Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28

Loaded Questions

If someone were to ask you who Jesus is, what would you say? In the second week of our sermon series Loaded Questions, John Elmore shows us how confessing Jesus’s deity leads to building His Church and to Christians’ willingness to make sacrifices for His glory.

John ElmoreJan 9, 2022

In This Series (8)
Do You Not Understand? | John 3
David MarvinFeb 20, 2022
Why Do You Call Me Lord? | Luke 6
Timothy "TA" AteekFeb 13, 2022
Have You Not Read? | Matthew 21:12-16
John ElmoreFeb 6, 2022
Do You Love Me? | John 21:15-19
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 30, 2022
Why Are You So Afraid? | Mark 4:35-41
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 23, 2022
Do You Want To Go Away As Well? | John 6:60-71
Blake HolmesJan 16, 2022
Who Do You Say I Am? | Matthew 16:13-28
John ElmoreJan 9, 2022
Do You Want to Be Healed? | John 5:1-18
John ElmoreJan 2, 2022


If someone were to ask you who Jesus is, what would you say? In the second week of our sermon series Loaded Questions, John Elmore shows us how confessing Jesus’s deity leads to building His Church and to Christians’ willingness to make sacrifices for His glory.

Key Takeaways

  • The progression of the question “Who do you say that I am?” starts with confession, moves to the Church, and ends at the cross.
  • Confessing Jesus brings salvation and healing (James 5:16).
  • Jesus is not A Christ or A Son of God, He is THE Christ and THE Son of God (Matthew 16:16).
  • If you deny the resurrection, you deny that Jesus is God and are unsaved (Romans 10:9).
  • God delights to reveal the glory of Christ to us (2 Corinthians 4:6).
  • Confessing Jesus results in praise for your salvation and prayer for others’ salvation.
  • Confessing that Jesus is Lord leads to the Church (Matthew 16:18-19).
  • To be of Christ is to be of the body of Christ. The Bible knows nothing of a Christian apart from the Church.
  • Your confession leads to the Church, which leads to the cross (Matthew 16:24-27).
  • Our purpose is to be reconciled to God and bring glory to Him (Galatians 2:20).
  • Living stones are not after measures, treasures, and pleasures. They live for the glory of God.
  • Jesus doesn’t make us better; He makes us new.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • Do you believe that Jesus is a Christ or the Christ?
  • If you have trusted in Jesus, have you confessed that He is Christ the Lord?
  • What “living stones” that you have seen building Jesus’s Church can you thank God for? Reach out to them today to let them know you see them living for the glory of God.
  • Who is someone that is not yet a “living stone” you can commit to praying for and sharing Christ with?
  • What measures, treasures, and pleasures are you living for rather than the glory of God?

Resources for Further Discussion

  • Suggested Scripture study: Matthew 16:13-28; James 5:16; John 14:6; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 6:12-13; Philippians 2:11; 1 John 4:2-3; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 6:44a; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:5-6; Isaiah 53; Hebrews 9:27; Galatians 2:20; 1 Timothy 6:18; John 10:28
  • Article: The History of the Liar, Lord, Lunatic Trilemma by Kyle Barton
  • Books: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan; The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Good morning, brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is John Elmore. I love being with you here on Sundays. It's such a joy. If you've never sat close to the front, some Sunday you need to, because you hear these thousands of voices proclaiming the glory of Christ behind you, and it is amazing. It stirs your affections for the Lord.

Also, I just looked down, and Timothy Ateek and his wife Kat are right here in the front. Let's give them all another welcome. The last time they were here, he was just here and then back, and they were here for Christmas, but now they are here here. They live just blocks from our house. We're so thrilled that y'all would be here. It brings me such joy to look down and see you all.

You got these boxes. I'm a visual learner. Maybe you saw them during the worship set. You were like, "Oh, they went kind of cheap on the decorations this Sunday. That's really minimalist. We're moving? What are we doing?" Boxes fill our garage. We have boxes in there, and some of them have the clothes ready to be dropped off at Goodwill. Others are really special memories. I probably have my seminary diploma lost in one of them. Then others are Halloween candy from three years ago that we probably need to throw out.

