Last time, we saw that 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.
First, Christ is the "rock" as a divine Person: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). He is the unique Son, infinitely higher than any other son: "the Son of the living God." This glorious truth was revealed to Peter by Christ’s Father (17).
Think of all the millions and millions of God’s elect over many centuries. Who can support them but Christ, the foundation of the church, who is fully God? A holy man, such as Peter, cannot support them; never mind sinful men, like the popes. This truth of Christ as the eternal Son of God, yet also fully man, is set forth in our ecumenical creeds, especially the Nicene (325) and Chalcedonian (451). All those who turned aside from this, such as the Arians, Eutychians and Nestorians, left Christ the only rock and foundation of the church. Therefore, Christ did not build their churches; the devil built them as "synagogues of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).
Second, Christ is the "rock" as God’s anointed servant: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). "Christ" means anointed, anointed to His three-fold office as the servant of the Lord, as prophet, priest and king.
He is the anointed prophet who declares His infallible Word in OT and NT. All who add to or take away from the Word of God (Rev. 22:18-19) or whose traditions contradict and obscure the Word of God (Mark 7:6-13) depart from Christ, the anointed prophet and foundation of the church. Is Christ, the great prophet, your rock and the foundation of your congregation? Then you are being built on Christ as part of His church.
Christ is the anointed king who rules over His people. Do you honour and obey Him (by His grace)? Does your church? Then you are founded on Christ the rock. But professing churches and Christians who do not submit to Christ’s Word but follow instead the foolishness of the world (free will, political correctness, feminism, evolutionism, etc.) are not part of His building, the church. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," Jesus said (John 14:15).
Christ is the anointed priest who offered himself as a blood sacrifice for His elect people. All those who turn to unbloody sacrifices (like the mass) or who make His sacrifice depend for its efficacy upon the alleged free will of the sinner are not founded on Christ, the rock of the church.
Christ’s words, "I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18), refer to His one, universal church (singular), rather than the many instituted churches (plural). Here we have a biblical image for the church, that of a building. Christ is the foundation and the true church is a building erected on that foundation. Clearly, the church is being built according to a plan, a divine plan. How many living stones will be laid on this foundation? When will they be laid? For God has not only a plan but also a building schedule for the construction of His church, determining when each elect sinner will be added to the structure. One day the church will be completely built, and it will be glorious! There may be some beauty in a building partially constructed but it is as nothing compared to the beauty of the completed structure, the holy temple of the Lord in the new world!
Matthew 16:18 speaks not only of an image of the church (a building) but of the increase of the church ("I will build"). This does not teach that one day the majority of people on earth will be living stones, never mind that everybody will be converted to Christ’s church. Instead, it means that Christ will build His church (on earth and in glory) so that it will increase over time, from its beginning until the last person is converted before Christ’s return. Christ builds His church by regenerating and sanctifying His elect.
This building of the church is wholly a divine work: "I will build my church" (18), not "Man and I will build my church." Christ alone gathers, preserves and defends His church. All this is His unchanging promise: "I will build my church." Believe this, dear saint, and press on in the good fight of faith!
Christ says, moreover, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (18). The gates of hell are all the forces of Satan—his evil angels, the wicked world and the false church—presented as a mighty city in constant warfare against the church and kingdom of God. Thus Christ will build His church in spite of, and even through, persecution (which purifies the church), martyrdoms (which increase the church in heaven) and apostasy (which removes hypocrites from the church institute, and tests and tries true believers). Christ even builds His church despite the sins of church members and office-bearers. After all, if Christ cannot build His church on earth unless His people are entirely holy, He could not build His church at all! Christ’s building His church includes the progressive sanctification of its members and the preservation and perseverance of all the saints such that not one living stone is lost!
- Volume: 11
- Issue: 12
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851