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The Confession at Caesarea Philippi

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2024 12:01 am

The Confession at Caesarea Philippi

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 1, 2024 12:01 am

People have many different views of Jesus. Who do you say He is? Today, Derek Thomas considers how Peter's answer to this question demonstrates the importance for us to believe and confess the truth about Christ.

Get Derek Thomas' DVD Teaching Series 'The Life of Peter' for Your Gift of Any Amount

Meet Today's Teacher:

Derek Thomas is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow and Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is featured teacher for the Ligonier teaching series The Life of Peter and author of many books, including Heaven on Earth, Strength for the Weary, and Let Us Worship God.

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Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

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Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram

Who do you say that I am? And this is Peter's finest moment. Peter has been in Jesus' company now for two years.

He's been listening to him and watching him, scrutinizing him. And now is his finest hour. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are God. You are the one that I read about in the Old Testament Scriptures. Who do you say that Jesus is?

This is a question that has eternal consequences. I vividly remember being an unbelieving teenager and discussing that very question with a stranger. Sadly, I wasn't given the answer that Peter supplies us in Matthew 16. But I was told that Jesus really did exist, a partial truth.

It would be some time before I would hear and believe the full truth. If you don't know the answer to who Jesus is, keep listening because there is nothing more important. All week on Renewing Your Mind, you've been hearing selections from Derek Thomas' brand new series on the life of Peter. We've seen Peter's faith weaken, his commitment to follow Jesus, even as others were turning away. And there are so many other aspects of Peter's life, so be sure to visit to request access to the entire series. So, who is this Jesus, and what was His mission?

Here's Dr. Thomas. This is episode five, and the next episode, episode six, both of these will be in Matthew 16 at Caesarea Philippi. This is an incredibly important section. It's a turning point.

We'll talk about that in a minute. Turning point in the life and direction of Jesus. From this point onwards, Jesus is heading to Jerusalem, and His life gets more and more sort of focused on Jerusalem and His death and resurrection. I've been to Caesarea Philippi some time ago.

It's a beautiful place. It's up in the mountains, 30 miles or so north of the Galilean Sea in the foothills of Mount Hermon, and the crowds that were a part of His ministry before this in the feeding of the 5,000 and so on. Those crowds have now dissipated, and He is up in Caesarea Philippi with His disciples, and Peter will become central to the lesson that he will teach them at Caesarea Philippi. Let's begin to read at verse 13 of Matthew 16. Now, when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they said, Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah.

And others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

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. Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ. Now, the first thing that we see here is the issue of Jesus' identity. Who is He?

It's still a relevant question. Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Why should we be interested in Him?

What does He have to do with me? On one level, it's an embarrassing question because His fame is now widespread. People are talking about Him. People have been following Him. Thousands and thousands of people knew who He was. They'd seen Him. They'd heard Him. They'd watched Him.

But it's not what He's doing that is central here. It's who He is, His identity, and there are lots of answers. He asks the disciples, who do people say that I am? And they say, well, some of them think you're John the Baptist. John the Baptist by this time is dead, and there's a rumor that you are John the Baptist come back to life again, and others that he is Elijah. There was, because of Elijah being taken up into heaven and so on, developed in Judaism a thought that Elijah would come back. And an empty seat to this very day, an empty seat is kept at Passover.

I live next door to a rabbi, and I was asking him recently about Passover. And I said, do you have an empty seat? Oh yes, at the head of the table in case Elijah would come. And I wanted to say, you know, if Elijah knocked on the door, what would you say?

It was quite extraordinary. Some thought that he was Elijah, and others thought he was Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Billions of people worship Jesus when they sing about Him, and they write about Him, and they paint Him. And the whole of history is divided between B.C. and A.D., before Christ and in the year of our Lord.

Well, there are those now who want to put B.C.E. and so on, but the entire history, the entire calendar revolves around who He is. Imagine randomly asking that question. Well, that question has been randomly asked by Ligonier in 2020, in the state of theology, when the world was awash with a pandemic and the most extraordinary year of most of our lives. And the question was asked, who is Jesus? He was a great teacher, but not God. 30 percent, 30 percent of evangelicals thought that was true, that He was a great teacher, but not God. Others, someone who inspires me. One of the great faith leaders, along with Vishnu and Mohammed, he's a name on a T-shirt.

