“I Will Build My Church: The Gates of Hell Cannot Prevail Against God’s Plan for His People”
A Sunday Sermon Series in the book of Acts (April-November 2020)
by Nathan Parker, Senior Pastor
August 2 – “The Disciples were First Called Christians" (Acts 11:19-30)
August 9 – “The Word of God Increased and Multiplied" (Acts 12:1-24)
August 16 – “Making Crooked the Straight Paths of the Lord" (Acts 12:25-13:13)
August 23 – “Turn from these Vain Things" (Acts 14:1-28)
August 30 – “To Lay on You No Greater Burden” (Acts 15:1-35)
There is no shortage of reasons to be discouraged these days, right? The pandemic has taken a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual toll on all of us. The deep divisions in our country continue to dominate the news cycle and social media. Churches have canceled in-person worship services and classes, leaving many Christians to spiritually nurture themselves and their families.
When I start to think of the future, I confess my own tendency often borders on panic. We are facing an unprecedented situation in an ever-changing culture. What will happen to the Church? What will the Church be like when my own children are grown? When my grandkids (Lord willing) are born?
In times like these I turn to the promises of Scripture. This month we will see passages from the Book of Acts that describe a fledgling group of churches led by some rag-tag amateurs who go up against overwhelming odds. The entire Roman Empire is poised to crush Christianity in its infancy. And I wonder if Peter and the other disciples ever thought back to that time that they were going up the hill to Caesarea Philippi, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus promised them, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18 ESV).” What an amazing promise! The New Covenant people of God, the holy ones that have become part of this new movement called “the Church” are an unstoppable force. Because of Christ and His Spirit in them, we will prevail - no matter what!
I love our sanctuary. It’s true that “they don’t build ‘em like they used to.” The beautiful building began with a groundbreaking service in November of 1954, and it took almost two years to complete. One of the highlights in the building process came in August of 1955 when the cornerstone was laid. Dr. Clifton Allen, editorial secretary of the Sunday School Board gave the message for the cornerstone service, in which he said, “Surely God’s good grace has been poured out through his Spirit upon Woodmont Baptist Church.” I think our sanctuary is representative of the Church as a whole. The apostle Paul would tell us later that, as the Church, we are now “members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV). With Christ as our cornerstone, we have nothing to fear! There is literally nothing, not even hell itself, that can stand in the way of the Church and God’s good plan for His people.
So let us take heart and be encouraged. If Peter and Paul and their friends could survive imprisonments, beatings, and all kinds of persecution, then surely we also will continue to be upheld in our mission by the same Cornerstone that saw them through.
Grace and peace,