Be the Church
Over the past several weeks there is one topic that I can not seem to get my mind off of. That is the Church. I do pray that we all know what the Church is. It’s not a building or temple, but rather the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27) of which we are all members of. I make this statement only to clear it up with another. That is we must be careful Christian to keep Christ’s bride pure (Eph 5:27). But what do I mean by this? First and foremost we need to recognize that the Church, universal and local, is made up of believers. It is not a matter of opinion or even one’s regular attendance to a Sunday morning service that makes someone qualified to be called a member of God’s family. Instead the foundation is found in only one truth, which is the gospel.
In Matthew 16:13-18 we can glean much truth, however I would like to look at this from a broader context in which this passage brings to the forefront. That is found in verse 18 when Jesus states “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;”. In this statement Jesus is declaring that the church is established and built on one foundation. Which should draw us all to the same question. What is this “rock” on which the church should be established? There are some that believe that this passage is talking about Peter. This conclusion is drawn from the fact that Peter’s name, Petros, is translated to mean little rock. Not to mention that it is the sermon that Peter, through the Holy Spirit, delivers in Acts 2 that kicks off the foundation of the Church in which 3000 were added in one day. Neither of these explanations are correct as they have the wrong focus within the context of the passage. Rather we must use our hermeneutics here and look at what Jesus is saying in context.
Jesus asks 2 simple questions. The first being “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “But who do you say that I am?”. Both of these questions are the same. But within the second question is the answer to our question about the church. You see Simon Peter does answer this second question rightly in saying “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Ultimately Peter is proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah, or the One who has come for our salvation. Jesus commends Peter for this correct answer but makes it clear that this information came directly from God the Father who is in heaven and not from any other source on this earth. With all of this being said Jesus then states verse 18.
You see the Church is not established on a man but on the gospel message itself. The foundation that has Christ as its chief cornerstone (Eph 2:19-22). That is a lot of information to say that in order to be a part of the church you must be a part of the family of God and saved by His grace through Faith in Christ.
I am sure that many of you, by this point, are thinking that this is understood universally throughout the church, but I want to challenge this thought. In fact I would argue that there are many within the church today that are more concerned with the number of people that attend on Sunday morning, believers and non-believers alike, then they are about being the church that Jesus has built for Himself. This is not saying that non-believers shouldn’t attend a worship service on Sunday mornings, or even a Bible study. They need to hear the truth of God’s Word just as much as we do. But we should not be so “loving” that we pretend that they are a part of the Church and miss the mark of proclaiming the gospel to them. This is what we see from the first Church in Acts 2. When the 3000 are saved we see them immediately being the Church in verses 42-47. But what does this look like? They were devoted to teaching and fellowship. To the breaking of bread and to prayer. They were supporting each other with their belongings. But there is one verse that is sometimes missed within the study of this first Church, and that is verse 44. Which says “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” This means that they were all devoted to being the Church because they were all of one Spirit. They were all saved and therefore of one mind, pulling in the same direction.
We must never forget that without Christ there is no Church. That is why He is called the Head of the Church (Col 1:18), for the body can not function without its head. The Church is so much more than a social gathering and as members we should be careful how we view the Church. We need to be like the first Church in Acts 2. We need to be devoted to God’s Word and to one another. We need to edify and lift one another up. We need to open our homes to one another and evangelize to the lost. We need to give to one another out of a joyful heart. But never lose focus on the sole foundation of the Church. That is the truth of the gospel and Christ Himself. Upon this foundation God has built His Church in one mind and for one purpose. To praise and worship God for He is the only True and Living God.