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The Keys To The Kingdom Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 26, 2022 1:00 am

The Keys To The Kingdom Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 26, 2022 1:00 am

Many people might compliment Jesus as a historical figure or a prophet, but few confess He is God. When Peter confessed Jesus’ divinity and humanity, he was entrusted with the keys to the kingdom. In this message from Matthew 16, we notice three differing opinions about Christ. Whose opinion matters the most? 

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Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts
In Touch
Charles Stanley

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. One day in northern Israel, in a place called Caesarea Philippi, Peter found himself entrusted with some keys, keys handed to him by none other than Jesus, keys to open a really big door.

To find out more, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we are studying the life of Peter, a man chiseled by the Master's hand. Today, we're in Matthew chapter 16 on a pivotal day for Peter, a day on which Christ gave to him the keys to the kingdom. And you know, Dave, in my book entitled Hitler's Cross, where I discuss the role of the church during Nazi Germany, I have a section entitled Did the Gates of Hell Prevail? It's actually based on the passage of scripture that you referenced that I'm going to be speaking about in a moment.

How do we understand the words of Jesus? I'm giving to you the keys to the kingdom. By the way, this is the last week we are making this resource available for you. It's entitled Hitler's Cross. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully to the scripture and the promise that Jesus made. You know, I'm sure that if you were to stand in the corner of State and Madison Street in Chicago and ask people, who is Jesus Christ? Almost everyone who you asked would want to say something that they think is complimentary. I don't think that there is anyone, perhaps one in a thousand, but very few who would actually want to say something that was derogatory about Jesus. And yet I venture to say that nine out of ten answers, though they appear to be a compliment, are in effect insulting to who Christ really is. It would almost be equivalent to someone asking who you are and someone answering that your X number of pounds of atoms or your X number of pounds of chemicals. And you want to say, well, I may be that, but I'm sure a lot more than that. The very same way when people say, well, I believe that he's a great teacher or a prophet or a wonderful man.

That in itself, if that's all that he is, is indeed an insult. Now if you've been with us, you know that this is the fourth in a series of messages on the life of Peter. First of all, we noticed in the first message that Jesus said, thou art Simon and thou shalt be called Peter, which is by interpretation of stone.

I'm not only going to change your name, I'm going to change your character. In message number two, Jesus said, what you need to do, Peter, is to become a fisher of men. And to illustrate, Jesus said to Peter, you can put your net in at the wrong place in the wrong time and I'll still fill it.

Because soul winning, catching fish, is something that I am actively involved in and will help you to do. In the third message, we noticed last week how Peter was walking on the water and needed to learn that the very water that was threatening to be over his head was under Christ's feet. Today we come to that important passage in the 16th chapter of Matthew. Matthew 16, and it's a section of scripture that everyone has heard many times involving even some controversies.

But it's one in which Peter confesses who Jesus Christ really is. And I want you to notice that Jesus, first of all, begins by asking, who do the crowds say I am? Now he knew who the religious leaders thought he was. In Matthew chapter 12, they said that Jesus was Beelzebub.

He was Satan. That's what the religious crowd thought of Jesus. But Jesus begins this passage by asking, what do the crowds say? So what I want you to notice today are three opinions of Christ. Three opinions of Christ. Chapter 16, verse 13 of Matthew, now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he began asking his disciples saying, who do people say that the Son of Man is? And now they begin to delineate three different opinions with a possible fourth. They say, well, some people say that you are John the Baptist.

Why would they say that? Well, they'd probably get it from Herod Antipas. In the 14th chapter of Matthew, you remember Herod beheaded John the Baptist in response to the wish of one of the belly dancers that was there in the king's court. And after beheading John the Baptist, Jesus begins to show up doing miracles and Herod says to himself, this must be John the Baptist whom I beheaded. And so many people thought that perhaps that was the answer is that Jesus was some kind of a resurrected John. Well, there's a second opinion. Some said, well, we think that you are Elijah.

Why would they say that? I want you to take your Bible and look at the beginning of Matthew, the dividing line between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Look at the very last page of the Old Testament. The prophet Malachi is making a prediction here and he says in chapter 4 verse 5, Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming and the great and terrible day of the Lord.

And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse. Many people looked at this prophecy and they interpreted it very literally. They said that Elijah is going to be raised and return. Now, actually, John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy. He himself was not Elijah actually. He denied being Elijah, but it does say that he was the fulfillment of this prophecy because an angel said in Luke chapter 1 verse 17, before John was born, he shall go forth in the strength and the power of Elijah. So John the Baptist was not Elijah reincarnated.

He was not Elijah resurrected, but he had the spirit and the power of that great Old Testament prophet Elijah. So there were many people who said, well, this Jesus must be Elijah. And then some say you are Jeremiah, verse 14.

