By Sean Gooding
Matthew Chapter 16: 13-20 (continued)
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.”
Two weeks ago we talked about the danger of doctrines coming in and choking the life out of the truth. Men love their traditions, and it is so easy for traditions to come in and become more important than the Word of God. We men like to think that we are important, and so we like to make rules that bind people, or even more sinister, we make rules that we claim clarify God’s rules. Soon, we spend more time enforcing our rules at the expense of the Bible.
Today we will deal with the importance of one particular foundational doctrine. This may seem trivial to many in the church world today; but like any home, if the foundation is weak, then the whole house is weak. The NT churches around the globe and in North America are under attack and will continue to be under attack until Jesus comes. The only way that we will withstand the stormy future that is coming upon us is if we have a sure and secure foundation.
Who is Jesus? Verses 13-16
This is the dividing line in the sand for true Christianity versus false doctrine. This is the question that I ask people who tell me that they are saved in Christ. I ask them, “Who is Jesus?” A true Christian will know this. The Spirit of God in them will identify to them who Jesus is. A small child may not know everything about life, but they will know their parents: their voice, their feel, their smell and even their heart beat. They can identify who the parent is.
There are all kinds of explanations as to who Jesus is: a good man; a prophet; some in that day even thought he was John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah who had come back to preach to Israel. But Jesus puts the questions of His identity squarely in Peter’s lap:
“But who do you say that I am?”
This is an important step in salvation. One must take responsibility for one’s beliefs about God. It does not matter what your parents did, that they took you to Sunday school or that Dad was a preacher, a deacon or a missionary. “Who do you say Jesus is?” This is the proverbial ‘shoe hits the road’ moment. You and I must take responsibility for our beliefs about Jesus.
There is a doctrine out there that teaches that God has chosen a select group to be saved and all others will perish. It is the doctrine of Calvinism. However, the Bible teaches that man was designed with the ability to choose God or to reject God. From the very creation, God gave man choices. Adam was allowed to eat from every tree of the Garden, but not the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2: 15-17). The tree was put there so that they could have a choice. God is not interested in robotic allegiance; He wants someone to choose Him, to choose to worship, obey and love Him.
Peter makes this statement in verse 16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In this he was surmising the total ministry and person of Jesus. The word Christ in Greek comes from the word Christos, according to Strong’s Concordance. This word can be translated as ‘anointed.’
If we were to research the OT scriptures, we would find that only two offices in Israel were anointed: the office of High Priest and that of King. Anointing was the act of pouring oil on a person to signify God’s choice and blessing on their call to either the office of High Priest or King. In Leviticus 8:12 we find Aaron being anointed as High Priest, and in 1 Samuel 16:13 we find David being anointed as King. Jesus is the fulfillment of both of the offices. He is our High Priest and He is our King. More accurately, He is the rightful King of Israel, from the tribe of Judah. In Hebrew 4: 14-18, he is called our High Priest. But further beyond that, Peter identifies Jesus as the Son of God.
We had established back in chapter 3 that God has called Jesus His Son, and we learned in John 5:18 that when Jesus identified himself as the Son of God that the people took up stones to kill him for blasphemy, since claiming to be the Son of God made Him equal with God.
So here we have the complete summation of Jesus made for us: He is our High Priest and King, and above all that He is God.
As our High Priest, only He can approach the Mercy Seat of God for the atonement of our sins. Thus it is pointless to pray to Mary or any of the Catholic saints. They are dead and they cannot hear you. Only Jesus is our High Priest and only He can approach God for you.
Also important for us to understand is that there are religions that call Jesus Lord, BUT they add to Him as well. They have other people whom they worship, be it Mary, or Peter, or the Pope, or Joseph Smith, or anyone else. There is NO OTHER! It is Jesus and Jesus alone. This same Peter, when questioned by Jesus about whether he would leave Him like some of the others, made this enlightened statement in John 6:68:
“To whom else shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Jesus and Jesus alone is the “author and finisher of our faith.”
