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The Essential Church - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 5, 2022 6:00 am

The Essential Church - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 5, 2022 6:00 am

The church doesn't belong to any entity or anybody but Jesus. He died for it and built it up. In the message "The Essential Church," Skip shares how we can become the people of God that Scripture presents them to be.

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This is Jesus talking. It's my church, Jesus says. It's my church.

I will build my church. Notice to whom it belongs. Doesn't belong to a pastor. Doesn't belong to a board of directors.

Doesn't belong to a group of elders or a board of deacons or bishops. It belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus built it. Jesus owns it.

Jesus proclaimed that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how God has preserved his church over time, reminding you why the church is necessary for you today. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will help you live with a bold faith as you follow Jesus wherever he leads you.

What stands between you and a more fruitful walk with Jesus? Find out how four prominent women in the Bible faced their struggles in a new teaching series from Lenya Heitzig called Queens of the Bible. Here's Lenya on the Queen of Sheba. Hearing is the first step toward spiritual blessing.

Right now, hearing is a step toward blessing because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Hear more from Lenya as she explores the faith and the failings of four different queens in scripture. The Queens of the Bible collection of teachings is our way of saying thank you when you give $35 or more today to support this Bible teaching ministry. Look, the cost of following Christ is to go wherever he leads. Get your copy of these unique teachings when you call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer.

Connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Matthew chapter 16 as Skip Heitzig starts today's study. 70 times, seven zero times, the Bible uses, the New Testament uses the phrase one another, one another. And one another is a kind of a phrase that requires people have proximity to one another.

It's hard to do things with one another on a Zoom call. Now, I just want to address this because I got asked this way before this mess called COVID-19. I got asked this for years. Can I be a Christian without going to church? Well, the answer is technically yes, because you're not saved by going to church, you're saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone. But to ask that question, can I be a Christian without going to church? It's like, can I be a football player without a team? Can I be a bee without a hive? Can I be a drummer without a band?

Yeah, but you'll annoy everybody. So can I be a Christian without getting together with other Christians? Well, yeah, because you're not saved by that, but why would you ever think you'd want to do that? So it fuels our faith, it enhances our humanity. Another reason we gather is that it provides accountability. It provides accountability.

When you are with somebody else and say something or hear something and you can look at body language and discuss or dissent or clarify, that's helpful. When you're alone, you can't do that. Now, some people will say, well, I don't need the church. Now, some people will say, well, I don't need the church. I'm not into organized religion.

That's usually a cop-out. It's a way of saying, I don't want accountability to anyone for anything. I just want to do my own thing. That's dangerous. Proverbs 18, verse one, a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.

He rages against all wise judgment. Some people prefer isolation, so they don't have to be accountable to anyone. So it fuels our faith. It enhances our humanity and it provides accountability. Another reason we gather, it enables service. It fosters service.

When COVID began, our staff immediately did a pivot because a lot of the tasks now we weren't doing. So we just decided let's pour into the community. Let's find people who are vulnerable, who are isolated, who need supplies, and let's get that to them. Now, to do that and to go out into the community means you're putting your own health at risk.

But it has to be done. And we have been able to give out $700,000 worth of items to people in the community since COVID began, including meals, including things from the drug store, snack packs, etc. But you got to get close to people to help. This week, I got a phone call from a friend of mine who's a pastor and he called me on the phone and said, I got COVID. I said, what do you mean you got COVID? I got COVID-19. I said, well, how'd you get it?

He goes, I was in Los Angeles and I was giving food to the poorest people in the community and I got it. And I said, okay, so do you regret doing it? He goes, nope, I'd do it again if I need to. He said, that's part of the risk, right? You put yourself at risk. But he said, yeah, but I'm just waiting. All the people are going to climb on my case and say, I told you, you shouldn't do that. But he said, you know what, Skip?

