"I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail agaist it"
‘I will build mychurch, and thegates of hell shallnot prevailagainst it!’ Mat 16: 13-20
IntroductionMat 16: 13-20; ‘I will buildmy church…’
v. 16: ‘You are the Christ, theSon of the Living God’ • the ‘Christ’ • Peter recognised that Jesus is the Messiah, promised in the OT
v. 16: ‘You are the Christ, the Son ofthe Living God’• ‘Son of the Living God’: • Not likely that Peter understood fully what his own words meant; • But he recognised that Jesus had a special relation with God • That He is more than just the Messiah of Jewish nationalistic hopes!• Note: A major paradigm shift in Peter’s understanding!
v. 18a: ‘And I tell you, you are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build me church’• Not just Peter,• but Peter as the one who has been blessed with God’s revelation, who understood the true nature of Jesus, and as the leader of the band of Apostles!• Cf. Eph 2: 20; the church is ‘built of the foundation of the apostles and the prophets’!
v. 18b,19; ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it’, ‘keys’, binding and loosing:• All the above point to Christ’s divine authority• which He now entrusts to his apostles and his church, and• which assures us of the final victory against all forces of evil!
v. 18b,19; ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it’, ‘keys’, binding and loosing:• Another paradigm shift— •The apostles have now been entrusted with Jesus’ delegated authority; •this is the basis of the church’s understanding of apostolic authority.
Is the Malaysian Church makingthe necessary shifts?• If the Malaysian church is going to fulfil God’s purposes for His people in this country, to be truly salt and light, and real blessing to this nation, • we must be prepared to undergo some fundamental mind-set changes or paradigm shifts! • Are we prepared for this?• Examples of Paradigm Shifts—or the Failure to Change
Modern science developed in thewest out of a few paradigm shifts• The earth went round the sun, and not the other way round• Modern science developed when scientist realised that there are laws governing the physical universe; and not fate or ‘spirits’.• But in the last hundred years, scientists like Einstein showed that the world was even more complicated! Another paradigm shift!
Paradigm shifts are fundamentalin industry and business today: • Steve Jobs died in Oct 2011. • But in 30 years, Apple grew from nothing to become the most valuable company in the world. Apple pips Exxon to be the world’s biggest firm
Paradigm shifts are fundamentalin industry and business today:• A good example the failure to change: • Swiss watch industry dominant for the last couple of centuries. • Quartz digital mechanism was invented by Swiss engineers but they ignored its importance. • In the 1970s, some two thirds of the Swiss watch industry was wiped out!• Has the Malaysian Church Woken to the Changing Realities in our Nation?
Why am I saying allthese?• Reason: • Can it be that we have not fully grasp the changing realities in our country and in the world?
Are we aware of the changed realities?• Before Merdeka, we lived under British colonial rule. The church had certain privileges—land, schools, missionaries, government officials were friendly to Christians, etc. But all of us know that things have undergone a great change!• We no longer have most of these privileges. We face a government and officials who are generally far less sympathetic and sometimes hostile to the church: land for buildings, the Allah and Al’kitab issues, problems with mission schools, JAIS raid, etc.
But unfortunately, many of us function as if nothing has changed!• Mission schools: We keep asking back for the old privileges!• We take religious freedom for granted!• So we carry on in the same old way in our ministry, without asking what is it that the church must do to survive!?• E.g. Challenges facing the bumi church in E Malaysia!
What are some of these changed realities?• National situation has changed drastically: •Rising ethnic and inter- religious tensions; •migration and brain drain; •drop in educational standards; •rampant corruption; etc.
What are some of these changed realities?• Secondly, Islam in the world has changed drastically since Merdeka.• Whereas at that time, Muslims were quite happy with the Constitutional provisions which merely gave Islam a privileged status, without making Malaysia an Islamic state, this is no longer true for many Muslims.• What many want now is to make it an Islamic state of some sort or other. It does not matter whether it is PAS or UMNO—the pressures from both are similar!
