Review: 3 P’s
1) Don’t focus on religious Programs
Pharisees and Sadducees – they don’t have the keys to the kingdom of heaven and their teaching is keeping people shut out from this kingdom.
2) Don’t focus on human Personalities
What’s Peter’s role? He confessed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. He proclaimed the gospel. And solely because of that confession, he was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. As believers, we are also in Peter’s shoes whenever we confess Christ and proclaim the gospel of his death and resurrection. We, too, are given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. We have access to salvation and we can show others how to be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven for themselves by confessing their sins and placing their faith in Christ.
3) Focus on Christ
Jesus is the builder of his church and the giver of the keys to gain access to the kingdom of heaven. And as the church, we move out into a world. A world that has no chance, zero chance, against us as long as Jesus is leading the way. And we are following His lead.
Earlier I posed the question, how do we build a church that mirrors what the kingdom of heaven will be like? The more appropriate question is, how does CHRIST build his church, a church that mirrors the kingdom of heaven, and how do WE participate?
Christ says, I will build my church. What I want to drive home here is the triumphant authority of this promise. World missions is not ultimately dependent on human initiative or human wisdom or human perseverance. It is ultimately dependent on the power and wisdom and faithfulness of the risen and living Christ to keep this promise: “I will build my church.” Not, “You will build my church.” Or, “Missionaries will build my church.” Or, “Pastors will build my church.” But, “I will build my church.”
How does he do it? Christ’s radical way of winning the nations is by the death of himself and the death of his people.
Jesus tells us in verse 21.
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, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Christ wins the nations by dying on a cross. What did he accomplish by dying?
17 …Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
This is another set of keys. The keys to death were kept on the inside, on the other side of the gates of Hades. That is why Jesus went into Hades. And when he came out he brought the keys with him. Now he will build his church. Death will take none and keep none whom Jesus has set free from death and saved eternally.
How do we participate? He tells us in v24-25.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
To follow Jesus means to join him on the Calvary road that leads into death and then out of death. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Lose it to find it. Die so you can live.
This is how we win people. This is how we win the nations and accomplish the Great Commission. We do what Christ did.
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We die with him and live with him, by faith. Deny yourself. This is the paradox of life. The more you live for yourself, the more miserable you’ll be. But the more you say, Lord, I’m going to live for you wholeheartedly, the more abundant your life will be both now and eternally. Think back to the times when you were most miserable. Weren’t you most miserable when you were at the center of the universe? Think back to the happiest times in your life. Weren’t you happiest when Jesus was the priority in your life and the passion of your heart?
Take up your cross. Taking up your cross is something you choose to do, not something you put up with. The cross is not something you tolerate. It’s not something you are thrown into. The cross is something YOU have to take up. It’s a matter of choice. If God is calling you to live for him and life for others, without a doubt, there will be a cross that you will need to take up.
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
The alternative to living for Christ and others is to live for yourself. If you are lucky and you are in the right place at the right time and you have enough talent and determination, you may gain the whole world. Or a big chunk of it. But in the process, is it worth it if you lose your soul?
Jesus died and rose again to save his church among all the peoples. “I will build my church.” Now he calls us this afternoon: Will you and I join him in dying to the world and living to Christ that we may win the people, the nations in his name? Whoever loses his life for Christ and the gospel will find it and will bring others through the gates of Hades, and eventually, through another set of doors, the gates of the kingdom of heaven. From spiritual death to spiritual life. How will you answer the call?