Matthew 16:17-19 – “Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” NKJV
Obviously there is much that can and should be said with regard to the truths revealed in this passage but my desire is to focus on the word CHURCH and think about that for this devotional. I do not want to get into the debate of petros and petra regarding Peter or the foundation of Christ’s Church but about THE CHURCH. There is far more to be examined that time or space will permit for a brief devotional but let’s embark on this brief journey.
The word used here is ‘ekklesia’ and in its simplest meaning is ‘a calling out’ or ‘those called out’ and the focus in its context is people not physical structures or organizations but PEOPLE. Jesus did not come to save denominations or buildings but people and people make up the Body of Christ which is the Church. Jesus promised to build His church and the idea of building is interesting 1 Corinthians 3 the apostle Paul specifically tells his listeners that they are God’s field and building and that he could be viewed as a wise master builder working to help them become that building of God. In Ephesians 2 he speaks of them as being a building again and one that is ‘fitted together’ growing into a Holy Temple. Peter declares in 1 Peter 2 that his listeners were a chosen people, royal priesthood and a holy nation who had been ‘called out’ for God’s purposes. That is a beautiful picture of THE CHURCH of Jesus Christ. We are a body, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a building, a family or THE CHURCH.
I upset some once when I declared that I did not go to church. They took that as meaning I did not attend gatherings and after I let them stew a minute qualified my statement saying, “I cannot go to what I am for I and you are the church not this physical structure.” Some still had difficulty with it and many pastors refer to the local congregation as “My Church” and if it is I’ll take a rain check on attending for I want to go where it is known and understood to be Christ’s Church. I do not mean to split hairs or engage in semantics but the principle and truth that the Church (people) is Jesus’ and He is the one building it using people and other things as tools.
I had a group become incredibly upset once when someone brought a food substance into the local sanctuary. They considered that a mortal sin and wanted the individuals to be publicly reprimanded for their great sin. After all that was THE CHURCH. They became even more upset with me when I stood in the pulpit and identified the structure we were worshiped as a SHEEP SHED and that the people sitting on the pews were THE CHURCH God’s Sheep. Understand, I respect the sanctuary and want others to do the same for it is the place we have designated as a House of Worship and the name of Christ is associated with it so it should be respected but IT IS NOT the Church it is a building made by man’s hands.
I am troubled when I see ornate edifices so elaborate and find there is no real ministry, outreach or benevolence transpiring. The focus is the SHEEP SHED not the PURPOSE and that is tragic, in my view. Consider what Jesus said about this ‘called out’ group He is assembling.
- The Gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
If you see the gate as a physical structure or the church as a building this statement makes zero sense. The gate represents the authority and the church represents believers and that makes it a powerful statement and is in harmony with the Lord’s words that we have “authority and power over all the power of the enemy.”
- This Church has the Keys of the Kingdom and Prevails.
A building cannot accomplish that only people empowered by the Spirit of God can.
Let me leave you with this: The Church is people who are born again through the Blood of Jesus and Grace of God. The Church belongs to Jesus and He is the Builder. The Church has power over the power of the enemy and prevails. WE are the Church and WE belong to Jesus! Therefore instead of making a building the Church in your view become the Church and demonstrate His power to the world.
God bless you as you go through this day!