— Brother Phil Enlow: This is the occasion where Jesus asks the disciples about the opinion of the people who were hearing Him and encountering Him as He went around and ministered. Who do they say I am? And, so they report that people said, You’re Jeremiah or Isaiah or one of the prophets…John the Baptist come back to life.
And, of course, the question then becomes, “But…who do you say I am?” (NIV). And the answer is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon was the one who answered. And Jesus replied in verse 17, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man….”
That’s a key. That’s the foundation of everything. If we’re gonna know anything of the things of God, it’s gonna have to be revealed. We just don’t have the smarts to figure it out. God has hidden these things, Jesus says, “…from the wise and prudent…” (KJV).
The ones who give themselves to the intellectual pursuit of truth, they have no chance to find it by going that route. We need to have an open heart that listens and desires the voice of God when He speaks. But He is willing to reveal. I mean, didn’t Jesus say, He’d hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them…
( congregational response ).
…To babes, yeah. So you don’t have to be super smart. God reaches down to what mankind considers the lowest of the low. Thank God! I’m glad, because He reached me. Thank the Lord.
But anyway, it wasn’t, “…revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter…” (NIV). Now, the word Peter means a stone, so He’s kind of making a play on his name a little bit.
“And on this rock, I will build my church…” the rock of revelation…but I guess the starting point I wanted to do follows this. “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Now, Jesus, this is the point I’ve made a number of times, particularly when I’ve been overseas. Jesus did not say, you will build My church. It’s not like He’s handed us a whole bunch of instructions and said, you go build Me a church. He said, I’ll build it. Whatever is built, if it’s not the active intervention and the leadership of Christ, literally on the scene by the Spirit doing it, what is it?
What does the psalmist say? “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (KJV). I believe with all my heart God longs for us, to a greater degree…and thank God for what He’s done here, but, longs for us always, never to lose sight of this. He’s never told us to build Him a church, or to maintain it and just sort of keep up the traditions. There has got to be the active leadership of Christ. And that is key. It’s crucial to everything that He’s doing and that the Father has put in His hands to do.
Of course, He doesn’t say, I will build ‘your’ church, either. You know, we don’t go to Him and make Him our servant to do what we want.
And worse yet is, He didn’t say, you will build your church. That’s, sadly, what’s happened in so much of what is called Christianity today. Men have built them a church and used the name of Christ to further their own aims and ambitions.
But I’ll tell you, there is something that God started and it started in His heart, and He gave His Son the job of building Him a church, a congregation of people…not just a…we think of organizations…but need to see it as the entire assembly of God’s people who have been called out a world of darkness.
They have received the life of Jesus Christ literally. It has flowed through them into hearts of people who have opened their hearts to Him. They have been called out, separated from a world that is headed for catastrophe, and they are being prepared for eternal glory. Thank God for what He has set out to do. And thank God that He has promised to do it, hasn’t He?
But He also says, and the gates of hell, “…the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (NIV). Now I’ll tell you, it’s interesting to me…we were at prayer meeting the other night and I mostly sat and listened, but I was interested in the number of people who talked about spiritual warfare and the battles that we fight. That seemed to be a theme that was recurring in much of the sharing and many of the testimonies that were given.
Folks, if you don’t know it now, we are being opposed at every point. The progress of what Christ is doing in the earth is absolutely one in which we face entrenched opposition. It’s a warfare. And, we need to understand that and we need to learn how to participate in it.
But anyway, it’s interesting how some of this unfolds. I want to give a…ask the Lord to pull together some scriptures that He’s kind of quickened to me over the last few days and see if I can make sense of it, because I want us to get a big picture, but I also want it to begin to distill down to where we live, because we need to understand that. We need to have a context in which to think, in which to react.
If you imagine that living for God is all up to you, then you’ve got a burden on your hands and you’re gonna be struggling. If we understand the provision of God, then it becomes one of leaning upon Him and learning how to live out His life, a whole different dynamic. So God does want us to understand both levels. How do we live and what’s the big picture in which we live?
One interesting little scripture…and it grew out of an incident where…I believe this is in Luke 11. You can be turning there while I’m talking. But, you know, Jesus was known for casting out devils. And so, there was an entrenched religious establishment that just didn’t believe, in fact, Jesus said, they ‘wouldn’t’ believe. There was a resistance of their wills to even listen to Him or consider that this might be who He said He was, the Son of God, who’s doing things because God was doing it through Him.
And so, they began to accuse Him. He’s in league with the Devil. That’s how He’s doing this. He’s fooling us all by conspiring with the Devil to make devils go out so we’ll think He has some divine power.
And so, Jesus says, “Any kingdom…” verse 17, “…divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Boy, there’s a throwing down the gauntlet there.
