Starting Point | Invitation

Scripture: Matthew 16:16, 18, Matthew 28:18–20

I.    Jesus predicts the church (AD 33).

A. Matthew tells us that one day Jesus stood with his disciples and looked at a city renamed after Caesar Augustus).
Jesus asked, “Who do you think I am?.

Matthew 16:16 “You are the Messiah Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

•    Jesus says, Peter, “you didn’t come up with that on your own.” Then, he makes a statement, a prediction that is so huge.

Matthew 16:18  “…and on this rock I will build my church…

•    The significance of the conversation wasn’t the Rock; it was the Church. Build MY Church.
•    Now, here is the thing. Jesus spoke Aramaic. When Matthew wrote this down, he used Greek, and he used the word ecclesia: gathering, assembly, congregation. 
•    Not a religious term.    I’m going to build my gathering, my congregation, my assembly…

B. Through a tragedy of translation, the term church appears in our English NT—

•    derivative of a German term meaning “house of the Lord.” 
•    The first English translation of the New Testament, the term church doesn’t appear at all. William Tyndale translated ekklesia properly:  congregation. 
•    So, Instead of a Jesus gathering we have church, instead of a son of the living God assembly we have church.

C. Jesus didn’t predict a place. He predicted a people—

•    A gathering with one thing in common: They believe he is the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 28:18–20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

•    The resurrection demonstrated authority over the kingdoms of this world: Rome and death.
•    If you can predict your own death and resurrection and pull it off, you must have some serious authority. 

Matthew 28:19-20  "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always  to the very end of the age.”

II.    The Gathering Gathered

A. A few weeks later, according to Luke, this group pours into the streets of Jerusalem with the message we discussed last week:

•    You killed him. God raised him. We’ve seen him. Say you’re sorry!
•    Hundreds then thousands of people right there in Jerusalem believed, and the mistranslated church, the Jesus gathering, this son of the living God assembly grew and grew and the congregation of Jesus was born.  

III.    Paul

A. Saul (Paul) tells us his story, his encounter with Jesus. Acts 9

•    Paul is impossible to explain away.
•    His writings are documented to 25 or so years from the crucifixion. His epistles predate the Gospels. He knew Peter and James and the other apostles

B. He traveled around the Mediterranean for 30 years. In his wake, he left little ekklesias.

•    He traveled all over the known world.
•    It was on one such journey that he visited Athens, where our series began.
•    I’m not saying he did it all, remember His letter to the Romans

C. Everything Jesus promised came true.

•    There is a Church in almost every major city in every nation of the world. 
•    That was unimaginable. Impossible. But that’s exactly what happened. Just as Jesus predicted it would happen. Jesus made a promise—just as God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Israel.

Matthew 16:18  “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 

It cannot be stopped because… My spirit will fill it! My presence will inhabit it. The church will be the epicenter of God’s activity on this planet until the end of this age. As you go and make disciples of all nations, I will be with you until I return for you.

C.S. Lewis described how the demons see the Church in screw tape letters: "the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners."

IV.    The Invitation

A. So, as you consider your adult faith starting point, you have to consider what has happened.

•    It cannot be ignored. A few people showed up and said you killed him, He is risen, we have seen him, and now, say you’re sorry, and it changed the world just like Jesus said it would.
•    I want to invite you to join a movement that is based on the indisputable activity of God.
•    You have been invited to participate in the multi-ethnic, multinational, unstoppable activity of God on earth. The church.

B. The foundation of this movement is not a truth claim. Every other religion is a truth claim. Christianity is an event, an event that resulted in a promise, and a promise that has been kept.

Conclusion

  1. So, take a step.
  2. Put your faith in Christ. Be baptized. Volunteer. Give. Join a group. Invite a friend.
  3. You can’t do something more profitable. You can’t do anything more significant.
  4. The church is the hope of the world because the church is the vehicle by which God is bringing the solution to humankind’s greatest problems: sin, sorrow, and death. Come be part of the solution. This is your adult starting point.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Talk about a time when you were a member of a team or group with a shared goal. How did that experience help you grow personally?
  2. What do you associate with the word “church”?
  3. How does the description of the original purpose of the church differ from or affirm your personal experience?
  4. What are some things people think make them unworthy or disqualified from being fully engaged in the mission of the church? In light of Paul’s story, how might God use those parts of their stories to draw others to him?
  5. What are some things you can do to better understand how to use your strengths, weaknesses, and experiences to help draw others toward him?
  6. What is your best next step for engaging more fully in the mission of the church? Putting your faith in Christ? Baptism? Serving on a team? Giving? Inviting a friend? How can this group support you as you take that next step?

MOVING FORWARD

In Matthew 28:18–20, Jesus invites you to participate in the multi-ethnic, multi-national, unstoppable activity of God on earth. The foundation of this movement is not a truth claim. It is an event . . . an event that resulted in a promise . . . a promise that has been kept. So, take a step. It’s the most significant thing you can do in your life.

CHANGING YOUR MIND

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 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. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Matthew 16:15–18