Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus announced the beginning of His church. Ever wonder what exactly that meant? The word “church” is understood in many different ways today (building, organization, group of Christians) and it also had various definitions during the time of Jesus too (a gathering of people for political reasons, a group of like minded people). It is interesting to note that it didn’t take on a predominantly Christian definition until after Jesus. So, when Jesus said He would build His church, it could have created some questions – what does He mean by that?
Jesus was primarily talking about the inauguration of a new community of people that would be scattered over the face of the earth to continue the movement He started. It is true that Jesus came to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the price for our sin and to extend to us the opportunity of forgiveness and salvation. But, that is not all He did. In Luke 4 Jesus declared, publicly, His mission to be “bringing Good News to the poor, proclaiming the release of the captives, healing the blind, freeing the oppressed, and declaring God’s favor had come.” (Luke 4:18-19). This community He was launching with Peter was to continue that movement and change the world.
Soon after the ascension of Jesus in Acts Peter does just that. He stands and proclaims the truth of Jesus to thousands of people and many come to believe in the Good News! The movement was continuing. All the great things Jesus taught and did would continue on through this church which no one could stop. The movement that is still moving and still changing lives today.
When Jesus announced the establishment of His church it wasn’t the beginning of a new organization or a new religion, it was the beginning of a new and better way to live life. As people all over the world have witnessed His mighty work and heard His amazing Truth the movement has continued to grow and reach people in all walks of life and in every situation.
What He started 2,000 years ago is still the best there is today. We have seen countless movements for many different things come and go in our society. Things that are trendy today might not be trendy tomorrow as everything just seems to be changing at an incredible rate. But, the one thing that has stood the test of time and remains just as true today as it was the day it started is the church of Jesus Christ. Being a part of His movement, of His family, is still the best way to live life. Is still the best and only way to experience true freedom, healing, and life transformation. It is a movement not even the powers of hell can stop. The best news of all – everyone is welcome to join the movement – have you? Will you?
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
What does the Gospel do for us? I know The Gospel Story tells me how I can be forgiven of my sins and go to heaven, but is that it? What does the Gospel do for me today? Does it have anything to say about my present reality and struggles that I face every day?
The Gospel Story is the most powerful and profound story ever told. This story removes every excuse we have ever given for all the bad decision we have made and continue to make. When we seriously consider the full Gospel story we have no excuse for living defeated or defined by sin and destructive life styles. When we trust in Jesus that is simply not an option, it is not part of the Gospel Story.
Paul tell us in Romans 6 that when we are baptized into Jesus (when we accept Him as Lord of our life and truly believe He died for us and rose again) we are like Him in death and in life. What Paul means is that Jesus died the death we couldn’t and lived the life we couldn’t so we might finally be able to be set free and live how God created us to. When Jesus died on the cross for us He broke the power of sin in our life and when He rose from the grave He made it possible for us to live a new and different life.
Paul uses some pretty strong words. He says, “When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life.” There are not more excuses – only Jesus.
We might want to argue back and say but I am not Jesus! I can’t do that! You are totally right. You are not Jesus and you can’t do that. Which is exactly why Jesus has done it for us and given us the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus we are not living in our own power but in His power. We are living in the power that created everything, that defeated Satan, and that rose Jesus from the dead! Sin has no say and we have no excuse. Live in the power of The Gospel Story! Live in Jesus!
In the beginning there was no life. Everything was dark, formless, and void. Then, one day God spoke and creation took shape. Light broke through the darkness, order out of chaos, and something came out of nothing. He took humanity and breathed life into us. Giving us all we needed to survive – food, space, community, and purpose. But, it wouldn’t be long before we started to doubt His goodness and stop trusting in His sovereignty. We wanted more – He wasn’t good enough anymore. We fell for an alternative story, a lesser story, a lie. What story are you living by today?
The lesser story led to pain, suffering, guilt, shame, broken relationships, and death. We died relationally, spiritually, and physically. When we chose to live without God we learned quickly that life without Him is painful. In fact, there is no life apart from the one who breathed life into us. We tried to hide from Him, in our guilt and shame, but we failed. He quickly found us. We could see the hurt in His eyes and hear the compassion in His voice. He wanted us back. We started to wonder – how can we ever get back? Who will ever be able to save us?
God didn’t leave us in this death for long before He started working on His plan to redeem us and bring us back to the good He originally created us for. We failed and continued to turn from Him, over and over and over. But, He is persistent and continued to pursue us. Even saving us from our own sin and chaos time and time again. Eventually He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for us and put an end to the death. Jesus was the One we have been waiting for. He is the one to save us. God isn’t just our creator, now we know Him as our redeemer.
This redemption wasn’t just from death but it was also to life. All along the way we can see where His redemptive plan was breaking through and His grace was at work. That time our enemy became our friend. That mountain that got moved. The wall that got knocked down. The chains that fell off. The freedom we found. The countless victories He won for us. All this gives us hope that one day we will be in His good presence fully and be back with Him walking in that good and perfect garden. One day, we will be back in chapter 1. We just need to trust Him again. We need to hold on to His story.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.