Read: Matthew 16:13-20, Hebrews 10:25
Jesus had just finished healing a large number of people in Decapolis a predominantly Gentile area and ended up feeding more than four thousand of them before He departed the area. Jesus’ disappointment with the disciples when they showed no perception of faith about feeding the hungry people when they became hungry (Matthew 16:8-9). The disciples had just recently observed the Lord perform miracles of healing and feeding more than five thousand Jews earlier in another region.
Finally, Jesus took the occasion as they entered the region of Caesarea Philippi to find out the extent of His disciples’ perception of who He was (Matthew 16:13). Once in private, Jesus faced His disciples and asked them point-blank,” Who do men say that I am? Some said that You were Elijah, others said that You were John the Baptist, others said that You were Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus declared to Peter, “My Father, Himself, has revealed this spiritual fact to you.” Now Jesus felt comfortable enough to prophecy to Peter that He will build His church of the future upon the faith which Peter had just expressed to Him. This church, the gates of hell will not prevail against and I will give you the keys to 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 (Matthew 16:17-19).
Peter continued in His faith and was the only disciple which raised a person from the dead much later in his ministry. It was this act which may have given Peter the edge in having the First Church (St. Peter’s Basilica) built in his name and honor in the city of Rome. One would think St. Paul would have had this honor.
The early church in thirty-two years after Pentecost told the whole gospel story of Christ to the world. This the church was able to accomplish without having church buildings, printing presses, automobiles, radio or television. Today having all things at our disposal gives the appearance that we are falling behind the eight-ball, so to speak in getting out the gospel. The early church turned the world upside down. Today the world seems to be turning our churches upside down. God’s plan for His church is threefold: (1) Jesus went up; (2) The Holy Spirit came down; and (3) the Disciples went out.
Today Communism controls one-third of the world’s people. They control one-fourth of the world’s land. Yet Communism is only fifty years old. Christianity is two thousand years old. Does this false sect of Communism have more dedication than we as Christians? It seems as if they are proving it by their works. Christ put the church in the world; the devil puts the world in the church.
The church can be no stronger than its members. Each time you miss church, you are casting a vote to close the church. If one’s church is not a priority in one’s life along side of one’s family, then the church is in a battle. It is estimated that more than 40% of all Christian churches are not involved in mission work at all (foreign or domestic) for whatever reason nor are they involved in evangelism outreach. The devil, enemy of the church, prefers these odds. We see in the beginning when Job and other family patriarchs were worshipping God, the devil invaded the worship service and God asked the devil what was he doing and why was he there? I’m just looking and patrolling, replies the devil. We know now that the devil knows who he can devour. Ever since then the warfare of the worshipping church has been on the battle field with its only enemy. Scriptures tell us that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few, pray that God will send more laborers to the harvest (Luke 10:2). The church needs soldiers and reapers of lost souls. Jesus spoke very openly of a “wide road” wherein many people will travel and ignore the straight “narrow path” which they should follow.
The call is out for soldiers of the cross! Let not the church be defeated because of the lack of good soldiers. Otherwise we pray for the miracle of Jesus protecting the church until He returns the second time to take up His rule.