“I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!”
Pastor David here, and I am in New England! If you care anything about New England, just to be more precise, I'm in the state of New Hampshire and behind me is one of the many beautiful churches that dot the landscape throughout New England. You go to any town and you drive around, and on many corners, there are going to be churches like this, churches where they're just preserved in beauty, probably many of them founded in the 1800s, maybe even earlier, depending on the church that you find. But it's just phenomenal to think about the way the gospel was active in New England. Remember the Great Awakening and all that transpired with the great awakenings and how God was at work in powerful ways in building up his church. God began to work in the lives of particular individuals, and the fire of the gospel spread through them into the lives of others. Many thousands of people came to know the Lord. Churches were planted. They called pastors. People will built up in the faith. They continued to reach out. The church continued to grow. An amazing time!
Now, when you visit some of these churches in New England today, what you’ll find is something that, in many ways, is sad. You'll go by a church, and you'll realize that out front, instead of saying “First Baptist Church” of such and such a town, or “First Congregational Church” of such and such a town, now it might be so-and-so city “Memorial Library” or the “Law offices of” whoever might own those law offices. They’re abandoned…no longer places where Jesus Christ's name is exalted, no longer is the Bible opened up and the truth of God's word is spoken into people's lives to build up the body of believers so that they might function like the church and reach out to people around them. In fact, often times, when these churches are still churches, they are so liberal that you would not even find the word of God in them.
Now, we can look at all that and get discouraged and sad, but let me remind you, first of all, that is a very narrow perspective. The United States of America, even the Northeast where there might be a really a dearth of Christianity, is not the total sum of what God is doing in this world. God is active all over the world, and there are people coming to know the Lord in thousands throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. God is still on the move in powerful ways. The United States of America has been a leader in Christianity for a long time, but that leadership is shifting to North Africa and throughout the continent of Africa. As God continues to raise up the church there. So, first of all, keep that perspective.
Secondly, don't lose sight of the fact of what Jesus promised! In Matthew 16, Peter proclaims to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.” Listen to what Jesus says to him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church!” And watch this, “and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” Satan is alive and well in this world. He is wreaking havoc in people's lives, just crushing people under the weight of sin and the flesh and evil. But Jesus says, “you know what, gates of Hell are not going to prevail against my church! I will build it!”
Now, listen, that's a promise you can bank on! Jesus said it. He will do it. So, first of all, let's make sure we have hope in that. Let's not lose sight. When we watch the news or we hear about disturbing stories, don’t lose sight of this amazing promise, “I will build my church!” And, in fact, he is building it.
Secondly, let's jump onboard! Let's be a part of this promise! Let’s be a part of the greatest movement this world will ever know, that is, the gospel spreading into the nations until every nation bows and proclaims that Jesus Christ is Lord! We have the opportunity…I am not going to allow that loud truck to ruin this…we have the opportunity to be a part of this! So, church, can I encourage us today? Let's go out and proclaim. Let’s be a part of the greatest movement this world has ever known. Tell people about Jesus and watch God build his church! Amen? Let's go for it. God is on the move, and we can be a part of it! May God bless your day!
1) Read Matthew 16:18.
2) List out the difficulties that you know of in your church. Instead of complaining or groaning, bring these difficulties to the Lord and ask him to work through the “messiness” of the body of believers and continue to build his church.
3) Think about your role in spreading the gospel. Make a list of people in your life who need Jesus. Ask the Lord to give you courage in sharing the good news with those who need to hear AND ask the Lord to save the people on your list. Let’s go for it!
David is Pastor of Theology and Teaching at Cornerstone where he has been serving since 2020. He has a PhD in Theological Studies from Trinity International University. In addition Pastor David is also currently a Professor of Old Testament at Biola University. David’s life goal and what he describes as “God’s inescapable call on my life” is discipleship. Towards that end, in his career, Dr. Talley has served as a Professor, Pastor, and Board Member of several different missionary and pastoral training outreaches around the world.