Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
What is one thing that God taught you through this message?
Read Matthew 16:19. How were these keys to the kingdom talked about on Sunday? How do we apply this to our daily living?
As followers of Jesus, you and I are the tangible expression of the kingdom. In what ways do you look like the King? In what ways don’t you? What do you need to do to make sure your prioritize your allegiance to King Jesus?
What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today?
Masahiro Mori is a pioneering Japanese roboticist. Now, he's in his mid 90s now, and some of the things that he's done and some of the theories that he has postulated have had an impact on the field of aesthetics and of human psychology. So, a number of different ways that he's been influential. He actually ended up writing about a theory that he called the Uncanny Valley. Let me explain. So, Mr. Mori actually deals in the realm of robotics and creating robots, and what he began to observe in a seminal article that he wrote in 1970, so 50 years ago, he began to observe that when robots are just robots, everybody's ambivalent about them, it's a robot.
But as soon as the robot starts taking on just a little bit, a little bit of human features that people have a warm feeling toward them, they start going, "Oh, okay." So they move and they can shake hands and ... so some of that stuff, but what he also noticed is that if you made them more and more and more human looking and talking and feeling, people got super creeped out, and that's what he calls the Uncanny Valley, uncanny, meaning an eerie similarity, right? And he basically talking about this time from being barely human, to being fully human, and he said the time between those two things, he calls the Uncanny Valley.
Now, it had an influence because his theory has proven true in a lot of ways, in a lot of different areas, for instance, in the realm of movie production, movies pay attention to this. So for instance, you guys remember the movie, I'm sure, Shrek, when it was initially being pre-screened, it was being pre-screened for their target audience, which included families and small children of course. I know we've got kids here and kids watching and you remember Shrek, right? So when they were doing the pre-screening little kids when they saw Princess Fiona, you remember Princess Fiona, this is what she looked like, right? When they saw Princess Fiona in the pre-screening, all of the little kids started crying.
The reason that they started crying, they figured out, was because they had fallen into this Uncanny Valley. So they realized, "We made her a little too human looking." Even though they were seeing all these other cartoony looking characters in the movie, and she looked a little too human looking and it freaked out some of the little kids. So they ended up giving her a little more features that were a little more cartoony, she still has a little bit of a human look, but not so much as to make you weirded out. Then they re-screened this, and now with the new Princess Fiona who had a little more cartoon features, didn't look so human, all the kids were like, "Yeah, cool. That looks good."
So, this is actually had an effect on how movie producers do what they do, the Uncanny Valley, the place between being barely human to the place being fully human. I wonder if actually the world looks at the church in a similar way. I wonder if the world looks at who we are, as the people of God and goes, "Huh, that's interesting." Like there are new kind of way of being human, and that's actually what the Bible describes us as. The Bible, in Ephesians 2, actually talks about that we're a new kind of way of being human, we're a new kind of humanity. But I wonder if the world looks at who we are and maybe who we are purporting to be, which we are not yet, because all of us know we are who we are, but we're not yet who we're going to be. Right?
This is a part of what sanctification does in the continual transforming of our lives. We are who we are, but we're not yet who we are supposed to be. I wonder if the world sometimes takes a step back and goes, "Huh, that's creepy." They say that they're this, but then they look like that, which draws me in, but then they're not quite here. So I'm kind of don't know what to do with them. Well, the truth is the kingdom of God is very similar to that as well. Because as we discussed last week, the idea of a future kingdom of God is a real one because we know that the King of the kingdom is actually going to return. When the King of the kingdom returns, he is bringing with him the kingdom in all of its fullness.
So what we're talking about ... listen carefully, what we're talking about in the future for the future kingdom is a real, tangible King, and a real tangible kingdom, with real tangible citizens who've been remade into the likeness of the King, and a real tangible garden city that we are going to dwell in. This is the reality of the future kingdom. Just as sure as the future kingdom is real and tangible so is the present kingdom. Because just as surely as Jesus is going to come and bring with him the fullness of the kingdom. Remember this, Jesus has already come, and as a result, the kingdom has to. The kingdom however is not in its fullness yet, because that is only going to be the case when the King returns. But right now the kingdom is actually really tangibly among us.
