Let us pray: Lord, help us today to be consistent in our confession of You as: the way, the truth, and the life. May our words of faithful confession always match our actions throughout our lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD!
TEXT: Matthew 16: 13-20
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Prologue: What is the meaning behind Peter’s great confession of Christ? The truth of it all should stand behind every Christian’s words, actions, and decision making. It is all-encompassing in how Christ effects our lives. So today, let’s look at a slice of what this means in today’s world.
I’m just a humble parish pastor. I’m not a politician. I’m not a business mogul. I’m not famous on social media. Quite frankly, I don’t care for politics and I don’t have a social media account anywhere. I preach God’s Word focusing on Jesus Christ. I want God’s children to have a better life unfettered by inner turmoil. So naturally, I talk about sin, because Christ is the Savior from sin. I apply the peace of soul that He brings. Now, considering the lack of cohesiveness and honesty about the Christian faith in many of the societal “glitteroti” today I feel a need to discuss just how hypocritical people are and how clueless they are about our faith.
Have you noticed that every time an election cycle comes around how many candidates pander to the voters about their Christian faith? And then the media gleefully piles on, too. I hear them trotting out their church allegiances and I ask myself: “When was the last time you attended and were you listening?” Countless talking heads favor of the murder of the unborn via abortion in view of clear Biblical passages concerning life beginning at conception and a soul existing in the baby while still in the womb? Doesn’t “Thou shalt not kill” apply in their faith? Then there are the outright slanderous things such leaders say and share about their opponents. Gossip in politics and social media is rampant. Doesn’t the 8th commandment apply: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”? And let’s not forget the 7th commandment: “You shall not steal.” In socialism/communism there really is no right to private property. Everything belongs to the collective “state” and not a person. The 7th commandment says otherwise. Christ lists the commandments at various times in the Gospels. He’s in favor of upholding them. So, when some “leader” does the opposite and calls themselves a Christian, I beg to differ. What they’re really doing is mocking Christ by their words and their actions.
Our faith isn’t just about meaningless words used to curry favor with some. Our faith is an all-encompassing lifestyle based on Peter’s great confession here: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is the One, Triune God’s Son. He’s the One promised by God to redeem, or buy back, sinful humans from: sin, death, and Satan’s power. In Him, God died to save us from an unholy lifestyle and to live for a consistent, Godly one. Doesn’t His resurrection from the dead prove that?
Of course, inconsistencies between a bold confession like Peter’s and losing one’s nerve in the face of adversity or weakness of the inner spirit is always present in sinners like us. But that’s not an excuse. That’s why we are to live our lives in daily repentance. It’s also why we are to strive for consistency between His truths and our actions and personal ideas. If Christ is the Be All and End All to your life, living, speaking, or acting otherwise is total hypocrisy. Again, that’s why we need to practice daily repentance and trust in Christ’s forgiving love.
One of my friends, a pastor, who is now retired, had a great discussion with me many years ago on this topic. His point was this: How can you belong to a group or movement that denies Christ’s Word of truth on one issue, or many for that matter, and still call yourself a faithful believer? It doesn’t compute does it? Living a lie will eat you up. It will eventually destroy your God-given faith. For God isn’t wishy-washy and never stands for things that are contradictory to: sin, grace, truth, justice, and the meaning of why He died and what He has saved us from. All the Bible is one seamless cloth of eternal truth. It is, in Paul’s words: The truth unchanged, unchanging.
And it all begins with an oral confession done with your heart and coming out of your mouth. Christ wanted such a statement of belief from His disciples—and by extension from you. So, He asks them: “Who do the people say that I am?” Obviously, He already knew the answers because He’s God. But, He wants them to verbalize it. The answers varied: “Some say John the Baptist (dead by now, but maybe resurrected?), others say ‘Elijah’—taken to heaven directly in a fiery chariot but perhaps come back, and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” These answers seem pious but they all miss the singular truth of Christ’s office as the Savior from sin, don’t they? We see the same happening today. “He’s a moral teacher like Buddha.” “He’s a mystical seer.” “He’s a man with special insights.” Yada, yada, yada.
But then Jesus asks the vital question: “And who do you say I am?” Peter answers for all of them: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That means Jesus is totally unique. He is Divine. He is pure holiness. He cannot sin or make a mistake of any kind. He’s not hypocritical in any way. He never changes His mind and never flip-flops on any promise. He’s our Rock that is immoveable and our Redeemer Who is all-loving. He’s our Savior from sin. The world yearns for someone they can truly trust. You and I have it in Christ.
So, what’s a person to do, especially during national upheavals or election cycles? No human leader will ever measure up to Christ. My mother used to say: “Go, and hold your nose and vote!” But what criteria should you employ to make any decisions about anything? That’s the question, isn’t it? Therefore, we come full circle back to consistency. Who is most consistent in their moral, Godly, beliefs? Who lies less? Who seems at least, to repent more and learn from their errors? And who stands out more for truth and Godly justice?
Christianity is perfect in every respect because it comes from God Almighty. It uplifts sinful humans, and in it forgiveness conquers power. Peter knew that and so do you. He forgot it at times, and so do we. But He still clung to that truth through humble faith and in the end it saved his soul. That fact, that truth, still applies today and always will. Or, as Joshua of old once said: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox