The goal of “un-denominational” Christianity is the preservation of the church as revealed in the pages of the Bible. We want to be a part of Christ’s church, not one created by someone else as some supposed improvement upon it. But how can we identify it? How would we know whether we were a part of it? In this first episode in a series on Christ’s church, Robert reminds us that Jesus is the builderĀ of His church.

ROBERT >> Good morning, and thank you for joining us on The Truth In Love. Today I want to talk to you about the church. Not just any church, and not a new or a different church, but the church of Christ you read about in the Bible.

>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Let’s look together this morning in Matthew chapter 16, where we learn a great deal, some very important things about the church you read about in the Bible. Matthew chapter 16, beginning in verse 13.

“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘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 also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I’ll build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I’ll give you the keys of 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.’

There are a number of things that we learn from this very important passage about the church. One of the first things that we see here is how that Christ would build that church. Understand, the church in the Bible, it’s not a man-made, human church, but divine. It was built by Christ. He was the architect that would construct that church, who would decide when and where and how. He would build that church as he desired. Christ, you also notice, had not yet built that church, but he promised to build it. He would build it. He said, “I will build My church.” And we’re going to learn in another lesson from Acts chapter 2 just when and where and how Christ built it; but this will help us to identify that church.

Any church built at another time, another place, or in another way is not the church built by Christ.

Any church not built by Christ is not that church you read about in the Bible.

There’s something else that we learn here from our text in Matthew chapter 16. Not only would Christ build that church, but Christ would be the owner of that church. Did you notice what he said? “I will build My church.”

He built this church for himself. It belonged to him. And it belonged to him because he would build it. Again, any church that’s not owned by Christ is not that church.

Any church that does not belong to Christ, that is not his, it’s not that church you read about in the Bible.

There’s a third thing I want us to learn from Matthew 16, how that Christ would build only that one church. He said, “I will build My church.” The word church is singular in number.

He would not build many different kinds of churches, but only one, his church. We read about this elsewhere in the scriptures. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, when Paul wrote to the Christians there in the church at Corinth, he said that, “We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, and all made to drink of one spiritual drink.” He talked about the unity of all Christians in the one body of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 1:22-23, the apostle Paul describes the church as that one body. Look over there with me, and let’s read what he says about it, Ephesians 1:22-23. “And He,” that is, God, “put all things under His feet,” that is, the feet of Christ, “and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” So it’s clear from these passages that the one body into which every Christian has been baptized is the church, Christ’s church.

Ephesians 4:4 says, “There is one body.” And in Ephesians 5:23 we see that Christ is head of the church and savior of the body. He loved the church, according to Ephesians 5:25, and gave Himself for it.

You see, the church that Jesus came to build is unique, and it’s different from any other church.

Any other church is not that church you read about in the Bible. Christ built his church. It belongs to him. He’s the owner of it. He came to build only that one church.

But now let’s notice something else from Matthew 16. Christ would build that church upon, he said, “this rock”. “Upon this rock,” the scripture says, “I’ll build My church.”

Don’t misunderstand Jesus in this passage. Yes, he referred to Peter. “Peter, you’re Peter; but upon this rock I’ll build My church.” Some have misunderstood and thought that Peter was the rock upon which Christ would build his church. But it simply cannot be.

You see, the church was not built upon Peter. The Greek word there is petros. This was the name that Jesus gave to Simon, Peter. It refers to a stone, a rock that one might throw. It is masculine in gender. The church was not built upon a mere man like the apostle Peter. But he says, “Upon this rock,” a foundation stone. The Greek word is petra. It’s feminine in gender. So he couldn’t have been talking about the masculine petros, Peter, the little stone; but the foundation stone, petra, the feminine gender. That is, upon the one whom Peter had just confessed.

You notice back in verse 16 of Matthew 16, Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And then in verse 17 Jesus told him that that was revealed to him by the Father who is in heaven. And so he said you’re Peter, but upon this rock, that is, the foundation stone, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, I’ll build my church.

Jesus Christ would be the foundation stone of that church you read about in the Bible. This is something that actually had been prophesied, spoken of long ago by the prophets in the Old Testament. I want you to look back with me at a very interesting prophecy concerning this in the book of Psalms. Turn to Psalm 118:22.

The Bible says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.”

What is this stone the builders rejected that actually became the foundation? Well, of course this refers to the rejection of Jesus Christ, the foundation of his church, the church of which he is the savior. Now we know this because when we turn to Acts 4:11, we see the apostle Peter quote this passage from Psalms and refer it to Jesus Christ. Here he says, “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief corner stone. Nor is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

He’s talking about the name of Jesus Christ, in whose name he had just healed a lame man at the temple gate. He says that powerful name, the name of Jesus Christ, that one is the foundation stone, the builders rejected, the only one through whom we can find salvation.

The apostle, Paul, again makes it clear for us in 1 Corinthians 3:11 when he says, “There is no other foundation that anyone can lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

So you see, any church not built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ is not that church you read about in the Bible.

Again, let’s go back to our text and see something else about this church. Notice in Matthew 16:18, where Jesus said, “I’ll build My church.” He made this promise as well: “And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

Jesus declared that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against that church. Now, this phrase, the gates of Hades, speaks of the power of death. Hades is not hell. Gehenna is the Greek word for hell. But here the word Hades refers to the unseen place of the spirits of the dead.

When we die and the spirit leaves the body, the body is put in the ground, but the spirit is found in Hades. We learn a great deal about it in Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke chapter 16.

You might remember that parable, where after death the rich man was in torments in Hades, but Lazarus, he was in comfort. There was a great chasm between the rich man and Lazarus. Between those two there was a great gulf that no one could cross. And then on the cross, Jesus Christ, you remember he turned and he promised the penitent thief that when they died that day, they would be together in Paradise, Luke 23:43.

You see, after Jesus was put to death on the cross and his body was placed in a never before used tomb, a tomb that had been cut out of the rock according to Luke 23:53, his soul went to Hades; not with those who suffer torment like the rich man in the parable of Jesus, but with those who were in comfort, like Lazarus; in Paradise, as he told and promised the thief that day he died.

But know this: That Jesus Christ was not left there. His body was not left in the tomb. His spirit was not left in Hades. Let’s see how Peter explains this in Acts 2:22-32. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves also know, Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him, ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on His throne, He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we all are witnesses.”

Yes, after three days, the soul of Jesus Christ reentered his body, he was raised from the dead to sit on his throne, to rule over his church. Even the gates of Hades could not keep him from rising up and building his church.

And any church that’s defeated by the power of death is not that church, not that church you read about in the Bible.

But still there’s something else I want you to notice from our text in Matthew 16. Christ spoke of that church as “the kingdom of heaven.” You remember after promising in verse 18, “I’ll build My church,” Jesus told Peter, “I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, this speaks of the reign of Christ as king from heaven over his kingdom. We read in Acts chapter 2, going on in verse 33, after Peter had proclaimed the resurrection of Christ there, he points out in the following verses how Jesus went on to ascend into heaven at God’s right hand.

Acts chapter 2, beginning in verse 33, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

You see, Jesus Christ now rules and reigns from heaven over his kingdom. He’s sitting upon the throne there in heaven. In Colossians 1:18 we find that he is head of the church. He has the preeminence over all things. His rule is in our hearts. He rules from heaven within us.

As Jesus said in Luke 17:21, “the kingdom of God is within you.”

He rules by truth, just as Jesus explained to Pilate. Let’s go to John chapter 18. And you remember when Jesus was arrested and he stood before Pilate, and he had been accused of being a king, a threat to the Caesar, the emperor of Rome. But Jesus explained to Pilate that he was not a military or political king.

