by Mike Ratliff
27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him. Mark 8:27-30 (NASB)
The Compromised Church is in the lap of apostasy. Why? What is it that Christians do that starts them on the slippery slide into apostasy then heresy? It starts with a denial of the veracity of the Word of God. This takes away the solid foundation of truth that keeps us from going about helter skelter making up theology by the seat of our pants. However, once scripture is either diluted by these attacks or is allowed to be interpreted according to someone who is trying to make it fit a certain theology or lifestyle, the next step into the abyss is the preaching of a different Jesus than the one we find in scripture. This different Jesus is usually a wimp who doesn’t care how far off base anyone’s theology is. Instead, this false Jesus becomes the servant with the leaders in these false churches becoming lord. God becomes a source who has to fulfill their desires based upon their own whims.
What did Jesus say about Himself? We must dig into scripture for that. Let’s look at 4 revelations made by our Lord about Himself, the Church, His own death, the requirements to be His disciple and finally, a prophecy of His Second Coming. Even though that all sounds varied and perhaps unrelated, these statements by our Lord were made one after the other as a Revelation of the Truth about Himself and His church.
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:13-17 (NASB)
This is Jesus’ Revelation of Himself as the King. Peter called Jesus the Christ. That means that He is the Messiah, the coming King of the Jews. Of course, Jesus is far more than just a king of one people. He is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. When Peter made his confession that Jesus is the Christ, he also made the correct statement that Jesus is God. Who is Jesus Christ? He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He is not at the beck and call of anyone. He is King and His Kingdom is coming. Any preaching of Jesus without these facts is painting a flawed picture that falls far short of this revelation.
18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. Matthew 16:18-20 (NASB)
This passage is Jesus’ revelation of the Church. This is also the passage that the Roman Catholic Church has misinterpreted for hundreds of years. Jesus tells Simon that his new name is Peter. This new name means a small rock like a pebble. The word “rock” in v18 is not a pebble, but a huge mountain or escarpment such as the Rock of Gibraltar. The Roman Catholics take this passage to mean that Peter was the one upon which Jesus will build His Church. However, that interpretation does not fit the grammer here. Jesus was telling Peter that his confession of faith in v16 was the result of a revelation from God and that it was a wonderful thing for Peter to express that faith. It is this faith that is the mountain of rock. This faith is given to God’s people by God. It is a gift that allows sinful, ungodly people to be declared righteous as they believe and repent by grace through this faith. It is upon this faith that our Lord will build and is still building His Church. This revelation also includes a promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. This is telling us that the darkness of evil, the gates of hell, cannot stand against the preaching of the gospel. God’s truth is light and the darkest evil cannot stand before it. Who is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven? This is Christ giving his authority to Peter and all other’s who have the same faith as him. Who is that? These are all genuine believers. They have Christ’s authority to declare what was bound or loosed in Heaven. This is speaking of dealing with sin within professing believers and must be understood within the context of Matthew 18:15-17.
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 (NASB)
This is speaking of Church discipline. I fear that it is not practiced much anymore, but since our Lord told us to do it, shouldn’t we do so?
21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 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.” Matthew 16:21-23 (NASB)
This passage is Jesus’ revelation of His death and Resurrection. Jesus revealed how He was going to be killed. He did not tell His Apostles why. What is so disturbing about Peter’s rebuke of our Lord about speaking of this? Do we ever do the same thing? Whenever we try to get Jesus to fit into our idea of who Jesus is instead of how He is revealed in scripture then we are doing the very same thing. How do we know this? Jesus told Peter that anyone who tries to manipulate Him is setting their minds on the things of man, rather than on the things of God. This is rampant in today’s Church. Most professing believers are totally immersed in this world, in the things of this world, not on being alert and ready for the Lord’s return.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NASB)
How do we set our minds on the things of God instead of the things of man? This passage is one of my favorites and is at the core of how I approach my walk before my Lord. It is Jesus’ revelation of His reward to His overcomers. To be alert and ready for Jesus’ return then we must become those humble believers who have given up their lives as their own. Instead, they have died to self, denied themselves and have given up their rights to themselves. They are living for God’s glory and seek to obey their Lord in all things.
27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.
28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 (NASB)
Jesus is coming back. This passage is His prophecy of that fact. What will He do when He comes back? He will come in the glory of the His Father and will repay each person according to what he has done. Now my brethern, are you truly in Christ? Are you His? Are you walking your walk before the face of God by denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ? If not then you are not being alert and becoming prepared for His coming. All of us know of parts of our walks where we fall short of this mark, but that is not an excuse. We know of it because we are convicted of it. Why? So we can know what we must do to become prepared for His coming.
Soli Deo Gloria!