As our King we can be assured that He is in charge of everything that is happening, whether it appears to be ‘good, bad or ugly.’ As our King we can be assured that He cannot be defeated. What appeared on the surface to be a defeat, the Cross, was and is the greatest military victory in the history of man. In man’s war the generals send the foot soldiers out to fight, and they live. In this war the General went to the battle for us, was killed and then was raised from the dead by God to give victory to all the soldiers.
As the Living God, we can be assured that nothing in this world surprises Him. He is all knowing and all powerful. He created this earth and only He can destroy it, no matter what Al Gore or David Suzuki think. Man cannot destroy what God has built. We can rest in the security of this verse:
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
God the Father reveals this to us, verse 17
There is certain clarity that comes to us when we allow the Holy Spirit to come in and take over. We begin to see the world in ways that we simply could not have before. One of the ways that our eyes are opened is that we see and understand who Jesus is. We understand and believe that He is God, and that belief is fundamentally unshakable. With the exception of Judas who betrayed Jesus, all of the apostles, including Paul (who began by hating the people of Jesus), died for the cause of Christ. They went to the grave, some by very painful methods, attesting to the fact that Jesus is God.
Now we live in a world of fanaticism. We see it every day in the news: men and women who blow themselves up for the sake of a religion. They are promised some great reward in eternity; the men get 72 virgins, and I am not sure what the women get since their religion despises them. But the apostles and the millions, who have died for the name of Jesus, only had the Promise that they would be with Jesus wherever He is. Thus they died trusting that their greatest reward was simply to be in His presence. That is faith.
God gives us this kind of faith. We see in Ephesians 2:8 that it says we are saved by grace through faith, and that faith is a gift from God. God does the saving; He extends the grace to us and He gifts us the faith to believe. Salvation is designed by, sustained by, provided by and gifted to us by God the Father.
Jesus, the Rock of the NT Church, verse 18
Since Jesus is our High Priest, He is our King and He is God in the flesh, then He and He alone can be the foundation of the NT church. There is a very large religion, that of Catholicism, that would have you believe that Peter is the rock of the church. He is not. Jesus is the Rock against whom the gates of Hell cannot prevail.
Folks, in a few chapters, not far from where we are reading, we will see where this very same Peter betrays Jesus; he is afraid of some servant girl, and denies Jesus. He is NOT the rock of the Lord’s church. Jesus is that Rock. In 1 Corinthians 10: 4, Jesus is called the ‘Rock’ that followed Israel in the wilderness. In Isaiah 28: 16 we find these comforting words:
“Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.”
In Acts 4: 10-12, we find these powerful words:
“Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
“He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
In Ephesians 2: 20-22, Jesus is called the cornerstone upon whom the whole building is fitted together. Jesus is the very foundation, the Rock and the Cornerstone of all that we have in God. In Jesus you have it all and without Jesus you have nothing. It truly is that simple. We should stop confusing people and should not tolerate those that do.
We are not talking about some innocent mistake; we are talking about denying Jesus as the only means and way of salvation. This is from Hell.
Think of all the people, some 1,000,000,000 worldwide who adhere to the Catholic religion— many who claim to believe in Jesus, yet they still worship the saints and Mary. They treat Mary as an equal with Jesus, but she is not; she was just a lost sinner who needed to be saved just like you and I.
These people are lost and without Christ. This perversion is spiritual murder, and we need to be diligent not to fall for it, nor encourage it.
In this age of the ‘COEXIST’ movement led by the Pope, the Lord’s NT churches need to stand up and make it clear that Jesus is the only way! No exceptions, no excuses, and no apologies.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).
Sean Gooding, Pastor
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
THE GOAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CROSS
By Sean Gooding
Matthew Chapter 16: 21-23 (continued)
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Last week we showed that Jesus is the only Rock of the church. There are some religions that teach that the apostle Peter is the ‘rock’ of the church. This is pure heresy, and it diminishes the power and role of Jesus. It makes a mockery of what Jesus came to do. It makes light of all that Jesus sacrificed and gave up for us. Once again I must state that Jesus is the firm foundation of the NT church. He is our Rock upon which we stand. If you are standing on anyone or anything other than Jesus, you are standing on ‘quicksand,’ and you are in a very bad situation.