Now this is the interesting thing that I was wanting to focus on. Jesus says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”
Now, you know, I mentioned in a recent service how the work of God is really a divine invasion. This world, because of Lucifer and because of the fall of Adam and Eve agreeing with him and yielding to his temptation, this world became one in which sin and death ruled. It was in rebellion against God.
But God’s original purpose to have a people was never abandoned. And so, God from the beginning had planned this invasion in which He was going to overpower Satan and reach in to the farthest reaches of his kingdom and draw out a people who had no power…we have no power in ourselves.
If God did not intervene in any of our lives, there’s not one of us who would even think about God! I’ll tell you, we serve an awesome, powerful God, who has come at the highest possible cost, the cost of the life of His Son laid down on the cross. Praise God!
But He has come on a rescue mission. And, this is a pretty good description of what happened when Jesus went to the cross. Satan was trusting in the power of sin that we could never overcome, and God met him right…through His Son, met him right at that point and took away the armor in which he trusted.
Satan has no more power to accuse one who has put their faith in Jesus Christ because He assumed our guilt, and bore my sin and yours on that tree! Praise God! So, the very thing that Satan would use to the greatest degree to keep power over us was absolutely taken away.
Now, Satan doesn’t want you to know that, doesn’t want us to know that. But I’ll tell you, the more we understand what took place at the cross, the more we are gonna be able to enter into the victory that was won there. Thank God!
But there’s a…I believe there is a…I don’t want to go off in another direction, but I’ll tell you, there’s something here. You know, we read later on about the binding of Satan, and how he was cast into the pit? This is when it happened. Satan was absolutely overpowered and the thing that he has longed to do for over 2,000 years now, has been to unite the world under his dominion, completely…their thinking, everything about their lives dominated by him and united against God. He has been unable to do that. Always there has been something that has come along and kept conflict, and kept the human race separated.
We’re seeing now the threads of how God has removed the restraint against that. And so, we’re seeing where the world is going and we are headed ultimately toward a one-world government under…of some sort, under Lucifer. I’ll tell you…but, for all of this time, God absolutely has destroyed his ability to do that and interfered with that, why? So that God could reach in and overpower the gates of hell that would have kept in the victims. Satan has been unable to stop him. Thank God! Thank God for what He has done.
And, you know, my mind has gone to many favorite scriptures, but I want to see if we can tie them together in our thinking here. Look at John chapter 12, again one of my favorites. Because Jesus is getting ready to go to the cross, but He’s also giving a little bit of insight into the significance of what’s about to take place.
And so, there’s a voice that comes from heaven. Jesus said, Father, glorify My name…anyway…” Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” And the crowd hears this sound and they think it’s thundering or something, but there’s been a voice from heaven. God has literally come on the scene and spoken in an audible way.
Jesus said, verse 30, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” He knew what was going on. But listen to what He says. “Now is the time for judgment on this world, now the prince of this world will be driven out.” You see the connection with what He’s talking about, how God had to do something to literally put the restraint upon Lucifer as to what he was allowed to do in the world, so God could reach in and get hold of His?
Can you imagine what this world would’ve been like if God had just stepped back and said, okay? It would’ve been hell on earth. Satan would have absolute dominion. As I say, nobody would seek after God. That’s not our nature. God has to do the seeking. Thank God that He has.
But, “…Now the prince of this world will be driven out…when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Now what I see in this is that God was passing a divine sentence. This is the supreme court of the universe considering the world.
Now what does He mean by the world? The rocks and the trees? No, He’s talking about the order, the spiritual order of things. He’s talking about the people. He’s talking about the devil who is called the god of this world. He’s talking about all of this that operates in this world, in this planet.
He’s saying, I’m gonna bring every bit of that before the bar of My justice and I am gonna render judgment. I am gonna demonstrate in a very graphic way exactly what I think about it. I’m gonna pass sentence.
Now the carrying out of that sentence is a process, but the sentence is passed and, thank God, there is no appeal! Satan has lost. He stands condemned! He knows that he stands condemned, and that there’s nothing he can do to turn that around, and all he wants to do in his anger is to take everybody he can with him.
Thank God for the promise of God that, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Thank God! And so, what we have seen is the unfolding of this sentence.
How many of you remember now, I’ll just refer briefly now to part of the scripture in Revelation 12? It talks about the coming…it uses a lot of symbolic language, but it pictures the coming of Christ into the world and how Satan tried to destroy Him, not through the cross, but earlier. He tried to kill Him when He was a baby.
And then we find, ultimately, that God raised Him to a throne, caught Him away to a throne. What does it say right after that? Can anybody remember that? “And there was war in heaven.” Do you know the sentence of God precipitated a battle and the angels of heaven were united against the powers of darkness and it said, they were joined in battle and they were cast down into the earth?
