A Good, Clear Conscience – Part Two

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 3:21 AMP

There is nothing finer than living with a clear conscience! It is a stress-free, totally peace-filled life. No money in the world can buy a clear conscience, but through the power of God and the blood of Jesus, we can be blessed with inward cleanness and peace. Through our faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and our obedience to go through the waters of baptism, something actually happens in our soul. Baptism saves us from inward questionings and fears—it is as if our head has a resurrection—washing away every thought and desire that are contrary to the word and will of the Father.

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, 21 And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, 22 Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:19-22 AMP

Thank God for the blood of Jesus! It enables us to have full freedom and confidence to enter into God’s very presence. This is a fresh, new, and living way! Jesus is our High Priest and through Him, our hearts are purified from an evil and guilty conscience. There is no way you can come into God’s presence with sin in your heart and with a guilty conscience. The Lord has made a way for us to come into His presence by washing our heart and conscience clean.

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honorably and in complete honesty in all things.  Hebrews 13:18 AMP

If you want to live an honest, noble life—walking uprightly and acting honorably—you can only do it if you protect your conscience. Honesty in all things begins with, and is dependant on, a good, clear conscience before God.

[And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives]. 17 For [it is] better to suffer [unjustly] for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than to suffer [justly] for doing wrong.  1 Peter 3:16-17 AMP

Keep your heart right and your conscience clear and then even though you may experience persecution, through the evidence of your good life, your critics will be put to shame. If you have done wrong then your punishment is justified. If you have not done wrong, no matter what you go through, the Lord will vindicate you; He will reward you for your righteous, uncompromising stand.

I thank God Whom I worship with a pure conscience, in the spirit of my fathers, when without ceasing I remember you night and day in my prayers. 2 Timothy 1:3 AMP

Worship God with a clear conscience. Your faith in Him—your unqualified assurance and absolute conviction in the truth of His word—will give you the confidence to come boldly into His presence and ask Him for the things you need. The faith and confidence you walk in as a result of your clear conscience will provide an answer to your prayers.

Are you Building a Golden Calf or the House of God?

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Thoughts on Stewardship – Lesson 23 from Deuteronomy

Are you Building a Golden Calf or the House of God?
Foundation Scriptures: Deuteronomy 9 verses 4 – 16

Do not say in your [mind and] heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out from before you, It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land–whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. 5 Not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your [minds and] hearts do you go to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out before you, and that He may fulfill the promise which the Lord swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Know therefore that the Lord your God does not give you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a hard and stubborn people. 7[Earnestly] remember and forget not how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. 8 Even in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that He would have destroyed you. 9 When I went up the mountain to receive the tables of stone, the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I neither ate food nor drank water. 10 And the Lord delivered to me the two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the Lord spoke with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. 11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, the tables of the covenant. 12 And the Lord said to me, Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten image. 13 Furthermore the Lord said to me, I have seen this people, and behold, they are stubborn and hard. 14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under the heavens; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they. 15 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God; you had made for yourselves a molten calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you.  Deuteronomy 9:4-16 AMP

The Children of Israel were miraculously delivered from the land of Egypt and from the slavery that they had been under for hundreds of years. In this passage, God reminds them of where He brought them from – how He delivered them in the past and His plan for blessing them in the future, if they would obey and serve Him.

When the Israelites were delivered from their captivity, God brought them forth with an abundance of silver and gold. They stripped the Egyptians of their wealth. God did this to repay them for the stuff that was taken from them, and also what they were owed, during their years of slavery. It was God’s way of making the Egyptians make restitution. Then He wanted to provide for them and give them all they needed to start a new life in the Promised Land. He wanted to make sure that they had sufficient to take care of themselves, as well as a surplus, so that they could build the house of God.

Something happened while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Holy Commandments of God for the people. He was gone for 40 days. They thought he was dead and because of the evil in their hearts, they decided to build an idol to worship. Even though they were taken out of Egypt, Egypt was not yet taken out of them, so a golden calf was made from the offerings with which God had blessed them.

