Beloved, we’ve made a mockery out of the authority of God in our churches today. In many of our minds here, though we would adhere to the doctrine, we’ve lost the application. Very frankly, it is because of the fear of men’s faces: all of the "hoopla" and people making "big deals" out of cults like David Koresh’s and Jim Jones’, as we know from our little newspaper article the other day. We have people who are the representatives of God, the anointed of God, and the placed of God almost apologizing for wanting to represent the kingdom in power and in authority. Instead, they appoint committees, and things are run by consensus. This is Satan’s attack on the church, the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, and it becomes "divide and conquer" and destruction of true unity. I’m talking about biblical unity. I’m not talking about the fact that we are not all fighting one another at this time. I’m talking about the fact that we all believe the same thing; amen? There is one faith, and one baptism, and one Lord, as we read in Ephesians, Chapter 4. Jesus has given gifts unto men. The apostle told us very clearly that, as members, we are put in the body as it pleases Him. We are gifted uniquely and severally, and we are not all gifted the same way or endued with authority. There’s an order that’s established. One error and misapplication that is happening today in many churches, especially Spirit-filled and what we look at as fundamentalist churches, is the improper application of the priesthood of the believer. We all know that we are individually kings and priests. That has to do with our personal representation and relationship with the Head, our Savior. He’s not only among us, He’s within us. But in that relationship, He’s bringing about a clear understanding of the unification of a body, a kingdom, and a church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. What am I saying to you? Stay in the church; it is safe! The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Can I tell you something? You are not individually the church.
Jesus is not only talking historically about the extension and existence of the visible, universal church. In fact, He is talking about the recognition of those who are representing Him, the representatives of the church. Rome has perverted this thing. We all understand that. You have the Vicar who, when he speaks Ex Cathedra, is infallible. We all know the Pope is not infallible; this is [holds up the Bible]; amen? I have been talking a little while, and I want to have you understand the magnitude of this statement: "You’re Peter, and upon this rock…" There’s been a lot of dispute over this by different commentators; they make a play on the word: Peter, petra,petros, rock, and stone. That’s not what this is talking about. "On this profession, on this rock of revelation of Myself… Flesh and blood has not given this to you, but My Father which is in heaven has revealed it." No one can come, unless the Father, by the Spirit of God, draws them. Jesus said, "I give unto you. I say you are the rock, and on this profession, upon this revelation, upon the personal experience and knowledge of Myself, upon someone who is indwelt by My Spirit, upon someone who is infused with the knowledge of My Word, and upon representatives that speak only My words as I spoke My Father’s words, they are those upon which I will build My church. The gates of hell will not prevail against them. I will give [look at verse nineteen] unto you My representatives—those I have placed, those whom I have ordained, and those who come as ambassadors and speak on My behalf—the keys of the kingdom of heaven." "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
Turn over to the eighteenth chapter for just a moment. A number of us are familiar with the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. We are very familiar with it, yet we probably don’t apply it enough. Some think we apply it too much. It is in red ink. The Head of the church says, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee … [We do what?]" (Matthew 18:15). We gossip to a friend, complain, pray about it, or put it on Facebook. If your brother trespasses against you, what do you do? "…go and tell him his fault between thee and him [say the next word]alone…" (Matthew 18:15). Okay. There are some good guidelines for us; amen? And I tell my hundred closest friends. Does your version read that way? "…if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother" (Matthew 18:15). We know these principles. "But if he will not hear thee [What do you do?], then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matthew 18:16). Scripture has already made that provision. So, you’re doing the Word of God; you are using God’s method. It is not a "he said, she said" thing. It is not "just my opinion versus your opinion." This is wisdom: at the multitude of counselors, every word is established. You can imagine that there are actually people in the church of Jesus Christ who are confronted by two or three witnesses, who know the lordship of Jesus Christ, who know the words of Jesus Christ, who love you as an individual, who speak to you judgment and counsel, and there are actually people who would ignore that. Can you imagine that? Surely, nobody would think so highly of themselves, of their opinion, and of their position. But, periodically, there are those cases. Hopefully, it is not very often.
You should notice that is doesn’t say, "When he neglects to hear them…" How does it read? It says, "But if…" That means he should listen to what is being counseled; amen? Beloved, listen to what’s being said here. We have the truth! Corinthians says, "What’s wrong? Is there no one among you spiritual enough to judge?" We just flat out don’t like being told what to do, when it’s contradictory to our will, to our flesh, to our plan, or to our agenda. We are rebels. Are we not? Are you delivered from that? Are you completely sanctified? Do you no longer have any defense of self? Is there no longer any motivation of self-will? Are you not someone who has any self-interest at all? This is God’s protection for you against your greatest enemy. We don’t believe that. Every one of us is our own worst enemy. As pride comes in, and we’re puffed up, and we think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, we justify our lusts and our positions. We try to support our prejudices and preferences. Somebody comes up to love us with the Word of God. They stand there and bring us a word, and two or three brothers who are full of the Holy Ghost are very likely… We’ve shared with you before. If you want to be safe, don’t take your best friends; take theirs. Take the people that are their greatest confidants and their bosom buddies. If they are true friends, and if they are bosom buddies, they won’t tell you what you want to hear. They’ll tell you the truth; amen? Go to him. Do you want some good advice? Follow their counsel.