Unless The Lord Builds The House

Bible Book: Matthew  16 : 13-20
Subject: Church; Church, Builder of the; Lord of the Church

Christian Herter was running hard for re-election as Governor of the state of Massachusetts. One day he arrived late at a barbecue. He had no breakfast, or lunch and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken. The Governor said to the serving lady, “excuse me do you mind if I get another piece of chicken.

I am very hungry.” The woman replied, “Sorry, I am supposed to give one piece to each person.”

“But I am really starving,”  he said and again she replied, “Only one piece per person.”  Herter was usually a modest man, but he decided this was the time to use the weight of his office and so he said, “Madam do you know who I am? I am the Governor of this state!”

“Do you know who I am,”  she replied, “I am the lady in charge of chicken. So Mister move on.”

Identity is important isn’t it? You see by the time of this incident the disciples had been with the Savior for eighteen months or two years. They had seen his miracles and heard his profound teaching and now the time had come for them to answer this question “Whom say ye that I am?” The most important question they had ever been asked and it was for this very reason that the Savior took so much trouble to provide the proper setting in which to ask it. 

Now many of you here have been to Caesarea Philippi or Banias, its situated about 25 miles north of Galilee at the base of Mount Hermon. I can recall vividly the day I stood on the slopes of Mount Hermon looked across to Syria and then went down the winding road to Caesarea Philippi. Now according to Thompson’s record “In the Land of the Book,”  the whole district of Caesarea Philippi was dotted with shrines and temples. Fourteen shrines were associated with the ancient Syrian Worship of the Baal gods. A cavern in a hillside nearby was reputed to the birthplace of the Greek god Pan the supposed God of nature. There was also a magnificent temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar. So this town Caesarea Philippi with its shrines to the Syrian god Baal, a shrine to the Greek god Pan, and a great temple for the worship of the Roman Emperor was full of religious associations from the three great nations of the ancient world, Syria, Greece, Rome and it was against this backdrop that the Lord Jesus wanted to pose a question about His identity. 

You see by placing Himself in this religiously colorful setting Christ wanted to help his disciples to get Him in perspective. To compare and contrast Him with the dead deities that men worshipped in their ignorance. But not only that. The Saviour wanted to go further. He wanted the twelve to compare and contrast Him with the great men of their own Jewish tradition. So He begins “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?”(Matt 16:13) The twelve responded “And they said, some say ….,”

(Matt 16:14) Then Christ looked them in the eye  these twelve and said in effect, “All right in this setting, over against this background, in the light of what men think of me, in the light of pagan religions who do you say that I am? I mean we have lived together, eaten together, talked together, prayed together, faced opposition together all these months now tell me  Who am I?” Peter steps forward and makes this great confession “Thou art the Christ,” thus we notice right away here,


On the B.B.C several years there was wonderful interview. A Hindu had become a Christian and the reporter asked, “Why did you become a Christian?” and the man answered, “Jesus Christ.”  The reporter asked, “What is the difference between Hinduism and Christianity.”  The answer, “Jesus Christ.”  So the reporter thought he would try again, “What did you gain by becoming a Christian?” Do you know what the man said? “Jesus Christ.”  My …. are you still thrilled with the glorious person of Jesus Christ? Now do you recall that in the preceding months Simon Peter had already given voice to his view of the Person of Christ. Do you remember his reaction to the supernatural haul of fish? “Depart from me,”  (Lk 5:8) Then again when the Savior stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee the disciples worshipped Him saying “of a truth thou art the Son of God.” (Matt 14:33) You see the truth of the Lords Deity was gradually dawning little by little upon them and then the crowds started to leave the Saviour He said “Will ye also go away?” Simon answered “Lord to whom shall we go thou art that Christ the Son of the living God.” (Jn 6:69) The truth of Christ’s deity was becoming a settled conviction so that when Christ asks this question Simon is ready. Now is it not interesting that the truth of the

Lords glorious person was


Look if you will at (16:17). You see it wasn’t through human intellect or merit that Peter confessed Christ to be the Messiah. After all “No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3) Now God’s revelation to Simon Peter is a very precious thing. My …. here was a simple uncouth man, a rugged Galilean fisherman, a man not above disobeying, cursing, swearing, denying yet the omnipotent Lord of Creation has come down to the son of a nonentity and opened his eyes so that Simon sees the Lord Jesus for who and what He is. My …. is this not the amazing grace of  God? That God hides things from men of high culture, and great importance. It’s not to the Herod’s, Roman Emperors, scribes and Pharisee’s that God unveils the most important truth of all time. No God hides things from the wise and prudent and reveals them unto babes. (Matt 11:25) To the teachable, simple, humble. 

Are you in that category this ....? I always find it refreshing to meet a believer who has been on the road for years but still has a childlike simplicity, a teachable spirit, a humble attitude. For the church of the Lord Jesus is full of so called “know all's,”  who don’t know God. This truth concerning the Lords Glorious Person was,


Look at (16:16) Now what makes the Lord Jesus so glorious? Well, look at Peter’s confession.