John chapter 18, beginning in verse 36, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ And Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are you a king then?’ And Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I’ve come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'”

So yes, Jesus is king over his kingdom; but it’s not a military, it’s not a political kingdom, but it’s a spiritual kingdom that is produced by the truth of God’s word, the truth of the gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ.

We read about this kingdom in several passages. I want you to notice Colossians 1:13-14, and you see the nature of this kingdom. Here the Bible says that, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Yes, Christ’s kingdom, his church is a spiritual one. And any church that is not of the kingdom of heaven is not that church you read about in the Bible.

But now finally today I want you to notice this last point from Matthew chapter 16. Christ gave Peter the keys to that church. Keys enable us to get into something that’s been locked. And Peter would be the one to unlock the church so we can get into it.

This included the power to bind and loose, literally, I understand, from what has already been bound or loosed in heaven. That was the promise that he made to Peter.

But he not only made that promise to Peter, but he also made it to the other apostles. This same power, this same authority was promised to all the apostles in Matthew 18:18. And this power came to them from Christ by the Holy Spirit, who would teach them all things, who would guide them into all the truth, according to John 14:26 and John 16:13-14.

And they would then go, and they would tell it to the whole world, as we read in the great commission at the end of Matthew and Mark and Luke and John.

It was Peter who first unlocked the church to the Jews in Acts chapter 2, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, giving the terms of entrance into that kingdom, his church. And it was Peter who unlocked the door to the Gentiles, to the other nations in Acts chapter 10 when he preached to Cornelius and his household. Once again preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and commanding them to be baptized into Christ, giving them the terms of the kingdom.

In time, the apostles would pass on this power to others in the church through the laying on of their hands, like we read in Acts 8:14-21. But in this way, the faith of the New Testament of Christ was once for all delivered to that church, Jude 3.

You see, God revealed and confirmed the message of salvation that unlocked the doors of his church, the kingdom, through the apostles and prophets of the first century. It’s been preserved for us in the New Testament of Jesus Christ, and no other power can unlock that church. No other power can bind and loose and forgive or not forgive in that church.

Any church that’s not unlocked by the keys given to Peter or that does not respect the authority of the New Testament of Christ, delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit-inspired apostles and those they laid their hands on, is not that church.

So let’s be that church. Let’s be that one and only divine church, that church that was built by Christ, that church that is owned by Christ, that one and only church that he promised to build that was built upon the foundation of Christ Jesus himself, that church that’s ruled from heaven by the truth of the gospel, revealed and confirmed by the apostles and prophets of the New Testament.

Are you a part of that church? Have you believed on the gospel and been baptized into Christ so that you might be saved and God might add you to his church?

How can we help you here at The Truth In Love towards heaven?

How can we help you as you seek for that church today? Please let us know, and please join us again next time right here on The Truth In Love.

>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

I know that over yonder stands a place prepared for me,
a home, a house not made with hands, most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

>> There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains.
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

E’er since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supplied,
redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die.
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

ROBERT >> I hope that you found today’s lesson helpful. And to help you in your continued study, we’d like to offer you a free copy of today’s lesson.

Thankfully, members of churches of Christ make these materials available to our viewers absolutely free of charge. And all you have to do is contact us and let us know the name of the program that you’d like to have a copy of. You can see the title of today’s program on your screen.

Let us know the format in which you’d like to have it. You can have the program in the form of an audio CD or a DVD or a written transcript. You can have any of these formats, again, free of charge. It won’t cost you a thing.

You can contact us in a number of ways. We have an 800 number that’s a voice mail system where you can leave the pertinent information. The number is 800-819-2966. If you’d like to e-mail that request, our e-mail address is requests@ttil.tv. You can go to our web site, www.ttil.tv. If you want to send us a post card or a letter, our mailing address is P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053. And again, we stress to you there’s no cost or obligation. We just want you to have the material, and we thank you for watching.

>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so.
Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.

Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall.
Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low,
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old sweet song.

Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven sing the sweetest song of all.

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