Summary: We are not called to save our buildings, but to conquer Satan's domain. We are to storm the gates of Hell. But, how can do we do that and how can we shake the foundations of people's indifference and bring down the walls of their lack of faith?

Walls Come Tumbling Down

OPEN: About 1400 B.C. (1400 years before Jesus was born of Mary) Israel crossed the Jordan River, following Joshua into Promised Land. The first city that Israel that came to was Jericho, and archaeologists tell us that Jericho was a massive fortress-city with walls as high as a 4-story building. ( Jericho was an almost impenetrable city - safe even from the armies of Israel. But they just weren’t safe from the GOD of Israel. In 7 short days, the walls crumbled to dust and the city was burned beyond recognition. Archaeologists have found that the city was destroyed exactly as the Bible says it was. (see footnote)

Now what’s interesting to me is that – when God sent Israel into Palestine - from crossing of the Jordan River until Joshua conquered the rest of the land - Israel never built a fortress, nor a castle. No place! Nowhere did Israel ever build a fortified wall anywhere in the land. Why? Because Fortresses and castles are places to be… DEFENDED, and Israel was not there to defend anything. They were there to conquer!!!!

Now hold that thought, and let’s fast-forward to the days of Jesus. In Matthew 16 - Jesus asks His disciples to explain who THEY thought He was, and Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Now pay attention to what Jesus said next: “On this rock (Peter’s confession) I will build my church, and the GATES of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

So, Jesus was going to build His church, and the purpose of the church was to attack the gates of hell. Now gates are usually attached to something. Gates are what you’d find on a fortress or a castle, because gates are barriers to keep people out. The church is called to attack the gates of Hell and like the walls of Jericho, the Gates of Hell can’t keep us out.

You see, Jesus BUILT His church. His church was built of Christians - not of brick & mortar. And He built His church (us) to go to war. We were never called to defend buildings, we have been called to conquer Hell. We are an army on the march.

Now, this sermon series is called “Thinking Outside The Walls” because, too often, churches don’t do that! Too often churches see Christianity as something happens in the building. And too often congregations view their building as the mark of success. The bigger and more ornate the church building, the more successful they think that they are.

Now, just so you so understand - there’s nothing wrong with church buildings - if they’re used right. But Jesus never meant for us to focus on our buildings. He meant us to focus on conquering the kingdom of Satan. He meant for us to rescue souls from Satan’s control.

I like this sign: (we put a graphic on the wall) “ENTER TO WORSHIP… LEAVE TO SERVE”. In other words: think outside the walls.

Now we already serve people with various ministries like our free lunch once a month, and our food pantry and our clothing ministry. We touch a lot of lives doing that, and we do a lot of good for Jesus that way. But allow those of you who'd like to up your game and win some people to Christ... let me make a suggestion.

ILLUS: Scott told of a church where the building was on a major road where a walking marathon was scheduled to pass by around the Sunday School hour. Scott suggested they set up a table on the sidewalk (during Sunday School) outside the church building and hand out free bottles of water to the contestants, along with literature from the church. But the church didn’t want to do that. If it didn’t happen INSIDE their walls, it wasn’t ministry and they didn’t want to give a single Sunday School class on the off chance someone might want to ask about Jesus.

Scott does a lot of stuff like that here. He takes his laptop to McDonald's every day and talks with the regulars there. He rounds up some of our folks to help pack food bags for the elementary kids in town. He uses our church buses to take 6th graders home from special programs. He eats lunch twice a week with different kids at schools. And he’s been coaching for football and track for a several years. And on… and on … and on. He does all that to reach people for Jesus.

Now of course, you might think – “we pay Scott to do stuff like that.” And you’re right! As I often say, you pay Scott and I to be good - but you folks are good… for nothing.

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Jeremy Batchelor

commented on Aug 20, 2023

Hey Pastor Jeff 👋 - I really enjoy your sermons. Just a quick note. "Nowhere did Israel ever build a fortified wall anywhere in the land." Nehemiah 1:1-7:73 is all about the 'rebuilding' of the walls of Jerusalem, which would mean the walls had already existed. The message stands but that one line might be changed 🤓 - thanks for your ministry.

Frank Riley

commented on Jan 22, 2024

Hey Jeremy, good catch, but mistaken. Jeff clearly stated a time frame from the beginning of the conquest until the conquest of the land under Joshua. This would put Nehemiah's rebuilding way out of that time frame. Plus, you allude to previously existing walls. Of course, Jerusalem had walls. But again long after the conquest. I think Jeff got it right on this one.

Jeff Strite

commented on Jan 22, 2024

Jeremy, I never get offended when people point out a mistake I've made and I appreciate your kind comments in attempting to point out what you thought was a error in the sermon. But Frank's right - my precise phrase was "when God sent Israel into Palestine - from crossing of the Jordan River until Joshua conquered the rest of the land - Israel never built a fortress, nor a castle. No place!" I can see how you might have read it otherwise... and I've misread the statements in sermons of others. It happens.

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