DURHAM, N.C. — Recently the Holy Spirit has been drawing me back to Matthew 16:13-20 again and again. After Peter confesses Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:17-18 CSB).
This is a promise that we in the SBC need to claim, and it is one that will produce in us a spirit of humility and hope.
On one hand, Jesus’ promise should lead us to humility. In this same passage, Jesus calls Peter “Satan” when he attempts to correct Jesus on His path to the cross (Matthew 16:23). Yes, Jesus promises that He will build His church, but He never shies away from chastising His people when they oppose His methods. God will accomplish His purposes. That is as guaranteed as Jesus’ resurrection.
But what is not clear is whether He’ll use us to accomplish those purposes.
We would not be the first people God had set aside. The Jews of Jesus’ day assumed God would never set them aside. But Jesus warned them, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit” (Matthew 21:43).
He gives the same warning to us: The grace of God is overwhelming and overflowing, but we must never take it for granted.
God is stirring in the SBC. He has exposed a startling amount of sin in our midst. He has shaken many of our foundations. I actually think that’s good news because whom the Lord loves, He chastens. He is inviting us, I believe, into an era of unprecedented effectiveness for the Great Commission, if we repent.
Which leads to the other aspect of Jesus’ promise: hope. The hope of the church (or the SBC) is not in the quality of our leaders. We are not God’s “last best hope on earth.”
The grace of God is our best hope, and when a preacher falls, praise God, the promise remains. Even when everything around us crumbles, His promise of grace remains.