What is the church? The word is first mentioned in Matthew 16. Interestingly, it was not Peter or any of the other apostles who used the word. It was Jesus!
In the context of Matthew 16, Jesus takes his disciples into the Gentile area of Caesarea Philippi. Once arriving in the area, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13).
Here we find Peter’s great confession of our Lord. He says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” There were many times where Peter blew it, but at this moment, he nailed it!
Jesus blesses Peter’s confession and explains how His program which will be built on Peter’s confession. In other words, Jesus says, “Peter, you nailed it with your confession about Me. I am the Messiah and I will do a work through you that you could never fathom. On your statement, “I am the Christ, the Son of the living God,” I will build My church and no demon in hell will stop it. Against all odds, it will prevail! No enemy will destroy it, no circumstance will deter it, and no person will change it. What I have established will take place.”
This is truly awesome! The church is the Lord’s program. Notice several nuggets from Jesus’ words: “I will build my church.” First, the first person pronoun I. Jesus is the author and originator of the church. It was His idea and program. The church is not built on a leader, committee, or a pastor. The church will go on regardless who is standing behind the pulpit. Praise God!
The second word is will. The word will looks to the future. At the time that Jesus spoke these words, He had not completed His mission: death on the cross. The church was still a future phase that would be established on the death of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection.
We will look at two more words next week.