Purpose of this Session
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus stated, “Upon this Rock I WILL BUILD My Church.” Jesus Christ is the Master Builder. Just as previous places of meeting and dwelling have been built according to God’s pattern and design, and on His terms, so the New Covenant building is being developed according to a divine pattern, after Christ. As He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). We must also be aware that all that is built ‘in His name’ is not always HIS CHURCH as spoken of in Matthew 16:18. Some are nothing more than the creations of men. Denominations and certain heretical or purely natural organisations and sects are proof of this.
What follows are characteristics of the ‘Building’ Jesus Christ is erecting:
- It is not a physical building or man-made organisation, but a spiritual building made of living stones, built by Jesus Christ Himself, through the Spirit.
The following Scriptures speak of the ‘organic’ nature of the Ecclesia, as opposed to an organisational institution.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV)
“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Hebrews 3:6 KJV)
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus 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: 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. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1Peter 2:5-9 KJV)
- It is built upon Jesus Christ, all He is, said, did, and is doing today
“UPON THIS ROCK I will build My Church.” Matthew 16:16-18
The first and most important part of building a building is to lay a proper foundation. The Scriptures make it clear that the only foundation that can be laid in regard to the Ecclesia is Christ Himself. No other foundation will stand:
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 3:10-11 KJV)
Jesus is the sure and eternal foundation of His living House (2 Tim 2:19).
Four views exist in interpreting Jesus’ statement about the Rock upon which He would build His Church:
i. The confession Jesus made was the foundation upon which the
Church would be built.
ii. Peter is the foundation of the Church.
iii. All of the twelve Apostles are the foundation upon which the
Church would be built (Peter being representative of them)
iv. Christ is the Rock foundation of the Church
Although the first three of these statements carry some element of truth, only the last is entirely true.
Certainly the confession of Christ’s Sonship and Deity is foundational for any relationship with God, and the doorway through which we enter His household, and was an emphasis of the preaching of the apostles and early church (Acts 9:20), but the church is not built on a confession alone, it is the confession of a Person – Christ Jesus. Continued relationship and obedience to Him is the Rock spoken of in Luke 6:48-49.
Similarly, it was indeed the teaching of the Apostles upon which the developing Ecclesia was built (Acts 2:42), but this teaching was of the ‘first principles of Christ’ (Hebrews 6:1-2). Christ again being the focus and centre. Moreover, even Peter Himself did not consider himself to be the Rock Christ spoke of, pointing to another foundation in his letters to the churches (1 Peter 2:4-9). The distinctive place of the Apostles in the early foundation work of the Ecclesia will be recognised however in the closing days of Ecclesia, with their names in the foundations of the Holy City (Rev 21:14). The Apostles though, are not the True and Everlasting foundation, for they too are built upon Christ as are all the saints.
The central teaching of the Word with regard to the Foundation Rock is clear and consistent. Figurative references to the Rock throughout Scripture point to the divine Person of God (Ps 18:2; 31:2-3; 28:1; 62:7), and more specifically the Person of Christ (Rom 9:33; 1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 2:7-8).
He is the FOUNDATION. The first principles of Christ’s Doctrine and revelation are then laid upon Him. Upon these the Ecclesia is then built up as a spiritual house in which God’s Spirit dwells.
- Christ Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Ecclesia
The “cornerstone” in the Bible in the architecture of the day referred to a large stone that was placed at the foundation of a wall to bind two walls together. This stone was essential because it provided both stability for the whole structure and alignment for the adjoining walls. This stone then was the subject of diligent selection and preparation.
Christ is this perfect stone, from whom all the rest of the building is fitted and framed:
“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.” (Isaiah 28:16)
“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22 KJV)
- The Purpose of the Building is to House the Glory of God
As with every other house the purpose of the Ecclesia, the building of God in this dispensation, is to house the Glory of God. Through this house God’s wisdom will be made apparent to the Spiritual world (Eph 3:10), and Christ’s witness will continue in the world (Acts 1:8).