The ROCK
Come as You Are / Be Transformed! 

 


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Rock Report by Pastor Paul

This is a blog that comes from my personal devotions each day. It will also include sermons as I have to delete them from the audio section of the website. This blog will also keep you up to date with what is happening at the Rock in Strathroy Ontario 

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  •     Last week we saw that Peter went from a man who said he would never turn away from Jesus, but did, to a fearless and powerful man of God who preached God’s word no matter what. Acts 4:18 “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Peter was a rock after Pentecost but so were all those who obeyed. Peter would describe it this way. 1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

        We have a choice to be an immovable rock or a stumbling block. We either believe God’s word and obey or stubbornly refuse to believe and disobey. Zechariah 12:1 “The word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: 2 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. 3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. 4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. 5 Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.” If we choose to obey, we will stand firm. If we choose not to obey, we will be swept away. Isaiah 17:10 “You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, 11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.” Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

        The disciples did obey the command of Jesus and waited just as they were told. Luke 24:46 “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” So they waited. Acts 1:12 “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty). But not everyone listened. 1 Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” That power did come at Pentecost and the church went out in power. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” 

        The proclamation Peter made that Jesus was the Messiah, Son of the living God was the foundation of the church. The Rock is the declaration of the Messiah and the power that follows. Jesus said, Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The Rock is not what the Catholic church teaches about their papacy. We saw that scripture makes it very clear that Peter was not the rock Jesus was referring to when He said Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” The rock was the proclamation of “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” meaning Jesus is the head of the church and He would give power and authority to those who would obey. Peter said after Pentecost Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Anybody who submits to Jesus the Messiah the Son of the living God will be a rock just like Peter became but only if they are truly filled by the Holy Spirit. We must be wholehearted followers of Jesus Christ for God to dwell in our midst. Ephesians 2:9 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

        We saw a prelude to Pentecost when Jesus first called His disciples. Jesus then showed us in the gospels what the church was to continue to do. John 7:37 “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Ezekiel 47:9 “where the river flows everything will live.” We saw what the church was to look like Luke 9:1 “when Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” That was what the church was supposed to do after Pentecost and that power was supposed to continue to this day just as we saw that power continue with Philip. Acts 8:5 “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” That is what it looks like when the rock is proclaimed. The church instead went their own way and became desolate and powerless. The Catholic church is just one of the many examples of churches who put their own traditions and doctrines above the word of God. By doing so they are not proclaiming Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the living God, and become powerless against our enemies and the gates of hades prevail as the church has seen. The church today does not exemplify the rock Jesus talked about.

        The failure of the church can be seen in the same chapter where Peter made his proclamation. Before moving forward, it is important to understand that the bible is really amazing for this very reason; it contains man’s failures. When you read the bible starting with the Garden, man disobeyed by ignoring God’s word. We also saw it in the desert when they refused to believe that God would take them into the land of milk and honey. Then when they were living in the promised land, they again ignored God’s word and went their own way bringing disaster on themselves just as God said would happen. Leviticus 20:22 “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” Deuteronomy 29:18 “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. 19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.” Isaiah 3:8 “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. 9 The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.”

             From the beginning, the bible records the failure of man to obey the word of God but at the same time we see God in His great mercy restore His people, even though none of us deserve it. Psalm 103:8 “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. 13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this.” This is summed in Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” As we saw in Ezra, there will always be a remnant as per God’s promise to David.

        Today the church has followed in the footsteps of Israel and Judah and has rebelled against the word of the Lord. We were warned what would happen if the church disobeyed just as Israel was warned. Daniel was told Daniel 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” That time is already upon us. This is one of the great deceptions in the church. satan was able to get the church to look to the sin of the future by getting people to believe the warnings are always way off into the future. Instead, the church should be looking at the sin of our fathers and our own sin and repent so that the kingdom would come near. Thew church has been in rebellion since the time of the early church. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” God allowed the church to be defeated by satan even though we were told the gates of hades would not prevail. They prevailed because the church rebelled against God’s word. It is not God who is weak but those who follow that refuse to do as He tells us to do. Romans 2:5 “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” We were told John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” 

        That wasn’t good enough for man so instead of holding on to God’s word, man went their own way and rebelled against God’s word. The Catholics rebelled right from the beginning just as those in the reformation rebelled and have rebelled ever since and truth is nowhere to be found in either of them. The church did not return to the Rock and today remain powerless against our enemies. God has allowed satan to infiltrate the church because of the church’s rebellion. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Again, the church is not waiting for this to happen as there are false teachers everywhere in the church. This is the abomination that God has allowed to decimate the church. It is important to understand that God has allowed it just as He allowed satan to destroy Job and how He let satan sift Peter. Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And then he denied Jesus three times. Peter had responded 33 “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Peter responded Matthew 26:35 “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.” Then all the disciples deserted Jesus including Peter. 

