Missing you...

It has been about 9 years that I have been living in Florida and New Jersey is but a memory now.  The year I moved here was a difficult one; Linda had left in late December of the preceding year and I was alone.  There was much to do, cleaning out the condo, packing, placing things in storage.  This took quite awhile.  Then I moved in with my oldest daughter's family and even though there were quite a few people living in that beautiful big house; still I was very lonely.  You see, we were married over 35 years at that time and all but a day or two- Linda had been there.  That June, I took what remaining vacation I had and retired two weeks earlier than I expected to.  Frankly, I just couldn't bear to be away from her one more day.  Yes, you guessed it, the love between us has not diminished, it has just gotten stronger over the decades.  During those long months, we talked on the phone often and sent letters back and forth constantly.  We encouraged one another and in a way, I felt like I was in high school again, writing so many notes.  Imagine feeling that way about people other than your relatives?  Christians can- and do.  The apostle Paul writes to his fellow Christians at Philippi and says many things, but somehow this just seems to stand out...

Philippians, Chapter 4
 1 Therefore, my brothers, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 

When I became a Christian, I identified with Christ's death, burial and resurrection by submitting to a baptism in water for the forgiveness of my sins.  It took me awhile to fully realize that I really did have a brand new family as well.  One who loved me because I loved God.  And so, over the years, I have begun to appreciate my brothers and sisters in Christ more and more.  I guess these things have been on my mind a lot today, because Austin and Carol Smith (and their friends C.J. and Dave) went back to Tennessee today.  If I could say just one more thing to them (besides driving safely) it would be something like what Paul says above.  It is comforting to know that even though Christians may be separated by thousands of miles and eventually even death, we will be united in heaven.  Somehow, I feel better now!!!  It is truly wonderful to be a Christian!!!!

PS. Charlie Brown is looking in the right direction; are you?

Bible Reading, Mar. 4

Mar. 4
Exodus 14

Exo 14:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Exo 14:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal Zephon. You shall encamp opposite it by the sea.
Exo 14:3 Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, 'They are entangled in the land. The wilderness has shut them in.'
Exo 14:4 I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will follow after them; and I will get honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies; and the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh." They did so.
Exo 14:5 It was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed towards the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"
Exo 14:6 He made ready his chariot, and took his army with him;
Exo 14:7 and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over all of them.
Exo 14:8 Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel; for the children of Israel went out with a high hand.
Exo 14:9 The Egyptians pursued after them: all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his army; and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal Zephon.
Exo 14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were very afraid. The children of Israel cried out to Yahweh.
Exo 14:11 They said to Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you treated us this way, to bring us forth out of Egypt?
Exo 14:12 Isn't this the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness."
Exo 14:13 Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which he will work for you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall never see them again.
Exo 14:14 Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall be still."
Exo 14:15 Yahweh said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward.
Exo 14:16 Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground.
Exo 14:17 I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them: and I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen.
Exo 14:18 The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have gotten myself honor over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen."
Exo 14:19 The angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them, and stood behind them.
Exo 14:20 It came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness, yet gave it light by night: and the one didn't come near the other all the night.
Exo 14:21 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
Exo 14:22 The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left.
Exo 14:23 The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea: all of Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
Exo 14:24 It happened in the morning watch, that Yahweh looked out on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and confused the Egyptian army.
Exo 14:25 He took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily; so that the Egyptians said, "Let's flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians!"
Exo 14:26 Yahweh said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come again on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen."
Exo 14:27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it. Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
Exo 14:28 The waters returned, and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even all Pharaoh's army that went in after them into the sea. There remained not so much as one of them.
Exo 14:29 But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand, and on their left.
Exo 14:30 Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
Exo 14:31 Israel saw the great work which Yahweh did to the Egyptians, and the people feared Yahweh; and they believed in Yahweh, and in his servant Moses.

