like to get a full-length copy of this message, check with us for details on the lesson called The Agency of Authority. Better yet, get it as a part of Tony's two-volume series on spiritual warfare. As I mentioned earlier, when you make a contribution to support the ministry of the Urban Alternative, we'll say thanks by sending you this powerful 12-lesson series on CD or digital download, along with your choice of one of Tony's two books, Victory in Spiritual Warfare or Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfare.
Just contact our resource center at 1-800-800-3222 to get the details. That's 1-800-800-3222 or visit us online at tonyevans.org. And while you're there, be sure to discover how to stream the popular film Journey with Jesus. Shown last year to sold-out audiences in over 800 theaters around the nation, Journey with Jesus brings the New Testament gospels to life as Dr. Evans and his adult children visit the locations of Jesus' earthly ministry and give us background to help us understand their significance today. Let this be a follow-up to your Easter experience. This is a limited-time opportunity that ends later this week, so visit tonyevans.org right away to take advantage of viewing Journey with Jesus while there's still time. You wouldn't think of leaving home without your clothes on, but many believers go out into the world spiritually naked on a daily basis.
Join Dr. Evans tomorrow as he explains how to suit up for a showdown with Satan. Right now though, he's back with these final words of encouragement. If you've ever driven to a circus, you'll see the elephants standing out on the parking lot, right? The elephants will be out on the parking lot, these huge powerful beasts, but they don't go anywhere. They don't run.
They don't move. You know why? Because they got a chain around one of their legs a little teeny chain with a little teeny peg in the ground that these beasts could rip out any old time they feel like it because they got the power, but they don't budge.
You know why? Because they were taught ever since they were a little baby elephant that when you feel this chain, you have no power. From the time they were born, when you feel this chain on your leg, that means you are nothing, you are nobody, and you don't move because you're not here to demonstrate your power, you're here to perform. And we got a lot of Christians who aren't here to demonstrate their power, they're here to perform. And so you come to church on Sunday and you perform, but you don't have any power. You come, you drag in church with this chain on your leg, this chain on your leg talking about, I'm coming to worship God and I'm coming and he's able with this chain on your leg and he's so high you can't get over with this chain on your leg and he's so wide you can't get around and you got this chain on your leg performing for the circus.
And the hell is laughing at you eating this cotton candy with that chain on your leg. It's time for you to say, in the name of Jesus Christ, get off of me. Let me go.
Get that chain off of me. I'm free. And he who the son sets free is free indeed. You're free. Are you free? Did Jesus make you free? Then walk like it, talk like it, act like it, hold your head up high and be free. He set you free. He set you free. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-30 11:38:08 / 2023-04-30 11:47:22 / 9