CHURCH OF CHRIST (GOD BUILT ONE CHURCH)
PRESENTED BY STEVEN SCHILLER
In Mt 16:13,14,15,16-17, Jesus questioned His disciples concerning His identity...
He asked who others thought He was
He then asked who they thought He was
Peter responded: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
Jesus commended Peter, stating that his confession of faith was based upon what the Father Himself had revealed - Mt 16:17
Jesus then used this opportunity to speak of His church - Mt 16:18-19
He promised to build His church
He mentioned the foundation upon which it would be built
He described the ultimate victory of His church
He spoke of great authority that would be given
This passage naturally raises several questions...
What is this "church" Jesus promised to build?
What is the "foundation" upon which it would be built?
How would "the gates of Hades" not prevail against it?
What "authority" was given by Jesus, and to whom?
[Anyone who believes in Jesus should have a vital interest in the answers to these questions. So let's begin by noting first of all...]
THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT
THE CHURCH DEFINED...
The Greek word is ekklesia, meaning "an assembly, a congregation"
It is used in the Bible most often in two senses:
The church "universal" - the whole assembly of people who are saved, both living and dead
The church "local" - a company of saved people in a geographical area who work and worship together as a local congregation
In our text, Jesus is using the word "church" in its universal sense
THE CHURCH CHARACTERIZED...
It is called "the body of Christ" - Ep 1:22-23
It is called "the household of God" - 1Ti 3:15
It is called "the temple of God" - Ep 2:19,20,21-22; 1Pe 2:5
It is called "the kingdom of Christ" - Col 1:13; cf. Re 1:9
It is called "the bride of Christ" - 2Co 11:2; cf. Re 19:6,7,8-9; 21:2
-- Each of these expressions emphasize some blessing or responsibility we have as those who have been called out of the world into this spiritual assembly of God's people
THE CHURCH ESTABLISHED...
It is evident that the church was not established at the time Jesus spoke...
He said "I WILL build My church..." - Mt 16:18
He told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ (a fact certainly related to the establishment of His church!) - Mt 16:20
The church is mentioned after Jesus' resurrection...
The Lord was adding people to the church - Ac 2:47
From that time forward, the church is spoken of as being in existence
It is fair to conclude that the church began on the day of Pentecost...
When the Spirit was poured out on the apostles - Ac 2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20-21
When Peter preached the first gospel sermon - Ac 2:22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39-40
When thousands were saved, and the Lord added them to His church - Ac 2:41,47
THE CHURCH VISIBLE...
The church "universal" is a spiritual body of people
Known only by the Lord Himself - . Ac 2:47; 2Ti 2:19; Jn 10:14
There is no earthly organization, headquarters, etc., for the church universal
Any attempt to organize and activate the church "universal" results only in denominationalism
The church "local" is the only visible sign of the church
Local churches are made up of Christians in geographical areas who work and worship together as a unit - Ac 8:1; 13:1; 14:21,22-23,27
With their frequent assembling, it is easy to identify a local church - 1Co 1:2; 11:17-18; 14:23
[The church Jesus built, then, is that great gathering of people who respond to the gospel in faith and obedience Ac 2:41 Wherever faithful disciples of Christ assemble to work and worship as a local congregation, a church of Christ is found Ro 16:16 As we return to our text, we next consider...
THE FOUNDATION OF HIS CHURCH
MANY PASSAGES PROCLAIM JESUS AS THE "CORNERSTONE"...
As foretold by Isaiah - Isa 28:16
As proclaimed by Peter - Ac 4:11-12; 1Pe 2:6,7-8
As taught by Paul - 1Co 3:11; Ep 2:20
BUT IS JESUS THE "ROCK" IN MATTHEW 16:18?
