Matthew 16:15-18 is a very misunderstood passage in the Bible.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Rock on which Jesus builds his church was the Apostle Peter, who allegedly was the first Pope or Bishop of Rome. Subsequently, all the Popes have been the spiritual descendants of Peter.
The true church is, therefore, all those who acknowledge the headship of the Pope and belong to the Roman Catholic structure.
In Roman Catholic doctrine, God’s grace flows from God through the Pope, through the Cardinals, through the Bishops, through the Priests, and then to the congregation via the sacraments.
To be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church is to endanger your immortal soul.
Many religious practitioners, down through the centuries and throughout the world today, have suffered from (what I like to call) the “God-syndrome”. It refers to religious leaders or church pastors who see themselves as the Lord’s Anointed or the anointed Man of God.
It’s the priest in Roman Catholicism who can absolve you of your sins and turn wine into Christ’s very own blood. Without his intervention, you would be eternally damned.
It’s the anointed prophet or healer in the Charismatic church who can call down God’s blessing and bring healing. Without his intervention, you would not have all that God intended for you.
Most people don’t think they need their sins forgiven
Most people think that they are not as bad as Adolf Hitler, they’re not a serial murderer, they’re not corrupt like the Gupta’s and they’re generally nice people, so they really don’t need their sins forgiven. They don’t understand why Christians keep going on and on about the forgiveness of sin.
Let me share an illustration that I heard recently.*
You may remember the WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do”) bracelet phase. The bracelets were a very well-intentioned movement to get Christians to think about their actions and responses. How would Jesus react in any given situation?
Would Jesus get angry? Would Jesus be generous? Would Jesus pray for the sick?
Great questions to ask.
However, I think those bracelets got it a little wrong.