You cannot distribute food through a Zoom call. You got to get out there and that's placing yourself at risk. But that's one of the reasons we're called together. So it's essential because of its designation, church. You are the church.

A second reason, it is essential because of its foundation. I take you back to the scripture. In verse 18, I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church.

For 1500 years, there was confusion on this text until the Protestant Reformation. Because one of the translations of the name Peter is rock, people have assumed for years that Jesus was saying, I'm going to build my future church upon this man named Peter, who will be the papacy. It's Peter. Let me just say, if the church is built on Peter, we are all in deep trouble. And I think Peter would be the first to agree. Certainly Paul would agree. Because Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, verse 13, for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now let me clear up the text. Jesus said, you are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church. He's not saying I'm going to build my church on you.

Listen to it in the Greek language. I say to you, you are Petros, a tiny little pebble. And upon this petra, different word altogether, massive stone, I will build my church. You're a pebble, not going to build it on you. Upon this massive rock, I will build my church.

What is he referring to? Not Peter, but what Peter has just said. Peter has just said, I know who you are.

You are the Messiah, the son of the living God. I'm going to build my church on that confession, Peter, that monumental, firm foundation that Jesus is Lord. That's what he builds the church on, not on the man Peter, but on the truth that Peter articulated that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God. So, the foundation is Christ. And if the foundation of the church is Christ, that means that we are the physical representation of Jesus on the earth.

As Paul said, the body of Christ. But this is why you can go to church, but not necessarily be the church. Some people think, well, I'm a Christian because I go to church. No, you go to church, you go to church because you are the church. And you are a true, authentic believer that rests completely in the finished work of Christ. So that leads me to ask, is that true of you? Do you lean, do you rest completely on the finished work of Jesus Christ? Is he your foundation?

Are you building your life on him and him alone? So, it's essential because of its designation, and it's essential because of its foundation. Let me give you a third reason it's essential. It is essential because of its possession. Now, I'm not using the term this way. It's not something we possess.

It's something he possesses. And I want you to see that. You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build, now notice the personal pronoun, my church. This is Jesus talking. It's my church, Jesus says. It's my church.

I will build my church. Notice to whom it belongs. It doesn't belong to a pastor, doesn't belong to a board of directors, doesn't belong to a group of elders or a board of deacons or bishops. It belongs to Jesus Christ. Jesus built it. Jesus owns it. He is the architect.

He is the title holder. It is not Skip's church. It is not your church. It's not even our church. It's his church.

Paul spoke to the elders of the church at Ephesus, and he said in Acts chapter 20, be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock. His church, purchased with his blood, over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. Do you realize that the highest price ever paid in history has been for the church? The blood of Christ? You ask, is the church essential? Go by what it costs God.

He purchased it with his own blood. So it's Jesus' church. It's not Skip's church. It's not your church. It's not our church. It doesn't belong to us. It belongs to him. I just want to underscore this by saying it doesn't belong to the government either.

It doesn't. Now, if we were in England, we couldn't say that because the Anglican church is run by the state. Because the Anglican church is run by the state, run by the government. And there are countries in the world where the state runs the church.

But not in this country. And one of the reasons we rebelled from England and came here and did this experiment in democracy was because our forefathers wisely wanted to separate church from the state. You've heard that term, the separation of church and state.

By the way, I hear it a lot and it is usually misunderstood. And people try to throw that term around, separation of church and state, they try to make it mean let's keep religion out of the public square. Let's keep religious people out of politics. That is not the intention. The intention is let's keep the government out of the church's business.

That's why that idea came into being. And that is why our constitution has the first amendment which says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That's our country. That's our country.

Now, if I was bringing a message like this in England or anywhere else, it might look a little different, but it doesn't. That's the law of this country. And in countries where the state is controlling the church, in such countries the edicts and mandates of fallible men and women take precedence over God's holy scripture. Unfortunately, when the state is the head of the church, the integrity of the gospel can be easily compromised. I've always loved what Ronald Reagan said.

