Wednesday, February 10, 2016

                                 RUN TO THE ROCK
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
 Is the Roman Catholic Church guilty of Identity Theft? Have they committed Grand Larceny in the first degree? They have robbed Jesus Christ of His rightful position as Chief Cornerstone and Foundation of His Church? How could they be so wrong on St. Peter and the Papacy?
  “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, the STONE which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the Corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
     “Therefore I say unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this STONE shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matt.21: 42-44)
   Our Saviour was quoting a prophecy by David, concerning the Messiah. (Psalms 118: 22, 23). His warning, however, went unheeded. Instead of receiving their Messiah, Lord and Saviour, they delivered Him to the pagan Romans to be crucified on Golgotha as a common criminal.
  Just as Jesus warned, the nation of Israel was crushed, decimated and destroyed. In 70 A.D. a scant 37 years later, Jerusalem lay in ruins and Israel remained non-existent as a nation for nearly 2,000 years until God in His mercy returned them to their land in 1948 A.D.
      His Word still holds true today. If you throw yourself upon His mercy, you will end up being broken, and His mercy and grace will heal you. If, however, He falls on you in judgment you will be destroyed!
     My advice for everyone is to believe His Word and cast yourself upon Him to receive His grace and mercy! He has promised to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, heal our sicknesses and grant full pardon and eternal Life!
  St. Peter said: “To Whom coming, as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
     “Wherefore also it is contained in the Scriptures, Behold I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.
    “Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the STONE which the builders disallowed has become the Head of the CORNER, and a STONE of stumbling, and a ROCK of offence, even to them that stumble at the Word, being disobedient: where unto also they were appointed.” (1 Peter 2: 4-8)
                       RUN TO THE ROCK CHRIST JESUS!
I go to the Rock of my Salvation;
I go to the Stone that the builders rejected
I run to the Mountain,
And the Mountain stands by me
When the earth around me is sinking sand,
On the Solid Rock I stand
When I need a Shelter from the storm,
I go to the Rock!

Dotty Rambo wrote the great song, 'I go to the Rock'. Others have written hymns which have given comfort and strength to multitudes across the ages! They have mostly been the Holy Scriptures put to music. In 1880, Vernon J. Charlesworth wrote, 'A Shelter in the Time of StormIt goes like this:

The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide
A Shelter in the time of storm
Secure whatever ill betide
A Shelter in the time of storm

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land
A Weary land, a Weary land,
Jesus is a Rock in a weary land
A Shelter in the time of storm

A shade by day, defence by night
A shelter in the time of storm
No fears alarm, no foes afright
A Shelter in the time of storm

O Rock Divine, O Refuge dear
A Shelter in the time of storm
Be Thou our Helper ever near
A Shelter in the time of storm

                      ROCK OF AGES CLEFT FOR ME!
In 1776, Augustus M. Toplady wrote the words the glorious hymn, 'Rock of Ages'. Here are those inspiring, anointed and riveting words:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
Let the water and the blood
From Thy wounded side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure

Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfill Thy laws demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save and Thou alone

Nothing in mine hand I bring
Simply to Thy cross I cling
Naked, come to Thee for dress
Helpless, look to thee for grace
Foul, I to Thy fountain fly
Wash me, Saviour, or I die

While I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyes shall close in death
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold Thee on Thy throne
Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Edward Mote (1797 - 1874) wrote one of my favourite songs, 'The Solid Rock'. These powerful evangelical words which God gave him have inspired multitudes. They were his testimony and by God's grace they are also my personal testimony. Here they are:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When every earthly prop gives way
He then is all my hope and stay
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Clothed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

