Because Jesus Is Its Builder & Foundation

This study is about the builder of the Church. The fact that a building exists is proof that it was built by someone. Paul declares in Hebrews 3:4, "For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things [is] God." The Church had to be built by someone. You may be thinking "Why is that important?" or "What difference does it make?" In answer to those questions, I would say that it makes a great deal of difference. Since many churches exist today, it is important that we identify the one built by Jesus. One way we can do this is by studying the builder of the Church.


In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says He will build "my Church." The Church belongs to Jesus. It is His because He purchased and built it. I have no church, you have no church, only Jesus has a Church. If this is the case, from where do all the religious bodies in the world today come? The answer is simple. Someone has been building churches when they had no right to do so. Organizations in the world today that owe their existence to John Wesley, Joseph Smith Jr., Henry VIII, Mary Baker Eddy, or any other human being, can never hope to meet the scriptural requirements of the Word of God. If Jesus is not the builder, then the church is not the one of the Bible.


Some people have mistakenly taught that John built the Church. This cannot be true for several reasons. First of all, let us notice what Matthew 14:10 says, "So he sent and had John beheaded in prison." Thus, this passage marks the death of John; however, it is two chapters later that Jesus says, "I will build my Church." Notice the future tense of "will build." In other words, the Church had not been built at the time of Matthew 16:18, it was still future; therefore, since John was already dead, he could not have built it. Secondly, notice Matthew 11:11, "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Now the question is this: if John is a great man, why would it be said that the least in the Church was greater than he was? The answer is as simple as the question. John was never in the kingdom or Church. He died before it was built. Therefore, the very least in the Church is greater than John. But thirdly, let us notice another reason John could not have built the Church. John 3:29-30, "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I [must] decrease." The language and lesson here are familiar. When a couple marry, the bridegroom gets the bride. The friend of the bridegroom or the best man, who stands up with them, is not the bridegroom. Thus, Jesus, the bridegroom, is married to the Church; John, the friend of the bridegroom (best man), is not. Jesus, the bridegroom, must increase. John the Baptist, who is the friend of the bridegroom, must decrease. But let us notice this lesson further. Suppose when you married your wife, she had turned to you immediately after the ceremony and said "Now I love you, but I prefer to wear the name of the best man instead of yours!!!" That, no doubt, would have shocked and saddened you. What do you think Christ thinks of His bride, the Church, when she says I do not want to wear your name, I would rather wear the name of someone else or the name of the best man? John the Baptist did not build the Church, neither should the Church wear his name.


In Matthew 15:13 we read, "But He answered and said, 'Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." What a solemn warning. If the Lord did not plant or build the institution, it is destined to destruction. There is no escape from this conclusion. Check, my dear friend--did Jesus build the church of which you are a member, or is it of human origin?


No less important than the builder is the foundation of the Church. No building is stronger than its foundation. What, then, is the foundation of the Church? Is it human or divine? Is it weak or secure? Again, let us go back to Matthew 16:18. Jesus says, "on this rock I will build My Church." What is "this rock" to which Jesus refers? Whatever it is, upon it the Church is to be built. In order to get the complete picture of the text, we invite your attention again to verse 16, "Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Then, in verse 17, the Lord blesses Peter for the confession he had made, and in verse 18 promises to build His Church. It is clear from the above that Jesus planned to build the Church upon the fact of Peter's confession, i.e., the fact that He was the Son of the living God. What a blessed thought, to know that the Church is founded upon such a secure foundation. The Church is founded upon the Lord and the fact that He is God's Son.

Some have mistakenly interpreted this passage and taught that Christ promised to build the Church on Peter. I believe a closer look at the wording, however, will show that this is not, and cannot be, true. When Jesus says, "I also say to you that you are Peter...," he uses the Greek word for Peter which is petros, meaning a stone, a rock, a small pebble, etc. But, when He says "on this rock...", He uses the Greek word petra, meaning a huge mass or ledge of rock. The two words are different, as are their meanings. The Church is founded upon the fact that Jesus is God's infallible Son, not upon fallible, erring men, such as Peter.

The following passages prove the Church is built upon Christ and not upon Peter. I Corinthians 3:11, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Language could not be plainer than this. If Peter became the foundation of the Church, Paul certainly did not know it, nor did he deceive the Corinthians into believing it. Ephesians 2:20, "Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner[stone]." Again, Paul affirms that Jesus is the solid foundation upon which our faith rests. Next, let us notice a prophecy from Isaiah in chapter 28 and verse 16, "Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.' " Of whom does the prophet speak? There is no better way to answer that question than to allow Jesus Himself to speak. Hear Him in Matthew 21:42 as he applies the prophecy to Himself: "Jesus said to them, 'Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?" Again, to make doubly sure, we find the apostle Peter by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit applying the same prophecy to Jesus in Acts 4:11. "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' " Surely these scriptures are sufficient to show that Jesus and not the apostle Peter is the head of the Church as well as its foundation. If the Church were built upon Peter, he certainly did not know it.

No building can endure longer than its foundation. When the foundation begins to crumble and decay, the building will soon do the same. This is the reason it is so important that we recognize that the Church is built upon a divine rather than a human foundation. Christ is eternal and immortal. He cannot die, in that He has already conquered death. Therefore, as the foundation of the Church, He will endure forever. What a consoling thing it is to know that the changing scenes of time cannot affect the Church. Death, decay, depreciation, or dilapidation cannot harm her, for Christ shall live forever.

But what about those institutions that are built upon some man or some human doctrine? The answer is plain. They cannot hope to remain. Since no building is stronger than the foundation upon which it rests, and since these organizations are founded upon man, the inescapable conclusion is that when man ceases to exist, they will also. And in addition to that, Jesus declares in Matthew 15:13, "But He answered and said, 'Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.' " This is the dismal future to which every human organization looks. Please consider the matter seriously today. Leave behind all manmade churches and take your stand with the Lord in His Church, the one which He built and of which He is the foundation, the only one that will abide forever.

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