Sermon # 41 Series: Matthew
Title: “THOU ART THE
Text: Matthew 16:13-18
Subject: Peter’s Confession
Readings: Office: Buddy Daugherty – Aud. Lindsey Campbell
Date: Tuesday Evening – April 25, 1995
The legions and imaginary theologians have wrangled and argued for two thousand years over some of the things contained in this paragraph of Holy Scripture. I have no desire to enter the controversy. And I have no illusions of settling the issues for others. But I will, by way of introduction, briefly explain the controversial statements in this passage to the best of my ability and understanding. My only purpose in doing so is your edification. After briefly looking at the controversial things in our text, I will move as quickly as possible to the comforting things in it.
1. What is the meaning of our Lord’s statement – “Upon this rock I will build my Church?” Without question, the Roman fabrication that Peter was to be the foundation of the church is ludicrous. To speak of a fallen, sinful, depraved son of Adam as the foundation upon which God’s holy temple is built is contrary to scripture. Such an exaltation of Peter above the rest of the Apostles would have been contrary to the plainest teachings of our Lord (Matt. 20:1-28). The rock upon which the Church of God is built is Peter’s confession, not Peter (Eph. 2:20-22; I Cor. 3:11).
2. What is the meaning of our Lord’s promise – “I wilt give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven?” Again, the papal doctrine that Peter and his successors, the popes, and priests of Rome (as they dream) have the power to admit souls into heaven is a delusion. Peter does not open and close the gates of heaven. That prerogative belongs to Christ alone (Rev. 1:18).
This sentence appears to have no greater meaning, and no less, than this – By God’s special decree Peter was ordained to be the first messenger, the first preacher of the gospel after the resurrection, by whom (as God’s mouthpiece and instrument) the doors of salvation were thrown open to both Jews and Gentiles.
· The Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2)
· The Gentiles at Cornelius’ House (Acts 10).
· Acts 15:7-9.
3. What do the last words of verse 19 mean? – “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
· Our Lord did not give Peter the power to forgive sins and absolve sins!
· This text has nothing to do with church discipline.
What the text does teach is this – Peter and the Apostles were commissioned to teach the way of salvation with inspired authority. “As the Old Testament priest declared authoritatively whose leprosy was cleansed, so the apostles were appointed to ‘declare and pronounce’ authoritatively, whose sins were forgiven.” (J.C. Ryle).
As the Apostles of Christ they were inspired to lay down and establish the rules and regulations by which the church and kingdom of Christ must be governed. Those things which they made binding are binding.
All matters of indifference they left as matters of indifference, “The loosed,” so that each believer is free to decide what is best for himself.
NOTE: This authority and power was confined to the apostles. It began with them. And it ended with them. It has never been given to anyone else.
NOTE: I am not an infallible teacher, and neither is any other man.
NOTE: No pastor, no church, no denomination has any right or power to lay down any laws, rules, or guiding principles for the kingdom of God – The Word of God alone is our only rule of faith and practice.
I hope those comments are enough to help you understand this passage clearly. But, now, I want to show you the more important aspects of our text. Here are the matters of immediate concern to each of us.
Remember, that which Peter here confessed is the Rock of Foundation upon which the Church and Kingdom of God is and must be Built.
Here are five blessed things spoken of in this passage of Scripture.
I. A Blessed Confession (vv. 13-16).
At first glance the careless reader might pass over these words thinking, There is nothing extraordinary in them; but such thoughts arise from great ignorance. Peter’s confession here is truly remarkable. The more I study it, the more remarkable and blessed it appears – Blessed because of Its Circumstances and Its Content.
A. It Was a Confession that put Peter at odds with the rest of the world.
Few were with Christ in those days. Many were against him. But Peter confessed him. When the rulers of his own nation and all the religious people he knew, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests, and the people all opposed Christ, Peter confessed him. Many would gladly acknowledge him to be a prophet, even a great prophet, even a resurrected prophet. But Peter confessed him to be “The Christ, The Son of the living God.”
B. This Confession of faith came from a man of tremendous faith, character, commitment, and zeal.
Say what you will about Peter. He had his faults I know. But do not underrate this man. His heart was under the rule of Christ. Grace is evident in him. Peter was a true-hearted, fervent, faithful servant of our God.
C. Now, look at the content of this Confession.
Looking in the face of the Son of man, Peter said to that man, “Thou art the Christ, The Son of the living God.” Peter confessed that…
1. The Man Christ Jesus is, God, the eternal Son.
2. The Despised Nazarene is the Christ.
I do not know what all Peter knew or did not know. But I know this – He knew Christ and confessed him. Do you?
II. A Blessed Man (v. 17).
Peter was a truly blessed man. His blessedness was manifest not in his lifestyle, or his freedom from trouble and sorrow, but in the grace of God he had experienced as was evident in his confession.
A. He was Blessed with Spiritual Understanding.
B. He was Blessed by Divine Decree.
C. He was Distinctively Blessed by Distinguishing Grace.
III. A Blessed Foundation.
The Foundation upon which God church is built, the foundation on which our souls are built, the foundation on which our faith and hope is built is the Rock Christ Jesus.
IV. A Blessed Promise.
Perhaps no word in the Bible has been more misunderstood, more abused, and more confusing to men than the word Church. Man’s misunderstanding of this word has led to bigotry, sectarianism, strife, isolationism, and even persecution.
A. What is this Church which the Son of God calls, “My Church”?
· Not a local church.
B. What does the Lord Jesus here promise his church?
1. He promised to build it – “I will build my church.”
2. He promised to protect it – “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
· Visible Churches do wither and die.
· But not one member of Christ’s mystical body shall perish.
· John 10:28
Illus: The Burning Bush.
V. A Blessed Gift (v. 19).
The Lord Jesus gave to Peter and the Apostles the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and he has given them to us by them in the Volume of Holy Scripture.
Application: Now, look at verse 20 – Here is a charge reversed –
1. He told his disciples to “tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” – Because his hour was not yet come.
2. But now, he has commanded us to tell all men that he is Jesus, the Son of the living God – (Matt. 28:18-20).