I Will Build My Church
Matthew 16:18: At the coast of Caesarea Philippi, the man who stilled the storm tossed water and calmed the raging sea, laid this question on his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” He was saying that you are closer to the people, what is the grapevine information about me? The grapevine report was that some say that you are John the Baptist, others say Elijah, others are saying that you are Jeremiah, and some say just one of the prophets. At the coast of Caesarea Philippi, the Bread of Heaven, the Light of the World, the Lamb of God, was not satisfied with the grapevine report of any prophet will do. Thus, he turned to his disciples who had been with him nearly three years and laid this question on them, “Whom do you say that I am?” You have seen me open up a restaurant on the mountainside, walk on water like it was pavement, open up blinded eyes, and even raise the dead; now tell me what you think about me. It was then that courageous Peter proclaimed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). At the coast of Caesarea Philippi, my Bridge over Troubled Water let loose these words, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). At the coast of Caesarea Philippi, amid many ways, many gods, and many faiths, the Master said, “I will build my church.”
At Caesarea Philippi, an area crowded with temples erected to the idol god, Baal, where fifteen temples stood dedicated to the proposition of heathenism, idolatry, the Son of God said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” At Caesarea Philippi, surrounded by the gods of Greece and Rome, there was a great temple of glistening white marble built to the godhead of Caesar. In a city immersed in emperor worship, contrary to the true God who said, “I am the Lord thy God and thou shall have no other gods before me,” my Savior said, “I will build my church.” At Caesarea Philippi, where the orthodox religious people were planning to eliminate and destroy Jesus as a dangerous heretic, and he stands in an area littered with temples of Syrian gods, in a place where the ancient Greek gods looked down, where the white marble splendor of the home of Caesar worship dominated the landscape and compelled the eye, this homeless, penniless, Galilean carpenter with twelve ordinary men around him said, “I will build my church.” You don’t hear me. Jesus was saying that whatever the gods of Syria may have, I have more. Whatever the gods of Greece may have, I have more. Whatever the gods of Imperial Rome may have, I have more. Jesus was saying to them that I have light for your darkness, knowledge for your ignorance, peace for your souls and victory for your defeats.
A Critical Analysis of This Illustrious Text
Upon this rock Peter, you are the little rock, but upon this big rock, the Rock of Ages, the truth that I am the Son of God, I will build my church. Jesus did not build the church upon Peter but upon himself. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). That is why Peter called Jesus “The Living Stone,” “the Chief Cornerstone, “a Stone of stumbling,” and “a Rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:1-10). I will build my church- “I” is a personal pronoun, the first person singular, meaning that Christ would build his own church, and not the pope, John the Baptist, John Calvin, John Wesley, Richard Allen and C. H. Mason. It takes a perfect, sinless man to build the church and none of these men qualify except Jesus Christ. Will build; this is future tense. It was not in existence then but it will be built later. There are some things that I must do first. I must go to Jerusalem first. I must go to Calvary and die for your sins first. I must go to the grave and wrestle with death first. But don’t you worry, I will get up on the third appointed morning in order to make good my promise, “I will build my church.” My church; “my” is a possessive pronoun showing ownership. This church does not belong to any man, or the so-called reverend, but it belongs to Jesus Christ. Church is singular, meaning one church, not a denomination. The Lord promised to build one church. If he built more than one church, then he did not keep his promise. Any church will not do because Jesus built one church. In the midst of plurality, Jesus stated one church. One church is consistent with one God, one Lord, one way, one faith, and one baptism. It was one church then and it is one church now.
Oneness carries the idea of sameness, harmony, togetherness, unity. Someone says there is one church but all the different denominations make up the one true church. That may sound good, but there is only one thing wrong with it; it is not true. Some of you fine sisters can make some delicious pies, and some of you brothers are pie connoisseurs because you enjoy devouring the sisters’ pies. The question that is on the floor is, have any of you ever seen a pie like this one? This pie has an apple slice; next to it is a chocolate slice and next to the chocolate slice is a lemon meringue slice; then there is a pecan slice, and there is a blueberry slice. All black people are supposed to like sweet potato pie; therefore I must put that one in there. My brothers and sisters, if anyone ever brings you this type of pie, I advise you not to eat it. In an apple pie, every slice is an apple slice. The same is true of a chocolate pie. Every slice of a sweet potato pie is a sweet potato slice, and there is no lemon meringue slice in a sweet potato pie. Why is this true, brother preacher? It is true because oneness carries the idea of sameness, harmony, togetherness, unity. I am not really interested in discussing pies; I am more concerned about all these churches. Someone says that there is one church but all the different denominations make up that one church. Let us check out that pie again. The apple slice becomes the Adventist church slice, the chocolate slice becomes the Catholic church slice, the lemon meringue slice becomes the Lutheran church slice, the pecan becomes the Presbyterian church slice, the blueberry slice becomes the Baptist church slice and the sweet potato slice becomes the Pentecostal church slice. Just as the first pie did not make sense literally, the same is true when it comes to all these denominations.
