Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Roman Catholicism # 2: Upon This Rock

UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH 

What is this rock upon which Jesus is building His church? Some say it is Peter. Let’s take a closer look.   The story is told in Matthew 16:13-23.  Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  He asks them to give Him some feedback from the people.  “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”    They answered that some thought Jesus was a reincarnation of  John the Baptist who had just been beheaded by Herod.  Other thought He was one of the Old Testament prophets.  

Then Jesus asked  His disciples who they thought He was.  Peter, blurted out,

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” 

Jesus responded to Peter, whose original name was Simon, son of Jona.  

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven. And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the  Kingdom of  Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” 

Peter did not come to understand this  through human reasoning.  God Himself had revealed this great truth to Peter.  Nor will you or I ever understand who Jesus is until the Spirit of God enlightens our minds.  To the world the name of Jesus is just used in profanity.  The world mocks and hates Jesus and those who belong to Him.  But one who is born again by the Spirit of God,  loves Jesus.  He is precious to the believer. 

Upon Peter’s confession of Christ,  Jesus explained to His disciples and to us the foundation upon which His Church would be built.  The key to understanding this is found in two Greek words. Petros– meaning a stone  and  Petra– meaning bed rock.

  Let me paraphrase. He said to Simon.Barjona,  “Simon, from now on I am calling you Peter. You are a rock.  But the confession you have just made that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God is the bed rock upon which I am going to build my church.”   Jesus,  not Peter, is the bedrock foundation of His Church.   

Paul in Ephesians 2:20 declares that Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church and that His Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. 

What does he mean by that? It’s not that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, but the doctrine prophesied by the Old Testament prophets and the teachings and doctrine  Jesus gave to the Apostles is the doctrine upon which the Church is established. In Acts 2:42 we learn that the early church continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine. This doctrine, basically the doctrine of Christ that Peter confessed,  is the foundational doctrine upon which the church is built.  It is so essential that it remain pure that if anyone tampers with it and tries to change it, Paul says they are to be recognized as cursed by God.  Galatians 1:6-9.   

The doctrine of Christ is so essential to the Christian Faith that if someone perverts it, we are warned by John in II John 7-11  to have no Christian fellowship with the false teacher. With such a person there is no common ground on which we can work together in doing God’s work. Paul gives the same warning to us in Romans 16:17-18.   “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them (identify them) which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” 

Then in I Corinthians  3:9-11 Paul declares that Jesus is the foundation of the Church. 

Thank God that Peter, nor any other sinful human being,  is the foundation of Christ’s Church.  

 Although Peter later under the control of the Holy Spirit became a powerful preacher and although he was given  the privilege of using the Keys of the Kingdom, to  preach the Gospel and open the door of salvation to the Jews  in Acts 2,  to the Samaritans in Acts 8  and to the Gentiles in Acts 10; Peter by nature was a weak, cowardly, hypocritical,  vacillating person.  

Jesus called him a Rock as He looked ahead to what He was going to make of him. But Peter, by nature, was anything but a rock.  Three times he shamefully showed his cowardice at Jesus trial by denying that he even knew Christ.    

Later as a preacher he manifested cowardice and hypocrisy when under pressure.  Paul writes about it in Galatians 2:11-18.  Peter had been eating and having fellowship with Gentile believers in Antioch, as a good Christian should.  But when Jewish believers came from Jerusalem,  Peter immediately distanced himself from the Gentile believers because he feared what the Jewish believers would think of him. 

Paul immediately took action.  He confronted Peter concerning his duplicity and hypocrisy and taught him that Gentile believers were just as much a part of the church as Jewish believers. You can read the entire conversation in Galatians 2.  

How would you feel if some preacher, such as Paul,  approached you this way in front of all the others?  Would you grow  bitter and resentful?  Thank God, Peter accepted Paul’s correction humbly.   Later on  in II Peter 3:15  Peter refers to Paul as his beloved brother.  Thank God that Peter did not hold a grudge.  He was growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ  and in verse 18 of that chapter he urges all of us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord  and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

April 28, 2006 Posted by | Roman Catholicism | Comments Off on Roman Catholicism # 2: Upon This Rock

Prayer series #1: Privilege of Prayer

What a privilege is ours to be able to enter into the very presence of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! What a privilege to know Him intimately as our own personal Heavenly Father. What a privilege to be able to pour out our hearts to Him, knowing that He hears and answers us! It would be great to have an audience with the President of the United States, but to think of having an audience with God is infinitely more awesome. And to think, we can approach Him through our relationship with Jesus anytime and anywhere!

