On This Rock – Part 3 – On This Rock … Build My Church


 

The Promised One asked an important question of his inner circle.  You are one of them.  And you got the right answer.  And for that – you get a huge responsibility.  But what does it mean?  Is His message encrypted?  Or is it really as “simple” as it sounds?  Worse yet – there appear to be far reaching implications.  But for who?  Only for you?  Or could they possibly be for everyone?  And is it only for the current time?  Or could it be for hundreds – maybe thousands of years?  

So much responsibility – either way.  You have to figure out what this means!

 

This is Part 2 of a continuing series called On This Rock.  The introduction and prologue can be found here.  It’s the true story of how a great revolutionary leader – the greatest of all time – launched a campaign the likes of which the world had never seen.  And will never see again.  It started with himself – and one man from his inner circle of twelve men.  That one man – Peter.  The revolution is still under way.  Things aren’t looking too good right now.  But the members of this revolution still believe the ancient one – the one they call Father – who said victory is certain.  They are still looking for new leaders.  New “Peters”.  Do you have what it takes to be Peter?  Read on and see.

 

As a reminder – or if you haven’t yet read it and don’t want to go back to the beginning (although I think you should) – here’s where we started –

Congratulations!
You have successfully figured out rule #1.  Since you’re the first to do it, your task now is to get the rest of the world to believe rule #1.  No pressure, but the fate of the every living person hangs in the balance.  There are too many people for you to do this alone – so you must get others to help you.  All of you will be hated, tortured, and rejected for what you believe.  Some will actively work against you.  Others will just not care.  Either way, all of those who don’t believe rule #1 will die.  Your task is simple – and yet difficult.  But I know you will not back down.  You will come to wish you hadn’t been the first.  You will even deny knowing rule #1.  But you will turn back to me – and complete your mission.  As you know, I have already won.  You will join in my victory – along with everyone else who comes to believe rule #1.  I cannot be with you physically, but I will be with you until the end.  You and those who believe rule #1 with you will be my representatives in this battle.  I will see all of you at the celebration feast at the end.

Here’s where we are so far –

Mt 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
Mt 16:14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Mt 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Mt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Mt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church …

What made Peter special?

We see the question now.  The Promised One – also known by other names, such as the Son of Man, asks who people say he is.  His inner circle tells him.  Of course – the Promised One knows that none of these are correct.  So he asks his inner circle what they think – who do they think he is?

Of course – Peter answers first.  That’s just the way he is.  Always ready to jump into anything that the Promised One – the leader of the Revolution – is involved in.  And Peter has the right answer.

But look at the response from the Promised One –

Mt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Huh?  When did Peter ever talk to the Ancient One called Father?  How can that even happen?  Is this yet another encrypted message?
And why is he calling Peter by his formal name – Simon, son of Jonah?

Have you ever “known” something without actually knowing it?  Was it this big of a deal?

And then it gets even more interesting –
The Promised One says –

Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church …

What does that mean? 
He’s back to calling Peter by his less formal name.
And talking about a rock that he’s going to build on.

What rock?

The Promised One is going to build something on a rock.

But what rock?
There’s no indication that there was a rock on the ground that was pointed to.  Had that happened, it surely would have been pointed out.

So if there wasn’t a real rock – then the question becomes –
Who is this rock?

Is Peter the rock?

If Peter was the rock – wouldn’t the Promised One have said something like “on you I will build …”?
Seems like that would have been more clear.

But wait – remember the encryption routine.
Everything this leader says that’s important to the revolution is encrypted.  Everything has an obvious meaning – that everyone can understand.  But everything also has a deeper meaning – and it’s encrypted.  Only those who are truly part of the revolution can decrypt the message.

With this in mind – let’s look at Peter again.
The leader used both “Simon son of Jonah” and “Peter” to address Peter.  He called him “Peter” for this message of building.  So what does “Peter” mean?  From the NIV Study Bible Notes, we see –

In the Greek “Peter” is petros (“detached stone”) and “rock” is petra. (“bedrock”).