Why Jeremiah? Well, Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He was the prophet who was able to bear upon his own soul the sins of the people and feel keenly their rebellion and their hostility toward God. And Jesus was a weeping prophet. Jesus was serious. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. It is clear that Jesus was born into this world with a very strong burden, with heaviness of spirit. As he saw the people reject him and knew fully what the implications of that rejection really were. And so they said, you might be Jeremiah.

They all thought that he's got to be some Old Testament personage that is either reincarnated or raised from the dead or one of the prophets. I want you to know today that the world has no better an understanding of Christ than the ancient world, than those who actually lived during the time of Jesus. But I also want you to know that those people who have a twisted or wrong view of Jesus, their view is really the product of some willful rebellion.

It is a product of a willful turning away from the facts. And we'll see that in just a moment. So first of all, you have the opinions of the crowd. Secondly, you have the opinion of Peter, who speaks for all the other disciples. Verse 15, but he said to them, who do you say that I am? The Greek text is, but you.

You're saying that, but you, what are you saying about me? Simon Peter answered and said to thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. What he said was that in the Old Testament, there were predictions that there would be a man who would come, who would be a prophet. He would be into truth. He would be a priest. He would make a sacrifice for sins as a high priest to abolish the Old Testament priesthood, which would no longer be necessary because there would now be a priest who could bear the sins of the world. And he would be a king. He would be the ruler. He would be a man of truth, prophet. He would be a priest, a man to put an end to all false religion and himself being the one to get people to God.

And he would also be king. Church and state would be united in his person, king, prophet and priest. And Simon Peter looked at him and said, you are Messiah. That's what the Greek text really means.

The word Christ translation of the Old Testament. You are the Messiah. You are the fulfillment of all of the prophecies that were made in the Old Testament. And you are the son of the living God. You are God, a very God. You are the God, the man that you are, the one who unites in your person, divinity and humanity into one. And I need to pause here and tell you that there are some people who think and they generally come to your door on a Sunday morning or a Saturday morning and they like to tell you that Jesus Christ is not quite God. He is a created being. And I want to tell you today that if Jesus Christ is not quite God, he is like a bridge that is broken at the farthest end.

He is unable to redeem anybody unless he is God, a very God. And Simon Peter looked upon the one whom he had come to adore and to love and to worship. And he says, you are the Christ, the son of the living God.

And I want to ask you a question today. Where did that information come from in Peter's mind? Was that faith something that was within him that was just waiting to be released?

Was it because of Peter's upbringing? Was it because of the fact that he had within himself the potential to see the light? Well, that's the way we think, but that's not what Jesus said. Jesus said, blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Jesus said that Peter, despite all the facts, despite all the information that has been given to you, despite all the argumentation that somebody might be willing to lay on you regarding my divinity, the bottom line is that if my Father had not revealed it to you and given you that enlightenment, you would not have come to that conclusion.

The faith by which you believe is granted as a gift of God. My Father showed it to you. Let me ask you, do you stand today with Peter and say, my heart is filled with praise and gratitude to God because I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the son of the living God. You say, yes, Pastor Lutzer, that's exactly what is in my heart. I want you to know today that that is the result of a miracle. It is a result of the same miracle that God did in the life of Peter to show you that truth, because apart from that, you will argue against it. You will be blind to it.

You will give alternatives to it. You will stand against it with all that is within you, no matter what the facts are, because the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God. They are spiritually understood. And because of that, unless God shows it to us, we will not see it. Now he uses the word of God and he uses this very message that is being preached to those of you whose hearts are closed today to Christ. But it is a work, a ministry of God.

The light that shone out of darkness in creation pulses is the same light that has shown in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. You say, Pastor Luther, today I have the assurance that I belong to God. You are a walking miracle. You're a walking miracle. God has showed you something.

He has worked in your life. Now I want you to notice what else Jesus says to him. I say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. You say, well, was the church built on Peter?

I don't think so because, as you may know, there are two different Greek words that are used here. You are petros, meaning a stone, and upon this rock, this slab of rock, I will build my church. But if the church is built upon Peter, he can't be the primary foundation because elsewhere it says no foundation has ever been laid, but that which is Jesus Christ.

To build the church on a man would be to build on the sand, for sure. But also, even if we say that in some respects the church is built on Peter, two comments must be very quickly made. First of all, there's no evidence that his authority is transferable. And secondly, there's no evidence that it's been transferred to what is generally called today the papacy.

That whole stream of tradition grew up quite independently of New Testament teaching. But Jesus does give Peter a very important responsibility. He says in verse 19, I will give you the keys of the kingdom. Whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. What are these keys? Well, you know that the purpose of keys, of course, is to make sure that you can get in a door or you can close a door.