Some are incredibly insignificant. They're borderline worthless, and we need to get rid of them. They're of no value, and they're just taking up space. Then others are incredibly valuable. They're there, and they have… Like, if there was a fire, they are the boxes I would go for because they have such importance in Laura, the kids', and my lives. I'm telling you that because this box here today will be the most important box you will ever encounter in your entire life.

This box and what it represents and what we're going to talk about today will have the singular greatest impact on your life, your relationships, your work, your every day, every hour that passes, and your eternity, heaven or hell, forevermore because of this box. So, this box and what it represents is our loaded question as we continue this series Loaded Questions, the questions Jesus put forth to people, his apostles, that they would wrestle with, that they would encounter the Lord and have to answer questions about Jesus.

The one we are addressing today, this loaded question that has great personal import and impact upon your life, is Jesus' question he asked his disciples: "Who do you say I am?" It's the question we are going to ask ourselves today right here. Who do you say…? Not the disciples anymore but you, today, January 9, 2022. Who do you say Jesus is? All of your eternity will pivot upon the answer to this question. All of your present life will pivot upon the answer to this question, and I can't wait for us to walk through it.

So, today, we're going to be in Matthew 16:13-28. It's a broad section of Scripture as Christ engages with the disciples. Here's where we're going to go, if you think in a linear fashion and you want to take notes. The progression of the loaded question. Here it is: there is a confession, and following the confession, depending on the answer, will lead to the church, and then the church will lead you to the cross. The confession, the church, and the cross.

First, the confession. Confession is a Greek word. It's a construct of two: homologeo. Homo, meaning same; logeo, meaning to speak or say. So, you're saying the same thing. You're speaking what is. It's a colloquial, like calling a spade a spade. That is what it is. Not only do I acknowledge it with mental assent, but I will speak it that I do believe it. I am testifying to this. That is confession.

Now, one of the most amazing promises of Scripture that I cling to is James 5:16 where it says, "Confess your sins to one another, reciprocally, and pray for each other so that you may be healed." We confess to each other our sins, we pray for each other, and then God rains down healing. It's one of the most beautiful promises of Scripture. We confess and pray, and he heals. That one heals. That confession brings about healing.

This confession that we're talking about today, this homologeo confession, doesn't bring about healing; it brings about salvation. Based on this confession of Jesus, it raises the dead, makes you new, gives you life, adopts you into the family of Christ…this confession, the most powerful confession a human being could ever speak.

Matthew 16:13-15: "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'" It makes sense. Right? Jesus has been on the scene for a little while now. His public ministry has happened.

So, you have, "Okay. Some think you're John the Baptist." You're like, "Why would that be?" Well, John the Baptist was talking a lot about the condition of the human heart. He was talking about sin and repentance. So, you have Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, sharing things like, "If your hand leads you to sin, cut it off. If you've looked lustfully, you've committed adultery in your heart." There's message about sin and repentance, so they're like, "I know John the Baptist got beheaded, but this guy sounds a lot like John."

"Or maybe Elijah." It's like, "Why Elijah?" God did some freak-show stuff through Elijah, like, crazy miracles. So, as they're witnessing Jesus' miracles, they're like, "Dude, I think Elijah might be back on the scene, because the stuff we read back here, the stuff in the Hebrew scrolls… This is starting to sound a lot like this," as he's raising the dead for the widow at Nain and multiplying the bread and turning water to wine. "Oh my goodness! We might have Elijah on our hands."

"Or maybe it's Jeremiah or one of the other prophets." Why would that be? Because he is speaking as one with authority. "These are not scribe's and pharisaical words that are like, 'Okay. Because of Rabbi so-and-so, this is what my authority is based on.' This man is just speaking words we've never heard that sound like they're coming from the voice of God. I think we have a prophet on our hands."