So Peter means a detached stone – and rock means bedrock.  Bedrock – that’s essentially part of the earth.  As opposed to the detached stone – which can be moved.  The larger the stone the harder it would be to move.  But it’s still movable.
Since the Promised One is going to build on “this rock” – it seems more likely that he would build on bedrock than on a movable rock. 
After all – this same Promised One also said –

Lk 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Notice the word “rock” in verse 48.  The Greek word recorded for “rock” in both this statement and the one we’re looking at (on this rock) are the same.  This message is also encrypted.  But it has the same meaning as the one we’re currently looking at – both the encrypted and the unencrypted versions.
The encrypted one – the “obvious” one that anyone could understand – is clearly related to bedrock.  There would be no need to dig down deep to find a detached rock.  Further – if a flood comes, a detached rock is just as likely to get carried away by the flood as the house would be.  Only attaching the house to bedrock could keep both the foundation and the house from being washed away by the flood.

So it’s not likely that Peter is the rock.

If Peter isn’t the rock – then who / what is?

Let’s look again at the reference in Luke –

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

The Promised One is comparing someone who hears his words and puts them into practice to someone who digs deep and builds his house on bedrock.

The encrypted version of this message is probably more than a little confusing.  Like – how can words be compared to digging deep into the ground to reach bedrock – and then build a house on that?

But Peter – with his answer to the leader’s question regarding who he is – is capable of decrypting the message.

It would appear that the “rock” are the words of the Promised One.  Not just “hearing them” – but understanding them, and living by them.  Or at least trying.

But we learn something else here.  
We now have the encryption key!  And with that key, we can also decrypt the messages!

Mt 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Mt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The encryption key is the knowledge that The Promised One is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And now we know how to get the encryption key –

Mt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

There’s nothing we can do to decrypt these messages ourselves.  The security for this key is impossible to break by any human means.  It’s truly unbreakable by us acting on our own.  If we want it – all we need to do is ask.  But so few ask.

What is being built – by whom – and why

why build something?

The Promised One – Jesus – wants something to be built because it’s necessary –

 If we want it – all we need to do is ask.  But so few ask.

He wants everyone to have the key – he wants everyone to understand.  
But they will only understand if they want to.  If they ask.
But so few ask.

And that’s the point of building.  Something needs to be built that will encourage people to ask.

What is being built?

To state the “obvious” – a church is being built.

But is that so “obvious”?
The statement we’re looking at right now is the first time in the entire Bible that the word being translated as “church” is recorded.  So was it at all obvious to them?  Not likely.
And what about us?  What does church mean to us today?  Let’s look at dictionary.com to see what it says –

1. a building for public Christian worship.
2. public worship of God or a religious service in such a building:
to attend church regularly.
3. (sometimes initial capital letter) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.
4. (sometimes initial capital letter) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination:
the Methodist Church.
5. that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.
6. a body of Christians worshiping in a particular building or constituting one congregation:
She is a member of this church.
7. ecclesiastical organization, power, and affairs, as distinguished from the state:
separation of church and state; The missionary went wherever the church sent him.

That settles it – right?
Wrong!  This makes it as clear as mud.

Going back to the original Greek, there are actually two words that are combined and lead to the translation of “church” =

92.24 ὁ, ἡ, τό (pl. οἱ, αἱ, τά): a reference to an entity, event, or state, clearly identified by the linguistic or non-linguistic context of the utterance—‘the, he, she, it.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 815). New York: United Bible Societies.

11.33 ἐκκλησίαb, ας f: the totality of congregations of Christians—‘church.’
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 126). New York: United Bible Societies.

So it’s not an actual “building” that’s being built.
Given that this church is being built on a foundation of words – the words of the Promised One – that makes sense.

So what’s being built is a gathering of people – specifically Christians – those who can decrypt the words of the Promised One.  Those who got the key from the Ancient One called Father.  Or today, from the Spirit of the Father.  Those who try to live according to those words.

Not a building.  People.

The fact that it’s people brings up another important issue.  One that I’ve hinted at before.  But let’s dig deeper (the encrypted deeper) before getting into this.

The NIV translation that I’ve quoted from is –

on this rock I will build my church

Notice the words “I will“.

If we again go back to the Greek – there are no Greek words that correspond to the English translation of “I will”.

It’s more like it should say – 

on this rock, build my church.

If that was the case – it would be Peter that’s being told to build this church.
But think about this.  Peter will die.  So will the people that he “builds” / assembles as the “church”.  So what happens after that?

Well – we see in the book of Acts – more people – more “Peter’s” come on the scene.  The most well know would be Paul.  But he also will die.  While he’s alive – he builds / assembles more people into the church.  Obviously – these people will also die.

And so it will continue.  People will build the church – add more people to it.  Those in the church will die.  So it’s imperative that new people be added to the church.