This was not God’s plan. God’s plan was for them to use their gold, jewels, and precious stones to build HIS house! An idol could be money, a house, a car, sport, music, another person, or your own good looks! An idol is anything that we value above God, Himself. God’s plan is not for us to waste money on idols. God’s plan is for us to be blessed and to bless the house of God.

Pastors Adonica’s Thoughts:
People might not believe that they really have an idol in their life that is above God, but the best way to know is by taking a look at your money and how and where it is spent. When you get paid, what is the first thing you do with your money? If you are a Christian, and you do not set aside the tithe before you spend anything else, God is not first in your life – you have a golden calf in there somewhere consuming your blessing!

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
The Christian church, today, is no different from the children of Israel. The fact of the matter is that the Lord has blessed us, and will continue to bless us, when we obey and serve Him. However, His blessings are not to be spent on temporary idols of the flesh or mind, but His blessings are for the building of His house and that which is eternal. Understand this one thing – you will either give for a golden calf or you will give for the building of the house of God – but you WILL give. Don’t build idols, build God’s house, which will remain forever.

Prayer and Confession:
Father, I pray that you help me to never take my eyes off Your house. Help me not to look away from Your beauty and be turned to idols. I promise you that I will focus on eternal things – for all the carnal things shall pass away, but eternal things will never pass away.

 

My Father’s Word and Ways

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Foundation Scriptures: John 1:1-4

John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

We know God’s thoughts and ways through His Word.

  • Many have little understanding of the Father.
  • John 14:9 – Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
  • Seventy percent of Jesus’ ministry was healing the sick and casting out devils.
  • Daniel 11:32 – And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
  • Mark 16:15-18 – And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
  • People attend the same church with the same Bible. One understands and one doesn’t.
  • You cannot receive God with the natural mind; you have to receive Him with the heart.
  • John 4:23-24 – But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
  • God needs to be the final authority in our lives: God’s WORD is to be final authority in our lives. Isaiah 40:8 – The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
  • The fire burns up the chaff, religion, and tradition. (Jeremiah 23:29 – Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? )
  • Press into Him by studying His Word and following His promptings, the promptings of the Holy Spirit—be willing and obedient. (Isaiah 1:19 – If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.)
  • Quote: Smith Wigglesworth while preaching the message Power of the Word of God:
  • “Believers are strong only as the Word of God abides in them. The Word of God is spirit and life to those who receive it in simple faith, and it is a verifier of all who own its sway.
  • Know your Book, live it, believe it, and obey it. Hide God’s word in your heart. It will save your soul, quicken your body, illumine your mind. The Word of God is full and final, infallible, reliable, and up-to-date, and our attitude towards it must be one of unquestioned obedience.
  • If a thing is in the Bible, it is so; it is not even to be prayed about; it is to be received and acted upon. Inactivity of faith is a robber, which steals blessing. Increase comes by action, by using what we have and what we know. Your life must be one of going from faith to faith.”
  • “Great faith is the product of great fights.”
  • “Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests.”
  • “Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.
  • Psalms 18:30-32 – As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. 31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? 32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
  • Natural persons’ ways and God’s ways are a world apart. God wants to lift us into heavenly places.
  • Mark 7:13 – Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
  • Hosea 4:6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
  • Prayer: Show me Your ways not through the eyes of religion and tradition.  Show me Your plan and purpose for me. I will do Your purpose. I will do Your plan.  I am expecting to hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant…”
  • Jer 29:11-13 NIV – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Blessings in the House of the Righteous

 

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. Psalms 116:5 NKJV

The Lord is gracious, righteous and merciful and He expects the same from us, His children. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus and we are empowered to walk in righteousness by the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is our plumb line, leading us and keeping us on the path God has prepared for us.

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. Psalms 37:25-26 KJV

The righteous are just like their Father. They are merciful and generous. This is why the Lord will always see to it that they – and their children – are taken care of. David said that he had never – not even once – seen the righteous or their families let down or going without.

Psalm 112 is a great example of the attributes of a righteous man and the blessing upon him and his house as a result.