That's not something that we want to forget, and we're going to look in Matthew's gospel today. So if you're watching online or if you're here, we're going to be in Matthew's gospel. Eventually I'm going to get to chapter 16. What I want you to know is this though, that Matthew's gospel, like many of the other gospels has a theme, and the theme of Matthew's gospel is the Kingship of Jesus. We learn that when we start walking through Matthew's gospel, and I'm going to do it relatively quickly, and I'm going to get you all the way to chapter 16 in a hurry. So stay with me as I show it to you. But when you open the first pages of Matthew's gospel, you've got a declaration about a King.
Listen to what it says in verse number one of Matthew one. "This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah." You remember that word Messiah is the Hebrew word, but in Greek it's the word Christ. So whenever you see the word Christ in English that's the Greek way of saying the Hebrew Messiah, and remember that, that word means anointed one, and anointed one is referencing a kingship. He says, "This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David." David was the great King of Israel talking about Jesus coming in the line of David. Now, why is that so interesting and why is that so king-oriented? Because what happened in the ancient world is that the lineages or the genealogies of Kings were demonstrated and shown so that you could see from what line they came from.
The same thing happens in Matthew's gospel at the very, very beginning. You've got an announcement that this is a genealogy of a King, the anointed one who is the son of David. That's what you have right from the outset. Then when you go to chapter two, we see the story of the birth of Jesus, right? Notice what it says in chapter two, verses one and two. "Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea during the time of King Herod." Magi came from the East to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one born King of the Jews?" Now remember that Magi were actually King makers, that's what their job was, they were King makers in the ancient world. Now they have come to basically say, "We want to worship the King, we saw his star rise in the East and we wanted to come and worship him."
You see, this is a reminder for us, ladies and gentlemen, that this kingdom with a true King, a King that's been announced in terms of his genealogy, and then a King who was born, who is worshiped by King makers, who come from the East to be able to worship him. This is a tangible King with a tangible kingdom. Sometimes when you think about the idea of the kingdom of God, you just make it may be spiritual in your mind. It's just kind of in the ether. I like what Indie Wilson, the author said, he said it this way. He said, "If God wanted a spiritual kingdom, he could have saved himself a huge amount of trouble by just skipping Christmas." Right? Because this was about a real incarnation of God the son, God putting skin on, and if God just wanted this to be about a spiritual kingdom, then why all the fuss, right? Because the King shows up it's a real kingdom.
Now, in Matthew one, you see it in Matthew two, you see it in Matthew three, when Jesus is baptized, you hear the father making a declaration. Do you know what that was? That was the coronation of a King. Then in chapter four, when Jesus goes into the wilderness and he's tempted by the enemy, that's the demonstration of his kingship. Then in chapter five and six and seven, you've got Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, who's giving a declaration to people about what kingdom citizens actually look like. Then in chapters eight through 10, you've got him displaying the works of the kingdom.
Those works are so pronounced that John the Baptist, who's kind of the predecessor to Jesus, the one who showed the way a little bit, who pioneered a path for the savior to be able to walk into, he's now in jail, and he's wondering after hearing all of this stuff, whether Jesus is the anointed King, whether he's the Messiah, the anointed King. He's seen a bunch, but he's wondering. So he sends some of his disciples. This is what it says in Matthew 11, "When John who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?" Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed. The deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed as anyone who does not stumble, here it is, on account of me."
In other words, Jesus says, "John, if you're wondering whether or not I'm the King, why don't you check out all these things that I've done that basically were prophesied that the King, the Messiah was going to do." And I would just say this, "Blessed is everyone who doesn't stumble on account of me." He's basically affirming that he is the King who was promised. So then when you ultimately get to chapter 13, 14, and 15, what you see are signs of the kingdom, and you also see parables told about the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is like, the kingdom of heaven is like, the kingdom of heaven is like.