He said, the most terrifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Now, we know what the Christian's responsibility in relationship to civil government is. We've studied that.

It's pretty clear. We are to honor, give honor to whom honor is due, tribute to whom tribute is due, pay our taxes, honor those who are over us, respect the force, et cetera, et cetera. And we do that in compliance with Romans 13 and 1 Peter, et cetera. But also in the New Testament, you have people like John and Peter, the apostles of the Lord, who were given a mandate from the government. And they finally came to a place in Jerusalem where they said, you know what? We must obey God rather than men.

Now, we haven't had to do that, but I'm willing to do that. And I guess I'd sum up the whole relationship to the government by saying this, a Christian is to be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian. And if being a good citizen and complying with any regulation means I have to forsake what the Bible says I do, then I will not do that and neither should you. And maybe that means I'd end up in jail.

Okay? I've lived a good life. I've never had a jail ministry. Maybe this is my portal into that new life the Lord has for me. But the church is essential because of its designation, because of its foundation, because of its possession. And finally, the church is essential because of its preservation.

I love this part. You are Peter, upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Just let those words seep into your soul.

The gates of Hades will not prevail against it. There's a lot of chatter out there and a lot of articles being written about the church in this culture right now. And the question that is being asked, I've read articles this week on it, is will the church survive? And in particular, the article that I read, a few of them were called, Will the Church Survive COVID-19? One of the articles that I read got my attention was in the Atlantic monthly. If you're familiar with that magazine, you know that most articles in the Atlantic monthly are quite long, voluminous, circumlocutory.

They like to, they just like listening to themselves it seems like. So I read the article and it was fascinating. They asked, Will the church survive? And they cited all the challenges during COVID-19 of churches having to shut down and go live stream. Many were not equipped to do live stream. They weren't prepared to do it.

So it has caused enormous challenges. And then the article cited the church in different parts of the world throughout history. They talked about Russia. The church in Russia was stamped out by the regime because the grounds were it's the opiate of the people, opiate of the masses.

This was way back when. In European countries, in more recent times, church attendance has been so low, especially in countries where it is state-run churches, and the attendance has been dwindling and COVID has just wiped it out, wiped out church attendance. So the fear is in these articles, and in the one I read in particular, is that many people who were not really that engaged anyway in church before COVID will completely disengage after COVID. That's the fear. And it's a legitimate fear. And I would actually even say that's true. Recent research has found that around half of U.S. adults who attended church before COVID-19 are unlikely to return to church even if public health officials deem it safe.

Did you get that? So even when they say, it's okay now, you can come out of the woods, the sky isn't falling, you're going to make it, get back to work, get back to life, that half of U.S. adults who went to church before are going to say, I'm done. I'm not coming back. Now that's a little ominous. So will the church survive? We need to ask that question to the Jesus who said, here's my idea. I'm going to build a church. So let's ask him. Hey, Jesus, will your church survive COVID-19? Okay, so I'm not asking you, but I appreciate that. He gave us his answer.

Ready? The gates of hell will not prevail against it. That's his answer. Let me explain the text just briefly. In ancient times, cities were built with walls and gates, walls to protect, gates to gain entrance and for people to leave. And so when enemies wanted to attack a city, they would often attack the gates first. But the gate in ancient times is also the place of power, the place of authority. That's where elders met. That's where judges met.

That's where cases were heard. So the gates of Hades, Hades is another word for the grave or the place of the dead. Some translations say hell, gates of hell. So the idea of that is the power of death and hell, or the power of death and Satan.

So you might translate it this way. You can open up hell's gates and unleash all the wicked forces on the church. You can persecute it. You can torture believers. You can kill believers. It's been going on for 2,000 years.

You can burn their buildings down, but guess what? The church will prevail. It is indestructible. It's not going anywhere. And really, the best place to look is, well, let's go back to that day when this man hung on a cross. And there we are at Golgothin. We're looking up and we're remembering that this is the guy who said, I'm going to build my church.