Today we will move on and look at the cost to us in the Christian life. There is a cost, and without a cost you need to ask yourself if you are truly maturing as a Christian. Jesus left Heaven heading for the cross, and if we are to go to Heaven, there is need for us to bear our crosses as well. Each one of us will have different crosses to bear, but the Christian life must and will cost you something, someone or maybe somewhere. Be wary of a life for Christ that is without sacrifice. All of the apostles had to leave something to turn to Jesus. Every Christian must do the same. See Peter’s confession here in Mark 10:28:
“Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”
Christianity without cost is not true Christianity. Be wary of cheap salvation and a cheap Christian life. Our salvation was not cheap; it is offered freely to us, but it was and is not cheap.
Calvary’s Cross, verse 21
The book of the Revelation tells us that Jesus was a ‘Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth’ (Revelation 13:8). The same information is repeated for us in 1 Peter 1:20. This is hard for us to get sometimes, and when we read the Genesis account of the Fall of Man we get the idea that our salvation was a contingency plan. No! No! No! Our salvation was The Plan from before creation. This very, VERY important for us to understand. Jesus is the Creator of the Universe. In John 1: 1-4 we read the following:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
So, let us take this journey through the verses we have explored. Here we see that Jesus, in John 1:3, created all things, and that without Him nothing was made. So let that sink in. Now, let us remember that Jesus is God. He knew that Adam would sin, He knew that salvation would cost Him His life, and He knew that He would have to die, and yet still He spoke the worlds into existence. Now, let that sink in. In the book of the Psalms it would be ‘Selah.’
Now, not only did Jesus know that He would have to die, He could have scheduled His death at any time in history, yet He chose to come when the Roman government was ruling. It was they who perfected the death on the cross, and it was they who literally took execution to the ‘next level.’ They invented the long, drawn-out death that Jesus would go through.
Jesus, knowing what man’s sin would cost and that the cost would be excruciating, still did two things: One, He agreed to be our sacrifice before we ever sinned. And two, He went ahead and spoke the worlds into existence. He still put Adam in the Garden, and He still made the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and He still gave Adam and Eve free will (Genesis 1–3).
Jesus literally planned His execution for our sins. He breathed into man the breath of life, knowing that man would take His breath. Jesus’ death on the cross was not a contingency plan; it was the plan before He ever had one star on the horizon or one planet in orbit.
In verse 21, we are considering that Jesus said that ‘He must go to Jerusalem.’ And further that ‘He must suffer many things of the elders, chief priests and scribes.’ He set this plan in place about 4,000 years before, when He breathed into man the ‘breath of life.’ All of the events from then have been heading to th 0+e cross at Calvary.
This was an event planned by God. He brought all of human history to bear for this purpose. Every war, every plague, and every idea He allowed to prosper — the flood, the birth of Israel, the judgments on Israel — everything was done to funnel events so that Jesus would die on the cross at Calvary on that particular day, by the hands of Roman government and with these particular men and women watching. Jesus set this up. Jesus managed it and Jesus fulfilled it to the exact design that He put in place.
Why, you ask, would Jesus do this? Because, unlike the gods of the world, whether it be the carved stone, wood or precious metals of the pagans, or whether it be Lucifer who is the megalomaniac behind all false religion, or whether it be the ‘Mother Earth’ that is being pushed on us by the governments of the world – what separates the True and Living God from these imposters is that He loves us. All other gods are impersonal; even Lucifer only lives to take. We are told that he is a liar and the father of liars, and we are told he is a lion seeking to destroy (1 Peter 5:8). But God’s love for us compelled Him to want to be loved by a people who chose Him.