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments. 2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. 4 Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. 5 A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. 6 Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. 7 He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. 9 He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. 10 The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish. Psalms 112:1-10 NKJV

The righteous man reverentially fears God. He loves God’s word; he delights in it; it is his joy to do those things that please his Father. The righteous man keeps his heart right with God. He is gracious and compassionate and is always prepared and willing to help others and to share what he has. He thinks of those less fortunate than himself and makes it his business to help the poor. He seeks opportunities to be a blessing. Psalms 37:21 NKJV says that, “The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives.” The righteous man’s conduct, in business and his personal life, is always governed by his integrity and the principles of God’s word.

The righteous man is fully aware of all Father God’s promises to him – he counts on Him keeping His word. He is not afraid of evil tidings because his heart is steadfast – he trusts in the Lord completely. He walks in peace and calm assurance even when his circumstances seem totally contrary. He will never be shaken because he chooses to believe God’s word over what he can see. He has already seen the hand of God and His faithfulness in his life, and experienced His blessing, favor and provision and He is humbly confident that God will come through for him yet again.

Psalms 112 says that the generation of the upright will be blessed and wealth and riches will be in his house. The righteous are not just a little blessed – they are super-blessed! The Lord makes the righteous to have a surplus of prosperity (Deuteronomy 28:11) and He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)!

Light arises in the darkness for the righteous man – he has understanding, direction and purpose even when others are scared, confused and deceived. He can see his way out of every adverse situation. The name and deeds of a righteous man will be remembered forever – especially in eternity. The Lord will honor him.

For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalms 5:12 NKJV

The righteous will endure forever, because God will deal with his enemies – they will not get away with any bad thing they try to do to him. There is a hedge of God’s protection around the righteous. The wicked will see the blessing on the life of the righteous; they will fuss and fume, but they will not be able to harm him. Their plans and desires will perish without coming to pass.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalms 92:12-15 KJV

The Lord demonstrates His righteousness by keeping His word to His righteous man all the days of his life. The righteous will be fat, flourishing and fruitful well into a good old age and die only when they are satisfied! God is glorified when men see His blessing on the righteous. They see and know that God is indeed good and that He always keeps His promises!

TWENTY ONE REASONS WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW THE LORD : PART ONE

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

TWENTY ONE REASONS WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW THE LORD : PART ONE

• By personal fellowship

“What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah). And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and your joy may be complete]. And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents].” 1 John 1:3-6 AMP

The distinguishing mark of Christians is their fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. If you want to stay in
fellowship with the Father, you have to walk in the light because God is light and there is no darkness in Him. Walking in the light requires walking in the Truth, walking in integrity, walking in love and walking in purity. If we sin and lie and break His commands and then say that we are in fellowship with Him, we are lying.

“I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be aware of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have been victorious over the wicked [one]. I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father.” 1 John 2:13 AMP

• By the fullness of joy in our heart

“And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” 1 John 1:4 NKJV

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, the more of Him you have the more joy you walk in.

• By keeping His commandments

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:3-6 NKJV

Anyone who says that they know God, can prove it by the way they keep His commandments. Many people say they love Him, but in actual fact, they are doing their own thing – proving that they don’t. We should all check our own heart and judge ourselves in this area. Do we say we love Him? Are we keeping His commandments? If we truly love Him, we will be diligent to keep His commands.

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:22 NKJV

God’s blessings will be evident in our lives, when we obey the Lord’s commands and do the things that please Him! He is pleased to bless His obedient children!

• By walking even as He walked

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6 NKJV

If we know the Lord then we must obey Him by walking in His footsteps – doing what He did. It is not presumptuous for us to imitate Jesus; it is what He wants us to do.

• By loving one another

“He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:9-11 NKJV

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the
message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” 1 John 3:10-19 NKJV

“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 John 3:23 NKJV

Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing – you do what you know is right. The world and the world’s system are opposed to the Spirit of God. The bottom line is this: if we know Him, we walk in love – if we don’t walk in love, we show that we don’t know Him at all!

WHAT IS TRUE RELIGION?

