Each year, the President of the United States delivers the state of the union address. I remember as a child getting upset when this annual speech interrupted my favorite TV shows each January. In time, I became interested in knowing what our national leaders thought about the condition of our country and what they planned to do about it. I don’t intend to become political, but I realized the state of the union amounted to a political argument between both sides of the aisle. Each tried to gain approval and votes, with the goal of maintaining or gaining political power. Unfortunately, this annual debate seldom made any difference in how I or others around me lived their lives. The state of the union became irrelevant to my day to day life.
However, as we pause to consider the state of the church, we don’t express our opinion or viewpoint. Our purpose is not to hear what any man or woman thinks in an attempt to promote their agenda. Our goal remains the same from week to week, month to month, and year to year. We want the Holy Spirit to open our ears to hear the voice of Jesus speak to us through the scriptures with practical truth that applies directly to our individual lives and our church.
SCRIPTURE – Hear What God Says to Us
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
EXPLORATION – Dig Deep to Understand
The Foundation and Builder
Foundations are critical to anything we would build in two important ways.
First, the foundation bears the weight of the structure built upon it. If the foundation fails, everything comes crashing down.
Only Jesus serves as the foundation of the church. He told Peter, “ON THIS ROCK I will build my church.” The rock refers to Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, and God’s son. To attempt to establish the church on any foundation other than Jesus causes it to fail.
Second, the foundation determines the structure or shape of what they built. The church should resemble Jesus because His is the foundation. Therefore, Jesus also serves as the builder. He said, “I WILL BUILD my church.” No one else can build the church.
Jesus does not construct a building with 2x4s, concrete, steel beams, or any other building material. Our word church comes from ekklēsia in the Greek, meaning assembly. Jesus puts the church together wherever He joins believers together in Him, the foundation.
Jesus determined the plan and purpose, saying “I will build MY CHURCH” You and I have no right to set the agenda for the local church. According to His plan, Jesus puts His church together, bringing people together in loving relationships to grow together in Christlikeness.
Churches have various vision or purpose statements. While these can express a unique focus, each must be grounded in scripture to express Jesus’ desire for that local church. In The State of the Church part 2 we will examine in greater detail Jesus’ plan by looking at His final words to His disciples as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.
Consider the purpose statement for your local church. Do you know the plan Jesus established for you to fulfill in your community? How might Jesus evaluate the way your church has worked to fulfill His purpose?
What Jesus builds stands the test of time and will not fail because He said, “THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.” Regardless of what obstacles we may face, the church stands because Jesus within us remains ever greater than the one who is in this world. (See 1 John 4:4).
Gates do not go into battle as an offensive weapon; gates defend. While Satan prowls like a roaring lion, we need not be afraid because Jesus’ church can stand up right next to the lion’s den. Not only can we be aware when our adversary seeks to move out of his fortress to attack, but more importantly, Jesus positions His church in a place to rescue those the enemy would otherwise take captive and destroy. The church endures on the offensive against a defeated foe.
EXECUTION – Put God’s Word into Practice
If you have not done so, make Jesus the foundation of your life. He has come to give you life and life more abundantly.
Allow the Holy Spirit to show you how you have tried to become the builder of your life, trusting faulty foundations of this world. Determine to let Him be the builder, uniting you with other believers to grow in His likeness.
Pastor, have you and other leaders made the mistake of trying to take Jesus’ place as the builder of His church? What might your church be doing that is out of alignment with Jesus’ plan and purpose for His church?
Pursue Jesus. Allow the LORD to reveal your unique place in His plan and purpose for His church. Remember, Jesus makes each of us a part of the local church for a reason.
Don’t fear the enemy’s attack, but seize the opportunity to share Jesus’ love with those He came to rescue.
DEPENDENCE – Look to God for Help
We look to You, LORD, the foundation, and builder of the church. We confess how from time to time we try to take Your place, imposing our desires upon believers You have joined together as members of Your body. Rather that maintain unity, we can be quick to stir up strife with bitter resentment and envy. Forgive us LORD.
Holy Spirit, help us fulfill Jesus’ plan for His church, loving one another as He loved us. Only then will the world know we don’t exist as a club or service agency, but remain united as Christ’s followers. Our love for each other will draw people to Jesus and not our building or programs, so we pray for You to strengthen our unity. Enable us to stand without fear against our adversary, lovingly rescuing the lost before it is too late.
This message or series can be used anytime, but makes for a good annual reminder either at the beginning of the year or in conjunction with your church business meeting.
Here is the background of the church shown above without words for you to use as your presentation background.