(This sermon was preached on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky.)
I had the privilege of marrying and introducing Mr. and Mrs. Clay and Melissa Tabor as a newly married couple at the Pennyrile State Park over in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. With the wedding starting at 1:30 pm, I had a chance to do some sightseeing in a beautiful part of the state. One of the places I went was to the birthplace of Jefferson Davis.
He had an interesting life. Born in Kentucky, he graduated from West Point in 1828, was married to Zachary Taylor’s daughter, became a senator from Mississippi as well as President Franklin Pierce’s Secretary of War. But he’s most known for being a reluctant president of the Confederate States of America during her short life from 1861-1865. He struggled with the various ventures in his life and died in 1889 at the age of 81.
This Memorial Day weekend, we remember and honor the many men who gave their lives for their country. Not all have agreed (as we certainly saw in the Civil War). But as I was at Jefferson Davis’ birthplace, I truly wondered, “How incredible are those made in the image of God who feel so strongly to give their lives for a cause!”
As Christians, God has called all of us to lay down our lives for a cause. This cause is not political in nature (although politicians hijack various areas of Scripture, and thus we as Kingdom people must address those issues), not is it exclusively denominational in nature (although God may use those structures to do so). It is both spiritual and physical in nature. It is spiritual in that we are being led by the great Author of the cause of Christianity, and we use our physical Temples to accomplish those spiritual means as God leads.
Over the past few weeks, it has become more and more clear to me that I cannot pastor this church any longer. Matthew Perry cannot be the point person of this church. Now, before you get too shocked, please understand that I am not resigning. I do not feel led in that direction, I have no yearning to go to another church, I’m not being courted by another church. God has called me here, He’s doing some marvelous things in our sight, and I would like to see through what He’s started here.
No, what I mean is that Jesus is and must be the pastor/shepherd of this church. Have you ever wondered what it would really look like if Jesus was truly the heartbeat of this church? Would it look any different?
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus utters a five-word phrase that is absolutely stunning. He said, “I will build my church.” Over the years, I’ve heard statements such as “This church doesn’t feel like ours anymore with all these changes.” If it’s any consolation, this church never belonged to you or to any of us. Boone’s Creek Baptist Church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, and He must be the one to lead and shepherd this church.
What does this mean?
First, this means that Jesus will personally build His church.
Jesus says, “I will build my church.” Jesus here is involved, personally tending to a church which is known by many things: his body, his building, his bride, among other descriptions. In other words, Jesus is working from the top down.
Violinists play all sorts of models of violins, but playing a rare and priceless Stradivarius is a rare and priceless act. Those who know how to play can tell the difference between a fake and the real thing. Same with Ferraris and Corvettes. In fact, some of you have Bibles where some are Genuine Leather, others are Bonded Leather—they are both leather, but you can tell the difference between the true product and the imitation.
One should be able to tell the difference between a church built by Christ and one built by man. Just as man cannot live by bread alone, so too cannot church live on man-made business principles or programs alone. We live on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Jesus personally builds His church by His Word and for His glory.
Our natural inclination is to view the church with our own eyes, and then assume that our view is God’s view. But consider the word ‘church.’ The word used for ‘church’ is the word ‘ekklesia,’ which means, “called out ones.” Jesus is the one who calls out those from darkness into His marvelous light. Yes, we plant the seeds, but God causes the growth (1 Cor 3:8). The church is made up of those that Christ personally called out from the kingdom of this world and into the kingdom of God.
Now one may say, “Wait a minute! I chose to come to this church and join as a full member.” John 6:44 says, “No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent me draws Him, and I will raise Him up on the last day.” God is calling and drawing and saving His people from their sins and sending them on the road to sanctification.
Why do we need to know this? Because we need to be relieved of the pressure, the burden, and yes, even the pride of saying, “Look what we built!” In Revelation 1, we see Jesus walking in the midst of the seven messengers (likely the pastors of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation), showing the Apostle John that regardless of how the circumstances look inside and outside the church, Jesus is still moving through His church.