I Will Build My Church
In the context of , we see what many people think about Jesus. It is interesting that so many people saw His miracles and signs, and had such contrasting responses. This seems to be the main point of this section we will look at today. Many saw the miracles and signs (the Sadducees and Pharisees), but it wasn't enough for them to show Jesus was who He claimed to be. Then you have the common people, who believed that Jesus was a great man, comparable to many of the prophets. But this still was not what the signs and miracles were showing about Jesus' identity. God was trying to show so much more, and when Jesus asks His disciples, what do you say about me, Peter gives the answer that God was indeed showing through the miracles Jesus was doing, that we is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is this foundational truth that all men must see if they are going to become a member of Christ's church.
There are four points I would like to make about the universal church from this text in :
1. Jesus Is The Builder
2. Jesus Is The Owner
3. Jesus Is The Architect
4. The Church Is Victorious
1. JESUS IS THE BUILDER
“I will build…”
This is in the future tense. Jesus is saying here that He would do the necessary work for His church to be built. We need to remember that the universal church is first and foremost His building project.
In , Jesus says: "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you."
Many picture in this text Jesus, after His ascension, going to Heaven to get to work, using His carpentry skills for building rooms for us in Heaven. I really do not think this is the point of the text. I do agree that it speaks of Jesus working to prepare a place for us, but I believe He is speaking in reference to His death on the cross (along with the resurrection), which would be His main work in preparing a place for us. He says the dwelling places are already there where God dwells. But without His work on the cross, our sins would keep us out of the kingdom. Commenting on this text, one person said, "Only Jesus could build a bridge to Heaven with two pieces of wood and a few nails." Amen. Jesus' building work made it possible for us to have a dwelling place with God for eternity.
And the church continues to be built as people are added to it. Peter says that we are the living stones that God uses to build His spiritual house (). Jesus is the main stone, the cornerstone, and as people are being added to the church by God and grow in their faith and holiness, this temple becomes a more and more magnificent dwelling place for God.
2. JESUS IS THE OWNER
• “…My church”
Paul tells us in that, as members of Christ, we “are not your own” (). He paid the price to buy us and to make us members of His universal church, and so that each member of His church would be His!
We are God's house: "in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
- "in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
We are also called in scripture:
· the church of Christ
· the body of Christ
· the temple of God
· kingdom of God
my "church" (universal)
Ekklesia = Thayer's definition: "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly"
In reference to Christ's church (assembly), it simply refers to those individuals who become disciples (more in a moment). Jesus is the builder and owner of this group of people who are called out of the world that become His disciples.
When the word church is used in the universal sense, it is not speaking of a building, an organization, a group of local churches (local "churches of Christ"), or a clergy system; but of individual people who are called by God and become Christians. This is seen more in the third point I would like to make:
3. JESUS IS THE ARCHITECT
Jesus gives us the blueprint to follow to become disciples (members of His universal church), and He gives us the blueprint to remain disciples.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom…”
Peter: the “gatekeeper”
What is it that keys do? They either unlock a door so it can be opened or lock a door so it cannot be entered. In and , Peter opens the gate to the kingdom for Jews and Gentiles
In , when Peter quotes the prophecy in , he tells us that the gate to the kingdom is opened to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.” Also take note of the command that Peter gives to the crowd. He said, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…" () Each person who obeyed Peter's command to repent and to be baptized was added to the universal church by God. We see in this that all who are "in Christ" are members of His universal church.
"the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" ().
All who enter the "gate" into the kingdom; all who enter the universal church, belong. This is in contrast to what we see in the local church, which I will talk about shortly.
Getting added to the universal church does not automatically add you to a local church. You could correct me if I am wrong, but I do not see the idea taught in scripture that you are automatically added to a local church when you are baptized into Christ. This seems to me to be a denominational concept. You are added to a local church when you 1.) decide to join yourself to it, and 2.) that group allows you to be accepted into their number.
• – Ethiopian Eunuch. Did he have a local church to go to after he became a Christian? Not that we know of. He may have been by himself for some time before there was another Christian in Ethiopia. And it may have been some time before He even knew that there was such a thing as a local church
It is possible to be a Christian, a member of the universal church, and not be a member of a local church. This has happened here. We may baptize someone, and it may be some time after studying with them that they see their need to add themselves to a faithful local church. They even during this time may be going to denominational churches, but this does not necessarily mean that they are not members of the universal church.
“Whatever you bind shall have been bound in Heaven…”
Jesus did not only give Peter the keys to the kingdom, He also gave Peter, along with all of the Apostles (), the authority to speak for Him and to give His commandments by the Holy Spirit.
