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Christ Will Build His Church (2)

Even the person of Peter (never mind the popes of Rome) is totally incapable of being the rock that supports the church. First, a few verses later in Matthew 16, Christ rebuked His disciple, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (23). Only moments after his great confession (16), Peter fell into carnal thinking (22). Rome thoroughly savours the things of man, all the while confessing that it is the church that Christ builds on the pope! To any individual or church leader or church (Roman Catholic or otherwise) which savours the things of man, Christ declares, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me" (23)! A second instance of Peter’s fallibility is his denial of Christ, with oaths and curses (26:69-75). Rome also denies Christ by its unbiblical doctrine, sacraments, discipline, government and worship every day. A third example is Peter’s temporary compromise of the truth of justification by faith alone through his actions (Gal. 2:11 f.). When some Jews came to Antioch, he stopped eating with Gentiles, implying that they needed to keep the OT food laws and indeed the whole of the Mosaic law, and so denying righteousness in Christ alone for both Jews and Gentiles. Whereas Peter once denied the truth of justification by faith alone by implication through his actions, the pope continuously denies justification by faith alone by his explicit, official teaching. Peter repented when he was admonished, but Rome is impenitent after half a millennium of gospel rebuke.

Listen to the clear testimony of Holy Scripture as to the only rock or foundation on which God builds His church: "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 3:11). Paul explains that those who proclaim worthless fancies ("wood, hay, stubble"), while holding to Christ the foundation, will suffer loss of rewards (12-15). How much worse a judgment awaits those who change the foundation entirely, making it to be Peter and all the popes of Rome? Moreover, a different foundation means a different building—one which is not the church of Christ at all. Thus Rome does not rest on the rock (Christ) but on a broken reed (the papacy). They build their church upon heretics, wolves and blasphemers—biblical words for false prophets. A church built on the sand does not stand when the winds blow and the rain falls. Indeed, it has fallen already, especially when it anathematized the gospel that was recovered and proclaimed faithfully in the sixteenth-century Reformation.

God’s church is not built on the person of Peter (as confessed by Rome), but on the Person of Christ (as confessed by Peter). I Peter 2:6-8 appeals to three Messianic "stone" prophecies (Ps. 118:22Isa. 8:14; 28:16). He who is claimed as the first pope explains that the church is built on Christ: "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" (I Peter 2:6-7). The infallible apostle declares that the reprobate, false church rejects, and is destroyed by, Christ, the cornerstone: "but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed" (7-8). Peter describes all true believers (himself included) as "lively [or living] stones" (5) built upon the "living stone," Christ (4).

This fits perfectly with Matthew 16:18: "thou art Peter [Greek: petros], and upon this rock [Greek: petra] I will build my church." The two words, petros and petra, are similar yet different. They have a different meaning: petros (stone) and petra (rock), as well as different gender: petros (masculine) and petra (feminine). Peter identifies Jesus: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (16), and Jesus identifies Peter: "thou art Peter" (18). Jesus tells Peter that his identification of Him as the Christ was by divine illumination: "flesh and blood hath not revealed it [i.e., my identity] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (17). Then Jesus adds, "thou art Peter [petros, stone, masculine], and upon this rock [petra, rock, feminine—that which Peter has just confessed, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (18). As Paul says, "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 3:11). All churches must rest securely and solely on this foundation; all ministers must preach wholly in accordance with this foundation (building upon it "gold, silver, precious stones;" 12); and all saints must seek, and be edified through, such churches and such preaching. This is the way in which Christ builds His church on Himself, the rock.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 11
  • Issue: 11
Stewart, Angus

Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)

Ordained - 2001

Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001


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