As I’ve watched what’s taken place in our fellowship recently, as I see what’s going on and hear what’s going in the world, my heart has almost been sick. I’ve seen the disregard and mockery of the church of Jesus Christ that Jesus paid His blood for. It is because of the curse that we call "rights," the exaltation of independence, individuality, and all that our nation promotes. God opposes them. I’ll say it again. What we as a nation boast in, have bled for, and the genius of secular humanists who wrote the documents called the "Bill of Rights" and the "Constitution of the United States"—I want you to know that, from a human perspective, it is a masterpiece; isn’t it? For the liberty of man, the individuality of man, and the independence of man… I want to tell you something, beloved. We serve in a kingdom that is not all about man. We are citizens of a kingdom and a nation that is not about the individual, but it is about the whole. We want to talk for a moment and answer the question—I think this is vitally important for the days ahead of us as a fellowship. This is not just a rhetorical question. We’re going to have an opportunity on Sunday night’s panel to ask some questions. I’d encourage you to ask genuine questions and questions that are really upon your heart. Forget what people might think about you. Do you understand the privilege we have in an open forum like this as a church? And we don’t avail ourselves of it. We talk to each other. We sit around the table at home as a family unit, and talk, and question, but we never ask questions where they can be answered properly and where others can be illuminated. It’s a pretty rare thing to have an opportunity like that, and it’s very interesting that we very seldom avail ourselves of it because of the fear of what people will think. If we’re walking in the light, beloved, and if we truly love one another as family, then there has to be a vulnerability and a love that prefers others better than ourselves, even if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, or the position that you’re standing on. The fact of the matter is this: if we don’t move into a genuine love instead of a feigned love in this last day, if we’re not seekers of truth and light, and if we’re not contending for the faith and an understanding of what Scripture says, we’re not going to stand. You are going to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and by the sleight of men through their cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive. It is a spirit out there. That deception and that craftiness come through questions that are not answered. It does nothing but generate confusion and strife. We will look at that in the Ephesians, Chapter 4 passage in just a moment. But what we’re talking about and what I want to establish very clearly is this: the church of Jesus Christ is not a straw man! The church of Jesus Christ is not an organization or a club. The kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ, is not a playground. The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. It is obtained forcefully through pursuit. It is the straight and narrow, and it is a very unique. When I say, "It is unique," I mean it is an entity unto itself. Nothing else can be compared to it, so don’t think we can take the corporate world, human psychology, or relationships and somehow figure out what this kingdom is all about. You will only understand the kingdom through the revelation of God’s Word. It’s foolishness to the natural mind; amen?
They will tell us. They’ll respond to the decisions we make. They’ll look at us with raised eyebrows when we make statements like this: the man is the head of the woman and the head of the home. I’ll tell you something. If you speak that out loud in public, you’ll be laughed down, if you are not stoned. We say, "Amen" to the doctrine in many of our churches, but none of our homes operate that way. I’m not just talking about us as a fellowship, since there seems to be a lot of people wanting to talk about the universal body today. I want to tell you something. I am not all concerned about the universal body. I don’t live with the universal body. I live with you; amen? I’m not concerned with what my neighbors are doing next door. I’ve got my own home to take care of; amen?
Let’s look at a couple of passages here. You will see why I’m speaking the way that I am and the burden that’s on my heart. I believe that we as a people are sound in our doctrine. But many of us are losing our application and our understanding of what the church really is, how God establishes order, and—if we walk by faith in the illumination of it—the confidence of it. Stop trying to apply human and natural safeguards to that which only the Holy Ghost oversees, and you’ll see what I’m talking about as we go on in this study.
Look at the sixteenth chapter, and then we’ll look over at eighteen in just a second. "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matthew 16:13). That is the question. They are dealing with the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, which is leaven. When the question is asked as to whom He is, Peter’s response—we’re all very familiar with it. "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Then, a statement is made that we’re so familiar with it almost loses its impact. "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Thou are the Christ. Now, we have established who the Lord is, but listen to Jesus’ response. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter…" (Matthew 16:18). We know that the Roman Catholic Church mistakenly tries to use this as vindication of apostolic succession, therefore, the Vicar of Rome, the Bishop of Rome is the head of the universal church. That is not what Jesus is saying here. What He is saying here is this: "I’m going to build a church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It is going to be a church that’s overseen by men, and by My presence, and by My Spirit in them," or, as Paul said to the Corinthian Church, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already…" (1 Corinthians 5:3).