by Steven Chan
In Matt 16:18, Jesus said to His disciple, Peter: “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The rock upon which Jesus would build His church was the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God – the confession made by Peter when he was asked by Jesus as to who he thought Jesus was.
It is important for us to appreciate the importance of the church that Jesus said He would build.
1. At that point in time when Jesus spoke to Peter, the church had not yet been built. It was to be built by Jesus some time thereafter.
2. In Acts 2:47, the Bible tells us that the Lord was adding to the church those who were being saved. This implies that the church was in existence by then.
3. So, when exactly did Jesus build His church to which He would add those who were being saved?
a. God through the prophet Isaiah had prophesied that “in the last days” the Lord’s House would be established and the word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem: Isa 2:2-3: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
There are three important points in the Isaiah passage that are helpful for us to ascertain when the house of God would be established in Jerusalem:
i. We should note that the house f God is the church: According to I Tim 3:15, “the house of God is the church of the living God” – and so we know that Isaiah was prophesying about the establishment of the church, the house of God.
ii. Isaiah prophesied that the house of God or the church would be established “in the last days”. In Acts 2:17, the apostle Peter referred to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2, on the day of Pentecost as “the last days”. In Heb 1:2, God has spoken to us though His Son in “these last days”.
iii. Isaiah also said that out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem and this is confirmed by the account in Luke 24:47-49: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”. So Acts 1:8 recorded that the apostles would be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, definitive evidence of Him being the Son of God, beginning from Jerusalem.
b. The church was bought with the blood of Jesus as the mediator of the new covenant. Acts 20:28 declares that the “church of God was purchased with His own blood”. So, it is only reasonable to conclude that the church came into existence after Jesus shed His blood on Calvary. For without the shedding of blood there would be no remission of sins (Heb 9:22).
All those ho obeyed the gospel so as to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41) were added by the Lord to His Church – beginning with the 3000 souls who were baptized on the day of Pentecost. And as the apostles preached the gospel, and people obeyed the gospel, those who were being saved were added to the church daily (Acts 2:47).
c. Jesus shed His blood for His church and He is the Saviour of His Church: Eph 5:23. So, one need to be in the church built by Jesus as He is the Saviour of His Church.
So, it is evident that the church came into existence on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
4. Jesus declared that He would build His Church.
It therefore makes eminent sense that His Church should acknowledge His ownership – and so the Bible declares in Romans 16:16: “The churches of Christ salute you.” If we claim to be followers of Christ then it behooves us to be members of His church and not to belong to an organization that does not bear His ownership.
5. We cannot possibly “join the church of our choice” – as often proffered by various preachers. Jesus built only one church: there is only one body: Eph 4:4 and that one body is His One Church: Eph 1:22-23.
Are you a member of the Body of Christ, the Church of Christ (I Cor 12:13; Rom 16:16)? 1 Cor 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Have you been baptized into His Body, His church?