Sunday, March 4, 2011 am

Matthew 16:18

     Today we want to examine a statement that Jesus made in the latter half of His teaching and preaching.   He has been with His disciples for considerable time.  They have witnessed many incredible things both in works and teaching.  Jesus has tried to instill in them faith and now as He prepares for what lies ahead – His death for us.  On the occasion of our text, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”  They gave Him various answers from John the Baptist, others Elijah or one of the prophets.    To this He asks, “But who do you say that I am?”  To that Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  It was this that prompted Jesus to say, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I 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 to 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.” (Matt.16:18-19)

The statement Jesus made on that occasion has been the source of much discussion.  Catholicism uses this text to say that Peter was the first pope.  But grammatically that is not possible with the text.  It is possible that Jesus was using a play on words, in that the name Peter means a stone (i.e. a pebble), a name Jesus gave him (John 1:42).  But the word Jesus used to describe what He would build His church upon was petra, a word meaning a ledge or a boulder.  Considering this, it is obvious that what Jesus had in mind was the statement of Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  As we study the New Testament we find that such is the case.  In our lesson this morning we are going to talk about the church that Jesus built.

 I.                    What is the church of Christ?

a.        The word church – from the Greek work, ‘ekklesia’ which means a calling out of.  It is a term which in the time of the writing of the New Testament deal with an assembling together (cf. Acts 19:32, 39).  In describing the body of Christ it is reference to the body of the saved, either locally or universally.  Universally it is reference to all who are saved – Acts 2:47 (KJV, NKJV), Heb. 12:23 – “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven.”
Locally it is reference to a group of the saved in a given locale who join together to do the work of God as a collective – 1 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:2, etc.

b.       It is HIS church –

                                                   i.      It was in God’s eternal plans – Eph. 3:10-11

                                                  ii.      He is described as its head – Eph. 1:21-22, 4:15, Col. 1:18

                                                iii.      He is the Savior of that body – Eph. 5:23

                                                iv.      He purchased it with His own blood – Eph. 5:25, Acts 20:28

                                                  v.      That is why we identify ourselves as “churches of Christ”.  It is not designed as a denominational title, but a description of what we are.

c.        “My church” -

                                                   i.      The word “church” is a singular collective noun.  A collective noun being a noun that describes one thing with many – such as a body, or flock, herd, etc.

                                                  ii.      One body – Eph. 4:4-6 – not many.  In the 7 “ones” that Paul mentions he says there is “one body”.  We have already seen that the church is His body (Eph. 5:23)

                                                iii.      There were many congregations, but they were in complete agreement doctrinally –   
Some might contend that the body of Christ consists of all the different denominations that believe in Him.  There are several problems with this view:

1.       John 17:20-21 – when Jesus prayed to the Father, He prayed for unity with His brethren.

2.       There are numerous passages where we find unity in teaching:
1 Cor. 4:17 – as I teach everywhere in every church
1 Cor. 7:17 – so I ordain in all the churches
1 Cor. 16:1 – as I  have given orders to the churches of Galatia
Rev 2 &3 – “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

3.       The concept of denominationalism dismisses unity in doctrine.  There is an agreement for unity in diversity.  That is contrary to what God’s word teaches.

d.       The church was built

                                                   i.      NOT the “church building”, but something built by Christ.  It is obvious that when the Bible has reference to the church, it is NOT a physical structure- but those who comprise the body of Christ.  Nevertheless there are numerous passages that describe the church Jesus built:

                                                  ii.      He is the “chief cornerstone” upon which it is built – Eph. 2:19-22

                                                iii.      1 Pet. 2:4-8 – we are being built up a spiritual house as “living stones”

                                                iv.      Hebrews 3:1-6 – Christ compared to Moses and his “house”, “whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”

                                                  v.      The idea of Jesus having built the church means that it belongs to Him and thus in all that we do, we must submit to His will. 
1 Cor. 3:9-11 finds Paul describing us as “God’s building.”  Paul built upon the foundation of Jesus and cautioned these brethren to build upon no other.

 II.                  When did He build His church?

a.        When Jesus spoke of building His church it had not yet been built. 

                                                   i.      “I will build my church “- Notice how the statement of Jesus was yet future.    This is the first passage that mentions the church in the New Testament.

                                                  ii.      During His teaching, Jesus intended to establish His church in the near future.  At times He described it as “the kingdom of God.” It can be shown that the church and kingdom are the same thing (see Matt. 16:19).  

                                                iii.      The time of the kingdom was noted by Jesus –
Matthew 3:1-2, 4:17 – Both John the Baptist and Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
Mark 9:1 – noted that it was to happen during that generation.  Contrast this with those who teach the kingdom of God is yet future (premillenialism).
Matthew 16:28 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

b.       The establishment of the church/kingdom occurred during the first century.  This was prophesied:

                                                   i.      When – Isa. 2:2 – the latter days. 
Dan. 2:31-44 – as Daniel interprets the dream of Nebechudnezzar he notes that during the days of the 4th kingdom after Babylon God would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed.  History CLEARLY identifies these kingdoms – Babylon/Medo-Persia/Macedonian/Roman Empires. 
Christ was born and lived during the Roman Empire.
Luke 3:1 gives the reign of Roman authorities describing the time when Jesus was born.  During His life, as we have seen in Mark 9:1, He promised it would occur.

                                                  ii.      Where – Jerusalem – Isaiah 2:1-4 – “Out of Zion shall go forth the Law.” 
Zion was a reference to Jerusalem (cf. 2 Sam. 5:7, 2 Chron. 5:2).
Joel 2:32 says, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”

                                                iii.      How – With power – it was be a remarkable occasion!
Joel 2:28-32 describes what would happen when this kingdom was established – there would be power.
Acts 1:4-8 – Jesus is asked if he would restore the kingdom of Israel at that time.  Jesus knew there was STILL a misunderstanding about His kingdom, but He gave them instructions in vs. 7-8.  They are instructed to go to Jerusalem and wait and they would receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon them.

                                                iv.      PENTECOST – Acts 2:1-4 – all these things fulfilled.  Notice how on that day:

1.       It was during the Roman empire

2.       They were in Jerusalem

3.       They received the Holy Spirit with power – in fact, on that occasion Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 (Acts 2:16-21)

                                                  v.      This WAS the church that Jesus established.  On that day some 3000 souls obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:41) which was also fulfillment of prophecy (Joel 2:32).  We read in Acts 2:47, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

c.        After that point, church/kingdom spoken of as in existence

                                                   i.      Col. 1:13 – He has conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”

                                                  ii.      Acts 8:12 finds Philip preaching in Samaria..  But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

                                                iii.      1 Cor. 4:20, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”

                                                iv.      Throughout the book of Acts we read of the church as being in existence – Acts 8:1-3, 5:11, 9:31, etc. 
Furthermore, throughout the epistles we find mention of the church, including various congregations, as being already in existence – Rom. 16:1, 16, 1 Cor. 1:2, 10:32, Acts 20:28 says He purchased it with His blood. 
IN FACT, many of the New Testament epistles were written to churches giving them instructions as to how to conduct themselves.

III.                Application – which church belongs to Him? 

a.        In seeking to find the TRUE “church of Christ” there are many things to consider – does she respect God’s word and pattern: In worship?  In work?  In organization?  In doctrine? In name?  All of these things are very important in finding the TRUE church, and identifying all that are not.

b.       But another factor in determining the true church is to note its origin.  We have established in this lesson WHEN and WHERE the church Jesus built was established.  If a congregation is affiliated with a denomination that bases its origin at some point other than that which we have discussed (and all denominations do) – it CANNOT be the true church.   Many denominations today boast about when they began and name their founders.  (NOTE: The Bible gives NO authority for denominations – 1 Cor. 1:10-13, John 17:20-21)  In so doing, they prove that they are founded by men, whether they say it or not.  And we

When Jesus came to this earth, He intended to establish His church/kingdom.  He succeeded and within the church we have hope of heaven when this life is over.  How does one become a part of His church?  By obeying the gospel.  If you have not yet obeyed the gospel, let me encourage you to do so today.