How does God “build His Church”?
Perhaps a good place to begin is Jesus’ words following Peter’s great insight that Christ indeed was God incarnate. Jesus had asked the disciples what others were saying about Him. They answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:14). Then He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (An important question each of us must answer.) Peter’s response was immediate: “You are the Christ [Messiah, Anointed], the Son of the Living God.” (v.16). Jesus replied explaining this understanding came by revelation of God and that upon this Rock, (Christ Himself), He would build His Church (v.18).
That Christ is the foundational Rock is further demonstrated in the parable of the two foundations (Matt. 7:24-27). Paul is even more specific in writing to the Corinthians. Linking the wilderness wanderings he writes, “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). He also assures the Ephesians of their inclusion in the household of God stating,
“[You are] …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22).
And Peter chimes, “As you come to Him, the Living Stone… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:4,5). Certainly Peter understood that it was not himself, but the Living Christ Who was this Rock, the Cornerstone.
In the above Ephesians passage we see the first layer of construction upon this Rock is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” And Christ continues to call and to provide “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:11-12).
In Revelation 21:9-27 John describes his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, the final construction of God’s kingdom. Here John describes the city’s magnificence, it’s gates and twelve precious foundations. “I did not see a temple in the city,” he says, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (v.22). Temples, synagogues, churches – these all serve as “embassies” while we, His “ambassadors,” dwell here, but none are necessary in our true homeland.
I mention this because I see a parallel in how Christ builds His Church… specifically in its multi-layered foundation. Christ the Rock, the only Foundation upon which anything lasting can be constructed, the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the offices of pastors, deacons, elders, teachers, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the “living stones” of each believer, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the written Word of God, the remembrance of the communion table, and the profession of faith in baptism.
All of these He provides for His Church, His Bride, you and I, ”…God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:14-15).
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