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). 27 External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.  James 1:26-27 AMP

There are many, many people who claim to be “religious” and by that they mean that they believe in God or a god or some kind of higher power. Just because you are religious, or call yourself religious, doesn’t mean that your heart is right with God or even that you are a better person than the next person. There are many religions around the world and yet people still sin and still do bad things to one another. Most “religion” is nothing more than man-made tradition. It is fruitless, useless and powerless. Rather than being religious, we should strive to be godly and to live a godly life, conformed to God’s holy word.

So for the sake of your tradition (the rules handed down by your forefathers), you have set aside the Word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect]. 7 You pretenders (hypocrites)! Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said: 8 These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. 9 Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men. 
Matthew 15:6-9 AMP

When people are truly godly, as opposed to merely religious, they:
Are doers of the word
Walk in the love of God
Care about and help others
Keep their hearts right with God – their conscience is clear
Walk in the fruit of the spirit
Do not act like the world – they keep themselves free from sin – unspotted and uncontaminated from the world

Merely religious people display some or all of these traits:
Are not doers of the Word of God
Do not walk in the love of God
Want their own way
Are selfish, self-promoting and self-seeking
Manifest the works of the flesh
Are critical and judgmental
Are covetous, jealous and envious – are not happy when others are blessed
Put on a show – are boastful, arrogant and conceited
Claim to have the only way – believe they are always right
Are angry, hate-filled and even murderous – no natural compassion
Power-hungry and manipulative
Sad, sour, rude and unmannerly
Believe the worst of others
Are impatient and unkind
Are touchy and resentful
Are unforgiving and hold grudges
Are not concerned about injustice
Quench any joy in themselves and others
Cover their sin instead of repenting
Are bound up and seek to put others in bondage
Hate freedom and resent liberty

Religious people are people who don’t realize that God loves them – unconditionally. They don’t feel loved so they can’t love others. They feel judged and so they judge. They need to experience the goodness of God, repent of their bad attitude and be set free.

Religion alone is not a guarantee of heaven, because religion relies on works. Works alone are not enough. Salvation is by faith through grace. Only a personal relationship – with trust and reliance on the Name of Jesus, having believed in your heart, having confessed Him as Lord, having been washed in His blood, having been born again by the Spirit of God – is a guarantee of eternal life. The worst kind of religious person is one who has received Jesus, but either has not let go of old religious ideas, or they try to add to the simplicity of the Gospel with all kinds of man-made traditions.

From the time you receive Jesus, or recommit to Him, you must continually work to renew your mind to His pure, unadulterated word and be conformed to His image. You cannot return to your old life – you cannot start in the Spirit and then go back to the flesh – like a dog returning to its own vomit.

Everyone of us needs to have a regular “check-up”. Not at the doctor, but a heart check-up. We need to make sure that our daily attitude and conduct match up with the Word of God. We must measure our attitude and conduct against the standard of the Word of God and make the adjustments so that we can continue to walk in the freedom and liberty of the Holy Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! (2 Cor. 3:17)

THE CHURCH

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  
Matthew 16:15-18 KJV

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus did not say that He would build His church on Peter, but that He would build it on this fact: That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The English word “church” is derived from the word kuriakon which means “belonging to the Lord”. It does not mean a building and is never used in the New Testament to designate a building. In the English New Testament the word “church” is used to translate the Greek word ekklesia, which means “an assembly of people”. In some passages, it is simply translated as “assembly”. Ekklesia is derived from two Greek words, ek meaning “out from,” and kaleo which means “to call.” The Greeks used the word when speaking of their legislature – the people designated and called out to represent their community in the legislature. We are “called out” of the world and gathered together to serve and represent the Living God here on earth and also in Heaven!

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is putting the emphasis not on the word “Church”, but on the word “My”, as in “I will build MY Church…” The Church is unique, not merely because it is called a Church, but because it is the Body of Christ – an assembly of believers who belong to Jesus! Jesus is the Head of the Church:

Ephesians 5:23 AMP – For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.  

Colossians 1:18 NIV – And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV – But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  

In the New Testament, the word “Church” is used to designate the Church in general – the whole Body of Christ – and also a specific local church or assembly of Christians. However, it is not referring to a particular group or denomination.

