JESUS BUILT HIS CHURCH
If you have read your Bible you have read about the church of Christ. The church of Christ exists anywhere people follow the Bible and the Bible only. (Acts 2:38-47) Jesus promised to build His church. “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 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.” (Matthew 16:13-18) The church is the Lord’s house and "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it..." (Psalm 127:1) Jesus promised to build His church. Observe: (1) The foundation for the church -- "upon this rock," (2) The certainty of the building -- "I will build My church", (3) The owner of the church -- "I will build My church", (4) The nature of it of the church -- "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", (5) The authority involved with the church -- "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." Jesus kept His promise and built His church. (Acts 2) He is both foundation and chief corner stone for His church.
It was God's eternal purpose that men should serve Him in the one church that Jesus built. Both Jew and Gentile are reconciled unto God in one body or one church. (Ephesians 2:16) There is only one true church for all nations. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 4:4) This one body is also called the church in Colossians 1:18. The one true church was purchased by the blood of Jesus. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) The church began on the Pentecost Day following the resurrection of Christ. On that day sinners were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) Three thousand people gladly received the word and were baptized. These people were added by the Lord to His church. (Acts 2:47) Are you a member of the church you can read about in the New Testament? Salvation and membership in the church of Christ is the same thing. You are not saved outside of the church. Today you can be a part of that same church that Christ built!
Man needs a better understanding of and more commitment to Christ and His church. Sometimes the term church is used to describe all the Christians. In Hebrews 12:23 we read, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." A particular church or body of believers that met at a certain place may also be described with the word “church.” 1 Corinthians 1:2 reads, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." The church of Christ or the New Testament church was, (1) Called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14), (2) Grafted into Christ by baptism (Galatians 3:26-27), (3) Made alive by the love of God (1 Corinthians 15:22), (4) United in a deep fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42), and (5) Molded into the image of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The connection between the death of Jesus and His church. There was no way for Jesus or His disciples but the way of the cross. "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day." (Matthew 16:21) Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about suffering, dying, and being resurrected. Jesus called him "Satan." "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23) Satan was using Peter to speak a message to Jesus. Satan uses many voices today to have his message heard and to silence the message of God. We must understand the necessity of the church and its connection with the cross if we are to understand Christianity. Christianity would make no sense apart from the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood purchased church. What a shock it must have been to the disciples when Jesus told them that (1) He would suffer at Jerusalem, (2) That He would suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, (3) That He would be killed, and (4) That He would be raised again the third day. Jerusalem was the city of sacrifices where our Passover Lamb died for our sins. (1 Corinthians 5:7) John the Baptist had said "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Christ died to purchase and cleanse the church. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) Christ is the Savior of the church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) If a person is saved he is a member of the blood bought church of Christ. Salvation and membership in Christ's church is the same thing.
Our commitment to Christ and His church must be strong. The challenge is simple. Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24) To deny self is to say no to self and yes to God. To deny oneself means to deny one's own idea and accept God's word as the only absolute truth. To follow Jesus means to learn of Him. To follow Jesus means to learn His lifestyle and to imitate it. To follow Jesus means that we must be a faithful part of His church. The greatest challenge of a lifetime is not the highest mountain or the fastest speed. The greatest challenge of life is to follow Jesus. This means that real sacrifices will be made for God. (Matthew 16:25) A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. God expects you to give yourself. Anything less would mean the lose of your soul. (Matthew 16:26) The glory we give to God is given in the church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21) Those that live for the glory of God will live forever and will receive that everlasting reward, eternal life.
Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ? Our greatest privilege is to be in the blood bought church of Christ. To be saved you must hear the gospel, (Romans 10:17); believe in Jesus, (John 8:24); repent of sins, (Luke 13:3); confess Jesus as Lord, (Matthew 10:32); and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) God will then add you, as a living stone to the church that Christ built.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037
The cross is the only ladder high enough to reach heaven!