Derek Prince - Is Peter The Rock Of The Church?
The question of laying this foundation in Jesus is extremely important. And so I want to take some time to deal with the issue of how we can have this foundation; that is, the foundation of Jesus in our lives. And I would invite each one of you to examine your own life your spiritual condition and your spiritual experience and to check as to whether you are really right in your relationship with the Foundation.
I want to turn to Matthew chapter 16 for some basic teaching. In verses 13 and following, Jesus is talking to His disciples and he says: When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked His disciples, saying: Who do men say that I, the Son of man, am? So they said, some say John the Baptist, some Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then He makes it very personal. But He said to them: But who do you say that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said: You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
That was a crucial moment in the life of Peter and in the whole history of Christianity. You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus responded, Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. So Jesus uses this encounter with Peter to establish the way in which we can lay a foundation in Jesus Christ Himself.
First of all, I need to comment on some of the words that are used. In verse 18 Peter says: "You are Peter", and the Greek is petros, "And on this rock", the Greek is petra, "I will build my church". It has often been suggested that Peter is the foundation of the church. I’d have to say if it were so it would be a very wobbly building. Because a little later Jesus rebuked him and said: Get behind Me, Satan. Later still, he denied the Lord three times. And even after the resurrection Paul had to rebuke him for compromising with the truth of the gospel for fear of his fellow Jews.
So, I’m just grateful that the church is not built on Peter nor am I. What actually emerges from this passage which is very clear in the Greek testament which is the original version that we have. "You are Peter", Petros, "and on this rock", Petra, "I will build my church". Now, petros in Greek means a stone or at the most a boulder. Nothing bigger than that. Normally it would be the kind of stone that people would take up to stone someone with. On the other hand, petra means a jagged rock, that extends from the bedrock. It’s often used of a cliff or something on that scale. But the important thing to remember is it is part of the bedrock. And what is the bedrock? It’s just what Peter had been going through: The recognition of Jesus for who He is revealed only by the Holy Spirit. No one can know Jesus, who He really is, unless God the Father by the Holy Spirit reveals Him to you.
And so this is the petra it’s the bedrock on which our Christian faith must be based. It’s a personal encounter and a personal revelation of Jesus. Not as the carpenter’s son. Not as a historical figure. But as the eternal, uncreated Son of God. That’s where we have to come if we are going to build on that rock. The experience through which Peter passed must be parallel in our experience. And I’ve told people many times, you can join a church, you can go through a religious ceremony, you can say a prayer, and not be changed. But if you really encounter Jesus you will be changed. No one encounters Jesus and remains the same. So, each of us needs to ask: Have I ever had this life-changing personal encounter... with the Lord Jesus Christ?