Some of you asked for the written version of the latest message preached at Covenant Church Spokane, Upon This Rock, Part 2. Feel free to make copies and distribute as the Lord leads.
Upon this Rock Part 2
When we came together last time, I don’t think any one of us knew fully what God was setting in motion. We had a glimmer, but as time passed. the vision has become clearer and the mission more defined. Not only are Church Arise: Operation Save______ fill in the blank of different cities and states popping up left and right, but it is going international, Church Arise: Operation Save Pakistan and Uganda, for instance.
I do not believe the message the Lord gave me to preach at this Church at our Church Arise: Operation Save Spokane event was a coincidence a few months ago. I see it now as the first fruits of something even greater in the Kingdom of God. With that be said, let’s dig a little deeper as we seek the Lord and His Word when it comes to this message, “Upon This Rock, Part 2!”
Matthew 16:13-18 declares:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
When it comes to the realms of real estate ventures, there are three proven elements that produce business success and they are location, location, and location. This is also true when it comes to Kingdom ventures in serving our Lord in and through His church. Some by now, may be aware of the significance of the location that our Lord chose to reveal who He was and His blessed mission in establishing His church.
Jesus left the religious center of Judaism in Israel and went to a place called Caesarea Philippi. Like William Wallace in the movie Braveheart, our Lord went to pick a fight. If you read the Gospels without our American glasses, you will notice He was consistently picking a fight. He is a man of war and He purposely chose the Sabbath Day to challenge Judaism on His claims that He was Almighty God in the flesh. What was the divine purpose in all this? “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:13, 14).
Caesarea Philippi was a hotbed of pagan thought, demonic activity, and bloody idolatry. The following is a description by Ray Vander Laan concerning this wicked, evil place where Jesus unveils that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and upon that Rock, He was going to build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
“Hades, originally the Greek god of the underworld, is the namesake for the place where departed spirits live. It was frequently used in the Bible as a synonym for hell or the grave (Psalm 9:17; 55:15; 116:3).
As Jesus used it in Matthew 16:18, Hades seems to refer to the powers of evil that resisted Jesus, including Satan’s ultimate weapon of physical death. Jesus told his disciples that they would have to confront the “gates of Hades” (Matthew 16:13-20) which probably referred to the powers of hell and Satan arrayed against God.
Jesus’ words also carried symbolic meaning because they were spoken in Caesarea Philippi, a pagan city that was filled with moral corruption. Pagans believed that water symbolized the abyss and that caves were a door to the underworld. Because Caesarea Philippi stood near a cave with spring water flowing from it, the pagans naturally thought of the cave as a gate to the underworld.
As he challenged his disciples to confront the “gates of Hades,” Jesus stood near this cave, the physical picture of the gates of hell. Caesarea Philippi represented the worst evils of culture; it was filled with idols, shrines, and immoral worship practices.
Yet Jesus assured his disciples that the “gates of Hades” would not be able to stand against the power of God’s people. Jesus defeated Satan through his suffering, death, and resurrection. Therefore, his people could overcome Satan and transform evil places like Caesarea Philippi.
Today, God’s people must continue to confront the “gates of hell” in our culture, those places that are dominated by evil. Relying on God’s power, we can face these fearful circumstances and overcome the forces of Satan that we encounter every day.”
Jesus went to where pagans believed was the actual place leading to the underworld. A place of unspeakable debauchery and pagan idolatry took place. It was there that he unveiled who He was and the mission of His church. Now pause for a moment and think with me. Do you think it was a coincidence that the theme Scripture for our last outreach was Matthew 13:18?
When the call went forth during the Church Arise campaign, how did Pastor Ken Peters and this church, Covenant Church Spokane, respond to the call. It was honestly one of the most Biblically profound responses I’ve ever heard in fighting this battle for the souls of men, the lives of children and the future of our bloodstained, perverted land in over 3 decades. He stated that the next church plant this church would be involved with would be a church plant at Planned Parenthood. The literal gate of hell defiling your community.
Little did we know at the time, but this church plant at Planned Parenthood was following the pattern set by our Lord in Matthew 16:13-18. It also follows the pattern set forth in the Old Testament. God called Jeremiah to take a pot and smash it at the altars of Moloch and Baal located at Tophet in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Jeremiah 19:1-13).
Tophet means drum. Drums played loudly to drown out the cries of the little ones being passed through the fires sacrificed upon the demonic altar to Moloch. This place interestingly enough was also known as Gehenna analogous to the concept of “Hades” or “Hell.”
Though we know there is an eternal abode called hell for those who reject the abundant pardon found in Christ, there is also a hell on earth. According to both Testaments, hell on earth is where child sacrifice and the shedding of innocent blood takes place. It is there that Jesus said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail.
It was also at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked 2 penetrating questions, “Who do the people say that I am.” Perhaps, He was wondering what the public opinion and the editorial page was thinking about Him and His mission.
The answers from the disciples are illuminating. It does not quite fit with our current image we have of Jesus today. Most see Jesus as a jolly shepherd cuddling little lambs. I don’t make light of that because I was a wretched lamb that went astray. Yet, He found me, held me and set me free. Hallelujah!
The people of his day who were actual eye witnesses, however, saw him as one of the Old Testament prophets. Who were those guys? They were rough and tough and hard to bluff. These were not soft men. They were God’s prosecuting attorneys as he brought charges against Israel and pagan nations. They stared and stood down kings, emperors, and kingdoms with no standing army backing them. Both Jeremiah, (the weeping prophet) and Elijah, (Come near to me after calling down fire from heaven) were both bold, prophetic men, yet tempered by God’s tenderness and love, which means the church can be prophetic and still speak the truth in love.
His second question was much more pointed. This question, in fact, is the most important question ever asked in the whole history of mankind. It is more important than “Where did I come from?” Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? And the big one, “What happens to me after I die?
When Jesus lowered the boom and asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” This weighty question placed before mankind a divine test. The answer is set for the rise and fall of the whole earth. It will determine men’s destinies in the here and now and seal their eternal fate.
Pay close attention to Peter answer and the Lord’s response. Peter jumps up to declare, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
There is the Catholic version of this exchange that twists the Scriptures to fit their dogma and the Evangelical version, which reveals it is the Rock of Revelation and not the Pope that the Lord is unveiling at this choice location. I believe the Evangelical version to be true, but we also cannot ignore the actual location Jesus was standing upon. They were upon an actual rock, which was designated the gates of hell.
Now, the word for Peter is “small rock” or “little pebble.” The Rock of Revelation, however, is a massive Rock that we who are born again stand upon (Matthew 7:24-27). Keep that in mind as we turn to 1 Peter 2:4-8.
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”
What is truly amazing about this passage is Peter is quoting from Isaiah 28:15-18. Please look it up and study to show yourself approved by God. In context, Isaiah is presenting the promised Gospel of the Kingdom in response to a Covenant made with Death. America, just like Israel of old has made a covenant with death, which has produced a culture of death that is savaging our nation. Through God’s just judgments and through this tried stone, this precious cornerstone being Christ and we who are living stones, the church of the living God, God was going to annul the covenant of death and set the captives free.
Are we seeing this as the church of the living God? Are we getting this revelation? Are we connecting the dots? Would to God every true, orthodox, born again, Bible believing, church would open their eyes, their hearts, their understanding, and God’s word to comprehend the magnitude of this message. Would to God they would follow the example set by this church and do a church plant at every death camp (Abortion mill) in America and storm the gates of hell standing on the promise, they will not prevail against the church of the living God in Jesus’ name!
God bless you saints and keep pressing on to the high call and prize.