        Jesus had told the disciples Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” The same command applies to the church today. As we saw with Peter and his zeal, it is easy to say you will deny yourself and follow Jesus, but when tested not so easy. It is during testing that you find your level of commitment. It is during testing that many fall away unless they stay submitted and committed to God’s word. John 6:60 “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Stephen said in Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute?” We don’t want to be those people. Hebrews 3:7 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” 

        The key is to make sure the original conviction is the right one. Many have committed to other gospels without knowing it and they died committed to them. Down through the ages there have been committed Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Reformed… but will have died without knowing the truth. Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” As Jesus said to Peter, He is the one who builds His church. Job ended up persevering and did not turn against God even though he lost everything. God said to Job’s friends, Job 42:7 “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” James 5:10 “As an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

        In chapter 16 of Matthew, Peter went from proclaiming Jesus the Messiah the Son of the living God, to being called a stumbling block. It was God through Peter that this confession was made. Matthew 16:17 “Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” This progression away from the rock to a stumbling block happens because of a lack of faith and listening to the wrong voice. In this same chapter, Jesus also told the disciples they had little faith. It is here where we can see the downfall of the church. Today in the church there is little faith, if any in the word of God as possible for today and too many have fallen for doctrines of demons which have led to other gospels. Today the church lies in desolation, defeated and fallen. False teachers keep teaching these rebellious days are way off in the future but as Paul clearly says, this was already happening even during his time. For many in the church the bible is just a story about Jesus and His miracles but there is no belief they are possible for today. They do not even question why miracles, signs and wonders are not happening even though the bible makes it clear they should be. This has happened because of false teaching. Paul said, Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Later Paul said to Timothy 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Combine that with 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” We are also in times of famine. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”  The church is just as Jesus described when he said he used parables. Matthew 13:13 “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Jesus also said Mark 7:6 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” These later times have been happening for hundreds of years. The Catholic church actually followed the wrong Peter, meaning they didn’t follow after what changed Peter, which was the Holy Spirit. If they had, Jesus would have built His church instead of traditions that were established and Cathedrals that were built. The church would have done as Jesus did and His coming would have happened sooner. 2 Peter 3:11 “You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 

        Having faith is crucial if you are going to call yourself a Christian. In fact, you cannot call yourself a Christian if you do not have faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Instead of repenting, many in the church have denied the word of God because they have not seen what happens in God’s word take place. Repenting brings the kingdom of God near. The kingdom coming near means power comes near. We were supposed to stand firm on God’s word. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Jesus asked this question Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” 

        Jesus was astounded at the lack of faith He encountered but equally astounded when He actually did find faith. Mark 6:2 “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Again, it is not Jesus who has the problem but the people who do not believe in Him. Then after all the disciples had seen with their own eyes, they still did not believe. John 20:30 “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John also tells us John 21:25 “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Even still they did not believe as they should have. After Jesus rose from the dead, Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Matthew 8:4 “Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” While Jesus was walking on the water Peter said 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” In the same chapter the crowds were hungry and Jesus said Matthew 8:16 “You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.” Later Matthew 16:6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread?”

        Faith is confidence in God’s word. Walking steadfast is a refusal to turn away from God’s word. Genesis 17:1 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” Nothing has changed as we are supposed to walk faithfully and be blameless. 2 Peter 3:14 “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Faith is about believing God at His word. Matthew 8:5 “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matthew 17:14 “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” After the disciples healed the lame man they said, Acts 3:16 “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” Jesus said Mark 11:22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” This is the foundation for faith. Most people will respond that is impossible and then come up with all the reasons why not instead of just believing. Romans 1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” At the end we want to hear Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant!” not Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

        Instead of the church being faithful to God’s word like the centurion who said, “just say the word, and my servant will be healed,” the church does not live by faith but by sight. The church also puts their faith in what their hands have made. The church has brought this abomination that causes desolation upon ourselves. Daniel said Daniel 9:4 “I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.” Jeremiah told the people Jeremiah 25:4 “Though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” 7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” The church has followed other gospels and has turned from God’s word. The church has the same problem as Israel and Judah. Jeremiah 5:30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 23:11 “Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,” declares the Lord. 12 “Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,”declares the Lord.” Peter talked about this when he talked about false teachers. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.” Don’t wait for this to happen; it has already and continues to happen. Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? 20 In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” 32 “They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord. 36 each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.”

        False teachers and prophets have distorted God’s word and destroyed the church, leaving just a remnant left, a remnant, who like Judah is in captivity. 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. 20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” This rebellion by the church has come at a great price. Millions have died without ever knowing the truth and many will continue to die following false teachers and their gospels.

        Every day God calls but the church continues to go their own way. Isaiah 66:4 “When I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.” Isaiah 65:1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations— 3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face.” The second part of the fall of the church that we see in Matthew 16 aside from a lack of faith is listening to the wrong voice. This takes us from an immovable rock to a stumbling block. God is calling but most respond with what have I done? Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” The church, if you have noticed, still desperately wants a human king to follow and wants to be like the world. As we saw last week, the church constantly idolizes men and women and blindly follows them into destruction. Ezekiel 20:32 “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” Even worse than that is they were worse than the nations around them. Ezekiel 5:5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 6 Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees. 7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” When Manasseh was king 2 Chronicles 33:2 “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.” 2 Kings 21:9 “Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”

        Many will say we don’t offer sacrifices to the gods. We don’t sacrifice our children like they did yet by following other gospels you are following other gods. If you are teaching your children these false gospels, then you are sacrificing them to the gods which are not really gods at all. We see that the enemy during the abomination is everywhere in the church. Every Sunday men and women stand behind pulpits and preach but you should not be listening to them. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” Anything that is not of Christ is anti-christ. We were told Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. 25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. 26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.” Daniel 8:11 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” 14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated. 23 “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” Daniel 9:27 “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Jesus warned us Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” Paul said 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” The church today is filled with the deceived and the delusional. 