      Much confusion has been generated by of the age-old, manufactured doctrine held by the Roman Catholic Church on Simon the son of Jonas, whom Jesus called Peter.
     To call him the ROCK upon which the Church of Jesus Christ is built is not only scandalous but an outrageous identity theft! They are guilty of grand larceny in the first degree!
     To STEAL from Jesus Christ His very name; the Chief Corner Stone, the Rock of Offence and the Foundation of the Church, is not only unforgiving, but blasphemous. And upon this phony name grab they have built their church!
      Jesus Christ had a habit of giving nick names to people. He called James and John the 'sons of thunder' and Simon the son of Jonas 'petros the fragment of a rock', while He called Himself 'Petra, the huge unquarried boulder'. He called Herod that fox and the scribes 'vipers'!
     St. Peter's name was Simon which means a reed, and very often a person's name reflected his personality. We see this truth emerge in the life of Jacob whose name means swindler, tricksterAlmighty God made a name change and called him Israel, a prince of God.
      Jesus knew Simon's personality was changeable and weak like a reed and that had to change if he was to become a solid, trustworthy leader. He would make his character rock-like instead of reed-like.
      Immediately after the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simon that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, he tried to dissuade Him from going to the cross: “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised again the third day.
   “Then Peter took Him, and began to REBUKE Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt.16: 21-23)
    Two things happened, Simon became PROUD of his new name, and the old changeable reed nature kicked in and he began telling Christ how to run His business. He went ballistic, physically taking hold of Jesus and rebuking Him. That was the REED nature which Jesus was going to change in the 'Big Fisherman'! How did Jesus handle the situation?
                       GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN!
     Jesus called him 'Satan' (Enemy, Opposer). The Lord was speaking to the Devil who was directing Simon's actions and speech. He was still a Reed! And just before going to the cross, Jesus warned Peter:
     “Simon, Simon (reed, reed), behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22: 31, 32)
    Simon Peter answered: “Lord, I am ready to go with Thee, both into prison, and to death. And He said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me.” (Luke 22: 33, 34)
     The boast made by Simon Peter turned out to be just talk and the prophetic statement made by Jesus of Nazareth was fulfilled to the letter. Each time I read this it brings great sadness to my heart. Here is the tragic account: 
      "Now Peter sat without in the Palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there. This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
       And again he denied with an OATH, I do Not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to CURSE and to SWEAR, saying, I know NOT the man.
      "And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the Word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt DENY Me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly." (Matt. 26: 69-75)
      Here is St. Luke's commentary on Peter's denial: "As the Lord turned and, and LOOKED upon Peter and Peter remembered the Word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. "(Luke 22:61,62)
     I believe that the COMPASSION, together with sadness and forgiveness that Simon Peter saw in Jesus' eyes, saved the backslidden Apostle from doing what Judas had done; finding a tree from which to take his own life!
     Even in that dark moment, hearing one of His Inner Circle apostles curse and swear that he did not Know THE MAN, must have torn at Christ's heart strings! Not only had Simon the son of Jonas denied that he knew Jesus, but stated that if he was not telling the truth let a curse fall upon him! 
      St. Paul who agreed with St. Peter and the Prophets, on Jesus' status as the Foundation of the Church, writes: “For through Him (Christ) we both (Jews and Greeks) have access by one Spirit (Holy Spirit) to the Father. Now therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God:
      “And are built upon the FOUNDATION of the apostles, and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone.” (Eph.2:18-20)
     Again St. Paul writes: “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise master builder, I have laid the FOUNDATION, and another buildeth there upon.
      “For other FOUNDATION can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor.3: 9-11). The Bible says: “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostle's Doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.” (Acts 2: 42)
   St. Paul spent three years in Arabia after meeting Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road, and his healing and Holy Spirit Baptism under the hands of Ananias. Undoubtedlly, Jesus personally tutored him during that time!
     After that, he went up to Jerusalem and spent fifteen days with Peter and met James the Lord's brother, who was the Pastor of the Church.
       The Apostle's Doctrine had no mention of Simon Peter's supremacy. St. Paul writes: “And when James, Cephas, and John who seemed to be PILLARS, perceived the grace that was given to me they gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” (Gal.2:9)
      St. Paul places James ahead of Peter in his letter to the Galatians. He also blames Peter for vacillating and displaying his old Simon (reed nature): “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be BLAMED. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” (Gal. 2: 11, 12)
