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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 30, 2019

“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”
(Matthew 16:18).

Here we see a Greek play on words, “Thou art Peter [petros – a little rock], and upon this rock [petra – a big rock] I will build my church.” Christ did not promise to build His church upon Peter [the little rock]. He promised to build His church upon Himself [the big rock]. Peter himself says this is the correct meaning in I Peter 2:4-9.

“I will build my church” – Jesus begins each new church.

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1. “I.” Jesus is the church builder.

A church may be started by us, but it is Jesus doing it through us. Jesus begins every Bible-centered new church. But He does not build every new church. He does not build a new Mormon “church,” because they do not believe in the Bible Jesus. He does not build every Baptist church either. Baptist churches that come from false prophets “splitting” a church cannot honestly say that Jesus built their church. They, not Jesus, built their church by “stealing” members from another church. Jesus is not a thief, so He did not build this church. Jesus Himself called those who “steal” people to start their own church, “thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). Again, Jesus said, “The thief cometh [only] to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). In other words, churches that are built by “stealing” people from another church are energized not by Jesus, but by Satan. The Bible calls the Devil, “Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44).

2. “I will...”

The word “will” is future tense. Jesus looked to the future and saw that the church is the agency through which the message of salvation would be preached to the world.

3. “I will build...”

Dr. Elmer Towns said, “The word build suggests a continual action, predicting that Jesus would constantly be building His church... represented by local churches all over the world” (Planting Reproducing Churches, pp. 10, 11).

4. “I will build my...”

The church belongs to Jesus Christ. “My church” shows that it doesn’t belong to anyone else. The church belongs to Jesus Christ.

But in the last days (in which we now live) the Bible predicts, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:3, 4). Thus, most churches will become filled with lost people, like the Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). Jesus is shut out of such a church. He stands outside the apostate churches. Only a few people will be saved from the many lukewarm churches of the last days (Revelation 3:20, 21). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22).

That is why we are replanting this church in the San Gabriel Valley. We must be a new church there, not just like we are now, but we must be men and women of prayer. We must be men and women who are deeply committed to winning lost people to Jesus, there in the San Gabriel Valley. We must not try to follow those who try to “steal” people from other churches. We must focus on winning lost people to Him, and we must be careful not to allow divisions and church splits to stop us from obeying Jesus by winning and discipling lost people. The Bible says,

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).

“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Please stand and sing “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” It’s number two on your song sheet.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
   That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
   Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
   My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
   By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
   Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
   Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
   Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
   And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
   May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
   I view my home and take my flight:
This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
   To seize the everlasting prize;
And shout, while passing through the air,
   “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”
(“Sweet Hour of Prayer” by William W. Walford, 1772-1850).

You may be seated.

5. “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The gates of hell refers to the demons that come out of Hades, the place of the dead. We are in a spiritual battle when we pray for our new church.

Turn in your Bible to Ephesians, chapter six. Look at verse 12.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Dr. Merrill F. Unger of Dallas Theological Seminary said, “Prayer [as Ephesians 6:18] is the actual conflict in which [Satan and the demons are] vanquished and the victory is won.” The real conflict is the real battle we must wage “against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Look at verse 18.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Dr. Timothy Lin was my Chinese pastor for many years. He was a great Bible scholar with deep spiritual understanding. Dr. Lin said that powerful prayer comes when the people in a church pray together in a prayer meeting. He said, “Only when Christians pray [together] in one accord from the standpoint of the entire church, can the church effectively use and enjoy...divine authority.” Was Dr. Lin right? Yes, he was! We have seen with our own eyes that united prayer defeats Satan and gives us what we ask for!

We prayed together for a piano player. God answered and gave us Mrs. Song. We prayed together for the new building in the San Gabriel Valley. What happened? God gave us the new building yesterday! Amen and Hallelujah!

Sometimes God answers us right away. At other times God makes us wait and pray longer. Why does God sometimes make us wait? It is because He is training us to keep on praying, until He answers us! Turn to Luke 18:1-7. Please stand as I read it aloud.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:1-7).

Amen! The Bible says,

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Say it with me.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Everything we attempt to do in the new San Gabriel Valley church must be prayed for by you and me in unison. This new church must be started with prayer, grow with prayer, and succeed by prayer. Amen.

Stand and sing number three on your song sheet, “Teach Me to Pray.”

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; This is my heart cry, day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way; Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair; O give me power, power in prayer!

My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew; My sinful nature Thou canst subdue;
Fill me just now with power anew, Power to pray and power to do!

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; Thou art my Pattern, day unto day;
Thou art my Surety, now and for aye; Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
   (“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”
(Matthew 16:18).

1.  “I.” Jesus is the church builder, John 10:8, 10; Revelation 12:9;
John 8:44.

2.  “I will...”

3.  “I will build...”

4.  “I will build my...,” II Timothy 4:3-4; Revelation 3:14-22;
Revelation 3:20-21, 22; I Corinthians 1:10; Matthew 16:18.

5.  “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Ephesians 6:12, 11, 18; Luke 18:1-7; James 5:16;