June 2023 (Keys of the Kingdom)
As we draw our series titled “Kingdom Power” to an end this month where we’ve been exploring Matthew chapters 8-18, I thought I’d use our newsletter to remind you of a set of very important church keys… No, I am not referring to keys to the secretary’s office, or keys that lock up our church building when we leave it; I’m talking about a much more significant set of keys that Jesus gave local churches.
Now these keys of the kingdom are not literal physical keys you use to open a door, but they are real metaphorical keys that also carry with them real authority! As we saw in Matthew 16, Jesus Christ is the rock of the church, and is the sure cornerstone foundation that every local church is built upon. Furthermore, the good news gospel message that Peter confessed in part, and that Jesus directly predicted at least 4 times in the Gospel of Matthew, is the Gospel of Jesus’ person as the divine Son of God, and also his work as he would willingly go to the cross to give his life and then raise again three days later! That is the foundation the church is built on and the gates of Hell will not prevail over the inbreaking and breaking out of the chains of the evil one when lost sinners are found and saved by this glorious Gospel message!
But what do these keys have to do with anything? Well, as we also saw in Matthew 16 and will be seeing more clearly in Matthew 18 this month, Jesus gave Peter and the apostles the keys of the kingdom, and then we see those very same keys being used in local church discipline scenarios in Matthew 18 when sin is not repented of. The keys, as Jesus says, are for binding and loosing which basically means churches of authoritative decision making, God’s stamp of approval, and also His consent and command for them to use it for the binding and loosing on earth.
So, who holds the keys of the kingdom, and what are they to do with them? Matthew 16 and 18 combine together and show us that the keys are given to Peter and the apostles, and then local gospel preaching churches going forward. This means that FBC Gallatin has access to use these metaphorical keys as a church founded on Jesus Christ our cornerstone! And we use the keys for binding and loosing in our church, which then corresponds with heavenly alignment so long as we are being faithful to do what we were called to do as a church.
The exact use of the keys mainly has to do with calling out a gospel people and affirming professions of faith when credible, and then removing that affirmation from those who no longer have a credible profession of faith in the act of church discipline. The binding use is the removing, and the loosing use is the proclaiming of the gospel and adding to the churches number day by day those who were being saved as we see in the book of Acts. Without both the keys of the kingdom, and then the later Great Commission marching orders, the church would have no idea what to do, and it would have no authority to do anything. But, you see, with the authority given by Jesus to the church in granting the metaphorical keys of the kingdom, churches are then granted the ability to do what Jesus calls them to do!
How does this specifically relate to our church today? Whenever we come together as a church and vote to receive a new member in order to take responsibility of their discipleship growth, as they also agree to take responsibility of our discipleship growth as well; we are using the keys of the kingdom! Furthermore, If we ever had to remove a church member because they were unrepentant and failing to live a consistent Christian life due to their hard hearts, we would also be using the keys of the kingdom in the binding process to excommunicate them as we will see in Matthew 18 this month.
All this to say, local churches like ours have a great responsibility and calling to guard the who and what of the gospel as Jonathan Leeman and other 9Marks authors have so helpfully taught upon reflecting on Matthew 16, 18, and 28 among other important passages. FBC Gallatin, and any other local bible preaching church must know and proclaim and guard the truth of the Gospel in terms of defining and defending what it actually is. And then we also have the great privilege and responsibility to identify and affirm those who know and believe and live in light of this glorious Gospel message!
In conclusion, meaningful church membership which we have talked so much about the last several years, is the means by which we seek to faithfully guard the who and what of the Gospel at FBC Gallatin in our very so important use of the keys of the kingdom! And it looks like we will have the wonderful opportunity as a church to hear the testimonies and also vote together to decide to add two new members to our church this month in our use of these important “church keys.”
Pastor Daniel Pelichowski