Summary: The church belongs to Jesus Christ, and He is currently working to build it.
Introduction: A Church Is Not An Audience
A sharp distinction ought to be made between a church and an audience.
· An audience is a group of unrelated people drawn together by a short-lived attraction. A church is a group of born again believers drawn together by a Savior.
· An audience is a crowd. A church is a family.
· An audience is a gathering. A church is a fellowship.
· An audience is a heap of stones. A church is a temple.
Preachers are ordained, not to attract an audience, but to build a church. Coarse and worldly men, if richly gifted, can draw audiences, but only a man who is given to the Lord Jesus Christ can build a church. (Charles E. Jefferson. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 4.)
I. THE CHURCH WAS FOUNDED ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST. Matthew 16:13-16
Note: Son of Man was Jesus’ most common designation of Himself and is used of Him some eighty times in the New Testament. It was clearly recognized by Jews as a title of the Messiah (see Dan 7:13); but because it emphasized His humanness, many Jews preferred not to use it. No doubt it was for that reason that Jesus did prefer it--to focus on the humiliation and submission of His first coming and His work of sacrificial, substitutionary atonement.
Jesus’ priority ministry in the world was to reveal Himself, to teach and to demonstrate who He was. He therefore began the examination by asking His disciples, ..."Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (c) Moody Press and John MacArthur, Jr., 1983-2002.)
Illustration: The Preeminence of Christ
Someone has said that Jesus Christ came from the bosom of the Father to the bosom of a woman. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became Son of Man that we might become sons of God. He was born contrary to the laws of nature, lived in poverty, was reared in obscurity, and only once crossed the boundary of the land in which He was born - and that in His childhood. He had no wealth or influence and had neither training nor education in the world’s schools. His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluencial. In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood He puzzled the learned doctors. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all songwriters together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors have healed broken bodies. This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and the lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords, and the healer of all diseases. Throughout history great men have come and gone, yet He lives on. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him and the grace could not hold Him. (John MacArthur. The MacArthur Commentary Series: Hebrews. p. 9-10.)
A. Jesus Christ Was Extraordinarily Human.
Illustration: The Real Miracle
Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can’t help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where...is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time -- possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father’s shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father’s shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing -- the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, propertyless young man who...left no written word has, for 2000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together. How do we explain that?...unless he really was who he said he was." (Ronald Reagan. http://www.christianglobe.com)