But Jesus isn't satisfied with that. He says in the verse following, verse 15, which is our loaded question: "He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'" "I don't care what others say about me." So it is, church. Beyond the walls of the church, in the minds of unbelievers, it matters not as much what they say about Christ. It matters what you say about Jesus. "Who do you say that I am?" We have our loaded question.

Peter responds in verse 16. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter responds and says, "You are the Christ, the Christos, the Anointed One (the Hebrew word Messiah). You're the one who was foretold. All of the prophecies would have their fulfillment in you. We know you're not John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. You are the Son of the living God, the Christ that was promised who has been given to us."

In this, and all of the hundreds of prophecies that would point to Christ, there is what's called a definite article that makes an eternal difference. You see, as Peter says, "You are the Christ, you are the Son of the living God," that's a definite article, meaning, there is one. "You are the one. You're not many paths up the mountain. Not all roads lead to God. You are the…the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through the Son."

That definite article makes a definite difference in eternity to say that Jesus is the only way. "You are the Christ, and there is no other. You are the Son of the living God, and there is no other. There is one living God, and there is no other." So, a question for every single soul to wrestle with is…Do you believe this? Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and there is no other, that every other prophet of every other religion or cult is a heretic, false, dead religion, but Christ alone…? Do you believe that? Do you confess it?

The loaded question for you is…Who do you say Jesus is? This has long been called the trilemma. Not a dilemma, a wrestle between a right or wrong, but tri. There are three parts to this, as you wrestle with "Jesus, are you the Christ?" It has been made famous by C.S. Lewis, as he said we can either take him as liar, lunatic, or Lord, but really, this guy named Kyle Barton… I just read his blog. It's amazing. He takes a historical view of the trilemma going all the way back to John, to Sir Thomas More, to Gaius Victorinus.

All through the centuries, theologians have looked upon Jesus and been like, "You can't have it both ways." You can't say he's a good teacher but not God in flesh. You just can't. You can't do it. They're incongruent to say the two. So, we have to wrestle with "Is he liar, lunatic, or Lord?" You can choose one. Even atheist scholars, atheist historians, would say you cannot deny the historicity that Jesus walked this earth and was crucified on a cross.

There is more validity to that than any other historical figure, even going back 150 years. Not even atheist scholars would deny that. So, here I want to read from C.S. Lewis the trilemma. This is from Mere Christianity. "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Jesus]: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher…" We've all heard this. Right? "Well, I love his teachings."

"…but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.

You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to… Now it seems to me obvious that he was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God."

"Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." As we talk about confession and that it's for us to speak the same, I want to give you a little bit of a biblical theology of confession and the importance of it, that it's not just a mental assent or a private belief. Romans 10: "…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart [your spirit] that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

If you deny the resurrection, if you're like, "Well, I believe he professed to be the Son of God. He had good teachings. I believe he died on the cross," and you don't believe the resurrection, then you are not saved, because what you're saying is he was just a man, just a moral teacher. You must believe in the resurrection.

First Timothy 6: "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession…" That he was a king of a kingdom, that he could deploy angels, that any power Pilate had was given to him by Jesus.

Philippians 2: "…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." First John 4: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God." Every creed, every catechism, every confession we have from all of the generations of the church, going all the way back to the early church, has in it a confession that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God.

It is of such great importance, the linchpin of our faith. So, I thought this morning that all of us, if we have trusted in Jesus, in the presence of many witnesses, could confess the very words Peter spoke 2,000 years ago as Jesus asked him that loaded question. I'm going to have Peter's words on the screen for you. An atheist can say these words, and it will mean nothing. Don't say this out of religious routine. Don't say it because I'm asking you. Say it if you know it to be true. If you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you can today testify in the presence of many witnesses the very words to this loaded question.

So, I'm going to say, "If you have trusted in Jesus, who is Jesus?" and then you can repeat the words that are on the screen. I'll begin. Church, if you have trusted in Jesus, who do you say that Jesus is? "Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." That was Peter's answer 2,000 years ago at Caesarea Philippi, surrounded by 14 temples to Pan and Baal and even the Caesar who they worshiped, and those words now reverberating through the generations today by you.

Now, Jesus will respond to Peter and say, "This isn't because you're really sharp and you've figured this out, you've cracked the code." Rather, he says, "This is because of divine revelation." Matthew 16:17: "And Jesus answered him [Peter] , 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah [son of Jonah]! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'" God delights to reveal the glory of Christ to people who he would adopt, elect, predestine to bring into his family.

Here we have in 2 Corinthians 4, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts [the light into our dark hearts] to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." In Jesus we see the glory of God. John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me [Jesus] draws him." I share that because, as we just confessed that about Jesus, we can think kind of like the tax collector and the Pharisee.

The Pharisee would point to him and say, "Thank God I'm not like that man," and the tax collector beat his chest and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." That we would not be like the Pharisee and be like, "Well, thankfully, I can confess Jesus is Christ, that he's the Son of the living God." That should result in praise…not in pride, but in praise…because God has seen fit to reveal the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ to you to save you, not of flesh and blood but because God loves you and ransomed you through Jesus.

So, it should result in praise, but the other thing it should result in is prayer. I pray every night with my children for someone who I know has not trusted in Jesus. Every night. I'm just asking and pleading with God that he would reveal himself to this person that they would be saved. It results in praise, and it results in prayer, because God has so ordained that he moves according to the prayers of his people. We get to petition heaven that God would reveal himself to those we know more and more and more. I was sharing with my waiter last night about Jesus. I gave him my number, and maybe he'll come.

So, your confession. Your confession leads to the church. There is a direct correlation to you making that confession, because Jesus goes on to say (Matthew 16:18-19), "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…" It's important here. He says, "You're Peter." The Greek word is petros. Then he says, "And on this rock [petra]…" They're two different words. There has been a lot of confusion about this because of some of the language and people saying, "On this rock… Did you mean Peter? Because you called him that."

Petros was little stone. Rock that Jesus used, petra… There's an archaeological place you can go called Petra. It's a massive thing that has been cut from one stone.He's saying, "You are 'little stone,' but on this huge stone I will build my church." It's the first mention of church there throughout the Bible, ekklesia, called-out ones, an assembly.

He says: "…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." They're standing there to the false god of Pan, where they would throw sacrifices into the water. There was a cave with a spring that would come out of it. They would throw sacrifices into it. They thought it was a gateway to hades, to the realm of the dead, to the underworld.

He's saying to them right there with that very visual image, "The gates of hell will not prevail against this. Death will not prevail against my church, my called-out ones. Death will not prevail against them. The principalities, authorities, and realm of darkness of Ephesians 6 will not prevail against my church." He says, "I [first person singular] will [with certainty] build my church." Jesus.

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Saying, "Where two or three or more are gathered, I am there with you." He is the head. We are the body. It's all connected, all for the glory of Christ. He says, on this rock, the cornerstone of Jesus Christ… Jesus says, "On that confession and on this person, this petra, this huge building stone cornerstone… I will build my church on that confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God."

In Ephesians 2… I love this about Scripture. It's important that you interpret Scripture with Scripture. We're going to see in Ephesians 2 and 1 Peter 2 this connectivity. It's all the same. He says, "I will build my church." Ephesians 2 says: "…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord."

So, we have the apostles and prophets that are built as a foundation with the cornerstone, the cornerstone being the anchor, the dedication, the reason for existence. Then you have the apostles and prophets, the apostolic teachings, that are all pointing… "This is how you know Christ. This is how you live in Christ." Then all of the prophets, over 100 prophecies, that would all point to the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the one who was coming.

So, here we have the foundation and all of their teachings, but Ephesians 2:22… It continues. It's not just that. This is amazing. "In him you also…" You, church. "…also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." First Peter 2:5-6: "…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house…" Do you see what God is doing here with this imagery?

There was a temple that existed there, Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, huge stones, a temple where God dwelt, and now he's saying, "There was a physical temple. Now I'm building a spiritual temple, the church universal, and you are a part of it." "…to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in [Jesus] will not be put to shame.'"

This is an amazing thing. You have Augustine, early church father, profound theology, who was a pagan before, but now he has been placed as a living stone into the body of Christ, into the church. You have Martin Luther, who God used to spark the great Reformation to return the Scriptures to the people, and the solas of "By grace through faith alone and Christ alone to the glory of God alone." You have Luther who has been built in there.

You have John Bunyan. I purposefully chose that. (Nod to Blake Holmes. It's his second favorite book in the whole world.) He wrote The Pilgrim's Progress. If you haven't read it, read it. My wife Laura got a kids' version of it. It's this amazing journey of the Christian faith that just draws you in. It's so powerful. But he there is a part of it.

If you're like, "Okay. I get it. Famous people are a part of it…" Grace is a part of it. You're like, "Wait. Grace, like, mercy grace?" No. My grandma Grace, Springfield, Missouri. You've never heard of her and probably never will, aside from today, but this faithful woman, who was a widow for almost 50 years because her husband died, attended the same church for 50 years or longer. Grace there built into the body of Christ, church universal, forever.

And there is you. If you have made that confession, "Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God," believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you now are a part of this universal church, living stones built. Now you can see it with this imagery when Jesus says, "No one can snatch you out of my hands." Do you think God would ever allow some thief to be like, "I'm going to take this one"? No.

When you are placed into the body of Christ, you are sealed, it says…architecturally, spiritually sealed into the body of Christ. But do you know who else is a part of this body? I'm not building a Watermark body of Christ. I'm just not. That 4B is for if you want to be shepherded here, but the body of Christ of which he is the head… Do you know who else is a part of this? I could add more blocks, but they'd be taller than me.

Shoreline is a part of this. Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship is a part of this. The Korean Methodist fellowship on West Shore in Richardson, Texas, is a part of this. Gateway is a part of this. Park Cities Baptist is a part of this. Highland Park Presbyterian Church is a part of this. You might say, "I don't know. I don't know if I agree with all of the things they would say. This is my church." No, it's Christ's church.

I would say that in my family, in my home, my wife and the kids and I don't always agree on everything. We just don't. "Where do you want to go out to eat? What do you think about this? How did that happen?" We don't agree on everything, but we are family, forever family, because of Jesus. May we be mindful, because it's unto his glory. The church, the called-out ones.

Cyprian of Carthage, early church father, later affirmed by John Calvin, said, "No one can have God for his Father who does not have the church for his mother." Meaning, there's no "me and Jesus" spirituality, like, "I'm going to trust in Jesus. I did it at summer camp, and now I live out my… I'm spiritual but not religious. I don't want to put my constraints under the church and all that. I just kind of go through life."

Church fathers, again by Calvin and again by the Scriptures, would say, no, we are to be under the servanthood authority of elders of a local body. You can't say you have God and not have the church as your mother. You can't be like, "No, it's me and Jesus. I'm good. We're just over here." To be of Jesus is to be a part of the living house on the cornerstone, grafted in, a part of the body. You can't be separate from the body. You are a part of the church. How timely now for that 4B. It's to say, "I'm a part of a local church. This is where I want to be shepherded. This is where I'll use my gifts. It's where I'll worship the Lord." That's a good thing. It's a blessing and unto the Lord.

Your confession leads to the church. It's what we've talked about. The confession you make of Jesus leads to the church, but the other thing it leads to is the cross. Right after Jesus says, "The gates of hell won't prevail," he shares this. Matthew 16:20-27: "Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ." That sounds counterproductive. Right? Like, "Wait. Don't you want everyone to know you're the Christ? Aren't we going to make disciples of all nations, the Great Commission? What are you doing here?"

He knew that if they shared that he was the Christ, they would make him king. They would forcibly put him into authority, and he did not come to be placed on a throne but to lay his life down in the first Advent for the forgiveness of sins, but then he will come again, and he will reign on a throne, a thousand years and forevermore. So he says, "Don't tell anyone that I'm the Christ."

"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must…" Not that he might, not that he could. "…he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside…" Peter is a man of action. Mark, who received the gospel from Peter… You can see this very quick action in it. Peter takes him aside when he hears that. He's like, "No, no."

It says he began to rebuke him. You have Peter rebuking Jesus. Oh, man. He has just answered he's the Christ. Like, "Good job." He's feeling confident. He says, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." I mean, Isaiah 53 that says the Christ will be killed for our sins. He's like, "May it never be! Far be it from you!"

"But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" Jesus says, "I'm going to the cross. It's why I came. In fact, if I don't, there's no way anyone will ever go to the Father, because his judgment will still be upon you." This Advent was for redemption, and the next one would be for restoration.

This is the gospel here. He's saying, "I have come to suffer on your behalf, be killed on your behalf, and I will be raised, proving that I am not just some moral teacher or prophet, John the Baptist, or Elijah. I'm God in flesh. I lay down my life, and I take it up also, that whoever believes in me will not perish but have life everlasting."

It's so important, because Jesus placed himself under the wrath of God upon that cross, received the wrath of God, the punishment that was due to us, so that the wrath would pass over us and we would receive life as he received death, and he was raised again so we would be raised again from dead in our sins to alive in Christ, these living stones. That's the good news: God's judgment no longer upon us. It says, "For it is appointed for every man to die once and then face judgment." Unless you've placed your faith in Jesus, and then you are his son.

It says in Matthew 16:24 and following, "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me…'" He said, "I'm going to the cross," and now to those who have confessed who are part of the church he says, "You are too." The confession, the church, and the cross. So, here's our cross. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself…" Greek word aparneomai, to forget oneself, to lose sight of oneself, to think like, "It's not about me anymore. It is about Christ Jesus my cornerstone. I live for him. I have denied myself."

"…take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man [what does a man gain] if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he [or she] has done."

Richard Baxter, 1600s Puritan preacher, says, "What is a candle made for except to be burnt?" What is a stone made for except to be made alive and placed into this temple, this church unto God? It's why we exist. Every soul, every eight billion walking this earth, has been made in the image of God that they might know God and be reconciled to him. It's why we exist: to become reconciled to God and bring glory to him.

What is a candle for except to be burned? What is our life for except to be lived for God? So, to be dead to sin but alive to Christ. This denial of yourself isn't a Buddhist thing. "We're all going to wear the same clothes, and we can't enjoy the pleasures of life. We're going to minimalize all of that that we might at one time reach nirvana." That's not what this is about when it says, "Deny yourself."

God gave us taste buds that we might taste all of the incredible things in this world. He gave us personhood and all of the unique personalities and distinctions and differences, and it glorifies him. So, when he says, "Deny yourself," it's not this redaction or removal of your personhood and personality. He doesn't want these drone followers. In fact, it's the opposite. He's like, "Everything I made you to be…"

I looked over and saw JD Rodgers and Bryce over there. Such creative dudes. All their creativity… In the world, in the flesh, it's diminished. It's snuffed out. It's broken. It's fractured. It's pagan and fleshly. He's like, "You plug into me…Boom!" You just come alive in your gifting and your creativity, not that you would be glorified but that Christ would be glorified. It's this explosion of personhood as you deny yourself. Not a loss to yourself, but that you would live like that which you were created for for the glory of God.

Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship (emphasis on cost) says when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Jesus went to the cross and then says, "If you would follow me, deny yourself…" Luke would say "Daily." "…take up your cross, and follow me. Come and die. Lay down your life just as I did, and in losing it, you'll find it."

Then it says he'll repay each person according to what he has done. Our oldest… Laura got these classical books because he was reading garbage he would bring home from the library, just mental bubblegum. So Laura got him this classics list. She's like, "Hey, you read through three books, and I'm going to take you and a friend out for a little treat." He's a voracious reader now. Now he's like, "Do I have to go to bed now? Can I read 30 more minutes?" because he knows there is a repayment coming.

We would be wise to not live for the trifles of this life but, rather, knowing he said he's coming back with his angels and the glory of the Father and he will repay each to what he has done, we would live our lives for him and not for us and these fleeting, temporary trifles. So, I have three more stones I want to pull up. These three more stones would represent us.

Here's another one that could be built into the temple. This would represent you, but it starts to have this flavor, covered in glitter. Doesn't it look ridiculous? You're like, "Christ the cornerstone. Why is that one kind of wanting to be checked out? Like, all the attention being drawn to that one… That seems kind of ridiculous."

This is what I would call measures, the pride of life, measuring yourself up against one another. We all have flavors of each one of these three blocks I'm going to put up. Nobody is like, "Oh yeah, that's my neighbor. Oh, that's my wife. Oh, that's my roommate. Oh yeah." No. We all have flavors of this. Instead, that that would be directed up, all glory to God.

That's measures. The next one is pleasures. We've now been adopted into the body of Christ. We were made into this living temple, church universal, so what business would any defilements be in the temple, of porn or whatever indulgence you gave yourself over to, that you're just given to? We all have them, whether it's Blue Bell or booze. (That was a Zbooze.) It's all there. Or pornography. (I'm like, "Don't send me an email. Alcohol is what I meant." But the other one is there too…triple X.) It's the lusts of the flesh that we're craving toward. It's so ridiculous. That has no place in the temple of God in which his Spirit dwells.

The pleasures, the measures, and the treasures. Man, that's Dallas' go-to. I got to Dallas, and I was like, "Dude, the BMW 3 Series is the same as the Honda Accord in Missouri where I grew up." Back there, everybody had an Accord or a Civic. Now everybody has a 3 or 5 Series. I'm like, "What is this place?" Everybody is colossally in debt and chasing after all of these treasures.

I'm pretty sure in 1 Timothy 6 he says, "Charge (command) those who are rich in this present world to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and ready to share, that they might store up for themselves an inheritance in the kingdom that is to come." That we wouldn't live for measures, pleasures, and treasures but, rather, for the glory of God.

Here's the crazy thing. If you say this about Jesus, I have some stuff he says about you. You see, you say those things about Jesus, you say, "Jesus, I believe you're the Christ, the Son of the living God," and he's like, "Then listen, because this is what I say to you: You're free from sin. You're free! You don't have to do it anymore. You're now a part of me. Not only that. In case you're like, 'I want to be better…' No, no. You're not going to be better; you're going to be new…brand new."

You're new in Jesus, not better but made new as he brings you in, not a dead stone but a living stone, and you are adopted, adopted into the family of God. You are forgiven of all of your sins. You are justified, made right with God. He is no longer holding your sins against you. You're his boy. You're his daughter. He loves you so much. And you are sealed, sealed into the church universal forevermore, and no one can snatch you out of God's hands.

He loves you. He has ransomed you, and now that we would live all of our lives unto the glory of God and not for these ridiculous things, but that we would be like, "All glory to you, God," because he took you. The Father has hewn you from the quarry of sin and death and placed his Holy Spirit in you, all to the glory of Jesus Christ, the cornerstone. Let me pray.

Father, we love you and praise you. The way you have revealed not by flesh and blood, but by the Holy Spirit, you have drawn us to Jesus. You have saved us of no merit of our own. There's nothing we could do. It's all you. It all results in praise, glory, and honor to the Father. May we never grasp for glory or live for the lusts of the flesh or store up these trifles and treasures, but rather that we now, engrafted into the temple of the living God, now living stones, would live for your glory, never for our own.

As it says in Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, not to us, O Lord, but to you be the glory," because of your love, faithfulness, and kindness in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the Anointed One. He is our Messiah (not a but the), and he is the Son of the living God. So, Lord, as we sing now, we're not just singing to words on a screen. We are praying to melody into the throne room of God Almighty. Thank you for saving us.