Then we get to Matthew 16, where Jesus ... I did that quick, didn't I? Where Jesus is actually now with his disciples in a place that's well far away from Jerusalem and it's a town or village called Caesarea Philippi. I've been there a bundle of times. While Jesus is with his disciples there, he is going to engage them in a conversation specifically with Peter, but with all of these disciples, that is fundamental to understanding who Jesus is and who they are as a result of this conversation. You may remember, it went like this. Matthew 16, beginning in verse 13. It says, "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the son of man is?" They replied and some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah and still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
"But what about you?" He asked, "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered. "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my father in heaven." You see, this is remarkable. What's happening is that Jesus is asking, "Who are people saying that I am?" And they tell him a number of different answers, right? John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Then Jesus says, "Who do you say that I am?" And Peter speaking on behalf of the disciples, which he was apt to do for good or ill says, "You're the anointed one. You're the promised King. You're the son of the living God."
Jesus says, "You're right, and this wasn't revealed to you by flesh and blood, my father revealed this to you, but you're right." Jesus affirms who he is and helps them to understand who he is as well. Do you know what this means, Ladies and gentlemen? What this means is that when Peter says you are the King, that Peter actually understands that Jesus is inaugurating the kingdom of God. This means that the kingdom of God has come. It has broken into time and space as we know it. Now, if that's the case, if the kingdom of God has broken into time and space as we know it, and it has, then what ultimately is the best way to view the kingdom that is present among us? How do we best see that? Right?
So remember, we're talking about a tangible reality here, we're not talking about something just floating around in the ether. How do we best see that? Well, you might answer, "Well, it's when we see Jesus, that's when we see the kingdom." Correct. That's absolutely true. When we see Jesus, we see the kingdom of God. There is no doubt about that. But, if you remember the definition that I gave you in week one of this series, about the kingdom of God, what I was trying to convince you of was that the hearers when they heard, when Mark's gospel which is where we were a few weeks ago, when Jesus first words in his ministry according to Mark's gospel, were, "The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news." When Jesus said that, what were his hearers hearing?
Remember I walked you through, when Israel heard something about kingdom, they thought Israel, right? When they heard King, they thought David or the one in the line of David who was going to come. So, what I reminded you of was a simple definition of the kingdom of God according to how they would have heard it, and it was this, the kingdom of God is a people governed by King Jesus. That's what Jesus original audience would have been hearing with their ears. That the kingdom of God is a people governed by King Jesus. Now this idea of kingdom and this idea of people actually go together. We begin to see that connection actually, when we continue reading, as Jesus begins to talk with Peter, we start to see this connection between a people and a kingdom.
Notice what verse number 18 says. It says, "And I tell you." Jesus says. Remember, after this affirmation, he says, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my what?
I will build my church, and the Gates of Hades will not overcome it. Now, this is the first time that Jesus uses the term church in all of the gospels. If you look at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this is the first time, and by the way, it's only one of two times, I'm going to show you the second time in just a moment. Why is that important for us? Well, this verse, when he's talking to Peter has undergone a contortion to where its meaning has been uncomfortably treated and put into uncomfortable positions over the course of church history. But let me remind you of something, that Jesus was actually engaged in a word play here, listen carefully to what I'm saying.
He was engaged in a word play here, because what he said is this. He said, "You are Peter." His name was Simon, right? But he said, "You are Peter." That's the word, Petros or Petrus that we would term, that's a masculine word to describe a loose rock. A stone, right? That you could pick up and you could throw, right? This is what he said. He said, "You are Peter or Petrus ... " And on this rock, Petra, which is feminine, and means the foundational stone. He says, "I will build my church." So you've got Petros, right? Peter, a loose rock, masculine, and then you've got Petra, feminine, which means a foundational stone.
