Wednesday, 23rd May 2012
Biblical perspectives for living
I Will Build My Church
Following Peter's great confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," (Matthew 16:16), the Lord responded, ""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 Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:17-18).
The importance of these words can hardly be overstated. The Roman Catholic Church has based its authority on these words, and claim they can trace an unbroken chain of apostolic succession and authority back to St. Peter. But the Eastern Orthodox Church rejects that authority, as do the historic Protestant churches and the modern evangelical churches.
Obviously a brief article is not able to deal adequately with such a vast subject but it may be helpful to ask a few questions. In a previous generation, people were fearful of questioning the institutional church but now many are questioning not only the conduct of church officials but the very nature and institution of the church itself.
But where should our questions lead us? Many who are questioning the institutional church today want to reshape it and mould it according to their own ideals or preferences. But the church of Jesus Christ must be built according to His ideals and preferences, not ours. So we need to go back to His Word, the Holy Scriptures, to discover what the church is, what its purpose is, and how it should function. As Paul would say, "What does Scripture say?" (Romans 4:3).
So, what is the church? What was it that Jesus promised to build? Was it a wealthy, powerful organisation? Does the institutional church today bear any resemblance to the biblical record of the earliest history of the church recorded in the Acts of the Apostles? What can we learn from the letters written by the apostles Peter, Paul and John about the nature and purpose of the church? How is it that the church will be built?
Letters to the Editor
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