The Church Will Stand Forever
These are the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
“The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord.” The holy Christian Church is not a building made by human hands, but a spiritual house made of living stones, people who have confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, their Savior. Built on Christ, the sure foundation, this Church will endure throughout time and into eternity, though the attacks against it will be severe. Praise God that he has made known to us the truth, that we might confess with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God!
First Lesson – Exodus 6:2-8
Four times in this passage, God says, “I am the LORD.” What does he mean by this?
When written in capital letters, it means “the Savior-God,” Jehovah. This was the same gracious God who had promised salvation to those heroes of faith who had come before Moses, and he would extend his salvation also to the people of Moses’ time.
What comfort can Christ’s Church today find in words like these spoken through Moses?
The same Savior-God is speaking to us today and offers the same salvation and deliverance from bondage that he offered in the past.
How does God’s picture of freeing Israel from Egypt’s oppression typify our condition?
The Israelites were to be delivered from slavery and, in its place, be given their own land, their freedom, and the joy of serving God. In the same way, we are delivered from our bondage to Satan and brought into the loving family of God, where we enjoy freedom in Christ and the opportunity to serve him out of gratitude.
Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 4:1-9
Twelve rocks told the story of God’s grace and preservation to generations of his people. Through the Word, they still speak to us today. As he once used his might to halt a river in its place to preserve his people, so today, God still preserves and protects the new Israel, his holy church. Today, rocks still speak. Not stones in a river, but people like Peter, little rocks who proclaim the Rock on which we stand forever.
Second Lesson – Romans 11:33-36
How is this praise hymn a fitting conclusion to our past weeks’ readings, where Paul spoke of mankind’s disobedience being an opportunity for God to show his mercy?
Truly, who can understand the mind and judgments of the Lord? Instead of treating us as our disobedient rebellion deserves, he uses it as a platform to extend his mercy and grace. All glory belongs to God alone!
Supplemental Second Lesson – Revelation 7:1-8
God doesn’t just hold back rivers, but he even holds back the winds of destruction until every one of his elect is safely sealed. Ezekiel 9 gives an interesting prophesy of such a seal. The believers are marked with the Hebrew letter Taw. It’s intriguing to think of the image that would have formed in the mind of the people of Israel. The Hebrew script at the time would have marked each forehead with † or + or X. Thus, sealed with the seal of the living God; the whole Church is preserved forever (122 x 103 = 144,000—the number of the Church is 12; the number of completeness is 10; multiplication intensifies the symbolism).
Gospel – Matthew 16:13-20
Why must Peter’s confession be ours? How will this occur?
It is through Christ alone that we can enter the kingdom of God. This confession can come to us only as it is revealed to us by God, for our sinful natures could never come to this knowledge on our own. It will be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the means of grace, and once made, it can withstand even the fullest onslaught of the weapons of Satan.
What are the keys of heaven?
How amazing that Christ should give us the keys to his kingdom! Those keys are the authority that Christ gives us to lock and unlock the doors of heaven. To those who are repentant, we may offer forgiveness through the gospel and throw the doors of heaven wide open! But to those who do not repent, we must use the law to lock the doors of heaven, lovingly praying that they will, through this action, confess their sins and receive life.