I Will Build My Church - I
April 17, 2021
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (Matthew 16:18).
I must confess, this is the hardest lesson for me to learn as a pastor - Jesus Christ will build His church. We may be able to build buildings and campuses, but it is Jesus who builds His church. What I have known in my mind has been difficult to accept in my heart and spirit, and that is it is totally impossible to bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ apart from the sovereign will and act of God. Human effort produces human converts. Only God can produce spiritual children.
Carrying this thought further, it is not faithful believers who build the church of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ who builds His church through faithful believers. No matter where they may be, when faithful Christians are committed to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, the Lord builds His church. He is always building His church. When Christians become spiritually cold and self-determined, if they are not following the will of the Lord in their lives and in the fellowship, if they believe it is up to them to raise up a congregation by their ingenuity and effort, Jesus will not stop building His church but simply builds it somewhere else.
Jesus said, All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out (John 6:37). The Apostle Peter said to Jews and Gentiles, For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself (Acts 2:39). On the Day of Pentecost, after the preaching of the Gospel to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem, Scripture tells us, And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:47), and again, When the Gentiles heard this (the Gospel preached by Paul and Barnabas), they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region (Acts 13:48-49).
Why is this so hard for me and other pastors to accept? Why do we struggle with poor attendance and few converts and weak faith in our churches? It is because our focus has shifted from what only the Lord can do to what we think we should be able to do. I can no more cause the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring a person to salvation than I can cause a seed to germinate and sprout into a plant. I can no more produce fruit in the life of a church than I can cause a peach tree to produce peaches. These things are the work of the power of God. When our focus shifts from the Lord to ourselves, the church becomes a building and not a fellowship, an organization and not a living organism. It is the Lord who builds His church. He does it through us, but only when we are faithfully committed to Him and to no one or to nothing else.
“Lord, forgive me for taking what is Yours and making it mine. Forgive me for attempting to manipulate Your great Kingdom into my own little kingdom. Open my heart to believe what my mind already knows, and that is that You will build Your church as You see fit. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”