        The church did not listen, and false teachers led people astray. Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” This led to desolation. Lamentations 5:15 “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim 18 for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.” They taught people satan’s doctrines instead of the word of God and today most don’t know they have been led astray by false teaching. satan’s job is to deceive and destroy. Revelation 12:12 “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Just as satan tried to make a deal with Jesus but unsuccessful, many have sold their souls to satan and took him up on his offer. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours. 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Most do not know their success comes from satan not God. The church should have responded the same as Jesus but instead rebelled against God’s word and just like in the garden, the church has listened to satan’s deception. He is always telling you that God does not mean what he says. The false teacher fills you with false hope. Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts    they say, ‘No harm will come to you.” Guess whose voice that is. 

        How often do you see and hear churches trying to be like the world to win the world? They think the more they are like the world, the more people they can win for Jesus, but it doesn’t work that way. They may draw the crowds, but they are not winning them for Jesus. Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Jesus told us John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Some have become very successful, and they have enjoyed satan’s splendor and authority. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” You have many who are like the world, yet powerless. They put on a really good show but will have nothing to show for it in eternity. They will be accountable for those they led astray. Isaiah 9:14 “So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; 15 the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. 16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. 17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly.” Galatians 5:7 “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.”         Instead, can you imagine just for a moment if the church actually looked like Jesus and did as He did as we were told we could do. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” This is what Jesus did. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” This is what we were supposed to do since Pentecost. Pentecost was not a one-time even but the ongoing power of the church.  This is what the church did. Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”

        Jesus came to destroy the power of satan. 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” We were supposed to continue in that work. Paul was sent Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” This is what the church was also supposed to be doing. satan is in our midst just as he was present in Peter. Jesus had told His disciples that He would die and rise on the third day yet when it happened, they did not believe. Luke 24:21 “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” We also saw Peter’s unbelief. Luke 24:9 “When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” When the disciples were gathered Mark 16:14 “Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” 

        Jesus had told the disciples everything that was going to happen. Matthew 16:21 “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” This is where the church is like Peter and has listened to the wrong voice. Peter then responds to Jesus. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” This is the response Jesus gave Peter. 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter went from making a proclamation about Jesus to getting admonished by Jesus. This is important to see because this is how satan works. He is a master deceiver. His goal is to get you to ignore God’s word and think the way the world thinks because he is the prince of this world. If you follow what he says, you have bowed down to satan instead of Hebrews 12:2 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” The church needs to tell satan to get behind us but that would involve recognizing the work of satan.

        When we approach church like the world, we will be defeated just as we have seen the church defeated. When we try to build with our own hands the church that Jesus said He would build, we then loose the power and authority given to the church if we had followed the way, truth and life. God created the world with a word, and we believe it by faith. This would be a good point to ask yourself why you don’t trust the creator of the world. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” That is the same power available to all who believe Jesus is the Messiah the Son of the living God. To believe, you must believe His word. John 8:31 “Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God created the universe with power and you do not have to prove creation to anyone. Those who believe differently cannot prove it nor is there a reasonable explanation that isn’t just plain ludicrous like something blew up or a god particle. The bible can be summed up in these few words. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If you cannot believe this. You are in deep trouble yet many who call themselves Christians do not. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” God also raised Jesus from the dead and death was defeated. Paul prayed Ephesians 1:18 “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

        At this point the church does not display the power of God. The church was sent out to proclaim the good news, heal the sick and drive out demons but without faith we are powerless. If we listen to satan instead of God’s word we will continue to be defeated and be a stumbling block instead of a rock. Instead, if we humble ourselves before God and submit and believe His word, God will turn His face back to shine upon us and once again the gates of hades will not prevail. With faith the keys to the kingdom will be returned and the church will do as Jesus did. The church will then go out with the authority and power of Jesus Christ. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” That power comes to us from the creator of the universe but we can only have that power if God dwells among us. For God to dwell among us, we must turn from our wicked ways. We have a choice to listen and return or to turn away and rebel. As we read earlier Jeremiah tells us Jeremiah 25:3 “For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. 4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” 7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” Ezekiel tells us to repent. Ezekiel 33:11 “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”

        The good news is there will always be a remnant. This desolation will come to an end and the church will rise up once again and the captives will be set free. The church will be able to say Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” We will join with Paul to be appointed and sent out with authority and power. Acts 26:16 “I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Jesus said Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” So stand firm of God’s word. Mark 9:1 “And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”