YOUR LUCKY DAY by Gary Womack


It was one of those rare days when everything "goes my way." The traffic lights were all green and I found a parking place at the end of the row closest to the entrance of the store. I didn't have to wait in line at the check-out, and the item that I went to purchase was on sale at half price. It must have been my lucky day!
No doubt, "luck" is a word that is commonly used in our society. The winning casino gambler is invariably referred to as being smiled on by "lady luck." On the other hand, there are those occasions where everything seems to go wrong wherein it is not uncommon to hear it said that they were having a "run of bad luck."
Many live their lives on the basis of "luck." It's not uncommon to find that many have the superstitious custom of carrying a rabbit's foot for "good luck," or perhaps carry a "lucky" coin in their pocket. Some have a particular piece of clothing that they wear, such as their "lucky" hat, when they are hoping for "good luck." When things fall a certain way in matters of choice, some will say that "it was the luck of the draw." And how many times have you heard (or said yourself), "good luck" to someone when wishing them success on a certain venture? All of these references to "luck" share a common thread of meaning. It all encompasses the idea of "chance." In fact, the definition of "luck" according to Webster's Dictionary is, "The seeming chance happening of events which effect one; fortune; lot; fate." On the word "lucky," we find this definition: "Lucky implies a favorable or advantageous event happening by mere chance, often unexpectedly, and not as the result of effort or merit."
In Solomon's efforts to "seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven" (Eccl. 1:13), he made this observation: "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all." (Eccl. 9:11) Regardless of what may appear to be a circumstance that ensures our success, it is no guarantee that such will be the outcome. Circumstances and opportunities come our way, but our choices are not guarantors of the outcome that we expect.
The real issue in the matter of "time and circumstance" is that we not make the mistake of relegating everything to "luck" and thus exclude the providence of God from the affairs of life. Such is the norm in our present carnally-minded society which refuses to acknowledge God. However, Jesus makes it clear that the heavenly Father "makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Mt. 5:45) He is the source of everything that is good. As James says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (Jas. 1:17) That, dear reader, is not a matter of "luck" but rather the reality of God's providence.
While "luck" is embraced by many to be the sole determiner of every outcome, it should be observed that there is also a contrasting view held by some who wish to attribute "providence" to every minute detail of their lives. Such an extreme view declares the light turning green and the parking space coming available as being matters of providence. Those who hold to such a view are often guilty of attributing all kinds of circumstances to God as having intervened in their lives in matters which may not necessarily be His doing.
Many credit God for circumstances that have lead to their "conversion" or to the "numerical growth" of their denomination. In so doing, they have unknowingly credited God with leading them into error. Man has been guilty of such erroneous perception for a long time. Consider the example in Mt. 12:22-24 where Jesus healed a demon possessed man who was blind and mute. "And all the multitudes were amazed and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?'" (vs. 23) While these people believed that this miracle was done by the power of God and thus gave Him the credit for such, the Pharisees attributed the undeniable miracle to being the work of Satan, saying, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons." (vs. 24)
The debate between "luck" and "providence" is one that mankind will never agree on. And while such is the case, our responsibility is not to figure out all of the workings of God. Remember "how unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33) We should rather busy ourselves in seizing the opportunities that God places before us and place the outcome into His hands. On this thought, consider again the words of Solomon; "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes all things. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." (Eccl. 11:5-6) Truly, we do not know God's workings, but that does not prevent us from conducting our daily lives by using what He blesses us with and doing good with it. We may not know the outcome of it, or how He will use it for His eternal purpose, but we can still serve Him and glorify Him as the Provider of every good and perfect gift.
When the nation of Israel hung in the balance on Esther's decision of whether to approach the king on their behalf, Mordecai said to her, "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esth. 4:13-14) While Mordecai expressed his faith in the providence of God to deliver them regardless of Esther's decision, he acknowledged the fact that he could not know if the circumstances of this moment in time was the means that God would use to carry out His will.
Life is not luck. Therefore, use it to His glory.