Barbara Tiering, great expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and discovered at Qumran, wrote a book suggesting that Jesus was married and had three children. There are lots of views and opinions by different kinds of people with different agendas as to who Jesus is, but what is Jesus' own view? Let's start with that. Who did He say that He was? Look at the form of the question that He puts. Who do people say that the Son of Man is? He regards Himself as the Son of Man. Now, we talked in our previous lesson about the Son of Man. And in the 18th and 19th century, among conservative commentators and Bible teachers, there was a view that the Son of Man was an attribution of His human nature. The Son of God was an attribution of His divine nature. And that's entirely wrong.

That's entirely mistaken. It fails completely to see why Jesus chose this title. It's His favorite self-designation, Son of Man. And it comes from Daniel, Daniel chapter 7, the one who sits enthroned, the one who is in charge of the course of history. He comes to establish a kingdom, and it'll cost Him His life, but He will rise and present that kingdom to His heavenly Father.

That's who He is. That's our Lord's own estimation of who He was. He was God.

He was the Lord of Daniel chapter 7, the one that Daniel had prophesied. That's Jesus' own self-identity, His own self-designation. So, He puts it to Peter, who do you say that I am? And this is Peter's finest moment. Peter has some really fine moments.

He really rises to the surface. He becomes a Christian hero, and I think it's okay to have Christian heroes, people that you look up to, people who said great things and did great things in the right moment, in the right context. And Peter says, you are the Christ. That's the Greek for the Hebrew idea of Messiah. You are the Messiah. You're the one prophesied in the Old Testament. You're the fulfillment of all that was expected in the Old Testament of what the Messiah would be, the deliverer of God's people. It's a title. You are the anointed royal one, come to administer God's rule on earth. It was the heart.

It was the core. It was the focus of Old Testament expectation that Messiah would come. And Peter is saying, and he's a Jew, of course. He's now a Jewish, almost Jewish Christian. The idea of Christian is still many years away. But he believes, he identifies that this Jesus of Nazareth, he's been following Him now for maybe upwards of two years. Maybe there were little periods where he went back to his family and so on and then came back again. But he has been in Jesus's company now for two years.

He's been listening to him and watching him, scrutinizing him. And now is his finest hour. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

You are God. You are the one that I read about in the Old Testament Scriptures. Various groups had an expectation of what Messiah would be like, what He would look like, what His ministry would look like. I think that's part of the reason why at the end in verse 20, he strictly charges the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

They're not ready to hear that I am the Christ because, you know, they may have weird expectations. Some saw the Messiah, for example, Palestine is under Roman rule, the empire, and they saw the Messiah as a warrior, an insurrectionist, someone who would come with a sword, literally. The Sicari, one of the disciples was one. He'd been part of that movement, expecting an armed insurrection.

Maybe Peter himself, he's the one who chopped the ear off the high priest in, it wasn't the high priest, but he chopped that ear off in the Garden of Gethsemane. And, you know, maybe what was he doing? Why did he have a sword?

What was he expecting? And so there's truth, there's knowledge, there's much that they need to learn about what Messiah actually is and what He's not. He's the Son of God. It's a divine title, perhaps more than Peter realized at this point. It's an Old Testament divine title, but in the New Testament, it'll take on levels that Peter hadn't even begun to think about, that he is the second person of the Trinity. And I'm not sure that the disciples were thinking in those Trinitarian terms at this point.

They would be later. And when you read the epistles, it's clear that they've grasped something, that there is only one God, but there is more than one who is that one God. The Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but there's only one God.

And there was no debate about that in the New Testament. He is the Messiah. He's the seed of the woman in Genesis 3. He's the prophet like Moses in Deuteronomy 18. He's the suffering servant in those four servant songs in the prophet Isaiah. Now, the great question is, who do you think he is? Who do you think he is? Are you on Peter's side here?

Is this your answer? Vital that you answered the way Peter answered it. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Now, secondly, what is Jesus' mission? And you see that in the second half of this paragraph from verse 17 through verse 20. He says to Peter, calls him Simon, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And then he says, I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. There's a link between Peter and the word rock.

The two words sound similar. There's going to be a role for Peter to play, and that role will involve church, and it's quite astonishing. You're probably aware of it, but most people I think are probably not if they're not very familiar with the Gospel of Matthew. This is the first time the word church appears. Jesus had never spoken about church in all of his ministry, in the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount, for example, which delineates the nature of the godly Christian life, the mature Christian life.

What does it look like? Well, it looks like going to church for a start, but Jesus never mentioned church. And, you know, you might imagine that the disciples would be scratching their heads and saying, church? What is church? What is this word ekklesia in Greek?

