"I Will Build My Church"|
With so many churches in the world today, how can we choose the right one? Is there a "right one"? Is one church as good as another? Are any of them good? Do we need a church at all?
Men have various answers to these questions, but to get the right answers, we need to look into the Scriptures. To that end, consider Matthew 16:13-19:
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."
This brief reading provides all of the answers to the questions given above. To find the answers, let's expound upon these verses.
In this passage, Jesus began the conversation with the subject of His identity. Men had different ideas about who Jesus was, but most were wrong. Peter had the correct idea, which is that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter came to this understanding in the same way anyone else does, which is by a revelation of the Father. The only way any of us knows Jesus is by God's revelation. In Peter's case, he witnessed convincing proofs through the power of God that demonstrated Jesus' identity. In our case, we have the revelation of God's word, which contains the records of witnesses like Peter and gives us faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Notice John 20:30-31:
30Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Jesus then steered the discussion from the immutable truth of His identity to the construction of His church. When Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build My church," it is evident by the context that "this rock" is the fact of His identity. Jesus' church would be built upon the fact that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. For insight into the church's construction, consider Ephesians 2:19-22:
19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The cornerstone is the first and most important part of a structure's foundation, and Jesus is the cornerstone of the church. The apostles and prophets worked to spread the gospel message of Jesus and are therefore part of the church's foundation. Those believe the gospel are built on that foundation and are part of the structure of the church, which is God's temple (1Cor. 3:16-17).
Jesus Himself is the builder of the church. Notice that He said, "I will build My church." The church that belongs to Jesus was not yet in existence when He said these words. It was not built by John the baptist (he was already dead, Matt. 14:1-12) as some claim, but it was built later by Jesus Himself. The beginning of the church's construction by Jesus is recorded in Acts 2, where in verse 47 the Scripture says that "the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
With this brief look at a few verses of Scripture, we have the answers to those questions about the church. There certainly is a right church, and it is the one Christ built Himself and purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:26). We can find Christ's church among the many other churches by identifying the one that is truly built on Him rather than the doctrines of man. It is the one that matches the New Testament description of Christ's church and abides by His word. We need to be part of this church because it is the one that will overcome the gates of Hades. Those who are saved are added to this church by Jesus Himself, and He is the Savior of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23). If Jesus is your Savior, then you are already a part of the church that He built.
Stacey E. Durham
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