If this sounds familiar – it’s because that’s exactly the way it was designed to work –

MT 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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.”

There’s the cycle – those within the church are asked to continue to build the church – add more members by teaching them the words of the Promised One – and teaching them to try to live by those words.

And there also is the “I will“.  Yes – the building is done by those in the church.  But it’s not just them.  The Promised One has told them that He will be with them always.  
So what we have now is something more like –

You are Peter.  On this rock ( through you, I will) build my church

One more indication that it is the words of the Promised One can be seen by one of the second round of “builders” when he said –

1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1Co 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Yes – these are the words of Paul.  Letting everyone know that the one to be followed is the Promised One.

Regarding the foundation, Paul said –

1Co 3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
1Co 3:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1Co 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

And so we see – each of us is to lay a continuing foundation of the Promised One for the ones coming into the church after us.  Not our own foundation.  The Foundation that is the words of the Promised One.  
The foundation we lay is both a combination of continuing where a foundation is already laid – and for growth.  In other words – continuing to keep those currently in the church on the right path – and reaching others who have not yet heard / understood the words of the Promised One.

Who is building?  Who is “Peter”?

Hopefully it is now obvious.  Peter was Peter.  Peter was also yesterday’s Christians – who kept the church on it’s bedrock foundation – the words of the Promised One – until now.  Peter is also us – today’s Christians.  Who are charged to do the same – to bring in tomorrow’s Christians – to keep that foundation both strong and growing.  And so Peter is also tomorrow’s Christians.

I hinted at it before, but let’s make it clear.  If you’re a Christian – you are Peter.

If you want to be a Christian – you will be Peter.

I also hinted that it would be a challenge.  A fight like none you’ve ever experienced.  A fight that, as long as you stay attached to the foundation – the words of the Promised One – you cannot lose. 

The war

As we saw in the first episode – the war started thousands of years ago.
The Promised One arrived a couple thousand years ago.
And the war continues.

on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

What’s the unencrypted version of “the gates of Hades“?

There’s some disagreement over that – but I submit that the difference is not that great.

One interpretation is that it’s the second death – going to Hell – meaning that if we are faithful members of the church – trying to live by the words of the Promised One – we will not suffer the second death – but will join the Promised One for eternity.
The other interpretation is that it represents the devil.  But really – what’s the goal of the devil?  For us to be separated from the Promised One – to not join with him for eternity – but to join the devil in Hell for eternity.

So while there is a “difference” – it’s more like one is the cause (the devil) and the other is the effect / outcome (Hell).

It’s a war.
Not a video game.
More challenging.
You can’t even see the enemy.
And if you die – you don’t get to start over by resetting the game.
This death lasts, literally, forever.

It’s a war.  
Like none other.
More deadly than what we normally think of as war.
With results that last, literally, forever.

Again – as we saw at the beginning –

Congratulations!
You have successfully figured out rule #1.  Since you’re the first to do it, your task now is to get the rest of the world to believe rule #1.   No pressure, but the fate of the every living person hangs in the balance.  There are too many people for you to do this alone – so you must get others to help you.  All of you will be hated, tortured, and rejected for what you believe.  Some will actively work against you.  Others will just not care.  Either way, all of those who don’t believe rule #1 will die.  Your task is simple – and yet difficult.  But I know you will not back down.  You will come to wish you hadn’t been the first.  You will even deny knowing rule #1.  But you will turn back to me – and complete your mission.  As you know, I have already won.  You will join in my victory – along with everyone else who comes to believe rule #1.  I cannot be with you physically, but I will be with you until the end.  You and those who believe rule #1 with you will be my representatives in this battle.  I will see all of you at the celebration feast at the end.

If you understand rule #1 – are you already involved?

If you understand rule #1 – and you’re not involved – these words are for you –

Ac 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But 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.”
Ac 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Ac 1:10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

If you figured out rule #1 – you have the Spirit of the Ancient One called Father.

If you have the Spirit of the Ancient One called Father – you are called to be witnesses of rule #1 – to continue to build on the foundation of the words of the Promised One – to the ends of the earth.

If you have the Spirit of the Ancient One called Father – and haven’t yet started on your piece of the mission – you are like the men of Galilee, staring up into the sky – waiting for the Promised One to come back. 
Why are you just staring at the sky waiting for Him – when you should be doing the assigned task of building His church?

Remember – we read this earlier –

1Co 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Memo to all Christians – present and future –

Are we building – or staring up at the sky, doing nothing but waiting?

 

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