Summary: Jesus is THE Master Builder of His church, and this church. He uses lots of different people in many different ways to create something wonderful, unique, and pretty cool I might add.
Getting to Know Jesus, #8 – The Church
A couple of weeks ago, we had some friends come to visit us for a few days. They also came to visit us here at WCC. But their main purpose in coming was to build something, along with friends of theirs, and some of their friends, etc, etc…
Their friend is a master builder, an award winning, nationally acclaimed designer. He has spent virtually his life building. He builds not just one thing but many things, but he builds them all out of the same thing; in general. The parts are unique in that they are all individuals, yet each has similarities with other parts, and some aspects which are totally unique.
And what is built with these parts is not limited to one or even a few different things; the only limitation is imagination.
Are you wondering who this is? I’ll tell you later…First, turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 16, verses 13-18
Peter's Confession of Christ
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Jesus and the church; it’s not a topic you can read a lot about in the NT, though He is the centre of the church, and the reason we exist as ‘the church’. Yes, there is TONS of teaching on the church throughout the NT, but the church then was only just beginning, for Jesus was about to build it…one piece at a time.
When we formed WCC as a church, and when any society is formed these days, there is a process to go through legally which involves meetings, paperwork, forms, constitutions, bylaws, votes, members, directors, signatures, recognition, fees, more paperwork and on and on it goes; until we have what is recognized by the world as a ‘church’.
Bits of history…pay attention! E. F. Scott in The Gospel and its Tributaries (1928) wrote: Jesus “had not consciously formed a society,” though “the Church was the inevitable outcome of His work.” Of course much depends on what is intended by the word “church.” It is true that Jesus did not organize the Church in the sense of laying down a constitution, but He did bring into being a new religious community when He chose His disciples. Referring to Peter’s confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, Charles Gore writes: “In virtue of this personal faith vivifying their discipleship, the apostles became themselves the first little Ecclesia constituting a living rock upon which a far larger and ever enlarging Ecclesia should very shortly be built slowly up, living stone by living stone, as each new faithful convert was added to the society.” The use of the word “church” by Paul in Galatians 1:13 proves that the apostle found this word existing within Christian circles at the time of his conversion. There is no reason therefore to doubt the fact that the Lord Himself used it. At the same time it would be true to say that Christianity began as one of several different parties in first century Palestinian Judaism. The earliest Christians were known as Nazarenes. They constituted a separate “synagogue” or community within the larger community of Judaism.
Whew…enough big language? All that to say that Jesus STARTED the church as we know it. Yes, there was a church system in place already, the synagogues and of course the temple in Jerusalem, but Jesus was starting something new, and it began with the disciples.
The fact is that Jesus gathered in the first instance a band of disciples, and these in turn became the nucleus of the “new Israel.” To that “little flock” He directed His ethical teaching—to them He gave a missionary commission. His followers were committed to a new way of life, but they were also promised divine power to enable them to attain it. Dr. R. Newton Flew in Jesus and His Church (1943) comments: “The idea of the Ecclesia as a community, on earth, indwelt by the Spirit of God, carrying the word of revelation, unique alike in its origin, its fellowship, its allegiance, its message, and its mission, is essential to Christian theology if theology is to be measured by the writings of the New Testament.”