Date: January 01 2017
First Quarter Theme: January, February, March 2017
God Bless You, Friends.
I believe 2017 will be a great year. I believe it will be a great year specifically for believers – a year of victory for the church. When I say church, I mean the church corporately as an institution made up of individual believers. The church is NOT brick and mortar, although many congregants gather in a building for weekly worship services and celebrations. The church is a living, moving, breathing entity. It is literally a living organism within an organization. The church is US. I AM THE CHURCH and YOU ARE THE CHURCH. The church is made up of those who have accepted the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many church attendees who attend buildings. There are many members in various movements and reformations who serve and give. However, the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is made up of those believers who have become disciples with a surrendered life. Friends, this is the key to experiencing the God of heaven.
Let’s begin with a careful examination of the Scriptures. Jesus, upon his entry into Caesarea Philippi (a region known to be a Roman stronghold for Caesar as well as a pantheon of gods), asks a provocative question that still sends shock waves through our modern and post Christian society. In Matt 16: 13, He asks His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The response of the disciples is even more alarming, mainly because these men had been walking with Jesus for quite a while. These were the same men who would later be used by God to turn the world right-side-up. In verse 14 they answered, “…Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus continued the discussion with them because He was not interested in what some had to say; He was interested in what they had to say. The interchange continued until one of them received divine revelation from heaven. Let’s look carefully at the conversation in Matt 16:15-19:
“15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also 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. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Friends, the divine revelation of who Jesus is causes one to be a part of the body of Christ, the church. This divine revelation produces power for the individual believer and for the church corporately. Just before His ascension, Jesus said these words concerning those who would believe and be born again. In Mark 16:17-18, He said, 17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
What we see today in the church, particularly the American church, is everything but this kind of victory. There are many who claim to be part of the body of Christ but live defeated lifestyles of habitual sin. One of our memory verses suggests a place of victory for the believer. I John 5:4 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” I am excited because there is a resurgence, a renewal, and an awakening of the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the victorious ones who are more than overcomers. The apostate church may appear to be gaining ground to the natural eye, but to those who are “THE CALLED,” God has a plan of victory in store for each of us. It is as our memory verse for the year emphasizes: the translation from darkness to light. The Apostle Peter wrote to us concerning the church. This is the same Peter whose character and nature were changed. Indeed, the same Peter whose preaching brought forth the birth of the church as we know it today, evidenced by the moving of the Spirit’s power in the life of the believer.
In his letter, Peter weaves together two historical concepts: the ideas of kings and priests. Peter reveals that we no longer need a priest to enter into a place of rituals and ceremonies in order to have our sins forgiven. He is the first to introduce us to the idea of the priesthood of the believer. However, this priesthood has an element of royalty because of the idea of sonship that makes us joint-heirs with Christ. Peter describes the church as a royal priesthood and a holy nation. In I Peter 2:9 he says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
This means that we who believe, THE CHURCH, can be priests and kings unto our God with authority to rule on the earth on behalf of our King. Revelation 1:6 says, “and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 5:10 adds, “… And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” All of this hinges upon our ability to answer the call to be the true church of the living God.
Friends, I believe this is the year in which many will begin to answer THE CALL to be THE CHURCH, the hands and feet of Jesus. Join us here at Calvary in January as we answer the call of God, in February as we answer the call to love, and March as we answer the call to come forth. I hope you will join us this year. Let’s focus on being “THE CHURCH” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Ray Johnson
Senior Pastor, Calvary Revival Church Peninsula
Overseer 1st Diocese Calvary Alliance of Churches Ministries