Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, but whom say ye that I 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: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father, which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Within the subject text is found the first mention of the church that was to be established under God's Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament doctrine. It is a quotation from Jesus Christ saying I will build My church. At the time He spoke about the church it had not been "built," but was to be "built" in the future. On the Day of Pentecost, the apostles delivered an inspired sermon proclaiming Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. At the conclusion of their message, many in attendance asked the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Peter's recorded answer to the multitude was: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (See Acts 2:37-38). In verse 41 we find, Then they that gladly received the word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. On the rock-solid foundation - the confession of the apostle Peter that Jesus Christ was the Son of the living God, Christ's church was established on the Day of Pentecost. The inspired writing of Luke gives us this assurance in Acts 2:47: And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. It was on this day that the Christ's church was "built," and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

It is not difficult to see this event, the founding of the body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost, as the fulfillment of Isaiah 28:16 which says, Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste. In similar fashion, and having the same teaching, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus. Referring to them as fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, he told them, and continues to tell us today, that Christ's church was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (See Eph. 3:19-20).

From these teachings we know that Christ's church is not a building, but rather a body of believers - citizens of the kingdom of God, of which Jesus Christ is the head. The church is made up of the saints ...of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). The word "church" is derived from the original Greek word, ekklesia, with ek meaning "out of," and klesis meaning "a calling," or kaleo meaning "to call." The root meaning is assembly or congregation. From these word derivations we know that "church" means those called out of the world; those set apart from the world; those dedicated to following Jesus Christ as their Savior; those later referred to as Christians (Acts 11:26). It was Peter, referring to the body of Christ, who wrote, 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 (1 Pet. 2:5).

As long as the world exists, and in spite of the opposition by Satan and his followers, the church Jesus Christ died to establish - the church of which He is the chief corner stone, will firmly stand, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The promise God made to the world, through the Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been blessed. Satan, and the army of enemies which he leads, will not, yea, cannot, nullify, overcome, change, or in any fashion destroy this promise of eternal salvation to those that become God's children through His Son, Jesus Christ, continue to seek forgiveness when sin enters their lives, and remain obedient to His will during their lifetime here on earth. This is God's promise. His holy word, that contains this hope of salvation, has been preserved as our guide. In its pages we find that eternal life can be found only in the body of Christ, which we enter through belief, repentance, confession, and baptism. With the completion of these acts of obedience, God adds us to the same church that was founded on the Day of Pentecost - the same church, the body of Christ, to which God added three thousand obedient souls on that day.

To those with open and receptive hearts that are searching for the hope of salvation in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the task of finding His trueNew Testament church is awesome. The world today is filled with "churches" each claiming to hold the keys to the kingdom of God - each claiming to be traveling on the pathway to heaven. Although there are many, each appears different in their origin, their creeds, doctrines, and practices. With their vast differences, it is obvious that all "churches" cannot be "the church" - "the body of Christ," whose builder is the Son of God. The word of God teaches us that there are many members but only one body in Christ (Rom. 12:4-5).

Of this we are assured as we study the apostle Paul's letter to the church at Corinth. He wrote this for their edification, as well as for our understanding today: For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-13). On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand souls were baptized for the remission of their sins and were added, by God, to His church, the body of Christ. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that they all, regardless of their worldly background, were baptized into one body. All people are called by God to be in one body (Col. 3:15). Paul also told the church at Ephesus that the reconciliation of sinful mankind to our righteous God was necessary for salvation, and could only be found in the one body of Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross (Eph. 2:16). Further on in this same epistle to the Ephesians, the inspired writing of Paul fully establishes the oneness required by God for all Christians. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph. 4:4-6).

Although it is a rather lengthy text, this scripture tells us, without any doubt, that the "body of Christ" is, indeed, His church. Again, to the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote, Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:15-23).

Among all "churches" of our day, those seeking the pathway to heaven must find that "one body" of Christ, His church; the one church that is identical to that founded on the Day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. Indeed, this is an awesome, but necessary, task as open-minded men and women search for the hope of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. In order to find the church that practices New Testament Christianity as God authorized, we need to diligently search His inspired word. Here, and only here, will we be able to recognize, accept, become a believing member of the same church that was established on the Day of Pentecost, and worship God in a scriptural manner. This is the intent of the following study of God's word.

Go to part two

By Keith Holder from his Rays Of Light Bible Lessons website

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