May 1, 2015
Mathew 16:18, 19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
One of Jesus’ mission statements describes what He will be building upon this earth that will last as a firm institution for thousands of years after He went back to heaven. In Matthew 16:18 and 19, Jesus told His disciples, and especially Peter:
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build
My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I
will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind
on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will
be loosed in heaven.
Now the Lord directed this specifically at Peter because it was this disciple who gave voice to the truth that must be solidly laid as the foundation of the church. Jesus had asked His twelve followers in Matthew 16:13, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? ” And while there was speculation among the masses that He was “…John the Baptist…Elijah…Jeremiah or one of the prophets…” (Matthew 16:14), the Lord wanted to know in verse 15, “But who do you say that I am? ” That’s when Peter boldly proclaimed in verse 16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
This truth must be the foundation of the church! Paul said in I Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” Man might build an organization – powerful and lasting for centuries, that might do good and positively affect people’s lives – but if it is not built on and by the Lord Jesus Christ, it will not be “…the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God the Son, Savior, Lord and Judge, “…the fulness of the godhead bodily…,” who lives and reigns forever must be the solid rock foundation upon which the true church is built!
Now the first question is, upon whom is the church built? It is easy to read into this scripture that the Apostle Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. A large segment of Christianity in the world has bought into this interpretation. When Peter first met Jesus in John 1:41 and 42, Jesus said to him, “‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone).” But stone in the Greek is Petros – a stone, even a large stone, but one that can be moved about. The Lord used another word when He said, “…on this rock I will build My church….” He used Petra – bedrock, a massive stone formation that cannot be moved! Peter might be Petros, but Jesus is Petra! The church is built upon the solid bedrock foundation of Jesus Christ – and it will stand on that firm foundation forever!
I have been an American Baptist Churches USA pastor for 43 years. I have served five churches full time and several more part time since I retired. These have included Presbyterian USA churches, United Methodist churches, independent churches and a Primitive Methodist church. Wherever God opens the door and calls me to preach His Word in truth, I will go. But one thing common to all the churches in which I have been involved: too many people claim that particular church where they hold their membership as their church – where they make the decisions and run the organization as they see fit!
What says the Lord Jesus? “I will build My church…”! Every Christian church is His church! He planned it, He designed it to do His Work in His way, He purchased it by redeeming it with His own blood, He is building it upon Himself, He energizes it by the Holy Spirit whom He sent, and He wants to guide it by His Word because He knows what needs to be done – and how and when!
What then is our job? As members of His body (read I Corinthians 12:12 – 27) we are to constantly seek what He wants to do. And we are to continually pray the most important prayer a Christian can pray – from Luke 22:42: “…nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done.” (See the 4/29/13 blog on this website).
There is logic behind all this: as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” He also tells us in Ephesians 1:23 that Christ is the “…head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.” From where come decisions, directions and instructions concerning our natural bodies? Why, from the brain, of course! And where is the brain housed? In the head! The individual members of the physical body do not call the shots – and they had better not, or there will be chaos and confusion! All the members of the physical body are to be in complete subjection to and taking orders from the brain, the head, for everything to work as designed.
So it is with the Church, the Body, and Jesus Christ, the Head!
More on this in the next blog on Monday.