The Rock On Which Jesus Builds His Church

2016 RightNow Conference

For a variety of reasons, many experience widespread discouragement today. Flip on the news or social media and you are bound to find another debate about how things have gone wrong—even among believers. Have we misplaced our theology? In this 35-minute session from the 2016 RightNow Conference, J.D. Greear refocuses our attention on the promises of Christ.

J.D. is  the Lead Pastor at the Summit Church, a multisite congregation in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. He is author of numerous books including Gospel and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart.

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your ministry. 

J.D. made the startling point that salvation does not come to us on the back of a Republican elephant or a Democratic donkey, or through a political figure. Many Christians today are mistakenly tying their hope to a political outcome; many people have made the direction of their country their peace. Jesus shows us a different way. His Kingdom is built upon a rock-solid foundation—His Word. 

Jesus promises the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church. As J.D. asked, in what ways have we interpreted this Scripture to mean “the gates of hell shall not prevail against the United States of America?”
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Where might you need to adjust your personal perspective and ask for a renewed mind in this area? How might God’s priorities for His church clash with your priorities for your country?
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Matthew 16:13-20 (ESV)

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Through the Apostles, God gave us Scripture. Upon that Scripture, He will build His Church. Though the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, many people find it difficult to embrace it as authoritative. 

J.D. posited that men and women don’t need education, they need regeneration. They are not ignorant people who need to be made smart, but dead people who must be brought to life. How does this perspective change your approach to evangelism? Does is change your level of compassion? Your urgency?
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Matthew 16:21-23 (ESV)

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When Jesus predicted his suffering and death, Peter opposed him. Peter was trying to put Jesus into the mold of who he thought the Messiah should be. 

This is something we still do today. How do you attempt to reshape Jesus into someone who meets your expectations and needs, rather than loving and following Him for who He actually is?
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We do not get to pick and choose the parts of Jesus we prefer. We must take Him as He is, or reject Him. J.D. noted the Jesus we “pick and choose” is nothing but a deified reflection of ourselves.  

How are you making Jesus a reflection of yourself and your preferences? What does this imply about the god you are worshipping? Are you trying to be your own god?
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Reflect upon your relationship with Jesus. Are you following Him for who He truly is, or is He merely a means to some other end? Has He made you uncomfortable lately?
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In a similar way, how are you tempted to reshape the message of Scripture to make it less offensive to our society? In what ways do you try to make the gospel more palatable to others?
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When we try to change the confession of Scripture, we sever it from its power.  

Matthew 16:24-28 (ESV)

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus spoke difficult words in this passage. While we often try to evade suffering, Jesus counters by promising suffering for His followers. He does not save us from suffering, but saves us through suffering. 

Though He does not shield us from all pain, God promises to redeem it and use it for good. In what ways has God redeemed your pain and suffering? How does this produce trust in Him going forward?
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Jesus tells His followers the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. J.D. made the point that gates are not offensive weapons—they are defensive. What Jesus is saying is not that hell won't be able to plunder our Kingdom, but that Satan will be unable to keep us from plundering his kingdom. God means for us to advance Jesus' Kingdom into Satan’s most well-fortified strongholds. 

How does this build your confidence in the face of dark days? Does it change your perspective?
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In the darkest days, the Church will not fail. Built upon the rock-solid foundation of Scripture, God will advance His Kingdom further and further into enemy territory, reclaiming His reign and redeeming the world. 

For more information on the RightNow Conference or to find out how to attend next year's event, visit