For instance, when I talk about foundational stones, you remember that Jesus' grave, Joseph of Arimathea had a grave that was cut out of a large Petra, a large foundational stone, this massive stone, and it was carved out of that. So it's this idea of a foundational stone. So Jesus has this word play. He says, "Hey, I'm going to name you ... " Basically, "I'm going to name you rocky."
Functionally what he said, "I'm going to name you rocky, and on this foundational stone, I'm going to build my church." So what did he mean by that? Did he mean he was going to build the church on Peter? Well, to an extent, yes. He certainly was addressing Peter. I don't think any scholar would argue with that. He was certainly addressing Peter, that Peter was going to be a part of the foundation of the church. Clearly he was. Clearly, so were all of the other apostles, they were a part of that foundation. But let's not make the mistake of thinking that this meant that Peter was in charge of everything, because Peter would not have said that. Right? Nor did it mean that everybody after Peter was now in charge of the whole church, that wasn't the idea here. That's been contorted through church history that we've seen.
Why do I know that? Because when Peter got older, what did Peter say? He said, "Actually, the foundation stone is Jesus. Jesus is actually the cornerstone." So what Jesus was actually saying to Peter here was this, "I'm going to name you rocky, and here's the rock that I'm going to build my church on." The very thing that you said, "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God, you are the King, the son of the living God, I'm going to build my entire church on that." And by the way, Peter and the apostles, you're going to be a part of that foundation, but it's going to be on the foundation that is built on King Jesus and who he is. That's where the church actually finds its life.
You see, Peter actually in just a short time after Jesus' death and resurrection, Peter would actually be preaching to Israel, and he would affirm the very same thing, basically that Jesus is King. Jesus is Messiah. Remember what he said in Acts chapter two. Peter said, "Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." Here's what he's saying, "He's Lord." That means Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. He's Messiah, he is the promise King in the line of David. Peter is making a bold claim here. Jesus told him that that was exactly what was going to be the case.
So Jesus is the King of the kingdom, right? And what he's done is he's created for himself a people called the church that would now be a demonstration of a new kingdom. Now, see, when Israel heard the word kingdom, they heard Israel. That's what they would hear, right? Because Israel was the kingdom, this was the kingdom of God in the minds of an Israelite. Now with the church it meant, that both Jew and Gentile, when they put their faith in Messiah Jesus, the one who has come from very Israel itself, now there would be this new humanity called the church, which doesn't mean Israel is ... listen to this, doesn't mean Israel is supplanted, it means Israel is expanded because the new Testament calls the church, the true Israel, right?
Not supplanted, not that God's kicked Israel to the curb, but Israel expanded because this is now the new people of God called the church. This is important for our conversation because the idea of a people is fundamental to understanding the kingdom of God. Because I would tell you and have told you and have reminded you today, the kingdom of God is a people governed by King Jesus. This people that we are looking at, we are calling the church, but can we make the connection between the church and the kingdom? Yes, we can and we will, because Jesus makes that connection in this conversation with Peter. Right after he says, "On this rock, I'm going to build my church and the Gates of hell or the Gates of Hades will not prevail against it."
Notice what the next verse says. Jesus says, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." See, this is a really a remarkable thing because what we see is, we see now a clear line between the church and the kingdom in the words of Jesus, that he's actually teaching us about the reality of the kingdom among us, and he's talking about the church and the kingdom right together, and that's really important for us.
In fact, this has been seen through the course of history. Maybe you've sung, maybe if you grew up in church, you sung a hymn that was written by Jonathan Edwards grandson, named Timothy Dwight. The title of the hymn is called, I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord. The very first verse of that hymn says, I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode, the church our blessed redeemer saved with his own precious blood. You see, the writer of the hymn even understood how nearly synonymous the idea of the church was with the reality of the kingdom of God. Now, if you want to write down a thought, a summary thought, I would write this down. The church is the tangible expression of the present kingdom of God.
I've left myself a little bit of room there for the kingdom of God to be bigger than the church, by the way. But the church is the tangible expression of the present kingdom of God. Now, the reason that's important is because what Jesus says as he says, "I'm going to build my church." And then he says, right after that, "I'm going to give you the keys of the kingdom." I'm going to build my church, I'm going to give you the keys of the kingdom. You say to yourself, "Well, wasn't he talking about Peter, that he was giving Peter the keys of the kingdom?" Well, absolutely he was talking to Peter, that's who he was addressing in the conversation. Did Peter used those keys of the kingdom? Yeah.
If you read Acts chapter two, when he preached the gospel and he basically opened the door for people to hear about how they could be reconciled to the Messiah, and how they can now be a part of this new humanity called the church. Did you read Acts chapter 10, when he was with Cornelius, who was a Gentile but a God fearer, and he recognized that the gospel can go not to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles, and he opened the door of the gospel to him? Oh, yeah. Did you read about Ananias and Safira who lied to the Holy spirit and Peter as a result, locked the door on them and the Holy spirit did what he did there? Yes. Peter was using the keys of the kingdom.
But were they just given to Peter? Were the apostles a part of that as well? Sure. What about the church?
What about the greater church? I would suggest that we too have been given the keys to the kingdom, and the reason that I'm making that claim is not because I'm just pulling it out of thin air going, I hope so, but because Jesus only used the term church two times in all of the gospels, and they are within real close shouting distance in Matthew's gospel, in chapter 16 and in chapter 18. In chapter 18, he's talking about discipline within the church. In other words, how we help one another live like kingdom people and listen to what he says. Jesus says, "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault just between the two of you." He didn't say, "Be a jerk about it, you're an idiot, you sinner, you gross person." He didn't say that, right? He said, "Go to them." He explains in other places to do that in love.
If they listen to you, you have won them over, but if they will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to who? The church, there it is again. If they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Two times Jesus uses terminology around the church and both times he is referring to acts that keys do, opening and closing, binding and loosing, both times. Does the church have the keys of the kingdom?
I say, yes, we do. I grew up in Georgia as you guys know, I moved around a bunch when I was young because my dad being in the Marine Corps, we moved to a bunch of military bases, but we were in Decatur, Georgia, and at least part of that time that we were in Decatur, my dad was actually overseas. Then we moved to Marietta when he came home and we had the opportunity, we moved around a little bit, lived in Florida shortly, and then we moved to Marietta where I did most of my growing up, so on the North side of Atlanta. But my grandparents actually lived in Decatur. My grandmother and grandfather on my father's side, lived on Wood Trail Lane in Decatur, and my grandfather on my mom's side had passed away when she was 17, but my grandmother who was still living, lived on ... listen to it, Wood Trail Lane.
My grandparents on both sides, lived on the same street in Decatur, Georgia. It was a beautiful thing when we would go to visit, I got to see everybody. It was fantastic. There were times when we were younger, my brother and I, and then when my sister came along, she as well that my mom and dad would go out of town and maybe they were going to an away University of Georgia football game, because they were seasoned ticket holders and maybe they were going to Knoxville, Tennessee or to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They were going to be gone for a couple of days. So we would go and stay with one of my grandparents. Usually we would stay with my grandmother and grandfather on my father's side. We called them Memama and Granddaddy, very southern, right? Memama and Granddaddy.
So we just stayed with them. We loved it, my brother and I particularly, we loved it because we got to sleep on the pullout couch, and it was terribly uncomfortable, but we thought it was awesome. It was just nothing but springs in your back, but when you're like nine, you don't care. You're just like, "This is fantastic." Then we both had to sleep on that and we'd be fighting and wrestling and throwing stuff, and then my grandfather would come in and be like, "Boys, I do not want to have to get up one more time." And we'd be like, "We just made the nicest man on earth angry at us." We're so lousy, both of us, we're lousy grandchildren.
Anyway, we loved it. My grandmother was the Pastor's Secretary for Scott Boulevard, Baptist church there in Decatur, Georgia. The church has been subsumed by another church at this point now, but has been there for a really long time, and she was the Pastor's Secretary, which means she had clout. So what would happen is that, when we were staying with her, she would have to go get some work done, and she would take us to the church building with her. It was actually a couple of different buildings that were connected together. Then she would have to be in there typing, and I was always amazed at how fast she typed on a real typewriter. Right? You remember those? Kids that are younger, you're going, "I don't know what these archaic things you're speaking of are."
She would say to us, "Boys, I've got work to do, you need to entertain yourselves, do not get into any trouble. Do not go where you're not supposed to go, but have some fun." My brother is 17 months younger than I am, and it's like game on. We got the whole run of the place. Problem was, is that most of the places that we went, the doors were locked. So we were in a lot of hallways, but we didn't get into a lot of classes and where we really wanted to go, we wanted to go to the sanctuary, the sanctuary was huge, ceilings had some stained glass, everything ... we just wanted to be in there. It was super cool. Then maybe if we got in there, we didn't want to mess with anything, we just maybe wanted to turn the organ on and play it.
That's all we wanted to do. We didn't want to break anything. That's when we met or knew of Mr. Jessie. Jessie Sims was the church custodian. Jessie Sims could never sneak up on you because he had about a thousand keys hanging on his belt ... very time he walked, right? You could hear him coming from a mile away. Mr. Jessie was super gracious to us. Now, it helped that our last names were Gillis and my grandmother's last name was Gillis, and that he knew that we were hers and she was the Pastor's Secretary, and that was his employer, so it all worked out pretty nicely for me and Steve.
But Mr. Jessie, who was a fantastic man, I remember thinking to ourselves, "Mr. Jessie, he's not the most impressive looking man in the world." Right? I mean, we just remember his best ... my young memory goes, he was wearing work clothes, right? He's wearing Dickies or whatever he's wearing. Right? And coveralls maybe, and he's got some stuff on him because he's been cleaning up stuff and he's been cleaning bathrooms and been dumping trash and doing things that his job required of him. He wouldn't wear a suit, he wouldn't be dressed up for that. So it wasn't that you saw him and you were like, "Whoa, that's impressive." But when we saw him, we were like, "He can get stuff done. There is something about him. He has a lot of keys. He's got some things we need." Right?
So one day me and Steve are just walking around, looking at places, trying to get into places, we're outside of the sanctuary and we hear ... and we're like, "Ooh." We're trying to decide, are we about to get in trouble or is this going to be good? And there's Mr. Jessie, "What are you boys doing?" We're just like, "We're looking in the sanctuary, we'd really like to go in there." "What are you planning on doing?" "Nothing, just maybe running around a little bit. We're not going to turn the organ on. We're not going to turn the organ on. We just want to ..." We just looked, our little selves are just looking at him and he said, "What if I let you boys in there for a few minutes?" And we were like, "Thank you, Jesus." We didn't actually say that. "Thank you, Mr. Jessie." Right? He let us in. We got to run around for a little bit and all that kind of stuff, because he had that ability.
I wonder if the church is a lot like Mr. Jessie. We're not all that impressive when you look at us, let's be honest. We're not what we're going to be. We are who we are right now. When the world sees us, they see that we've got warts and scars. They know that the beautiful garments of righteousness that the Lord Jesus gave us when he saved us, that we've made those a little dirty and a little musty and they don't quite look right. But we've got something here that the world keeps looking and going, "I think you've got something that I need, keys." Ladies and gentlemen, could I suggest to you that what happens too often is that the church leaves the keys on the key chain.
Instead of opening the door of the gospel to the people that are all around us, looking from the outside, wondering what the kingdom of God that maybe they've heard about from a distance might actually look like in real life. And even though they see us and go, "I don't know, they look like me, but they're different than me because they're talking in ways that are not like me. They're not quite what this is supposed to be yet, but there's something about them." Stop apologizing for the fact that you're not quite yet what you're going to be. None of us will be until the King shows back up. But if we allow ourselves to be washed in the water of the word, we will start imaging the King more and more, and people will start to recognize a difference in the humanity that they are speaking to because it is a humanity that has been transformed into the likeness of the true King of the world Jesus.
