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What Is the Church?

Matthew 16:13-28

James R. Davis


1. The word church may be confusing to the average person today. When one speaks of a church, immediately someone asks what church, or which church do you attend. I have been ask, "Jim what does your church teach?" The question is asked in such a way that one might think that I have a church.

2. The word church today refers to a group of religious people, or it may refer to a building. But in the first century the word "church" had a slightly different meaning.

Mt 16:18-19
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (NIV)

3. In order to get an accurate concept of the church; one must go back to the Bible. One must listen to Jesus Christ and his plans for building his church. Jesus promised to build his church. It seems that, it would be essential to understand the church that Jesus came to build.

4. We can never make a true decision about Jesus Christ and his church by taking a poll of the people. That's how some people do get their "spiritual knowledge." The important thing is not what others say, but what does Jesus say about his church/kingdom.

5. Today some believe that believing in Jesus Christ and belonging to a church is two separate issues. Can't you believe in God without being a part of a church? To them loyalty to Christ has nothing to do with commitment to a local congregation.

I. Confession

A. Jesus explicitly asks for a confession. It was amazing to see how confused the public was about Jesus.

1. The answers revealed that you could never make a true decision about Jesus Christ by taking a poll of the people.

Mt 16:13 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? (KJV)

John 10:19-21
19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?" 21 But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (NIV)

2. An accurate confession, of who Jesus is, is basic to salvation.

Romans 10:9-10
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

Mt 10:31-33
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (KJV)

B. There had been other confessions of faith prior to this one.

1. Nathanael had confessed Christ as the Son of God.

John 1:49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (KJV)

2. The disciples after the storm.

Mt 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (KJV)

3. Peter after Jesus sermon on the bread of life.

John 6:68-69
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV)

C. I think that this confession differed from the others. Jesus explicitly asked for this confession. It was not an emotional response from people who had seen a miracle, but the studied and sincere statement of a man who had been taught by God.

1. This confession began a new era of teaching for the disciples. They were at a point in their lives that now they could be led into the deeper truth about Jesus.

2. Jesus had prepared the way for this question. He had heard them confess him before, but now they really believe.

3. Jesus Christ began to build upon the foundational truths that he had imparted to them.

II. Rock

Mt 16:18 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. (KJV)

A. Notice what rock meant.

 De 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (KJV)

Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (KJV)

Ps 18:31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? (KJV)

B. Jesus Christ is the foundation rock on which the church is built.

1. Old Testament.

Isa 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (KJV)

Psa 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (KJV)

2. Jesus

Mt 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (KJV)

Acts 4:10-12
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)

1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (KJV)

Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (KJV)

C. When the evidence is examined, the total teaching Scripture is that the church, God's temple, is built on Jesus Christ.

Eph 2:19-22
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (KJV)

III. Church

A. This is the first occurrence of this important word in the New Testament. It is from a Greek word ekklesia from which we get our English word "ecclesiastical," referring to things that pertain to the church.

Strong's # 1577 ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah); from a compound of 1537 and a derivative of 2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): KJV-- assembly, church. (DIC)

1. The word is used 114 times in the N. T. and in 90 of these references; a local church (assembly) is in view.

2. Although, the first use of ekklesia, referred to the universal church composed of all who make the same confession of faith that Peter made.

Mt 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

IV. Gates of Hell -- Gates of Hades.

A. Gates of death.

Mt 16:18 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. (KJV)

Re 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (KJV)

B. Jesus' resurrection assures us of his power over life and death.

He 2:14-15
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (KJV)

V. Keys of Kingdom.

A. Keys are a symbol of authority.

Isa 22:15 Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, (KJV)

Isa 22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (KJV)

B. Many jokes are made about saint Peter at the pearly gates. Stems from a misunderstanding of this passage.

C. Peter was given the privilege of opening the door of faith to the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2), to the Samaritans (Acts 8:14), and to the Gentiles (Acts 10).

D. Peter was given the authority of binding and loosing.

Mt 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)

VI. Serving Faith.

A. Jesus declared the work he had to do.

Mt 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (KJV)

B. Terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ.

1. Taking up cross and following Jesus.

Mt 16:24-28
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (KJV)

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)

Ro 6:3-4
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (KJV)

2. Becoming a living sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (KJV)

Phil 3:7-10
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (KJV)



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