The local church, in a particular area, is vital to the growth, development and expansion of the Body of Christ in that area. It is important for each of us to be a part of a local body of believers, with people who love and accept us, and also who hold us accountable as we grow in our faith. Hebrews 10:24-25 AMP says, “And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.”  

The mission of the local church is:
Preaching and teaching
Making disciples
Fellowship
Worship
Missions and evangelism
Maturity of the believer
Ministry in the home
Ministry to material needs

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]. 16 He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] and is baptized will be saved [from the penalty of eternal death]; but he who does not believe [who does not adhere to and trust in and rely on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned. 17 And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; 18 They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well.  Mark 16:15-18 AMP

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

Mark emphasizes preaching and Matthew, teaching, but they are agreed on the overall role of the Church. The Church’s mission is to get people saved, delivered, healed, baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and then to take care of them, disciple them, and send them out to continue to do the work of the Church.

The Importance of Faith

You cannot come to God on any basis other than faith:

Hebrews 11:6
KJV – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
AMP – But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
K. E. Wuest – Now, without faith it is impossible to please Him at all. For he who comes to God must of the necessity in the nature of the case believe that He exists, that He also becomes a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him out.
GWNBS – No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

It is impossible to please God if you have no faith in Him. Having faith in God, means that:
You believe in Him – you believe that He exists.
You believe His word and His testimony to you.
You believe that if you diligently seek Him, that you will receive an answer or a response.
You believe that if you diligently seek Him, that He will reward you.

Diligently seek means: to search out; (figuratively) investigate; crave; demand; worship; enquire; seek after (carefully, diligently). It means constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything; pursue with persevering attention; painstaking. You can’t give up halfway – you have to press into God, and continue to press in – expecting to receive from Him and you will receive.

Faith is believing without seeing, or before seeing:

Hebrews 11:1
KJV – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
AMP – Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
ERV – Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.
NIV – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

GWNBS – Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.
HCSB – Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
BBE – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.

Faith believes in the unseen over what is seen or perceived with the senses. If you have a title deed to a piece of property, it is the proof that you own it and it belongs to you, even if you have never actually seen it yourself. That title deed is a sure thing – it will hold up in a court of law. Faith is like the title deed – it’s the proof that you have what you are believing for, without having actually seen the manifestation of it yet. Once you see it – you no longer require faith. People say, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but when you see it, you will know it. Believing is only operational before you see it!

Unbelief and fear do not please God:

Do not throw away therefore your confidence which is of such a nature that it has great recompense of reward, for you have need of patience in order that, having done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little, a very little while, and He who comes will come and will not delay. Now, my righteous person shall live by faith. But if he draw back in fear, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But as for us, we are not of the shrinking-back kind who draw back to perdition, but of the believing kind who believe to the end of the saving of the soul
.  Hebrews 10:35-39 K.E. Wuest

Your faith – your confidence in God and His word – will result in a great reward. Faith is a requirement for receiving anything from God. He is only moved by our faith – not just our hoping – and we can receive nothing from God without faith. We need to have faith in God for salvation, healing, provision, protection, and any other thing that He’s promised us. If we shrink back in fear, or allow unbelief to quench our faith, we risk displeasing God.

There is only one way to get faith – by hearing and believing God’s word:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 
Romans 10:17 KJV

You can’t pray for faith. The Bible tells us that faith comes when you hear God’s word and faith increases the more you hear and meditate on God’s word and His promises. Surround yourself daily with God’s word and with people who speak faith in God’s word. At the same time, refuse to allow negativity, doubt and unbelief to come into your spirit through unbelieving, faithless sources. Don’t share with unbelievers what you are standing in faith for and look for their input – you know it’s going to be a faith destroying conversation! If you have to be around them, don’t ask for their opinion on spiritual things. Your faith has to be stronger than their unbelief, or they will end up pulling you down.

When you hear God’s word, in order for it to benefit you or profit you, you have to believe it and put your trust in it:

Hebrews 4:2
KJV – For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
AMP – For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe).

Reaching the world for Jesus Christ