- Gary V. Womack - November 2003

A Touch of Wonder by Jim McGuiggan

A Touch of Wonder

That's the title of a wonderful little book by Arthur Gordon that was aimed at helping us to rediscover the joys of living and it really is worth the reading. I pick it up now and then and read again one of its inspiring stories and come away refreshed. My suspicion is that (even physical) weariness comes on us more because we have begun to lose the sense of wonder than for any other reason.
Being tired after a hard day's work or an exhausting piece of pleasure is no surprise to us. In fact, we like it; like the thought of having worked ourselves into a well deserved feeling of "beat". But being tired of life makes you tired 
in life. Many of us are physically weary because we're emotionally weary and I suppose the vast majority of us are emotionally weary because we're spiritually empty. We've made the rounds (within the limits of our ability) of the social life, we've "been there and done that" and feel there's nothing else for us but more of the same and more of the same simply has no appeal. If we were loaded with money or intellect or commodities like that maybe we could stave off the ennui but since so few of us have a lot of either we shrug and plod on.

That lovely old spiritual with the haunting tune offers a glimmer of hope. "If religion was a thing that money could buy/the rich would live and the poor would die." But that lovely word is about religion that's worth talking about; it's about religion that makes a difference; it's about religion based on wonder and vibrant hope. The "perpetual blahs" get more feeding from pathetic religion than we'd care to admit. Bland "speeches" from bland preachers and teachers leave us all bland. We think maybe if the classes were more dialogue and less "preaching" we'd feel better. But bland is still bland whether it comes from one mouth or twenty.
Weariness comes from the sickening sameness. Part of what we need is someone to make us wonder again; someone to show us the magic of life; someone to make us gasp at the glory that is Jesus Christ. We need men and women who will give us doctrine, rich and profound doctrine, rather than endless humane and saccharin little talks. A pox on all that! Give us a glimpse of the real Christ or get out of the pulpit or from behind the lectern! If we have a sense of the spell-binding nature of the God who showed himself as Jesus our sense of wonder will come back and we'll be able to rejoice in books like Gordon's without fear or recrimination.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

A note to a friend by Jim McGuiggan

A note to a friend

I'm glad you've seen something about Christ that is "thrilling". The whole of life is an adventure. Even the bits that feel least like they're an adventure. Even the days that feel like purgatory, those are days of adventure also. In John 11 we have Christ "hiding" himself from Mary and Martha and Lazarus. God doesn't play silly "games" with us as if our lives were a shallow existence but he does hide himself, the prophet Isaiah said. It's part of the cosmic "game". It isn't that he wakes in the morning and says, "Let's see who I'll hide from today." But as part of a vast cosmic enterprise involving the entire human family he deliberately chooses "not to be there." A single life may not be big enough to explain why he chooses "not to be there" but the cosmic size and nature of his glorious purpose would if we could know it all (and one day we'll get the big picture).
To say that God "hides" himself is good biblical speech (Isaiah 45:15) but while the hiding is real it is never permanent nor is it ever spiteful.
For each of us—for you—the challenge is to trust that there is this big picture that you're a part of. God is writing a "drama" and you have a place in it. But your place is given significance not by your independent and isolated existence. You don't exist that way. No one does. We're part of a human family. One day when the world is new you'll go to a place where the cosmic Bible is kept, you’ll type in your name and the computer will take you to where your piece of the narrative begins. You'll read about yourself (without fear or shame—for those will be done away then) and you'll see how your particular story fitted into the whole narrative. You'll surely say to yourself, "Hrrrmphh, I could have done better than that." I know I’ll surely say that. But while you might recognise that you knew what it was to fail, you’ll know that you weren’t ashamed of the colours you sailed under. At that time you’ll be able to read the whole narrative of life as one piece and see that even the dull days and the gloomy spells that came down on you, the hard battles—along with the pleasures and joys—they all had their place.
Whether we presently see it well or not, or tell it well or not, we have a Story that begs to be told well and honoured by cheerful loyalty. It’s a Story that lifts the heart and transforms lives; it’s one that steadies the purposes and enables the stubborn little human to stay afloat even while drifting among titanic waves of trouble and perplexity. This is the "gospel of God".
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

Matthew: The Value Of A Soul (16:26) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                      The Value Of A Soul (16:26)


1. After telling His disciples and others nearby the cost of being His
   disciple, Jesus asked...

   "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and
   loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his
   soul?" - Mk 8:36-37

2. In these words of Jesus we are reminded of the value of the soul...
   a. It is the most valuable possession one has
   b. All the wealth and power one might gain is not worth the price of
      one's soul!