Well, it's a word that they would have been very familiar with. It's in the Old Testament. Stephen, just before he died in that wonderful sermon in Acts chapter 7, speaks about the church in the wilderness. It's sometimes translated by another word, the tabernacle in the wilderness or something, and that's because there are Christians and denominations who make a big difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament and don't want to see lines of continuity between the Old and New Testaments, and that works its way through sometimes into translations. But the word that Stephen uses in Acts chapter 7 is ekklesia, the church in the wilderness. The word ekklesia in Greek is the word that's used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which would have been the translation that many of the disciples would have been using because they were so Hellenized. They probably were not actually reading the Hebrew text. They were reading the Greek translation, the so-called Septuagint, and it's the word ekklesia.

It's related to the Hebrew word kahal, meaning to call. They had been called out of darkness, and they had been called into fellowship with God, and they had been called into fellowship with one another, and that's what church is. We've been called out of darkness into union and communion with Christ and into union and communion with each other. Jesus only has one plan, and it's called church.

That's it. There is no other plan. No, there are brothers and sisters of ours who insist that the plan is Israel, ethnic Israel. That's plan A. And plan B, well, plan B is plan B because the Jews rejected God's plan. But there's coming a time when plan B will be shunted off somewhere, and plan A for Israel will come back and dominate again.

I hope I'm not offending you, but I regard that as incorrect. I think there is only one plan, and it's called church, the vital importance of the church in the program that is called The Redemptive Purposes of God. Now, there are all kinds of books, and I won't waste your time in giving you the titles, but they go with something like this, I'm done with church. I'm done with church. I'm a Christian. I'm just done with church.

But you can't say that. If you're a Christian, you want to be where Jesus is, and Jesus is most definitely on the side of church, the gathered community of God's people. So, books with titles like Life After Church, and So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore. Well, you need to look at Matthew 16 because Jesus says, I will build my church. And he's going to use Peter as the first apostle, the first preacher, the first gospel preacher of any great notoriety, long before Paul.

That's ten years and more into the future, and more into the future. But it'll be Peter who will emerge in the Acts of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost and subsequent chapters to be what Jesus says he is here. Now, notice also here, not only I will build my church, but where does he build his church? And he builds his church in enemy-occupied territory, right up next to the gates of hell. There's that scene in the final trilogy of Lord of the Rings, and Frodo and his friend are right up next to the gates of Mordor. And the enemy has come out, and they're circling around down below them, and they're hiding.

They're trying to camouflage themselves because they're in vital danger right now. And that's the picture that Jesus gives to the disciples. I'm going to build my church, and there will be such hostility against it. The gates of hell, the enemy, the wicked one, Satan, the deceiver, the one who is a liar from the very beginning, and he hates everything about church. He will try to destroy Christ himself, but he will fail, but he will then continue his ministry as Revelation 12 makes so clear. He will continue his ministry when he's hurled down to the earth. He will continue his aggression against the church of Christ. That opposition is doomed to failure.

That opposition is doomed to failure. You may not think it right now. In various parts of the world where there is tremendous opposition and tremendous persecution, and that day may come for us.

We don't know. But here's Christ's commitment. Here's Christ's promise to you.

That opposition is doomed to failure. The reason the Son of God appeared, John said in 1 John 3.8, is to destroy the works of the devil. He spoiled principalities and powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross. How is he going to do that? He's going to give them the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Now, there's been a lot of discussion about this, and some have seen this as church discipline, but I rather think that what the keys of the kingdom of heaven are is the gospel. What is it that opens the gate and allows you into heaven? It's the gospel.

What is it that closes the gate? It's the denial of the gospel. I'm going to give to you, Peter, and those like you. The keys of the kingdom of heaven, so that wherever you preach the gospel, there will be those who will take that key and open the door by the power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and enter into the fullness of what Jesus is promising here. It's a tremendous vision in times of stress and difficulty and trial.

His promise that Jesus makes, that the gates of hell will not prevail. This is the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and all week you've been hearing messages from Derek Thomas' new series on the life of Peter. This 19-message study can be yours for a donation of any amount at, or when you give us a call at 800 435 4343. We'll send you this series on DVD and you'll have lifetime streaming access to both the series and study guide in the free Ligonier app.

Perhaps give the DVD away and keep streaming access for yourself. Make your donation today at before this offer ends. The confession of Peter that we heard today was certainly a high point in his life. Well, tomorrow will come to one of his low points. So be sure to join us then here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-01 02:51:29 / 2024-05-01 02:59:44 / 8

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