In the first stanza of that well known hymn, What a Friend we Have In Jesus, Joseph Scriven describes prayer as an amazing privilege. Most of us really don't recognize it as a privilege. Witness the low attendance in prayer meeting in most churches. Oh, I know we are all busy or we are tired from a day of hard work and that if we could find the time and energy, and desire, we would be there. I know how you feel, for I often feel the same way.

But I don't feel like praying!
Prayer is not something we feel like doing; at least we don't feel like it- UNLESS we are facing a crisis! Then we are glad for the privilege.

I'm too busy or too tired to pray!
I am one for getting to a task right now. It is my nature to be impatient and to get started immediately. But no sooner do I get started, when my work comes to a grinding halt. Burdens and concerns are crowding in to fill my mind with confusion. I lack clarity of thought. I sense my need of dependence on God and breathe a prayer of HELP to Him. Sometimes we have to make a big mess of things and fall flat on our faces before we become aware of our need to pray.

God helps us in our weakness.
Thank God for His faithfulness. Though we are unfaithful, He is always faithful to us. II Timothy 2:13 Our resurrected Saviour, the Lord Jesus, sits in Heaven making intercession to the Father for us. Hebrews 7:25-27 He invites us to draw near to Him with a true heart in full assurance of faith, for He is faithful who promised. Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:11-23

His Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of every believer and He is there to help us pray. Sometimes we are speechless with grief or confusion but as we attempt to pray to God, the Holy Spirit takes our feeble groanings, reads our hearts and makes our prayers intelligible to God. See Romans 8:26-27

In the midst of our busyness, let us draw near to God in hushed silence and praise to Him. One reason we don't pray as we should is because our minds and our lives are too noisy and cluttered. They are too cluttered with our self-importance, our self-righteousness, our self-interests. Yes, we are often too self-centered to pray. So when we do actually pray, our prayers are selfish. Listen to the Psalmist as he invites us to be still and approach God in praise and prayer. Psalm 65:1-4 Psalm 4:4 Are you facing some turmoil or fear in your life? Dear brother or sister, read Psalm 46 and calm down.

What right do we have to approach Almighty God?
We Americans think we have the right to approach God as our "good buddy". After all, we are a "Christian nation". right? We sing God Bless America, especially after a national crisis such as the 9/11 catastrophe. But then we go right back to living our own lives, doing our own thing and ignoring God and His Word.

Dear Friend, in your sins, you cannot approach God. He will not hear you. He is your enemy and you are His enemy. You want nothing to do with Him. You want nothing to do with the Bible. In your sins you are lost and bound for Hell when you die.

But I have good news for you who are willing to admit you are sinners. God loves you and He showed it by sending His Son, Jesus, to be your Saviour. Romans 5:8 Jesus, God in human flesh, went to the cross two thousands years ago and died to pay the full penalty for all your sins, past, present and future. Trust Jesus as your Saviour. God will cancel your sin debt and declare you perfect in Christ. God did it for Old Testament saints such as Abraham and David who looked forward to the promise of the coming Saviour, the Lord Jesus. Read carefully Romans 3 and 4. God will save you the same way as you look back to what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Trust His sacrifice for you. Romans 4:23-25

But I'm not perfect.
I know that. Neither am I. In fact, if we thought we were perfect, we would be deceiving ourselves and calling God a liar. See I John 1. But God declares me perfect through my faith in the sacrifice of His Son. That's called justification. Furthermore, God is perfecting those who are saved through the work of His indwelling Holy Spirit. That's called Sanctification. As the Spirit of God convicts you of sin, confess it as sin and turn from it. When unconfessed sin is not hindering, God will hear and answer our prayers. Psalm 66:18

April 28, 2006 Posted by | Prayer Series | Comments Off on Prayer series #1: Privilege of Prayer