Summary: Understanding the Church
Theology of the Church
[The Cornerstone of the Church] …Matt. 16:13-20
Upon completion of a task which Jesus asked of his followers, Jesus asked them, who do you people say that I am? He was asking his followers what is the public opinion of me? What is the identity they ascribe to me?
The responses were numerous and ranged from John to Baptist to Old Testament prophets. Many Jewish people believed in the resurrection on the final day and therefore, Jesus would have to be the resurrected saint of old in the final day. John the Baptist and Jesus shared a very similar ministry, which led to people believing they were the one and the same.
The point of the mission was then made known: It was about public opinion, but rather who did the disciples think Jesus to be? For he asked them, “Who do you say I am?”
The identity of Christ is the cornerstone of the church.
[The Existence of the Church]
The church is simply the outworking of the person of Jesus in the lives of his followers. The church is made up of recovering hypocrites, liars, thieves, prostitutes and backstabbers who have been saved by the radical grace of Jesus.
Jesus promised Peter that he (Jesus) would build his church. Therefore, the promise is ongoing. We see this all the time when we see, read about or are part of church planting efforts.
Jesus is the Lord, Head, architecture and foundation of the Church. His church is his body and as such the local churches are expressions of what God is doing in peoples lives in that community. As such, the church is God’s Kingdom in us.
The church, as a whole body, serves several functions. Some churches are the feet of Jesus, while some are the hands of Jesus. Other churches serve as ligaments and some support others. While there are numerous churches, denominations and often a number of differences in our theological understandings of the Word, what binds us together is our confession that Christ is Lord.
What is our Role in the church?
Jesus says you are Simeon Peter. Simon meant sifted which meant easily swayed and Peter meant Petros or little rock and Jesus referred to himself as the Petra, or big rock.
What Christ is saying is that he was going to take Simon who was weak and make him Peter, who is stronger when built upon the rock. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and His purpose is made compete in our strength.
Also, as little rocks we are to imitate the big rock. We are Jesus clones. We are ambassadors for Christ and our lives should reflect Christ in every way.
The life of Christ can be viewed with three areas in mind: intimacy with God, fellowship with believers and influencing the lost. Thus, as followers of Christ, we are to do the same.
The benchmark of the church is Peter’s confession of Christ. Peter referred to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. The Christ meant the Messiah or Anointed One. Thus, not only was Peter saying that God had anointed him but that he was the promised One whom all the prophets spoke and wrote about. He (Christ) is the fulfillment of OT prophecy.
Peter calling Christ the Son of the living God meant that he had a unique relationship with God and was God (as the Son) and the living God meant that he was not an idol. God is alive and active in the affairs of mankind.
That belief and affirmation by Peter did not come by human knowledge but divine inspiration and wisdom by the Father. Christ makes this very clear in this passage of Scripture.
The keys to the kingdom is the authority and stewardship we have within the church. When we loose and bind, we are actually using the very authority of heaven. These keys are given to us that we might unlock the door of faith, here on earth.