There is much debate about what the church will be built upon in . Is Peter the Rock? Is it Jesus? Is it the confession? What is your answer to this question? I do believe in the context that it is the foundational truth that Peter confesses, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, which is what the church is built upon. But I also believe in the context that we see that the church is built upon all of the teachings and commandments of Christ. He says that He will give them the keys to the kingdom and give them the ability to speak on His behalf. It is on all of the teachings of Christ that the church continues to be built. Two other verses we should look at:
"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" ().
"you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord" ()
I believe what these verses are showing is that the church is built upon the foundation of Jesus, whose teachings have been given to us through His Apostles. It is these teachings which bring people to become members of the universal church and to grow as members of the universal church.
Jesus: Head and Shepherd
If we want to continue to be members of the universal church, we must continue to learn, grow, and obey the Lord. Jesus is the Head of the church (; ), and the Shepherd of the Sheep:
· "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." (5:23)
· "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" ()
If we want to be a member of the universal church, which is the bride of Christ and the sheepfold of the Shepherd, we must follow Him and submit to Him. As long as we are in fellowship with Christ and walking in the light (), we are members of the Lord's universal church.
If you are not in fellowship with God, you are not a member of the universal church, and if you are not in fellowship with God, going to a local church does not make you a Christian. Just because you are a member of a local church does not mean that you are a member of the Lord's universal church. There could be someone here today who is a member of this congregation who is not a member of the Lord's church in the universal sense because they are really not a Christian. If you are not following the voice of your Shepherd, no matter what you portray to us here, you are not in Christ! Being a member of a faithful, conservative church of Christ does not make you a Christian and a member of the universal church. You don't get to Christ through the local church.
• Sinful man in – there was a member of the church in Corinth who was not in fellowship with God because he had his father's wife. He was a member of the local church still, but not in fellowship with God. He was not a member of the universal church.
• 3 John- Diotrophes was putting faithful people out of the local church and not listening to John. Those who got kicked out were members of the universal church and Diotrophes wasn't.
• Church in Smyrna – . There were only a few who had not soiled their garments; a few who were still members of the universal church. The local church as a whole was unfaithful to Christ and not members of the universal church. This example also shows us that it is possible, though not ideal, to be a member of a local congregation (that is teaching the correct gospel and gospel response) that is unfaithful to God, and still yourself be faithful to God and a member of His universal church. I don't know exactly how this works, or where the Lord draws the line, but it is possible.
We at times are too quick to make judgments about people and label people as lost. may be faithful to the Lord and a member of His universal church. We need to be patient and study with people who are members of congregations that have leadership who are in error, or even the majority of its members.
I believe I am an example of such. I used to be a member of a congregation who taught the right gospel, but it's leaders believed some erroneous doctrines and allowed sin within the church. I was a member of the universal church at the time, and as a member of that church tried to reason with the leadership and the members of the congregation until they made staying there "impossible." It took studying and growing in my knowledge of the word , along with help of Christians here, to help me see some false beliefs and practices of that congregation. Even though I was a member of it did not mean I was lost, not a member of the universal church, or stuck in "error" myself. Honestly, that local church was no different than many of the churches in . We need to keep this in mind when we study with people in these kind of congregations.
4. THE CHURCH IS VICTORIOUS.
DEATH HAS NO POWER OVER JESUS’ CHURCH
“…the gates of Hades will not overpower it”
If we follow the shepherd's voice, we cannot be snatched from our Shepherd’s hand (). In Him, we have life (; ).
Jesus says of Himself, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die…"
Even in death, we are victorious! Our death will not affect our citizenship in the kingdom or our membership in the universal church. In contrast, death does affect our membership in the local church. When you or I die, our names will be taken off the membership roster. But our name is still in the Lamb's book of life!
The Work of the Universal Church?
Another way of looking at this part of the verse: The Work of the Universal Church? We are on the offensive against death. Hades is described here as a city/kingdom with gates that cannot withstand the attacks of the members of the universal church against those gates as we do our work as individuals preaching the gospel and encouraging and equipping our brothers and sisters to remain living victoriously over death. We as members of the universal church are at battle against death and the spiritual forces of wickedness. The local church equips us and encourages us to fight in this battle and to make sure the things of this world do not get in the way of this happening. The Great Commission was given to individuals, to all Christians to fulfill. It is the work of the universal church which is on earth. The local church is given to us by God to equip us for our work as Christians. The gates of death have no power as the church, which is on the offensive, comes against them with the gospel.