He knew we would sin and become helpless sinners, but in His love for us He decided to come and die for us. He set up the rules of redemption. In Hebrews 9:22 we read: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
Knowing that He would have to submit to His own rule to redeem us, He still did it. Romans 5:8 tells us this: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
There is a heresy out there called Calvinism that would have us believe that Jesus selects certain people to go to Heaven and others to go to Hell. This is basically to put a stop to evangelism. All the way through the Bible we have the idea of choice. Adam had to choose to eat the fruit; even Satan could not make him eat. Genesis 3:6 says:
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
In Joshua 24:15 we are encouraged to ‘choose.’ In Deuteronomy 30:19 we find this challenge/warning from God: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
God chose the method of redemption—belief in Jesus’ death, burial and His resurrection for our sins. BUT, you must choose to believe and accept the payment. It cost Jesus everything, and it is offered to ALL mankind, everywhere freely.
Be wary of ‘crossless Christianity,’ verse 22-23
The cross of Jesus Christ is offensive. It was designed to be offensive.
These apostle ‘nobodies’ could finally see the fruit of their sacrifice. They had a leader that could raise the dead and make food for thousands out of a few pieces of fish and bread. He could heal the sick, fix broken limbs, walk on water, and the multitudes loved Him. These ‘no name men’ could finally see the end, the restoration of Israel, with Jesus as her king, and they as her lords. They could taste victory. The journey from fishermen to princes had been long, but the journey had taken the turn; and they were headed to Jerusalem to throw out the Gentile pigs that dared to set foot on their holy soil…
BUT Jesus kept talking about being crucified and executed. He just would not shut up about being beaten, bruised, shamed and buried, and this was not what they all wanted to hear. Finally Peter could not take it anymore, so he took Jesus aside to ‘rebuke Him.’ Imagine this if you will… no, take a minute and think about this. Peter takes God aside to set Him straight. Let that sink in. And before we get all ‘holier than thou,’ let us ask ourselves how often do we do the exact same thing. Our prayers are not humble supplications, asking God for His All-Knowing wisdom to override our limited sight; BUT, we actually tell God what to do and how to do it.
We are all Peters to some degree. We have a vision of how we want our Christian life to go, and we have no shame in telling God that He messed up and that we are going down the wrong path. ‘Hey God, this is not what we had planned when we signed on to the ‘follow me’ thing.’
But Jesus quickly reminds Peter of who is God and who is not. He rebukes him and reminds him that without the cross there is no victory, no kingdom and no salvation. You see, Peter was thinking like a mortal man, just seeing the now and not looking toward the future. All he could see was the physical world in front of him, and he lost sight of eternity.
You see, Jesus knows where you are going and what He planned for you before He made you. He knew where I would be today even before He spoke the worlds into existence 6,000 years ago. Jesus knew you would follow Him, He knew I would follow Him, and that is what He expects – FOLLOW, do not begin to lead; that is His job.
Folks, Jesus had to go to the cross of Calvary, and in the same way you have to go through the journey He has chosen for you. There is a path that you are on that shapes the image of Jesus in you. Jesus knows this and He must take you on this path. Trust Him.
But to bring us back to the point, be wary of those that want to talk about Jesus but make no mention of the cross at Calvary. That would be like talking about the ocean but never mentioning that it is wet and/or salty. You see, they want to stop talking about the cross since it is symbiotically tied to sin. And man, do we hate to talk about sin with people. But it is our sin that was the foundation of the need for the cross, and without our sin the cross was not necessary. So to refuse to speak of sin is to make Jesus a fool.
You see, without my sin, your sin, our sin, then Jesus died for nothing. But the journey to the cross did not begin at the manger; it began when the Holy Trinity began to create mankind and saw our fall and our helplessness. And Jesus came to our rescue.
Behold the man hanging on the cross—on Him was laid the sins of us all. In Him they can be forgiven. We can be redeemed from the depths of Hell, and our future secured in the hands of the Living God.
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Sean Gooding Pastor Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church