A Sermon (#531) Preached By William “Bill” Touchton
Edited By Michael D. Lawson
If you have your Bibles turn with me to Matthew 16.13-19.
In 1971, a group of people from the Sherwood Forest Baptist Church felt led of God to buy this property and build this church, and next Sunday morning we will celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Wingate Road Church. As I studied the history of our church, I was amazed at how many people we have reached these years. In 24 years, we have seen…700 saved and baptized…800 come and be a part by change of letter. This church has touched a lot of lives, however, I want to ask you a question that I have wrestled with this week.
Question: If Wingate Road Baptist Church ceased to be, if we walked out this morning, locked the doors, and never came back, would anybody in this community care? If WRBC ceased to be, would it have any effect at all in this community?
It should! Listen, not only should this be the most important place in North Jacksonville, it should be the most influential place on the Northside of Jacksonville.
And I want to think about that this morning, as we consider the subject, “Being A Church of Influence.”
About three years ago when our oldest girl was going to school in Graceville, her mother and I decided to ride over there and spend the night with her. So, I called her to tell her and she really encouraged us to come for two reasons.
Reason 1: She knew every time we came to see her, that we would bring her money and food – so she really encouraged us to come.
Reason 2: But the second reason she wanted us to come was her church was having a revival and she wanted us to go to church with her, so we packed our church clothes, left the house, and got there that afternoon about 2 hours before church.
We ate supper, went to church, and that night we got to hear a pastor by the last name of Shepherd, and in his sermon he told a story about his church that I never forgot.
He said, “Summer was almost over and school was just a few days away, and his youth said, ‘Preacher we want to have a youth rally right before school starts, and we want to pray that God will use us to change our school.” The pastor said, “It sounds good to me.” So they set the date and passed fliers out to all their friends.
He said on Wednesday, six of his youth came and said, “Pastor we want to reserve the prayer room for 12 hours on Friday, and we want to pray all day that God will use this event to change our school, and we want you to pray with us.”
Well, like all good preachers, Friday was his best day for sermon preparation, so he said, “I can’t make it in the morning, but I will come in and pray that afternoon.”
Friday came. At 7AM these kids started to pray, but he got tied up with sermon preparation and other things and forgot until 6pm. So he walked to the prayer room, quietly slipped in, and when he did, he found all six kids lying on their faces, weeping and praying out loud.
So, he got down on his knees and he too started to pray. And as he prayed, one of the youth said, “O God, give us 50 souls. O God, give us 50 souls.” And all the other kids began to pray, “O God, give us 50 souls.”
The pastor thought to himself, “They are praying for something they know not of.” He said, “They didn’t even have 50 kids in the church, and there was no way that this small group could get enough kids there to see 50 saved.” But they kept praying, “O God, give us 50 souls. O God, give us 50 souls.” And he said, after a few minutes he too began to pray, “O God, give us 50 souls.”
He said, “At 7:00 they finished their 12 hours of praying and they went to the auditorium to find 250 teenagers packed in there. He said they sang some songs then his youth minister preached for one and a half hours, and then said, “I’m not going to have an invitation hymn, but you have heard the gospel and if you want to be saved, then stand up right now.”
52 teenagers stood and asked Jesus in their heart!
And he said, “These 52, along with the 200 or so saved youth got fired up and God lit a fire in that school!”
They decided to have a Bible study every Friday night, and hundreds would come. He said they were having more kids coming to church than the school had attending the football game.
He said one day the principal called and said, “We are trying to plan our calendar for next year, but we decided we better check with you first, because we don’t want to plan anything that will conflict with your plans because what we got going here can’t compete with what you got going there.”
As he told that story, I thought about 2 things:
- God still answers prayer.
- That’s the kind of influence the church is supposed to have in the world.
And that’s what Jesus is saying in this passage. Listen. He said, “I’m going to build a church so powerful, so influential, that hell, itself, can’t stop it!
Let me show you some things about this influential church:
- The Dynamic
- The Doctrine
- The Directive
Now what comes to mind when I say the word “church”? We think about a place. You ask any one in this area, they will say…WRBC…1100 Wingate Road.
See the church…There’s the steeple…
Open the doors…Not many people… 🙂
The church is not a place, the church is a people. Now let me show you three things about these people.
A. A People with Personal Convictions
Who do people say that I am? John? Elijah? Jeremiah?…But who do YOU say I am? “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
B. A People with a Peculiar Character
Look at 1 Peter 2.5-9. This personal conviction has so permeated our lives that we take on His characteristics. He walked different…talked different.
The world has never been impressed when the church acts like the world, but they are impressed when we act like Jesus.
One reason that we have so little influence is because we live to much like the world.
C. A People with a Public Confession
When Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”, Peter took his stand!
We make this same confession when we are baptized. We are taking our stand and saying, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. My Lord and Savior.
Verse 18 – “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter (Petros) and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Petros = small stone
Petras = massive stone
I will build my church on the doctrine that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God.
The doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ is non-negotinable:
- Jesus is God.
- Born of a virgin.
- Lived a sinless life.
- Died a substitutionary death.
- Bodily rose from the grave.
- Ascended on High.
- Coming again.
Look at 2 John 9-10.
Why is doctrine so important? Doctrine determines behavior. Here’s what you find. The denominations who have abandoned doctrine…die. The doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ is non-negotinable.
The directive Jesus gave to His church is to Go!
Matthew 28.18-20 – “As you go…” We are to be a church that takes the gospel outside of these walls and into the world we live in. Let’s take the gospel to the streets.