Oneness carries the idea of sameness, harmony, togetherness, unity. It is impossible to get an Adventist and Baptist to agree on the same church, the same plan of salvation, and the same worship services. Why? They are not one. It is impossible to get a Catholic and a Jehovah’s Witness to agree on the same church, the same plan of salvation, and the same worship service. Why? They are not one. Therefore this old idea that all denominations make up the one true church is contrary to the Bible. Religious division is one of the greatest causes of unbelief in our world. Jesus prayed that we might be one. (John 17:20). Paul instructed us, “. . . that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
From This Verse Emerges the Name of the Church
Christ said, “I will build my church.” In Acts 16:15, Lydia is the subject under consideration, “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” She only said my house. Whose house was she talking about? She did not name it. Was she talking about your house, my house, John the Baptist’s house? Let us drop down to the fortieth verse of the same chapter, “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia . . .” My house is the house of Lydia. You can understand that, can’t you? YOU OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN CHRIST SAID MY CHURCH HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. HE WAS NOT TALKING ABOUT JOHN’S CHURCH, THE POPE’S CHURCH, JOHN WESLEY’S CHURCH, BUT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
Let us explore some relationships sustained by Christ with the church. The church is loved by Christ (Ephesians 5:25). The church is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). The church was purchased by Christ (Acts 20:28). The church will be saved by Christ (Ephesians 5:25 27). The church is sanctified by Christ (Ephesians 5:26, 27). The church was built by Christ (Matthew 16:18). The church is married to Christ (Romans 7:1-4). THAT IS WHY THE BIBLE CALLS IT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST (ROMANS 16:16). If you cannot find the name of the church that you belong to in the Bible, you are in the wrong church. Just as Jesus would not accept being identified as John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Elijah, or one of the prophets, he will not accept the man made named churches. Now do not run to the old argument that there is nothing in a name. Long time ago God had Adam to give names to every living animal.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him (Genesis 2:19, 20).
Since God deemed it necessary that all animals, birds, and plants have names, he thought it best that his church should be named. Let me sound my trumpet, what God hath named, let no man un-name.
I See the Indestructibility of the Church in This Verse
Jesus said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus was some preacher. From his precious lips came gems of literature, words of healing and life, messages of comfort, the good news of God’s kingdom. Jesus preached until the storms in men’s lives were quieted and the surging billows of passions were tamed. Jesus preached until the lame man got up and walked and scales fell from blinded eyes. Jesus preached until men threw away their crutches and dead men got up out of their graves. This preacher never preached a lie or false doctrine. This preacher preached the indestructibility of his church. This is the eternity of the church.
There are those who will tell you that the doctrine of hell torment is the devil’s doctrine. But I want you to listen to Jesus:
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42). And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off, it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands and go to hell into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43, 44).
Someone says that this simply means the smoldering fires of the valleyof Hinnonoutside Jerusalem, but Christ could not have been referring to the fires of a garbage dump when he spoke of everlasting fire. Today, the fires of the valley of Hinnon are not burning. In order for the eternity of the church to be a reality there must be a hell somewhere. Heaven cannot be without tears, suffering, or dying if ungodly people can go there. IN ORDER FOR HEAVEN TO BE HAPPY, THERE MUST BE A HELL. The church will be in existence when time shall be no more. The church will be in existence when the great judgment day has passed. I am so glad that I am a member of that indestructible church.
You ought to be a member of this church that is hell proof, blood bought and heaven bound. You don’t have to wait until the lightning flash or the thunder roar, but you must come by obeying from the heart that form of doctrine. When you come to God by HEARING the emancipating truth of the gospel, BELIEVING this soul saving gospel, REPENTING of your sins, CONFESSING the sweetest name in the world, and being BAPTIZED in water for the remission of your sins, I tell you that heaven will get busy and forgive you of your sins, add you to the right church, and let you become a child of God.
When you are a Christian, then God is your Hightower. Listen to the sweet singer of Israel: And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul. AND HE SAID, THE LORD IS MY ROCK, AND MY FORTRESS, AND MY DELIVERER: THE GOD OF MY ROCK, IN HIM WILL I TRUST; HE IS MY SHIELD, AND THE HORN OF MY SALVATION, MY HIGH TOWER, AND MY REFUGE, MY SAVIOUR; THOU SAVEST ME FROM VIOLENCE (2 SAMUEL 22:1-3). THE LORD IS MY ROCK AND MY FORTRESS, AND MY HIGH TOWER (PSALM 18:2).
Our heavenly Father, our vantage point, is so close to the field it is hard for us to see. We are so low and can see so little. But I am so glad there is one who sits high in the high tower and looks low. As the pilot flying through the storm must contact the tower, we in the storms of life today need to contact God, our high tower.
One night I was coming home from a meeting while living in Terrell, Texas, to the Dallas airport, the old Love Field, and the pilot said over the loudspeaker system, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are undergoing some turbulence. We will have to circle Dallas a while awaiting proper landing condition.” We went around and around over Dallas. The plane was shaking. The stewardess was shaking and fell to the floor dropping a lot of trays. We could not see anything except a streak of lightning occasionally. Suddenly, the pilot said, “Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing to be worried about we are in touch with the tower. We are in contact with the Dallas tower.” At the Dallas Airport there is a high tower overlooking the landing field. That tower has a vantage point that no other place has and people in that tower can see things that no one else can see. We were in constant contact with the tower and were guided to a safe landing.
EVERY CHILD OF GOD CAN SING: TRIALS DARK ON EVERY HAND, AND WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND ALL THE WAYS THAT GOD WILL LEAD US TO THAT BLESSED PROMISED LAND. BUT HE’LL GUIDE US WITH HIS EYES, AND WE WILL FOLLOW UNTIL WE DIE. WE WILL UNDERSTAND IT BETTER BY AND BY.
I am so glad that we have a HighTowerand He who sits high looks low and knows about every storm in our lives. He sits high and looks low and knows about every problem in our lives. He sits high and looks low and knows about every heartache and every sorrow. He comes down and lifts our heavy load, moves our burdens and makes our pathway brighter. I would be afraid to live in Newark, New York City or any city if I were not in contact with the High Tower. If you are not in touch with the High Tower, why not come and give your life to him today?