August 18, 2013 INTRODUCTION – I’ve had discussions with enough of you regarding last Sunday’s service to know that lots of light bulbs were going on, and lots of questions were raised from all that we discussed. This morning we need to revisit some of those things and tie up some other things I sought to convey to you.. Before we discuss some of the subject matter – I want to set the record straight – – I do not have any Harry Potter books by my bedside. But I did win one once at Baywood Elementary – not by design…We were attending Caroline’s open house. And I think I won a door prize. I believe my wife sold it at a used bookstore a few days after I won it, so even if I had wanted to read it, my window for such was very short.
I want to review a few of the truths or principles we discussed last week. What got us going down this path in the first place was what happened in our service two Sundays ago. I felt right before that service – that the Holy Spirit led me to start the service off by reading Matthew 16:13-19. This may be one of the most tragically neglected passages in scripture. So let’s read that now for context: “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
I. The Keys, Binding and Loosing – The church belongs to Jesus, He promises to build it, He assures us – nothing – not even Satan and his demons can stop Him from building it – which by the way does not guarantee that every Christian congregation out there will thrive or even survive – only He knows for sure who is truly a member of His church,….. and you can be a member of a so called Christian congregation and not be a member of His church;………… but for those who are a part of His church – – they can rest assured that He is going to complete and finish that which He has begun.
He then says He will do all of this through us – by giving us the keys of the kingdom of God. While Jesus loves His church, during His earthly ministry His primary topic was not the church, but rather His kingdom. And while He spoke often of His kingdom, He rarely ever spoke of these keys. He does not identify for us what those keys are. In fact this word “keys” only appears one other time in the New Testament in Rev. 1:8, where Jesus says, “I have the keys of death and of hades.” So we have to discern from the rest of scripture and from revelation from the Holy Spirit what these keys might be without having verses or passages with this exact terminology.
Jesus also says in this passage that in every community and city there are things that are bound that must be loosed; and there are things that are loosed or operative that need to be bound if His Kingdom is going to invade our communities and cities, and His church is going to be built and established- – and that these keys enable us to see these things take place.
Well when you do a study of binding and loosing – you find a little more info than you do re: “keys”, but not much.
Before I say a few words about binding and loosing, I need to finish the story about what led me to do all this research about singing and music and corporate worship. Two Sunday mornings ago during our worship in song time, I had a strong sense that the Holy Spirit was telling me that corporate worship is one of those keys that not only affects those of us gathered to worship, but has some kind of almost mysterious impact outside our buildings. I had never thought of this verse in that light before, and since that was a subjective experience, I felt I needed to do my homework in the scriptures. If you were not here last night and want to see the outline with all the scriptures – I have copies of them here – or you can get last week’s bulletin on the back table.
Now back to binding and loosing. There are basically two verses that have this word “bind” in them in the New Testament and Matt. 16:19 is one of the two. The other is in Matthew 18:18, where Jesus says to His disciples, “whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Tis the exact same words as in Matthew 16:19, and they are found in the second and last discussion of the church from the lips of Jesus – at least that we have recorded in scripture.
Again Jesus is saying or implying that in our families and communities and even nations there are things that must be bound and there are things that need to be loosed. The importance of going after straying believers and helping them turn from their sin precedes this verse in Matthew 18. The importance of believers who know and love these fallen or strayed believers to pray together for them follows this verse. So those two actions are very likely keys to the kingdom or ways to bind and loose.
There are really only 3 other passages in the New Testament that use these words, and that are pertinent to our discussion.
First Jesus – in a heated argument with the religious leaders of His day – when they were accusing Him of casting demons out of people by Satan’s power – Jesus said this, “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” Matthew 12:29
Jesus was basically saying – the reason He was able to cast out demons in fact was because He had bound Satan and his power – seeing that the person He was ministering to was in chains at the hands of Satan and his demons. And I take it – He did this binding before He encountered this man, which in my opinion happened in or through His hidden fasting and prayer life.
Then in Luke 13:16 – Jesus again – very upset at the hard heartedness of the religious leaders as they complained about Him healing people on the Sabbath said, “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16
The word bound in this verse comes from the same greek word that bind in Matthew 16 and 18 comes from. Of course this thought that Satan could bind a Jew for 18 years I’m sure did not go over well. But clearly Jesus loosed her from this bond which resulted in her being healed of her sickness. The final passage I just want to bring to your attention is Luke 1:64 where Zacharias – the father of John the Baptist – had been made dumb – unable to speak – by God Himself through an angel – because of his unbelief. Very interesting that in this passage God loosed John’s boundness, or dumbness because of his obedience in naming John – John. So God bound Zacharias because of disobedience or unbelief. And then loosed him because of his faith or obedience. “And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.” Luke 1:64 This – right after he agreed with Elizabeth via a written note – that their baby boy should be named John – even though no one in their clan had ever been named John before.
One question that has come out of this discussion is – in our prayers or proclamations over a bound person – – or a bound up community – – do we need to use these terms – bind and loose? Well in all of the recorded prayers in the New Testament – they are not used. Using these exact terms is not a formula. I think when we are walking both individually and corporately in the authority we have in Christ – – it really doesn’t matter what terms or language we use. And you can use the terms, and not have the authority and righteousness and life grounded in truth and humility – – so that the terms are empty. The main thing is that we realize the people around us are captives, and we if we want to be like Jesus – we need to – like Him – be about setting the captives free.
