Sunday, August 21, 2005
Thoughts from Matthew 16
We are currently going through Daniel in our Sunday School time and Matthew's gospel after. Today was extremely interesting in light of the numerous attempts I have made in order to understand the Roman Catholic position in regards to the Papacy. Though I was already at this conclusion previously, it was extremely informative to hear from a fellow elder his reasoning for understanding the distinction of petra and petros. The fact that Jesus refers to "this rock" and it is upon "this" rock that he will build His church seems to be so clearly referring to the truth that was just spoken. It is amazing that throughout the New Testament we find that both Christ and the Scriptures are spoken of as being the foundation. We are told in Ephesians that the foundation is the prophets and apostles. These are clearly the Scritpures of the Old and New Testaments, but the are also the embodiment of the eternal Word, the Lord Jesus. For Christ Himself says that the Scriptures speak of Him. So when we speak of the foundation, the Scriptures are virtually synonymous with Jesus Christ.
Christ is also spoken of as the chief cornerstone and in building, the cornerstone is the first stone laid. Therefore, if it is off in anyway, the entire building will be off. However, we noticed that Peter, is considered a small stone or even part of a stone. He is not the cornerstone, nor does he consider himself to be a bigger stone than all of the other stones. Rather in 1 Peter 2:5 he indicates that those who have been place into the spiritual house of God are indeed stones (lithos-small stones). What was once viewed as a physical building, the temple, is now a reality, the church. This is not for the church to glory in, but rather we are so graced by God that we reflect the wonderful glory of God. We indeed become the temple of the Holy Spirit and that by a work of God's grace.
Peter was not the only one given those keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16. We were exhorted today not to jump to quick conclusions. It is obvious that Jesus directly addressed Peter, but to say that He only had Peter in mind is to miss what follows shortly after. For in Matthew 18 Jesus clearly indicates that the church as a whole has this authority of binding and loosing and though we often (at least reformed people) speak of Matthew 18 in the context of church discipline, let us remember that church discipline only results from sin that arises between brothers who cannot effectively bring about repentance. So from the bottom up, we are those who have been given the keys of the kingdom. This is not only for the spiritually elite but also applies to the least of us who are sinners that have been graced by God.
I guess I wonder what Peter might think about his exaltation in the Roman church. I wonder what Mary would think likewise. What about the other apostles and other saints that Rome has exalted? How their hearts would break and they would cry out if they knew what was going on in that system. Even more, what does God think of such man worship? He was very clear when He said that we should not have any other gods before Him. He left no room for others to obstruct the view of Him. He left no room for the whole dulia-latria scenario we see being played out in Rome. Though some would argue and protest that they are not worshipping these saints, what in reality is going on? If someone murders someone in cold blood and then claims that they were really giving that person life, should we believe what they say they were doing, or should we believe what they were doing?
Father, thank you for your grace and the foundation of the Scriptures. Thank you for Jesus Christ my Savior and my Lord. Thank you for revealing to my heart and mind the same truth you revealed to Peter. May you grant the same revelation to those caught in the Roman system and may like my forefathers you set them free from the bondage of sin they are in. Amen.