We have the privilege of taking these keys and opening doors of their imagination and doors of their minds and saying in love, we want to speak to you and share with you and show you the beauty of what it means to be in the kingdom of God, to be taken out of the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light, into the kingdom of the son that God loves. This is what we've been given the privilege of being able to do. So, what would it look like if the world was looking at this outpost of the kingdom called the church, what is it that they would see? If they glimpsed into these outpost, what would they see? Would they see us not just loving our friends, but loving our enemies, just like King Jesus told his kingdom citizens to do in the Sermon on the Mount when he talked about what kingdom citizenship should look like?
When he said, "Anybody can love people that love them back, love your enemies." Jesus said. Would they see that? Would they see us as the people who offer forgiveness, who receive forgiveness, who grant forgiveness to one another? Would they see that among us? Would they see a unity in our midst instead of divisiveness when they look in, because all they see in the world around them as division? And they look into this outpost of people who are different looking, but not quite what they're going to be, but they start seeing something unique and different. See, ladies and gentlemen, the reason that I tell you these things, listen carefully to me, is because the kingdom of God is not just ethereal, is not just spiritual, it is real.
The kingdom is active among us now. In fact, I want to actually let you hear a kingdom story of the activity of the kingdom of God breaking in through one of our partners that we have partnered together with on a particular thing, and I want you to listen to Terry King from Saving Grace, share with you what that looked like. Take a listen.
Terry King: Well, good morning Chapel family. Terry King, Saving Grace Ministries. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to share what God has done in this moment. We experienced something this past week at Saving Grace Ministries that was a Godly define moment, that in 22 years of ministry and partnership, I don't think I've ever seen or witnessed. I know that when I came to know Jesus, he touched my life and changed my heart in a way that spiritually I'll never forget. But something took place Wednesday night at the Chapel Firehouse Church, our partnership church with the Chapel that will forever change lives and be spoken about, for those that were in attendance, forever.
This goes back to a few weeks ago when Pastor Jerry and I spoke, we were struggling with the tension between law enforcement officers and the parolees, people that were protesting and finding an answer, finding an answer to what we could do to be that light and share the gospel truth. He challenged us that, maybe it's time for the parolees and law enforcement to be together and to pray. "What do you think about making that happen?" What was challenging for me is, the parolees can't meet with law enforcement. That's part of their restrictions, that's a societal barrier that they face because of their ex offense and their criminal history. They can't socialize, they can't be with .... and that subjects them to potential revocation of parole. So there's always that fear about being around law enforcement.
And of course, with law enforcement today, there's always the fear that, are we walking into protest? Are we going to be accepted or what are we facing? So when I made the call to find out if the Department of Corrections would even consider allowing the men to meet, God moved in a miraculous way and set the stage and the authority said, "We're going to waive that requirement. They can meet with the law enforcement officers." We reached out to Dave Budds our partner with Op Overwatch and he said, "Man, I'll see if we can get some law enforcement officers to come in." And we had no agenda. We just knew that this was the first time, first time that I know of, and first time that every person in that room knew, that law enforcement was meeting to pray with and share a Bible study with men who had been incarcerated.
Well, Wednesday night, we came together with no agenda. We spoke out of the book of Colossians and I'm reminded from chapter 17, and it was Paul came, we all came from paths, we all have stories. But one thing that I was struck with that evening was we came into that room believing that we were Christians with our own earned, learned belief systems. One thing I left with, we left that night, believers in Christ, in love with one another. See, what took place was as we studied and we were challenged. We felt that tribalism that's eating America alive, but we all knew that we love Jesus.
