A World in Crisis Needs the Church

Matthew 16:13-20 NIV

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist;others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But what about you?”he asked.“Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied,“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood,but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church,and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

It is no news to you to hear that we are living in perilous and dangerous times. Today, as never before, we stand at the crossroads of a complete breakdown in the moral and spiritual foundations we so treasure.

It is my humble opinion that the local church stands in the middle of that crossroads, and how we respond at this time in history – the direction we take and how we lead others, will determine the eternal destiny of our generation. I believe the local church is the hope of the world!

It was Billy Graham who said: “Today the world is being carried on a rushing torrent of history that is sweeping out of control. There is but one power available to redeem the course of events, and that is the power of prayer by God-fearing, Christ-believing people.  Even though America is just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah ever were, and as deserving of the judgement of God, God would spare us if we were earnestly praying, with hearts that had been cleansed and washed by the blood of Christ.”

Let me repeat, a world in crisis needs the church!
· Not the church that has lost its voice.
· Not the church that has coddled the world.
· Not the church that, under the guise of tolerance and grace and non-offensive approaches, has abandoned the truth and power of the Gospel.
· Not the church that has been in decline in America for over a decade now.
· Not the church that has seemingly lost her way and floundered to find her place and identity and voice once more.
· But the church – the church Jesus came to build and empower and die for and will soon return for. The church that is built upon The Rock that The Gates of hell shall not prevail against.
· That is the church we need today.

Caesarea Philippi
· The Las Vegas of its day
· Prostitutes and revelry
· Roman soldiers would come off deployment in Israel and Egypt and go to Caesarea Philippi for R&R and party. After Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD, many Roman soldiers came here to celebrate.
· It was a cosmopolitan city. A crossroads and melting pot.
· Idols galore and various gods were built into the sides of the hill.
· One god was even built as the “god of the roaming goats” because goats would come down to the city and walk freely the streets.
· A large opening in the side of the mountain was often referred to as the “gate of hell.” Water gushed from the opening and human sacrifices were thrown in the hole. If it washed you out, it was said that not even hell itself wanted you.

It is incredible that Jesus – Jesus of all people – would take His crew to such a wicked place.
· Imagine what those 12 guys are thinking when they see all they are seeing.
· Imagine what the Pharisees and religious folk are thinking and telling others.

But it was here in the presence of wickedness and debauchery, fornication and idols galore – standing in the shadow of these man-made gods, Jesus offered a counter to their culture. Jesus offered an answer to their wasted lives and sinfulness.

In the very presence of evil and man at his worst, we see God at his best. “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
· Maybe this terribly eye-opening experience for the disciples is what it took to open their eyes to the One standing before them. I don’t know, but He did say sternly to them for the first time, “Do not tell anyone that I’m Messiah.” Suddenly they saw Him for who He was.
· Surely the miracles helped.
· Surely the water-walking demonstration impressed them.
· No doubt raising a dead person or two made them stay up at night trying to wrap their heads around who He may be.
But there’s no doubt that while there – Caesarea Philippi – with the partying and revelry and lewdness and evil – their eyes were opened. When they saw lifeless gods and lifeless people worshipping them – music playing and dancing and sacrificing to stinking, dirty wandering goats – in a culture away from God Almighty and His grace to save - they saw Jesus the Christ!

· And church, in all our getting – and all our efforts to be relevant and viable and cutting edge and organized and programmed – what we need most is a fresh look at Jesus! What we need most is a renewed passion to see His glory – see His majesty – see His splendor – and see His Holiness! Oh, I want to see Him – look upon His face! There to sing forever of His saving grace!

They were introduced to the concept of church. And not just an idol or building or structure or religion – but the church – a living, thriving organism that was the answer to what their eyes were witnessing.
And again I say to you, a world in crisis needs the church!

So, what difference does the church make?
1. We are a beacon of hope.
· In a world of chaos – we offer hope.
· In times of crisis, who else is there who, week in and week out, offers answers to our hurts and pains?
· In a world in crisis – we bring the broken of this world – the outcasts of society – the forgotten’s of this world – the neglected – the disenfranchised – we, the church, we offer hope – we affirm them of their dignity – we bring them a fresh start.