3. It is a lesson we do well to remember, and so in this study we shall
   examine three questions...
   a. Does the Bible teach that man has a soul?
   b. Why is one's soul so valuable?
   c. What will one give in exchange for his or her soul?

[Because of error taught by some, it is important to provide a Bible
answer to the first question...]


      1. Such as members of the Watchtower Society (i.e., "Jehovah's
      2. Who say man "is" a soul, not "has" a soul
      3. The controversy revolves around the multi-faceted use of the
         words for "soul"
         a. The Hebrew is "nephesh", and at times it may refer to:
            1) Animal life - Gen 1:20-21 ("living")
            2) The person - Num 31:19 ("killed any person")
            3) The body - Num 6:6 ("a dead body")
            4) Something distinguished from the body - Isa 10:18 ("soul
               and body")
            5) Breath - Job 41:21 (referring to Leviathan)
         b. The Greek word is "psuche", and at times it may refer to:
            1) The person - 1Pe 3:20 ("eight souls saved by water")
            2) Life itself - Jn 13:38 ("lay down your life")
            3) Something distinguished from the spirit - He 4:12 ("soul
               and spirit")
            4) Something distinguished from the body - 1Th 5:23
               ("spirit and soul and body")
            5) That which exists after the body is dissolved - Mt 10:28
               ("kill the body but not the soul")
         -- Those who deny that man "has" a soul fail to consider that
            words may have many different meanings and applications

      1. In the teaching of Jesus
         a. Man is both body and soul, and the soul can survive murder
            by a fellow man - cf. Mt 10:28
         b. The story of Lazarus and the rich man - cf. Lk 16:22-23
            1) Some say this is only a parable
            2) Even if it is (which is highly unlikely), parables were
               "true to life" stories, not fantasy!
         c. His promise to the thief on the cross - Lk 23:42-43
      2. In the teaching of Paul
         a. There is "the inner man" that can renewed, even while "the
            outer man" decays - 2Co 4:16-18
         b. One can be with the Lord, while absent from the body - 2 Co 5:6-8
         c. There is a part of man that can be "out of the body" - 2 Co 12:3
         d. One can be dead, yet still be with Christ - Php 1:23
         e. Reference is made to the "spirits of just men" - He 12:
      3. The teaching of Peter
         a. He wrote of those who are "dead, but live in the spirit"
            - 1Pe 4:6
         b. He described the body as a tabernacle to be put off...if
            the body is a tabernacle (dwelling place), what dwells in
            it? - 2Pe 1:13-14
         c. The unjust are under punishment, just like some angels
            - 2Pe 2:4,9-10
      4. John, in the Revelation given to him, saw "souls of those
         slain", and they were capable of crying out with loud voices,
         and being comforted - Re 6:9-11
      -- There is also much material in the OT

[So while one may say in the right context that man "is" a soul, we
must also be willing to say that the Bible teaches man "has" a soul.
Now let's consider the next question...]


      1. Man was created in the image of God - Gen 1:26-27
         a. Yet God does not have a physical body like ours - Jn 4:24;
            Lk 24:39
         b. Therefore it must be our soul, or spirit, that is in God's
      2. This is what enable us to comprehend abstract concepts as:
         a. Life, death, eternity
         b. Things of beauty
         c. A moral sense of ought, right and wrong, good and evil
         -- Making us more than just animal creatures - cf. Ps 8:3-8

      1. The body is mostly the result of genetics
         a. We might be able to change a little through exercise,
            plastic surgery, etc.
         b. But we cannot stop the eventual aging and dying process
      2. The soul, however, is different...
         a. Despite one's genetics, there is much that can be changed
         b. By cooperating with God, we can change attitudes,
            dispositions, character - Ro 12:1-2; Ga 5:21-22; Col 3:12-15

      1. The body dies, and soon returns back to the dust
         a. The soul, or spirit, returns back to God - Ec 12:7
         b. Awaiting the resurrection of the body - cf. 1Co 15:35-58
      2. After which comes the Judgment - He 9:27; 2Co 5:10
         a. The soul, in its resurrected body, will bear the brunt of
            that Judgment
         b. Either eternal life, honor, glory, and immortality - Ro 2:7
         c. Or indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish - Ro 2:8-9
      -- Which is why we need to evaluate all things (possessions,
         decisions, actions) from an eternal perspective, from the
         soul's viewpoint - Mt 10:28; 16:26

      1. What price was required to redeem our souls from the wrath of
         God's judgment?
      2. Nothing less than the blood of the Son of God! - 1Pe 1:18-19
      -- Even if we cannot fully comprehend why Jesus had to die, we
         should able to see that the souls of men must be extremely
         valuable if His death was necessary

[So the Bible teaches that the soul is more valuable than the whole
world!  And yet, many people "sell their souls" for what surely are
petty bargains...]


      1. The word "exchange" pictures a business transaction in which
         one is bartering for something else
      2. "Barter" means "to trade or exchange one commodity for
      -- Thus it means to trade your soul for something else

      1. For some people, it is earthly riches and fame
         a. In their quest for riches, they neglect their service to
            God - 1Ti 6:10
         b. Yet they have traded their souls for that which is
            corruptible and can be stolen - Mt 6:19-21
      2. For others, it is the "passing pleasures of sin"
         a. Like the young man tempted by the harlot - Pr 5:1-14
            1) In a moment's passion, lives are destroyed (AIDS,
               unwanted pregnancies)
            2) Marriages and families are ruined
         b. Young people like Joseph, Moses, and Daniel should inspire
            us to make the right choices - cf. Gen 39:7-9; He 11:24-25;
            Dan 1:8
      3. Then others allow their souls to be sold for some convenient
         false doctrine
         a. Of which we need to beware - Col 2:8,18
         b. For the devil is a master at this - 2Co 11:13-15
         c. Through our own lack of Bible study, we can lose the most
            valuable thing we have! - cf. Hos 4:6
      4. Finally, many will trade their souls through simple laziness!
         a. They will not use the opportunities the Lord has given them
            - cf. Mt 25:24-30
         b. They fail to apply the diligence necessary to grow
            spiritually - cf. 2Pe 1:5-11


1. How valuable is your soul...?
   a. Think of what the rich man in Hades would tell you - cf. Lk 16:
   b. Think of what the souls of the redeemed would say to you - cf.
      Re 7:13-17
   c. Think of what God has done to save your soul! - Jn 3:16

2. It matters not what else you do in this life, if you do not save
   your own soul, you have been a complete failure...
   a. You might gather about you great riches and fame, and leave
      thousands of friends to mourn your departing, but if you have not
      saved your soul, you have been a miserable failure!
   b. On the other hand, you may die in a charity home for the poor,
      and be buried in a potter's field without a single friend to
      mourn, but if you saved your soul, your life was a marvelous

3. You can't afford to lose your soul, for if you lose it, you lose
   a. To the faithful will be given the place of eternal rest
      1) There will be no pain, sickness, or death there
      2) It is the inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that
         fades not away
      3) It is that city built by the living God
   b. On the other hand, there is the place of eternal punishment
      1) It is where the wicked will be tormented day and night forever
      2) It is where you will bemoan your great foolishness for having
         sold your soul for such petty things!

4. Dear friends and brethren, you don't have to lose your soul...
   a. Humbly submit yourself to the will of God
   b. Let His Word guide you, and let no man beguile you of your reward
   c. Overcome temptations, and suffer for His cause with rejoicing
   -- If you do these things, you will save your soul, and heaven will
      be yours, because God who cannot lie, has promised it!

