Summary: There are many misconceptions about what Jesus' universal church is. Is it a denomination? Is it all churches combined into one? Is it the clergy? This sermon deals with many of these misconceptions and shows what God reveals about His church.
In the context of Matthew 16, we see what many people think about Jesus. It is interesting that so many people saw His miracles and signs, and had such contrasting responses. This seems to be the main point of this section we will look at today. Many saw the miracles and signs (the Sadducees and Pharisees), but it wasn't enough for them to show Jesus was who He claimed to be. Then you have the common people, who believed that Jesus was a great man, comparable to many of the prophets. But this still was not what the signs and miracles were showing about Jesus' identity. God was trying to show so much more, and when Jesus asks His disciples, what do you say about me, Peter gives the answer that God was indeed showing through the miracles Jesus was doing, that we is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It is this foundational truth that all men must see if they are going to become a member of Christ's church.
There are four points I would like to make about the universal church from this text in Matthew 16:
1. Jesus Is The Builder
2. Jesus Is The Owner
3. Jesus Is The Architect
4. The Church Is Victorious
1. JESUS IS THE BUILDER
“I will build…”
This is in the future tense. Jesus is saying here that He would do the necessary work for His church to be built. We need to remember that the universal church is first and foremost His building project.
In John 14:1-2, Jesus says: "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you."
Many picture in this text Jesus, after His ascension, going to Heaven to get to work, using His carpentry skills for building rooms for us in Heaven. I really do not think this is the point of the text. I do agree that it speaks of Jesus working to prepare a place for us, but I believe He is speaking in reference to His death on the cross (along with the resurrection), which would be His main work in preparing a place for us. He says the dwelling places are already there where God dwells. But without His work on the cross, our sins would keep us out of the kingdom. Commenting on this text, one person said, "Only Jesus could build a bridge to Heaven with two pieces of wood and a few nails." Amen. Jesus' building work made it possible for us to have a dwelling place with God for eternity.
And the church continues to be built as people are added to it. Peter says that we are the living stones that God uses to build His spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-7). Jesus is the main stone, the cornerstone, and as people are being added to the church by God and grow in their faith and holiness, this temple becomes a more and more magnificent dwelling place for God.
2. JESUS IS THE OWNER
• “…My church”
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6 that, as members of Christ, we “are not your own” (1 Cor 6:19). He paid the price to buy us and to make us members of His universal church, and so that each member of His church would be His!
We are God's house: 1 Timothy 3:15 "in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
1 Peter 4:17 - "in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
We are also called in scripture:
• the church of Christ
• the body of Christ
• the temple of God
• kingdom of God
my "church" (universal)
Ekklesia = Thayer's definition: "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly"
In reference to Christ's church (assembly), it simply refers to those individuals who become disciples (more in a moment). Jesus is the builder and owner of this group of people who are called out of the world that become His disciples.
When the word church is used in the universal sense, it is not speaking of a building, an organization, a group of local churches (local "churches of Christ"), or a clergy system; but of individual people who are called by God and become Christians. This is seen more in the third point I would like to make: