The Church Jesus Built

"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 Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:16-19)

From this passage of scripture let’s learn some important truths about the church Jesus built.

IT’S FOUNDATION - "UPON THIS ROCK". That upon the Lord’s church is built is His deity - Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God". God bore witness to this truth in several ways: 1) By fulfilled prophecy recorded in Old Testament scripture (Matt. 5:17; John 5:39, 45-47). 2) By the miracles Jesus worked while upon the earth (John 5:36; 20:30-31; Acts 2:22). 3) By Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).

Because Jesus’ death was according to the "determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23), He humbly submitted to the Father’s will and went the way of the cross. After this discourse on the church, Jesus began to teach His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem where He would be killed (Matt. 16:21). Mankind could not be saved apart from the shedding of His blood (Heb. 9:22, 26). Therefore, His death on the cross was not some unforeseen flaw in God’s plan, as premillennialism would have us believe, but part of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.

IT’S TIME OF ESTABLISHMENT - "I WILL BUILD". Basic to rules of grammar is the ability to distinguish past, present and future tenses. The fact that Jesus said "I will build" clearly suggests this to be a future event from the time He spoke this. Similarly, Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power" (Mk. 9:1). The church and kingdom refer to the same thing (cf. Matt.16:18-19, where "church" and "kingdom" are used synonymously). From Mark 9:1, He set the establishment of His kingdom/church within the lifetime of some in His audience. Then, He said the kingdom would come with power. If we can identify the power He makes reference to, we can pinpoint when the kingdom/church was established. Before Jesus ascended back to heaven, He made this statement to His apostles: "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). In Acts 2:1-4, we learn of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles. So, if the kingdom would come with power, and the power is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit came on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, then we can see that the church was established on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2.

While there are many "churches" in the world today, only the church Jesus built, the true church, can trace its establishment back to Acts 2. If the "church" you belong to claims its origin before or after Acts 2, it cannot be the church Jesus built.

IT’S OWNERSHIP AND NATURE - "MY CHURCH". That Jesus calls the church "my church" distinguishes it from anything started by man (Matt. 15:13). "Church" (Greek, ekklesia) refers to those individuals who are called out of sin into the family of God, hence, those saved or redeemed by the blood of Christ. Consequently, the church is not the building a group assembles in, but the people of God (cf. Acts 8:1-4, where the "church" was persecuted and scattered - a clear reference to the people). Also, the church is not a gathering for social/recreational purposes, but a spiritual fellowship with God, Christ and fellow-Christians as revealed in scripture (1 Jn. 1:3, 7). While the religions of man put a great emphasis on "fellowship halls", gymnasiums, camps, concerts, etc., all designed for social, recreational activities, the church of Christ is a spiritual relationship established through one’s obedience to the gospel (Acts 2:38, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13). Neither is the church a denomination, a term which by its very definition suggest division, but it is a spiritual unity based upon God’s revealed truth (Eph. 4:1-6). This unity must be maintained through faithfulness to God. Denominationalism condones and advocates religious division, which is clearly condemned in scripture (John 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10ff.). Finally, the church is not a democracy, ruled by the voice of the people, but a theocracy, ruled by God through Jesus Christ its Head (Col. 1:18). Therefore, the church is in submission to the authority of Christ revealed in the New Testament and faithfully adheres to the pattern of truth concerning the organization, worship, and work of the Lord’s church.

IT’S MISSION - "BIND ... LOOSE ON EARTH". Verse 19 teaches the apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would preach the gospel to the world. This would necessitate binding upon mankind that which God required of them, as well as loosing what God didn’t require. This terminology of binding and loosing suggests the authority of Christ in the apostle’s teachings (see Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:37; Jude 17). Though the apostles are no longer living, their message is. According to Ephesians 2:20, the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets - inspired men who revealed God’s truth. That truth must be taught from generation to generation, saving the lost (Rom. 1:16), and equipping faithful men to teach and preach it (2 Tim. 2:2). The church is the "pillar and ground" of that truth (1 Tim. 3:15); her mission is to ring out its message (Acts 8:1-4; 1 Thess. 1:8).

By Dan Richardson

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