2. We are the bastion of truth.
2,000 years ago, Jesus stood before Pilate and Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
And more so today we wonder, “What is truth?”
The idea that there is a fixed, absolute truth which applies to us all is rejected by most people.
Even in modern Christianity, the Bible is seen as ever-evolving to adapt to the times and adjust according to moral and ethical trends.

· In the Prophet Isaiah’s day, he cried: “Truth is nowhere to be found” Isaiah 59:15.
· Jeremiah wept as he preached and declared in 7:28, “Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”
· And Paul writes to Timothy and warns the last days will be marked with, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

By all means, we should be truthful people. As Christ-followers, our word is our bond. But I’m not talking about the church being a safe haven for those who want to tell the truth. We are not a bastion of “want to be truth-tellers.”

No. But the church is the Preserver of Truth. Not many “truths.” The Bible and Scriptures and Christianity aren’t just good based on merits. It’s not and it can’t be that the Holy Scriptures are “a way” to God. And just as relevant is the Quran or the Book of Mormon. No, there can only be one truth. And the Bible says Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Jesus said, “…when the Spirit of Truth is come, he will guide you into all truth…” John 16:13.

Paul said in I Timothy 3:14-16 (MSG):
I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth.

My sincere interest is to be a good speaker. I love to joke with you and make the sermons engaging and be myself when I’m up here. But you’ve got to know this. I take this role with the utmost responsibility. I will answer to God for what is preached here and what you are taught.

We can debate over when we believe Christ will return.
We can debate over what music is played here.
We can discuss and disagree on programs we do and don’t do, or what we can do or can’t do, or where we can go and can’t go…

But the debate ends here – not up for rebuttal or research or a committee report:

  • Jesus is the Incarnate Son of the Most High God.
  • Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus lived a sinless life, He died for our sins on the Cross, He was placed in a grave, and rose again on the third day.
  • All have sinned and come short of God’s glory and we must repent of our sins to be forgiven.
  • And we believe He came the first time to redeem us from our sins, but He’s coming again – oh yes He is, to rapture His church and rule and reign forevermore.
  • And we must live by and die for the Truth!

So what difference does the church make?
1. We are the beacon of hope.
2. We are the bastion of truth.

And we are:
3. The sanctuary of the sacred.
We are the holy representative and the preserver of the sacred.
There is not much sacred anymore. Even Christian values and symbols have become sacrilege. But church, there are some things that are still sacred and must be handled as such.
· The Word of God is sacred – love it.
· The Name of God is sacred – revere it.
· The worship of God is sacred – enter in slowly and reverently.
· The Presence of God is sacred – respect it and walk softly.
· Never to be taken for granted or lightly.
· We must never lose the “awe of God.”


Worship Set

Our God

Chris Tomlin | Jesse Reeves | Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman

Verse 1

Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There's no one like You
None like You

Verse 2
Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

Chorus 1
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power our God our God

Misc 1

And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what could stand against
And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what could stand against
(Then) what could stand against


We Believe

Matthew Hooper | Richie Fike | Travis Ryan

Verse 1
In this time of desperation
When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation
We believe we believe
In this broken generation
When all is dark You help us see
There is only one salvation
We believe we believe

Chorus 1
We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He's coming back again
(We believe)

Verse 2
So let our faith be more than anthems
Greater than the songs we sing
In our weakness and temptations
We believe we believe

Misc 1 (Bridge)
Let the lost be found and the dead be raised
In the here and now let love invade
Let the church live loud our God we'll say
We believe we believe
And the gates of hell will not prevail
For the pow'r of God has torn the veil
Now we know Your love will never fail
We believe we believe

Misc 2 (Ending)
He's coming back again
He's coming back again
We believe we believe


Never Once

Jason Ingram | Matt Redman | Tim Wanstall

Verse 1

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for ev'ry step You were with us

Verse 2
Kneeling on this battleground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing ev'ry victory was Your pow'r in us

Misc 1 (Pre-Chorus)
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes our hearts can say

Chorus 1
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful God You are faithful
(You are faithful God You are faithful)

Misc 2 (Pre-Chorus)
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say

Chorus 2
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once no we never walk alone

Chorus 3
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful God You are faithful
Ev’ry step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful God You are faithful

Misc 3 (Ending)
You are faithful God You are faithful (3X)