1. The Lord Jesus is the Promised One

He says, THE LORD JESUS IS THE PROMISED ONE: The term “Christ,”  means “Messiah,”  or “Anointed One,”  it combines the ideas of Prophet, Priest, and King. The Lord Jesus is the anointed one of God as Prophet to teach (Deut 18:15 Lk 24:19) as Priest to make the needful sacrifice for sin (Ps 100:4 Heb 9:24) as King to reign over His own and bring them to glory.  (Jn 10:28) My ….do you see what Simon sees? He sees Christ as the fulfilment of the O.T. promises, as Gods Anointed deliverer, divinely qualified for every aspect of His task.  Now is this not tremendously encouraging? Is it not comforting to know that you can launch out into this week and look at your difficulties, problems, trials in the light of this truth? The Messiah the Lord Jesus, is with you. So there is someone to teach you for Christ is your Prophet. There is someone to intercede for you for Christ is your Priest. Do you feel all alone? Listen there is someone to care for you for Christ is your King so that in life or death you need not fear for Christ is all you need. 

2. The Lord Jesus is the Preeminent One

“The Son of the living God.” (16:16) You see, Simon links Christ directly with God. Which god? The Syrian Baal? The Greek Pan? The Roman Emperor? No.

Then what God? The eternal God, The living God, The God of creation, the God of history, the God of prophecy, the God of destiny. My …. the Syrian Baal’s were lifeless and dead. The Greek god Pan is a myth. The Roman Emperor may live but he shall die but the Lord Jesus is the Pre-eminent One for He is “the Son of the living God,”  sharing His nature, bearing his likeness, and displaying His Glory. (Heb 1:3) Someone has said that there are three kinds of Christians, those who give Christ a Place in their lives, those who give Christ Prominence in their lives, and those who give Christ

Pre-eminence  their lives. My …. what kind are you? 


For Christ says “thou art Peter,”  (Matt 16:18) Now this is the first occurrence of the word church in the N.T. It’s the Greek word ekklesia from which we get our English word ecclesiastical referring to things that pertain to the church. My …. isn’t there a lot of confusion about the church? The definition, purpose, function of the church. I heard about a meeting where the deacons recommended that the church buy a new chandelier. One of the old brethren got up and said, 

“now brethren I’m opposed to buying a chandelier for the church.” The pastor said, “Well, state your reasons.” He said “there are three reasons I am opposed to buying the chandelier. (1) It will cost too much money (2) Not any of us know how to play that thing (3) What we need in this church is not more music but light.” My …. isn’t it comforting to know that the building of the church does not depend on people, gimmicks, or programs. The Lord says “I will build my church,” and the tense of the verb emphasizes the continuation of action. That is Christ has already been building in the past, is building presently and will continue to build in the future. He will complete the building. Perhaps you are saying “Well what makes you so sure? Sure church leaders are constantly looking for some tricks of the trade to make the church grow? Are you really sure the church will be victorious?” Yes and that for two reasons. Look at them,


Look if you will at (16:18) “Thou art Peter ….,” Now a variety of suggestions has surrounded this word  “rock,” down through the centuries. Let me say simply say that Christ is the foundation of the church. If the Lord Jesus had meant that He was going to build His church on Peter why did He not say “And upon thee I will build My church.” He did not say that because He did not mean it. The word for Peter used here is Petros and means “A little stone,” “a bit of rock,” but the word translated “rock,” in the same verse is “petra,” and means “the rock itself.” Christ is the Rock upon which the church is built and we as living stones according to Peters own testimony are built upon this rock (1 Pet 2:4) Is this not in perfect harmony with what Paul says “For other foundation can no man lay that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 3:11  Is 28:16 1 Cor 10:4) “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” The question therefore is this. On what foundation are you building your hope for eternity? Are you building on the sand of human philosophy or religious works? Upon what are you resting? Are you resting on the fact that you are moral, religious, cultured or have you come to Christ as a poor: lost sinner and are you resting on Him as your only 

hope? My .... the church will be victorious and

B. The Church’s FUTURE is SECURE

For Christ says, “the gates of hell,” you say what does that mean? Very simply it means,

1. The VICTORY of the Church is not in DOUBT

Gates in the Bible represent authority and power. The city gate was to a Jew what the city hall is to people in the western world. Important business was transacted at the city gate (Duet 16:18 17:8 Ruth 4:11) “The gates of hell,” then would represent the organised power of Satan. My …. it’s a picture of Satan and his legions storming out of Hell’s gates in order to attack and destroy the church of Christ. But praise God the power of Satan will never destroy the body of Christ. My .... do you realize this.... that you are on the victory side? Sure, there are times when the church is pressurized, criticized and ostracized but it will never be brought to an end and every member of it will be brought safe to glory. Do you know what this means for your personally? It means that in spite of your fears, failings, falls, forebodings, in spite of the world, flesh, and devil you will never be cast away. (Jn 10:28) 1:

2. The DESTINY of the Church is not in QUESTION

Another Translation puts it like this “And the gates of hades (the realm of the dead) will not overcome it.” You see, believers and unbelievers alike must pass through the article of death into the unseen world. Have you ever been puzzled by this? Here we are believers in the Lord Jesus, we have received the revelation that Christ is the Son of God, we have believed it, we have confessed it, but yet we have to die. Saints and sinners alike suffer and die. Saints and sinners alike go under the sod of the earth. It might appear that saints and sinners alike remain in that same dark world but listen to the word of the Lord concerning the Church’s destiny “the gates of hell (the realm of the dead) will not overcome it,”  for though all have to pass through death  the church of Christ shall not be imprisoned or contained by death. 

In the language of Paul “the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor 15:52) A Resurrection, a resurrection of the saints, a resurrection of the saints to meet the Lord, and my …. not all the powers of Satan will hold back the church and prevent it arriving at its destiny. 

Dr. W.A. Criswell found himself on a flight on one occasion seated beside a well known theologian. The man began to tell the pastor how recently he had lost his little boy. He had come home from school one day with a fever, and the parents thought it was one of those childhood things, but it was a virulent form of meningitis. The Doctor said, “we can’t save your little boy. He will die.” So this seminary professor loving his son as he did sat by the bedside to watch the death vigil. It was the middle of the day, and the little boy whose strength was draining from him, whose vision and brain was getting clouded said, “Daddy its getting dark, isn’t it?” The professor said to his son, “Yes, son its getting dark very dark.” He said, “Daddy I guess its time for me to go to sleep isn’t it?” He said, “Yes son, its time for you to go to sleep.” The little boy fixed his pillow and said, “Good night Daddy, I will see you in the morning.” He then closed his eyes in death and stepped over into heaven.

Dr. Criswell, said the professor didn’t say anymore after that. He just looked out of the window of the plane for a long time. Then he turned back and he looked at Criswell with the scalding tears coming down his cheeks, and he said, “Dr. Criswell, “I can hardly wait until the morning.” My …. “the morning is coming,”  and we shall see our loved ones who have died in Christ. The gates of hell, the gates of death shall not prevail against the church. (Rev 1:18) My .... we are on the victory side because our foundation is sound and our victory is secure.  (Matt 16:19)


Now I want you to notice that this charge, duty, function that is here given specifically to Peter is later given generally to the disciples (Matt 18:18) To see this authority as a boon for Peter alone is therefore unscriptural. As is also the understanding of it as belonging only to a line of successors to Peter. My.... there is not one word here about any successors to Peter. What then is meant by this charge? Well think with me about this charge:


Now a key is an instrument for opening a door. When Christ says therefore that He will give Peter the keys of the kingdom He simply means that He will make him an instrument for opening the door of faith to the world. Peter will be Christ’s chosen vessel to present the Gospel to the world. Now is this not what happened in the book of Acts? Peter was God’s key man. In (Acts 2) Peter took the key and opened the door of faith to the Jews. In (Acts 8) Peter took the key and opened the door of faith for the Samaritans. In (Acts 10) he took the key and opened the door of faith for the Gentiles. You see, Peter was the means through which people heard the Gospel.

Now the phrase “to bind and to loose,” was often used by the Jews it meant “to prohibit and to permit.” To bind a thing was to forbid it. To loose a thing was to allow it. Thus binding and loosing seems to indicate discipline within the Church exercised in the first century and discipline which certainly needs to be exercised in the 20th century (Acts 5:1-11 1 Cor 5:1-5 2 Cor 2:8) So much for the charge then, what about this charge,


For has it no relevance for us to day? Has it no application for us this ....? Of course it has, for the same Lord who chose Peter to present the Gospel to this old world has chosen you and me. My... He has “chosen us to bring forth fruit and that our fruit should remain.”  (Jn 15:16) Tell me are you one of Gods Key Christians?

You can always tell a Key Christian, 

* By His EYES ..... He sees the VISION

* By His Ears ..... He hears the VOICE

* By His Fee t..... He makes the VENTURE

* By His LIPS ..... He shares the VICTORY


My ….what a privilege to share the Gospel with those in need and by the Word of God and Spirit of God to bring them into the Church of God. A church whose foundation is sound, whose future is secure for the Church rooted by God can never be uprooted by man for it is Christ’s church. Did you notice the lovely way Christ’s describes us here? He says, “I will build my church.”  You see, from eternity Christ loved you, by His blood Christ redeemed you, through His Spirit and Word Christ is cleansing you, and one day soon Christ will present us to Himself a Glorious Church “not having spot nor wrinkle not any such thing.”  (Eph 5:27) Then the great church “victorious will be the church at rest, for we shall be forever with the Lord.” (1 Thes 4:18)

Aren’t you glad that you are part of the church that Christ is building?

Aren’t you glad that the cause of Christ will be victorious?

Until that day may we in this day like Peter open the door of faith to others !