Note:  The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by David Riggs.  The URL for his web site of sermons is:

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Matthew: I Will Build My Church (16:13-20) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   I Will Build My Church (16:13-20)


1. In Mt 16:13-17, Jesus questioned His disciples concerning His
   a. He asked who others thought He was
   b. He then asked who they thought He was
   c. Peter responded: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
   d. Jesus commended Peter, stating that his confession of faith was
      based upon what the Father Himself had revealed - Mt 16:17

2. Jesus then used this opportunity to speak of His church - Mt 16:
   a. He promised to build His church
   b. He mentioned the foundation upon which it would be built
   c. He described the ultimate victory of His church
   d. He spoke of great authority that would be given

3. This passage naturally raises several questions...
   a. What is this "church" Jesus promised to build?
   b. What is the "foundation" upon which it would be built?
   c. How would "the gates of Hades" not prevail against it?
   d. What "authority" was given by Jesus, and to whom?

[Anyone who believes in Jesus should have a vital interest in the
answers to these questions.  So let's begin by noting first of all...]


      1. The Greek word is ekklesia, meaning "an assembly, a
      2. It is used in the Bible most often in two senses:
         a. The church "universal" - the whole assembly of people who
            are saved, both living and dead
         b. The church "local" - a company of saved people in a
            geographical area who work and worship together as a local
      3. In our text, Jesus is using the word "church" in its universal

      1. It is called "the body of Christ" - Ep 1:22-23
      2. It is called "the household of God" - 1Ti 3:15
      3. It is called "the temple of God" - Ep 2:19-22; 1Pe 2:5
      4. It is called "the kingdom of Christ" - Col 1:13; cf. Re 1:9
      5. It is called "the bride of Christ" - 2Co 11:2; cf. Re 19:
         6-9; 21:2
      -- Each of these expressions emphasize some blessing or 
         responsibility we have as those who have been called out of
         the world into this spiritual assembly of God's people

      1. It is evident that the church was not established at the time
         Jesus spoke...
         a. He said "I WILL build My church..." - Mt 16:18
         b. He told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the
            Christ (a fact certainly related to the establishment of 
            His church!) - Mt 16:20
      2. The church is mentioned after Jesus' resurrection...
         a. The Lord was adding people to the church - Ac 2:47
         b. From that time forward, the church is spoken of as being in
      3. It is fair to conclude that the church began on the day of
         a. When the Spirit was poured out on the apostles - Ac 2:1-21
         b. When Peter preached the first gospel sermon - Ac 2:22-40
         c. When thousands were saved, and the Lord added them to His
            church - Ac 2:41,47

      1. The church "universal" is a spiritual body of people
         a. Known only by the Lord Himself - cf. Ac 2:47; 2Ti 2:19;
            Jn 10:14
         b. There is no earthly organization, headquarters, etc., for
            the church universal
         c. Any attempt to organize and activate the church "universal"
            results only in denominationalism
      2. The church "local" is the only visible sign of the church
         a. Local churches are made up of Christians in geographical
            areas who work and worship together as a unit - cf. Ac 8:1;
            13:1; 14:21-23,27
         b. With their frequent assembling, it is easy to identify a
            local church - cf. 1Co 1:2; 11:17-18; 14:23

[The church Jesus built, then, is that great gathering of people who
respond to the gospel in faith and obedience (cf. Ac 2:41).  Wherever
faithful disciples of Christ assemble to work and worship as a local
congregation, a church of Christ is found (cf. Ro 16:16).  As we return
to our text, we next consider...]


      1. As foretold by Isaiah - Isa 28:16
      2. As proclaimed by Peter - Ac 4:11-12; 1Pe 2:6-8
      3. As taught by Paul - 1Co 3:11; Ep 2:20

      1. Some believe the "rock" is Peter, as the first pope
         a. This is the claim of the Roman catholic church
         b. This idea was first raised only after various bishops began
            claiming universal authority over the church, hundreds of
            years after the church began
         c. Even if Peter is the "rock" in this passage, there is no
            Biblical basis for the idea that the church was built upon
            Peter alone
      2. Some think the "rock" may be Peter, but with scriptural 
         a. I.e., the church would be built upon Peter, but not solely
            upon him
            1) Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the primary foundation
               - cf. Ep 2:20; 1Pe 2:6
            2) But one may also speak of the church built upon the
               apostles (including Peter) as the church's foundation,
               in a secondary sense - cf. Ep 2:20; Re 21:14
         b. That Jesus may be referring to what we learn later to be
            true, that upon Peter (along with the other apostles and
            Christ Himself) Jesus would build His church
      3. Jesus might be referring to the principle of divine revelation
         working through His apostles, like Peter...
         a. Jesus had just praised Peter for his confession, which was
            the result of divine revelation - Mt 16:16-17
         b. Jesus went on to say how Peter would possess the keys of
            the kingdom and the power of binding and loosing, all 
            related to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the
            apostles - cf. Mt 16:19; Jn 16:12-13; 20:22-23
         -- If so, then Jesus is making the point that His church,
            while established through the work of men like Peter and
            the apostles, would be built on a solid foundation since
            they would be led by divine revelation
      4. A strong possibility is that the "rock" is the confession
         Peter just made...
         a. I.e., the truth of the confession:  "You are the Christ,
            the Son of the Living God"
         b. Just as Simon had been called "a rock" (Gr., petros), so
            the church would be established on a solid "rock" (Gr.,
            petra) or fact:  that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the
            Living God"!

[Whatever the "rock" in Mt 16:18, the church is built upon the strong
foundation of Christ Himself and His apostles (Ep 2:20). At this point,
let's skip ahead to what we learn about...]


      1. To Peter was promised "the keys of the kingdom" - Mt 16:19
         a. The figure of "keys" suggest the ability to allow entrance
            into the kingdom
         b. Peter exercised this ability through preaching the gospel,
            as he did on the day of Pentecost - Ac 2:17-41
      2. To the apostles was promised the power "to bind" and "to 
         a. To Peter in this passage - Mt 16:19
         b. To the rest of the disciples was promised similar power 
            - Mt 18:18
         -- Of course, presumed in all this would be the guidance of
            the Spirit, promised to lead the apostles into all the
            truth - Jn 16:12-13

      1. They "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." 
         - Ac 2:42
      2. Christians were commended for their acceptance of the 
         apostles' doctrine - 1Co 11:2; 1Th 2:13
      3. They were exhorted to receive the apostles' teaching - 1Co 14:37; 2Th 2:15

[The Lord's church today, then, is wherever there are souls who have
been saved and who continue to abide in the apostles' doctrine.  For
those who remain faithful to the Lord and His apostles, they can look
forward to...]


      1. The phrase "gates of Hades" has been variously interpreted as:
         a. The powers of death (i.e., death itself)
         b. The forces of hell (whatever forces Satan might bring to
      2. In either case, the "gates of Hades" have not prevailed!
         a. Death did not prevent Jesus from building His church
         b. The forces of Satan have not succeeded in destroying His

      1. By putting on the armor of God - Ep 6:10-13
      2. By steadfastly resisting our adversary, the devil - 1Pe 5:
      3. Nothing, not even death itself, can prevent us from being
         "more than conquerors" - Ro 8:35-39
      4. The glory of this ultimate victory is beautifully portrayed in
         the visions of the Revelation - e.g., Re 7:9-17


1. Do we desire to participate in this glorious victory of Jesus'
   a. Then we must first be saved - Ac 2:38-41,47
   b. We must also abide steadfastly in Jesus' doctrine, which is also
      the apostles' doctrine - Jn 8:31; Ac 2:42; 1Th 2:13; 2Th 2:
   c. We must remain faithful until death - Re 2:10

2. Through God's grace and our faithful obedience, we can be privileged
   to be a part of that church...
   a. Which Jesus built as promised
   b. Which shall withstand whatever "the gates of Hades" might throw
      against it

Don't you want to be a part of the church of Christ?  May the words of
Jesus in Mt 16:18-19 encourage us to be satisfied with nothing less!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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