And what did He say at the end of that? “Now is come salvation…and the kingdom of our God, and…of his Christ.” (KJV). Praise God! The groundwork was laid. There was a sentence that was passed and there was an angelic war that took place and Satan was cast out into the earth, and all that was necessary for you and me to be saved, as weak and unworthy as we are, the groundwork was laid through Jesus Christ. Thank God! And the war has been continuing on ever since, in one sense. But oh, thank God, we know how it comes out, don’t we?
( congregational response ).
Praise the Lord! I want to turn to 1st Corinthians chapter 15. Let’s pray the Lord will help me make sense of this and not gallop through like I tend to do sometimes. That’s the challenge, you know. Sometimes, I’ll think about these things and they just click and they click, and…but I’ve got to make them plain for everybody.
But anyway, Paul was confronting an issue, one of many, in the church of Corinth when some people were saying, there’s no resurrection. And, of course, he talks about that and how ridiculous that is. If there’s no resurrection, what in the world are we living for? I mean, what’s the point of serving Christ when all we’re doing is suffering for it, and there’s no reward?
But anyway, let’s see where we want to break in. Verse 17 kind of concludes that argument. It says. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…” — it’s worthless — “…You are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” In other words, those who have died.
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But….” Here’s one of my favorite words. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
I’ll tell you, God has a plan to bring forth a people out of this world, and a people for whom death, even physical death in this world, is not the end, but it simply is a stepping stone towards a resurrection to a life from which there is no death. Praise God!
Christ and His coming forth from the tomb was God’s witness to what lies as the destiny of everyone who has followed Jesus Christ. That is our destiny. That’s my destiny today. I might drop dead, but I’ll tell you, Jesus Christ is alive and because He’s alive, so will I be! Thank God! There’s no devil in hell that can stop that, not because I’m worthy of anything, but because of what He has done.
All right, so He is the firstfruits. He’s the guarantee of those who have fallen asleep. So now, he says, “For since death came through a man…” — that was Adam — “…the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
Now the way the wording there is, it almost makes it sound like, yeah, everybody’s gonna be saved. Well, that isn’t what it’s talking about. I’ll tell you, we’re all in Adam and we’re all gonna die, physically. But, not everybody’s in Christ. See there is a relationship that needs to be established. Those who are in Christ, they will be alive. Praise God!
“…So in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” So that’s gonna be the…boy, that’s gonna be graduation day for everybody.
( congregational response ).
Praise God! You can look at other scriptures. That’s not where I want to spend my time, but I’ll tell you, the moment Jesus Christ comes, those who are coming with Him, they’re gonna be changed, they’re gonna receive brand new bodies.
We, who are still alive…whoever is still alive and remain, we’re gonna be transformed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Angels are gonna come and take us by the hand, lead us up to be with Him forever and ever. That will be the day when everything comes together. And I’ll tell you, there’s some wonderful truth in this about that. So, “…Then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come…” Folks, when does the end come?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah, it’s when He comes and there’s plenty of evidence here to support that. “Then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
All right, so you go back to the cross and we have a sentence passed by the court of heaven. The decision has already been made. There is no appeal. But what we see happening throughout this age is the carrying out of that sentence, where Christ has literally been placed upon a throne.
Now it’s not a chair sitting somewhere, but it’s a position of authority. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” There’s nobody who has greater authority, except the Father Himself. It says that later on. So, here is the One who has been raised to that position.
He has authority over every devil that bothers you and me. He has authority over every government, everything is being allowed to unfold as it will. He is not gonna sit there and dictate to lost men and fallen men what they do. He’s gonna allow them to make the choices that they’re making. But I’ll tell you, we serve a God who is in charge.
Didn’t Nebuchadnezzar find that out? Yeah. He thought he was Mr. Big Shot, until he found out that there’s a God in heaven who reigns, who rules, “…in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” No one can…basically, no one can tell Him what to do. He has the plan and He knows what He’s gonna do.
But now that authority has been turned over to Jesus Christ. Remember He said, I’ll build my church? And the gates of hell will not prevail. You see this warfare that has been going on ever since, where God has been, where Christ has been extending His authority. That’s why we need Him!
That’s why anything we do in the way of building a church is worthless if He’s not the builder of it. Every bit of life and power and authority over all the things that afflict us, everything that would oppose us, it comes straight through Jesus Christ, the very life, the river of God!
“There’s a River”. Didn’t we sing that? Yeah. There’s a river that is flowing from heaven! It has life in it! It has power in it! It has everything that you and I need today. Do you need anything? I do. Yeah. It’s available.