By William Oldham
One day Jesus asked His apostles who the Jews were saying He was. They told Him that some were saying He was John the Baptist, raised from the dead; others were saying He was the prophet Elijah; and still others were saying He was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Jesus then asked them, “But what about you all, who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus then said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:17-18
The Roman Catholic Church has taught for several hundred years that when Jesus said, “…I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…”, Jesus was saying that Peter was the rock on which He would build His church. They say this because in the Greek, Peter means rock. But, is that what Jesus was saying? How important is it to the church to know exactly what Jesus meant? And, how can we know what He meant?
When Jesus said He was going to build a church, He wasn’t referring to a massive cathedral or a building of any kind. He was speaking of creating a race of people who would be chosen by God to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who would be a special possession of God; a people who God would call out of darkness into His wonderful light; a people who would declare His praises. 1 Peter 2:9
From the day the Holy Spirit came to dwell in believers, as recorded in Acts 2, up unto this very day, God has been calling men and women, boys and girls to be members of Christ’s church. For nearly 2000 years Christ has been building His church; God has been calling people from all walks of life, and from every nation, tribe, people and language to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way God chose to call them.
Jesus said His church would be built on a rock that even Hell itself couldn’t stop the building. Is there anywhere in all of God’s holy word that even hints that something God-ordained, and eternal in the heavens would be built on a man? All of Scripture testifies that God appointed one Person, and one Person only to build His church, and that Person is God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. In regards to Christ and His church, and the identity of the Rock, Peter himself tells us:
“…As you come to [Jesus], the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says, “See, I lay in Zion, a chosen and precious Cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-6
There can only be one cornerstone to a building; the Scriptures teach that the apostles are the foundation of the church and Christ is the Cornerstone (Rock) of the church. Only those who believe in and obey Christ and His commands are placed into the building as living stones.
How serious is it for a professing church to say that the church of the living God is built on a man? In saying so, they openly reject the Rock on which their eternal souls must rest to have eternal life. The church of God rests solely on THE ROCK!
Brother Bill is a Bible teacher and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org