Some believe the "rock" is Peter, as the first pope
This is the claim of the Roman catholic church
This idea was first raised only after various bishops began claiming universal authority over the church, hundreds of years after the church began
Even if Peter is the "rock" in this passage, there is no Biblical basis for the idea that the church was built upon Peter alone
Some think the "rock" may be Peter, but with scriptural limitations
I.e., the church would be built upon Peter, but not solely upon him
Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the primary foundation - Ep 2:20; 1Pe 2:6
But one may also speak of the church built upon the apostles (including Peter) as the church's foundation, in a secondary sense - Ep 2:20; Re 21:14
That Jesus may be referring to what we learn later to be true, that upon Peter (along with the other apostles and Christ Himself) Jesus would build His church
Jesus might be referring to the principle of divine revelation working through His apostles, like Peter...
Jesus had just praised Peter for his confession, which was the result of divine revelation -
Jesus went on to say how Peter would possess the keys of the kingdom and the power of binding and loosing, all related to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles -
Mt 16:19; Jn 16:12-13; 20:22-23
-- If so, then Jesus is making the point that His church, while established through the work of men like Peter and the apostles, would be built on a solid foundation since they would be led by divine revelation
A strong possibility is that the "rock" is the confession Peter just made...
I.e., the truth of the confession: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God"
Just as Simon had been called "a rock" (Gr., petros), so the church would be established on a solid "rock" (Gr., petra) or fact: that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God"!
[Whatever the "rock" in Mt 16:18, the church is built upon the strong foundation of Christ Himself and His apostles (Ep 2:20). At this point, let's skip ahead to what we learn about...]
THE AUTHORITY OF HIS CHURCH
AUTHORITY WAS PROMISED TO THE APOSTLES...
To Peter was promised "the keys of the kingdom" - Mt 16:19
The figure of "keys" suggest the ability to allow entrance into the kingdom
Peter exercised this ability through preaching the gospel, as he did on the day of Pentecost -
To the apostles was promised the power "to bind" and "to loose"
To Peter in this passage - Mt 16:19
To the rest of the disciples was promised similar power - Mt 18:18
-- Of course, presumed in all this would be the guidance of the Spirit, promised to lead the apostles into all the truth - Jn 16:12-13
THE EARLY CHURCH RECOGNIZED THIS AUTHORITY...
They "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - Ac 2:42
Christians were commended for their acceptance of the apostles' doctrine - 1Co 11:2; 1Th 2:13
They were exhorted to receive the apostles' teaching - 1Co 14:37; 2Th 2:15
[The Lord's church today, then, is wherever there are souls who have been saved and who continue to abide in the apostles' doctrine. For those who remain faithful to the Lord and His apostles, they can look forward to...]
THE ULTIMATE VICTORY OF HIS CHURCH
THE "GATES OF HADES" WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT...
The phrase "gates of Hades" has been variously interpreted as:
The powers of death (i.e., death itself)
The forces of hell (whatever forces Satan might bring to bear)
In either case, the "gates of Hades" have not prevailed!
Death did not prevent Jesus from building His church
The forces of Satan have not succeeded in destroying His church
WE CAN SHARE IN THE ULTIMATE VICTORY OF HIS CHURCH...
By putting on the armor of God - Ep 6:10-13
By steadfastly resisting our adversary, the devil - 1Pe 5:8,9-10
Nothing, not even death itself, can prevent us from being "more than conquerors" -
The glory of this ultimate victory is beautifully portrayed in the visions of the Revelation - e.g.,
Do we desire to participate in this glorious victory of Jesus' church?
Then we must first be saved - Ac 2:38-41,47
We must also abide steadfastly in Jesus' doctrine, which is also the apostles' doctrine - Jn 8:31;
Ac 2:42; 1Th 2:13; 2Th 2:13,14-15
We must remain faithful until death - Re 2:10
Through God's grace and our faithful obedience, we can be privileged to be a part of that church...
Which Jesus built as promised
Which shall withstand whatever "the gates of Hades" might throw against it
Don't you want to be a part of the church of Christ? May the words of Jesus in Mt 16:18-19 encourage us to be satisfied with nothing less!