And now he's dying. And some of us would look at that and we go, it's over. Church is over. Whatever plans he had to build a church is over.

Are you kidding? It's just beginning. It's just beginning. And it is going to be followed by a resurrection and 2,000 years now of history that has been stunning. So I have a better question than, will the church survive COVID-19?

Ready? Here's the question. Will your faith survive COVID-19? Will your faith survive COVID-19? With all due respect to our online community, and I do respect them and we do serve that and we will continue to do that, but frankly, you know, people are getting used to getting up and just wearing their PJs all day long and sitting on a couch and turning on the TV and watching church. I've had people say, you know, I kind of got up one day and thought, I don't want to get my kids ready.

I can just sit on the couch with my popcorn and watch church. I understand that. I get that.

I do. And some people are waiting for this vaccine. They're all excited about this vaccine.

95% effective. Yeah. Okay.

Let me, let me throw a little wrench into that thinking. What if the virus mutates the wrong way? Oh, well, I haven't thought of that. Okay. Well, and, or what if in two, three years, a different virus comes? Then what?

Yes. Isolation mitigates risk. That's why we do it. We isolate because of the risk, but what are you willing to risk for your spiritual health? What are you willing to risk for your mental health? What are you willing to risk for your emotional health? Listen, last time I checked, life is about risk. You get up in the morning, that's risky. Man, you can walk through the garage, not see where you're going and hit your head on a bicycle and get a subdural hematoma.

That's what happened to me. Now, do I say I will never walk in a garage again? No, I'll just look where I'm going next time. So, bottom line principle, faith rarely grows in isolation. Faith rarely grows in isolation. It's one of the reasons Jesus started his church in the first place. So, as I close, let me just say, make it to church, whether it's online or in person, whether it's sitting outside or inside. And if you're going to be online, great, but don't just sit there with the popcorn and watch, stand up and sing the songs. Better yet, invite people over, even if you're 10, 20, 30 feet apart or whatever it takes, but be in some kind of proximity to share the experience with others in a watch party and make it to church. Make it a priority to go to church. Because it's not just about you and Jesus.

See, that's the fallacy in the American church. You know, everything is about us. My personal Instagram, my personal feed, I curate what I want to see, who I want to see, when I want to see it, and we're used to it. It's all about me.

It's not. In the church, the question isn't, it's not about you and Jesus. You know, we tell, I have a personal relationship with Christ. What a lot of people mean by that is, I have my own private relationship with Christ. No, you do not.

No, you do not. It's not about Jesus and you. It's about Jesus and us.

It's a new community. How did Jesus teach us to pray? Did he say, and when you pray, say, my Father, who art in heaven, our Father, who art in heaven, give us this day our day, our day, our day, our day, our daily bread. Forgive us, our trespasses. It's done collectively. It's done with the community in mind. This is the church of the living God, the pillar in the ground of truth, and we need each other, and we are essential to God. We are essential to the Lord Jesus Christ as his bride. We are essential to each other's spiritual health, and we are essential in this organized way to the world at large. Church is essential. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series 2020. Now, here's Skip to share how you can help keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and others around the world with God's Word.

Well, we all know that life is filled with ups and downs, but God remains our steady constant. Our heart is to bring people closer to him so they can have a relationship and enjoy the riches of his Word. Your gift today means we can keep sharing these teachings that you love for many more years to come.

Would you consider sharing a gift today and giving the gift of Scripture to so many others? Here's how you can do that. To give today, simply call 800-922-1888.

That number again is 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your generosity helps keep this biblical encouragement coming your way and going out around the world to help change more lives. And did you know there's an exciting biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? You can find several of Skip's Bible reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app. Simply download the app and search Skip Heitzig. Come back tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares how the church demonstrates God's glory and how you can live to glorify the Lord. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-23 04:35:17 / 2023-04-23 04:44:57 / 10

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