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.
The church is every age faces great threats or challenges: external and internal**. Not surprisingly, the challenges have not changed over the years. Luke outlines these threats in his book in the Bible that describes the birth and growth of the early church – the book of Acts.
Most Monday mornings I feel like resigning. Did I explain God’s Word well enough? Was my sermon understandable? Was I faithful to the biblical text? Should I have used more illustrations? Would another minister do a better job? Is it all worth it?
Monday morning blues can be quite typical for those in the ministry of the Word. I constantly need to remind myself that the success of the church is definitely not up to me (thank goodness!). I need to remind myself of the calling and confidence of the church.
The big question the REACH SA Generate Conference sought to answer was, “How should the church (and how we do church) respond to a changing culture?”
The answer was that we must “make sure we know why we exist and remain faithful to that; and feel free to change the rest.”
We exist to reach non-Christians and grow Christians with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That truth is fundamental and unchangeable. How we manage the programmes and processes that go towards that great goal are flexible and changeable.
People, in general, like to sing. Whether they are very religious or total atheists, most people like music and song. Ask any football supporter. From singing, “Who ate all the pies” to the referee or “You’ll never walk alone” to their mates, fans like singing.
Fans pays hundreds of Rands to hear their favourite musician sing, even wave their cell phones and sing along.
In the morning, you might catch yourself singing in the shower.
Music is an inherent part of every society. All countries have National Anthems that its citizens sing together to create national unity.
Most people like singing. We may not be good at it, but we love it. Since music (and song) is such an important part of life, it should not be surprising that the Bible says much about it. In fact, the longest book in the Bible is a song book—the book of Psalms.
Often, in the Bible, when God has delivered his people, they sing about it.
Being a pastor can be a really tough job. We love the church and feel honoured to teach God’s word. But we go through our spiritual highs and lows. We feel discouraged at times. We often feel that our sermons are boring and having no impact. We are tempted to focus just on the wrong in the church and forget what’s right. Sometimes we just have bad days or bad weeks. Many times we are discouraged by our own sinfulness.
I recently attended the “Scripture and Sacraments in Reformation Anglicanism” course at George Whitefield College presented by Dr Ashley Null*. I found the course extremely challenging and very beneficial in thinking about ministry today. The course centred around the Protestant Reformation in the Church of England in the 1500’s, how the Church of England broke from the church of Rome, how God used Thomas Cranmer to capture the essence of the English Reformation and how Cranmer set the glorious Reformation truths before ordinary people with the Book of Common Prayer.
On Sunday I led our church through some set prayers in our REACH SA Prayer Book. Non-conformists, more independent types might want to deride me as being too clinical and stayed, not allowing “the Spirit to move”. “We need to be led by the Spirit in our church services!”, they cry.
I understand the concern, but let me explain why we use the Prayer Book to help us with our liturgy.