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The Church Jesus Built, #1
There are many "churches" but all of them except one are of human origin.
Let me say upfront, with no hesitation, that there is one church or body (Ephesians 4:4) – the term “body” in that scripture expresses reference to the church (Ephesians 1:22-23)”.
There are many “churches,” to be sure, but all of them except one are of human origin. Only the church we read about in the New Testament originated with Jesus Christ.
It came into existence on the first day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2, following the resurrection of Christ from the dead (Act 1:3).
No one can ever argue that more than one church came into existence on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised to build this unique church (Matthew 16:18).
Jesus’ promise to build the church was made on a certain occasion when He came with His disciples to Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-17), a very ancient town that lied at the secluded spot where four streams unite to form River Jordan.
For centuries, it was the center of worship of the Greek god Pan, hence it was called Paneas. But it later was named Caesarea Philippi by the son of Herod the Great, Philip the tetrarch.
There in that town, Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His imminent suffering, death and resurrection. It was there that the confession of His Messiahship was made. It is interesting that it was in such a place that Jesus was confessed as the Christ.
Prior to the confession, Jesus had, during the days of His ministry, demonstrated divine power.
He miraculously healed the sick and demon-possessed, and fed, on two different occasions, thousands of people with a very small amount of bread and fish.
And yet not everyone believed that He was the Christ. Note, “Christ” means “the Anointed One” and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” a term used in Old Testament scriptures in reference to the priests who were anointed with the holy oil, especially the high priest (Exodus 40:13-15; Leviticus 8:12).
So, once in Caesarea Philippi with His disciples, Jesus asked them, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” To this inquiry, the disciples answered, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then He asked another question, “But whom say ye that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
To the apostle’s confession Jesus responded, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven.”
And He went on to say, “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” (v. 18).
One of the world’s largest religious groups claims that Jesus promised to build, and did build, His church on Peter.
The explanation provided for their belief is that the name “Peter,” which is a translation of “Petros” in Greek, the original language of the New Testament, means “stone.”
Peter himself, according to them, was to be the foundation upon which Jesus would establish His church.
However, a point to be emphasized is that the discussion between Jesus and His disciples concerned His identity, not some authority that Peter would exercise over the church or a leading role that he would play.
And Peter identified Jesus as the Christ or Messiah. Jesus’ endorsement of Peter’s response in verse 17 (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) indicates that the apostle answered correctly.
It was therefore upon Peter’s declaration of the truth with regard to the identity of Jesus that He made the promise to build the church.
Jesus’ use of the word “rock” is appropriate as to the significance of the foundation of the church as an edifice. The church is built only on Jesus Christ.
Paul said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11). The word “rock” means that this foundation is durable, immutable and unmovable.
But the many “churches” that strew the religious arena today have all a founder other than Jesus Christ, and I make no apologies for making this statement.
If you look on the Internet for a quick search, you will discover that the founder of the Baptist church was John Smyth. The Church of England originated with the 16th century English King Henry VIII. The existence of the Methodist Church is attributed to John Wesley. Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church. And on and on you could go with every denomination on earth.
Now, notice the possessive pronoun “my” in “Upon this rock I will build my church;” it is not without significance. It expresses the idea that the church belongs to Christ.
Why is that? Because Christ died for it, purchasing it with His own blood (Acts 20:28), He loved it (Ephesians 5: 25), He cleansed it (Ephesians 5:26-27) and He is the Savior of it (Ephesians 5:23).
The Lord’s church is also referred to in New Testament scriptures as the church of Christ (Romans 16:16), is not a denomination.
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