There was officer there that shared that he had been shot, and he had been left paralyzed. He was told he would never work again, he was told that he would never be the same person, but Christ had a different plan. He shared and he cried, and he shared that he forgave the person that shot him and sitting right next to him was a parolee Frankie. Frankie came to Saving Grace Ministries three weeks ago. He was scheduled to be released to New York city. Friday afternoon on his release date, God said, "You're not going to New York city, we're redirecting you, and the Department of Corrections sent him to Buffalo. As an emergency, sent him to Saving Grace Ministries. He served 42 years. He went to prison, having committed a murder in 1977 of an area County Sheriff's deputy, and he wounded his coworker.
Frankie was sitting next to the other officer. He began to weep and he begged for forgiveness for taking another man's life, an officer's life. Everyone, and the spirit of God came into the room and began to ask for forgiveness, one to another, praying each law enforcement to parolees, parolees to law enforcement for safety and their families and wellness and wholeness and officers saying, "Forgive us for mistreating you." And I'm sitting there saying, "Lord, what are you doing?" There were no words. There are no words to articulate that moment when the heavens open and barriers are broken, that we are one at the foot and the cross of Christ. As we left, everyone knew that those that had attended that night, their lives would never, ever be the same, but we were to leave, we were one, Christ had changed us and we were to be the light and the beacon with words of encouragement for everyone that we will encounter.
Jerry Gillis: The power of the kingdom of God is more powerful than the kingdom of darkness.
We just have to yield ourselves to the present kingdom among us, and live like people transformed by the King, and let him get involved in doing all of this among us. What would it look like when people look on the outpost of the kingdom called the church? It looked like people who know how to love friends then love enemies. People who know how to forgive and be forgiven. People who embrace unity in the kingdom instead of the division of the world, people who are generous with their lives and with their resources, people who know how to bear one another's burdens. If people looked on us, they would see every tribe and tongue and nation. They would see genuine relationship with people that are like us and people that aren't, they would see peace in the midst of a world of vitriol.
They would see discernment and grace in our speech, whether it's public or private or on social media. They would see lives that are shaped by the word of God. They would see King Jesus alive in us individually and dwelling among us corporately. Because the kingdom, this present expression, this tangible expression of the kingdom of God now is you, is the church, is the people of God governed by King Jesus. If you've trusted Jesus with your life, you've turned from your sin and put your faith in him, that means that you are the tangible expression of the kingdom of God in the presence.
So let me ask you this. How much do you look like the King? How well are you representing the King? What's it going to take in your life and in mine to demonstrate our allegiance to the King? Are you confused as to the who the King really is? And you've allowed other Kings lesser ones to take up the priority position on your life. I hope that you'll surrender to the King because the kingdom is among us and it's not ... listen to this, the kingdom of God is not of talk but of power. That's what Paul teaches us, and you and I can see the power of the kingdom in acts like we just showed you a moment ago, and in small things that happen all the time if we will just surrender ourselves to the King of the kingdom.
Let's bow our heads together. If you're here and you've never before entrusted your life to King Jesus, then my prayer for you, my hope for you, my desire for you is that you turn from trying to be your own king or queen and recognize that you can't save yourself. You can't bring the kingdom of God in full, you can't make a new kind of humanity on your own, only King Jesus can do that, by the regeneration of what he has done through dying on a cross for your behalf and resurrected from the dead, by the power of the spirit, so that by faith in him, you can turn from your sin, put your faith in him and be reconciled to God and be taken from the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of the son that God loves.
I know that there are people here in this room, and there are majority that are watching online, maybe listening by radio, maybe watching by television. I want to encourage you, you're going to hear in just a moment that if that's your need, your need to receive Jesus as your King, as your Lord, to be transformed in your life, have your sins forgiven, your life made new. We want to be able to help you do that and connect with you and follow up with you along that line. So in just a moment, John is going to share not only with those of you who are here, how you can do that, but also those of you who are online, how you can connect with us and we could connect with you.
Father I pray that your truth, the truth that you are the King Lord Jesus and that your kingdom has come because you have come and that your kingdom is coming because you are coming again, that we be reminded of what it means to live like people of the kingdom, a people governed by King Jesus, and would you help us to see the kingdom actively work among us for your glory, for the sake of your name and for the beauty of your kingdom, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.