What are some of these changed realities?• Hence the pressure will continue on non-Muslims: • the State will place increasing restrictions on the freedom of religion for Muslims and non- Muslims; • growing encroachment by supposedly sharia prohibitions.
Perhaps, most important of all,we need to look at history: • Every church under majority Islamic rule has weakened, and many have died. • Why do you expect it to be differently in Malaysia? • But the church today functions largely in a way that is no different from the way we did 50 years ago! • Unless we are prepared to undergo a major paradigm shift, we are in trouble!
Learning from the EarlyChurch• We must be willing to learn from the Early Church.• They had to make some fundamental paradigm shifts—otherwise they would have died!
The first concerned the question:‘Who is Jesus?’ • We need to remember that for the Jew to conceive of a man being God is as difficult as it is for the Muslim to accept the Trinity! • Yet, the Early Church had to change their thinking: ‘The Word became flesh!’ • Still it was not till 451 AD that the church came to a clear intellectual and theological clarification of the nature of Christ!
But the NT church had to make atleast two other major paradigm shifts: • that God is concerned about the Gentiles, as much as for the Jews; and • that true spiritual authority and power comes not from the things of this world but from the HS!
A paradigm shift about the truesource of power• Do you think it was easy for the Early Church to understand the power of the Holy Spirit? No!• Mao: Power comes from the barrel of a gun!
A paradigm shift about the true source of power• Jews were no different! • They were a violent people and fought wars of liberation over hundreds of years. (Just look at Israel today!) • For them, power comes from money, sex, military might—the symbols of power in this world. • That’s why they prefer Barabbas to Jesus! • What good is a dead Messiah on the Cross!?
The Early church had tomake this fundamental shift.• Cf. Paul in : •1 Cor 1: 18; •2 Cor 10: 4f• Illustration: The Chinese church in 1920/30s and Sung’s prophecy.
The question that we have toask is: • Do we really understand the power of the Holy Spirit ? • Or, are we still thinking as the world around us thinks?— • Depending on our money, • our numbers, our schools, our history, etc.? • What are we really depending on? This question must be faced honestly and squarely!
Jesus promised authorityand power:• Mat 28:18;• Act 1:8;• John 14: 12
But where is the power andauthority today? • IF the church is going to survive, grow and remain vibrant, • IF the church is to be a source of blessing and instrument of transformation for this nation, • We must recover the power of the Holy Spirit. • Without that we will die! • And if we do not believe that this is the case, we might as well packed up and go NOW!
A paradigm shift about the task towhich God is calling us• The tension over the Gentile question? ‘Are they our equals? Are the promises of God for them as well?’• These are not easy questions: Jewish men in NT prayed every morning, ‘God, I thank you that you did not make a woman, a slave or a dog!’• The Gentile question was resolved after long discussion and debates over a number of years, and finally settled in Acts 15.• But what if the Gentile question had not been settled? The church would have died an ingrown Jewish sect, with no relevance to the wider world!
2nd Paradigm Shift : to rethinkthe way we carry out ministryand mission • Examples of mind-set changes needed: A. Corruption : • We are unhappy with corruption. • But is the church any better?
B. The need to Strengthen our Bumiputra churches.• 60% of the Malaysian church is bumiputra.• How much help have we given them? Sarawak 852,198 Sabah 691,096 Pop. Census 2000: No of Christians in West Msia. 485,511
C. Reconciliation in the nation: • Why should the Malay and the E Malaysian bumiputra trust the Chinese and Indians? • We have done well (through our education, culture, generations of experience and networks), often at their expense! These are merely some examples of areas in which we need to go through fundamental paradigm changes!
Conclusion• Recently, LKY commented that the future of the Chinese in Malaysia is very uncertain! How they respond in the next 10-20 years will determine the final outcome.• For those of us who are Chinese and Indians, this may well be an encouragement for us to pack and go!
The church is at cross-roads. The next 10 yearswill be crucial.• We are like a man caught by a python, and slowly we are being squeezed.• And if no help comes, we will die slowly … like the churches in Middle East, N Africa, Central Asia, Iraq today, etc.Can we afford to keep thinking andfunctioning in the same old way!?