You can lock it so nobody can pass through it. And Jesus is saying, Peter, you are going to have some keys by which my kingdom is going to be opened and extended. And of course, we look at the book of Acts and we can see how clearly this was fulfilled. There was Peter not just on the day of Pentecost preaching to a large crowd of people, leading them to faith in Christ. But in addition, when the gospel was going to go to the Gentiles, such as to Cornelius, God used Peter and showed him that now these narrow views that the gospel is only for the house of Israel need to be blown apart and that the Gentiles would be also heirs of eternal life. And later on, the apostle Paul became used of God as a minister to the Gentiles to show that from now on the keys of the kingdom are worldwide. What does it mean when it says whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven? Whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven? By the way, that statement is not just made to Peter. It is made to all the disciples.

This was not something special. You say, well, how do you know that? Take your Bible and turn it just one page to chapter 18, verse 18.

Eighteen eighteen. Notice that Christ is speaking now to all the disciples and says the very same thing. You know, in English, the word you can be either plural or singular. Here, it is plural in Greek. Christ is saying 18 verse 18.

And here the southerners have an advantage because they can take singulars and make them into plurals. And we can understand it more clearly. Truly, I say to you, whatever y'all shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven. And whatever y'all loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

It's plural. It refers to all the disciples. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. Of course, God gave awesome authority to the church. Sometimes that authority was misused. But the question that we have to ask is, why is it that oftentimes the church appears to be so weak in the face of opposition? In my book entitled Hitler's Cross, the subtitle is How the Cross of Christ was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda. I discuss these kinds of issues because believe it or not, there were believers in Germany that did stand true to their faith. And of course, most of them lost their lives.

Tremendous lessons that we must learn. We're making this resource available to you for a gift of any amount. Here's what you can do. Go to That's or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us because we desire that the gospel of Jesus Christ go to as many people as possible. And together, we're thankful that the ministry of running to win is in 20 different countries in four different languages. So here's what you do if you want a copy of the book, Hitler's Cross.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. Today's question, Dr. Lutzer, comes to us from Patrick, and he lives in North Carolina. He says, I'm 83 years old and made a profession of faith in 1951. I believe I went through a period of reformation, but I'm not sure I was regenerated. My behavior has changed, but I have been looking for the assurance of salvation for over 50 years.

I've heard you say saving faith is the deep, settled conviction that what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us is all that we need to stand in the presence of a holy God. I believe that, but I'm not sure that I've ever appropriated that for myself. Many years ago, a preacher told me I was going by my feelings.

Maybe so, but I can't stop looking within. The Bible says the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. I want that witness. I know I'm a sinner, and I'm lost unless I've been genuinely converted. I have some faith, but I'm not sure it's saving faith. I need a real work of God in my heart. Can you help me? Well, Patrick, I'm so glad that you wrote, and I wish that we could have a cup of tea together, and then we'd be able to dialogue regarding your spiritual journey, and I might be able to find out a little bit more as to why you continue to doubt.

But here's what I'd like to suggest to you. It is possible to be genuinely saved and still have doubts. Visualize an airplane. Two people are sitting next to each other. The one has never flown before. In fact, this happened to me. A young woman had never flown before. She was so scared. She said, is it going to be as bad as a roller coaster?

She asked me, and I said, I sure hope not. Now, I've flown many times. So she was filled with doubts. I was confident.

We both arrived at the same time. In the very same way, there are Christians who have doubts, but they have believed in Jesus, and they are saved. I trust that that is true of you. And in order for you to find that faith—remember, the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I encourage you to continue to cleave to the promises of God, the promises that I'm sure you know so well about salvation and the assurance of faith. And what you need to do is to recognize that as you submit to God and as you claim those promises, I pray that light will break into your soul. The ministry and the witness of the Spirit will be there, and you'll have the assurance that you belong to God.

Final footnote to this. I've discovered that those who have grown up with a great deal of emotional pain sometimes struggle more with assurance of salvation, and that's understandable. They've gone through such a topsy-turvy experience in their childhood, perhaps, and that begins to work its way out, and they find it difficult to fully trust and to fully believe. But keep believing, keep trusting the promises are there for you, and I hope someday, Patrick, I'll see you in heaven. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, and thank you, Patrick, for your honest question. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus revealed to Peter that He was the Son of the living God.

We can find this to be true as well. Like Peter, we must answer the question, what do you think of Christ? Next time on Running to Win, we conclude our look at a pivotal moment for Peter, when Christ conferred on him the keys to the kingdom, and why some see Peter here becoming the first pope. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-19 18:00:24 / 2023-03-19 18:09:02 / 9

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