    If St. Peter had SUPREMACY over the church he would NOT have been publicly rebuked and corrected by St. Paul. Peter received the correction that the great theologian and church builder gave him! 
   And Peter's man-fearing attitude in appeasing a certain faction of the church - in opposition to the teachings of Christ - led some of brethren into error and influenced Barnabas, until St. Paul upset their pride-filled partiality by rebuking and correcting Simon the son of Jonas!
                           DON'T LORD IT OVER OTHERS!
     The Bible states: “But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the Princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; and they that are great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be CHIEF among you, let him be your SERVANT 
    “Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for you.” (Matt. 20: 25-28). And St. Peter wrote: “The ELDERS which are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder and a Witness of the sufferings of Christ and a Partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
     “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the CHIEF SHEPHERD shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5: 1-5)
     The teaching of 'one man lording it over others' is not found in the Gospels or in the Epistles of the New Testament! Jesus alone is the Head of the Church and the Holy Spirit has been given to the Church to lead and direct us into all Truth.
     St. Peter is being VICTIMIZED by the Roman Church. He would be the first to rebuke their false teachers who continue espousing and proclaiming such an erroneous characterization of him for their politico-religious purposes. He clearly taught that he was only an Elder among other Elders!
     According to the BIBLE, the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Church that Jesus Christ shed His blood to purchase! (Acts 20: 28). Jesus said: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. 
  "And when He is come, He will reprove the world of Sin, and of Righteousness, and of Judgment: Of sin because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is Judged.” (John 16: 7-11)
     The Holy Bible states: “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13: 2,3)
   In October 1986 I had the privilege of being one of six preachers to address the 35,000 people gathered for the First Pentecostal Conference of Latin America in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the topic of the Holy Spirit.
     Shortly before that Conference, Newsweek Magazine's Cover carried the Headline: LATIN AMERICA CARDINAL RED TURNING PROTESTANT BLACK! This referred to Protestants carrying their black Bibles to church. The statistics spoke for themselves: 400 Roman Catholics were converting EVERY HOUR to Evangelical Christianity, through our Lord Jesus Christ!
  In my weekly column in the Edmonton Sun, I wrote about the great Conference in Sao Paulo and I ended my column with these words: “The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Pope is the vicar of Jesus Christ and as such is guiding the Church. The Holy Bible, however, teaches that upon His ascension to Heaven Jesus Christ poured out upon the Church the Blessed Holy Spirit to empower, lead and guide His Church. I'm sorry John Paul 11, I didn't know that the Holy Spirit has taken Early Retirement.”
      JESUS said to His disciples: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona (Reed son of Jonas): for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee but My Father which is in Heaven.
      And I say also unto thee, Thou art Peter (petros, a detached fragment) and upon This Rock (Petra, an unquarried boulder) I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16: 13-19)
    Two similar but distinct Greek words are used in this passage: petros, a masculine noun translated Peter and petra, a feminine noun translated Rock. According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon Petra means: 'A Massive Living unquarried Rock', while Petros signifies 'a detached but large fragment! Jesus said that He would build His Church, not on the smaller detached stone Peter (petros) but upon the huge ROCK (Petra) which is Christ Himself.
     The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Peter was given primacy over the other apostles and that he is the Foundation of Christ's Church. How ridiculous!
    A little later, Jesus is speaking to all the disciples with the same words: “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall lose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (Matt. 18: 19). 
   Again that spurious teaching states that only an ordained Roman Catholic clergy can forgive someone's sins after he has confessed his sin to the priest. The words of Jesus Christ, however, tell a much different story: 
   “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to Suffer, and to Rise from the Dead the third day: And that REPENTANCE and REMISSION of sins should be preached in His Name among all the nations beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47).
      The Lord Jesus gave all the Apostles the power to declare the forgiveness of sins over those who in repentance and faith believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God and the Saviour of the world. 
    That is the KEY: One must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, crucified, risen and ascended to the right hand of the Father as our Heavenly High Priest!
     The Norwegian Study Bible states: “Commentary of Great Commission & Sins forgiveness: The Apostolic Mission's premier gifting was to administer the forgiveness of sins.  To do this work the Apostles were given full authority from the Risen JESUS to forgive sins by the help of the Gospel Message. 
    "The full authority the Apostles received includes all of the Lord's Witnesses today. Where they find faith and repentance, they have full authority to declare that person's sins forgiven in Jesus' name! Where the Gospel meets unbelief and unrighteousness, the Lord's Witnesses have full authority to hold back sins from being forgiven and refuse to administer the Grace Gifts.”
      There is no mention in the Holy Scriptures and the commands of Jesus that a priest has to hear a confession by a penitent, before having his sins forgiven! We confess our sins to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ His Son and they are forgiven! It is only upon the authority of the shed blood of God's paschal Lamb Jesus Christ that sins are forgiven!
     The Bible says: “...He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16: 15, 16); “But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the BLOOD of Jesus Christ His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1: 7)
     St. Paul declared: “And are built upon the FOUNDATION of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ HIMSELF being the Chief Corner Stone: In Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2: 20-22)
     Disproving the FALLACY that St. Peter is the foundation of the Church, we have the word of the Angel sent by our Lord Jesus Himself to St. John regarding the New Jerusalem: “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the TWELVE APOSTLES of the Lord.” (Rev. 21: 14)
    St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentile World wrote: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise Master builder, I have laid the FOUNDATION, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can NO MAN lay then that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST.
    “Now if any man build upon this Foundation (CHRIST) gold, silver. Precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the FIRE shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” (1 Cor. 3: 10-13)
    There are a number of questions that demand an answer: Why would Jesus immediately after declaring Simon (Reed) the Petros (Rock) call him Satan (Enemy, Opposer, Wicked One) when Simon rebuked Jesus for saying that He had come to die and be raised on the third day? He was turning him from a reed character to a rock character!
                       THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!
     What is the Key to the Kingdom of God? It is believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! That He came to earth as the propitiation for our sins to meet the Demands of Divine Justice in payment for Adam's high treason against Almighty God, through the shedding of His pure and perfect BLOOD on Calvary's Cross at Golgotha.
       It is believing that death could not hold God's Pashcal Lamb, and that on the third Day He arose from the dead and is today seated on His Father's right hand as our Heavenly High Priest. It is believing the record that God gave of His Son!
      Who else made the statement that Simon the son of Jonas made? Although the Holy Spirit revealed to Simon who Jesus really was, the pagan Samaritan woman at the Well of Sychar also confessed Jesus Christ as the Messiah:
    “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He. 
     The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come see a man who told me all things that ever I did, IS NOT THIS THE CHRIST?” (John 4: 25, 26, 28, 29)
     In concluding this important paper on Christ the Rock and Foundation of the Church, here is a powerful truth: “Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou? Knowing that it was the LORD. Jesus then cometh, and talketh bread, and giveth them and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, after that He was risen from the dead.
    “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon (Reed) son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these (fish)? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs.
     “He saith unto him the second time, Simon (Reed), son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him Feed My sheep.
     “He saith unto him the third time, Simon (Reed), son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep.” (John 21: 12-17)
      It is obvious that Jesus Christ had forgiven Simon the son of Jonas. It is also clear that He had a work for him to do and that was to minister to His sheep. It is also clear that our Lord did NOTcall him Peter (petra, rock) at that time. He was still working on the son of Jonas to change his character from reed-like to rock-like!
    A legend says that every time throughout his life, whenever St. Peter heard a rooster crow, he fell to his knees in thankfulness for God's great mercy to a former liar, coward and Christ denier!
    Was Simon the son of Jonas ever a Pope? Neverdon't sully his name with that baggage! Was he a great man of God and one of the leading apostles? Definitely! Did he err and was he corrected by St. Paul? Yes, he did and being an uneducated man, he had a great respect for the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Bible states:
     “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother PAUL also according to the wisdom given him, hath written unto you;
     “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
     “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the Wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” (1 Peter 3: 13-17).
                     ONE FINAL WORD OF WARNING!
       Remember: If you cast yourself into the loving arms of Jesus Christ you will be safe for time and eternity. You will be broken so that He can restore you and heal you. Do not reject His love and mercy NOW for one day in the future, He will be your judge and His holy righteousness will destroy you forever! He waits for you now. Call upon Him in sincerity and truth! (John 3:16 – 18). Amen.