So how does corporate worship help pull that off? Well my sense is that when the living God looks down upon our worship and is pleased with it – because we are worshipping Him “in spirit and in truth” and with whole hearts – – He is pleased to release captives both among us and outside of our gatherings. Last week I tried to illustrate that through the corporate worship experiences the people of God had in Old Testament days, and how that often affected the surrounding peoples and situations. One very practical way this study has encouraged me is in – whether our sanctuary is half full or half empty on a given Sunday morning. Seems like most Sunday mornings in 2013 it has been at about half of capacity – actually probably less than half – if you count potential seating in the foyer. So in terms of all of the people in our region that are lost, estranged from God and facing a Christ-less eternity – – our sanctuary is grievously half empty. But in terms of the power released in our region – when 50-60 disciples of Jesus Christ come together and truly worship Him in spirit and in truth and seek Him in His word – whether through exposition of scripture or through more of a prophetic means – – our sanctuary is definitely half full.
God has never needed a majority or full house to accomplish His purposes. He just needs a Christ centered, kingdom focused, dead to self, united, loving people who are walking by faith and not by sight – – and all heaven can break loose – both in the congregation and outside it. Another thing we discussed last week that I just want to touch on is that
II. Music fuels both kingdoms and thus has tremendous power for good/for the Kingdom of God and for bad/evil/the kingdom of darkness. Music is far more than a universal language as some would have it. It is a tool or instrument for accomplishing the purposes of both kingdoms. Whenever it is being played, sung or listened to it is doing one or the other. To be used by God to both help see His kingdom established, and see people rescued from the kingdom of darkness – – we must see and understand the role music plays in both kingdoms. May the Lord open our eyes to see this in far greater clarity in our daily lives, and in our corporate life together.
A third thing that I might have barely touched on last week, but that has been on my heart a lot as I have wrestled with these issues is
III. The fear of man brings a snare and is a huge issue in learning to worship God in spirit and in truth. Prov. 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Isa. 51:7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings.”
Luke 9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
As you and I grow in obedience to worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ with the adoration and passion and obedience He is worthy of in corporate worship settings, the Holy Spirit is going to nudge us to say and do things that may seem embarrassing or uncomfortable at first. That could be a host of things like: praying out loud; standing up and raising our hands to Him, singing loud enough to Him where someone nearby might hear me; kneeling at some point to Him when His holiness and awesomeness is sensed; giving a prophetic word from Him and for Him; reading a scripture; speaking in a tongue and then having to stand there in a cold sweat waiting for the interpretation; shouting to the Lord when you feel the emotion welling up within you;
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a church setting where few of these things were ever done. Little emotion was expressed in worship. The Choir/worship director told us when to stand up and when to sit down. Nothing spontaneous was ever allowed. So my first times in church or conference settings where there was freedom to respond with emotion or in spontaneous ways and the prophetic was flowing – was very unsettling to me. And I was convinced when I dared worship with some level of emotion or bodily expression – – everyone was staring right at me – even in a conference setting where there were hundreds of people.
So if you find singing or shouting to the Lord, or praying out loud, or standing up and reading a scripture or prophesying to be scary and intimidating – – know that “no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…” I Cor. 10:13 – – Many of us who seem to be fearless have struggled with these things for months or years before we were able to overcome them. But overcome them – we must. Do not let your fear of man keep you from worshipping the Lord with your whole heart and soul. Surely one of the biggest mysteries in the church of Jesus Christ in America is how so many of us can go to a sporting event and yell and scream and jump up and down and shake our fists for a silly sports team (which I’ve done untold times)- – and then come together to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords – the one and only living, triune, all powerful Creator God – – and be frozen – with minimal emotion – almost statuesque! (which I’ve also done untold times in my earlier days).
Have you ever thought about the impact Pentecost or the tongues event had on the early church and those outside it? Remember in ch. 2 of Acts – how they – all 120 of them, which surely seemed insignificant compared to the 600,000 to one million population of Jerusalem at that time…….remember how they were gathered together in one place – most likely praying and seeking God together, which had been their pattern for 9 days straight – in the same city by the way wherein their Savior and Lord was crucified just weeks earlier. And all of a sudden they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues – totally foreign to them – and they must have been speaking pretty loud – because many of the people nearby heard them; a crowd formed and vs. 11 tells us they heard these 120 disciples “speaking of the mighty deeds of God”. So the disciples were basically praising God. What if they had told each other to be quiet – – hold it down – – get a hold of your emotions – – shush! “They hate us out there!” “We can lose our occupancy!”
I wonder if you have ever considered that when the New Testament uses the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” there is free will involved? That’s why Paul commands us in Eph. 5:18 to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”.
I believe in Acts 2 it was their unhindered, freed up speaking of the mighty deeds of God in other tongues that drew the crowds – that then gave Peter the opportunity to address them. There is an older couple that just moved away from our church neighborhood. Sometimes when I go for my walk around the block they have their garage door opened, and the wife and the dogs will be in there sitting – watching the husband do a jigsaw puzzle. We’ve had several chats – two at least of which they have commented on how they enjoy listening to our music on Sunday mornings. Now they clearly do not know God – very little Christian or church background – if any. This last week when I walked over there to say goodbye I gave them John Piper’s little red book – “For Your Joy” – which they gladly received. Now that’s just a little thing. But we do not know what our singing and shouting to the Lord is accomplishing in the unseen world, which is just as real and strategic as the world we can or do see with our eyes.
CONCLUSION – Ministry time – Dianne – freedom from fear of man and timidity in corporate worship