“I Will Build My Church”
It is Jesus Christ who said:
“I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18)
The church Jesus said He would build had its beginning nearly two thousand years ago on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Acts chapter two records that as people obeyed the commands to believe in Jesus, repent and be baptized that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:36-47). Since that beginning, Jesus is still building His church with “living stones” (people obedient to His plan of salvation). The apostle Peter, writing to early disciples, says:
“…you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5)
As “living stones,” the members of Jesus’ church are being “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20, 22).
When we look out over the religious landscape today we see many religious groups, rather than just the one church Jesus said He would build. Many of today’s religious groups profess little, to no allegiance to Christ either in name or practice. Prominent religious leaders praise the fact that there are so many “churches” to choose from, and they advise people to choose one that appeals to their personal like and dislikes. With so many religious groups all claiming to follow the Bible, yet being far different from one another and extremely confusing in their conflicting doctrines, people conclude that it is next to impossible to identify a single church that qualifies as the church Jesus has built and is building. With so many religious groups today bearing little to no resemblance to the church you can read about in the Bible, is it even possible to identify the church Jesus shed His blood to purchase? Let’s note a fundamental identity mark of the church Jesus said He would build and is still building—the churches source of authority.
Authority—From Heaven, or from Men?
Jesus taught that there are only two sources of authority for any given religious practice or teaching: it is either from heaven (God) or it is from men.
“Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?’ But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you be what authority I do these things: The baptism of John, where was it from? From heaven or from men?’” (Matthew 21:23-25)
These Jewish leaders correctly recognized that authority from heaven (God) was necessary for them to believe Jesus’ teaching; unfortunately, they did not accept John or Jesus’ teaching even when it was evident it was from heaven. The religion of the Jews in Jesus’ day was no longer following the authority established by the law and prophets. Note Jesus’ condemnation of the religious leaders in His day:
“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men…All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:6-7,9)
These religious leaders were adding man’s commandments to the word of God or subtracting some of God’s word so that their beliefs and practices would suit themselves. This effectively describes much of the religious world today; their source of authority is from men, rather than from God.
“Heaven” is the Authority for the Church Jesus Builds
Jesus, as the head of His church, emphasized the need for authority from God for all that His church would teach and practice. After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, He said to His apostles:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)
This is one reason it is stated that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). This refers to the fact that the church was established by the teaching of the apostles which had it’s authority from heaven, Jesus Christ Himself. The foundation of Christ and His apostles is an immovable and unchangeable foundation because their teaching was given by the Holy Spirit and recorded one time for all time.
It is evident that the church Jesus built in the first century was established and governed by “the name of the Lord”; meaning, the authority of the Lord. When the apostles began carrying out Jesus’ commission to “make disciples of all the nations,” they commanded that people needed to “repent…and be baptized, in the name of the Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). And those who received the apostle’s teaching, repented and were baptized “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Jesus’ chosen apostles with the authority of heaven), and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42,47). The apostles’ preaching was done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 9:27-29). Those who responded in obedience to the apostles’ teaching of the gospel and were added to the church “were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
The instructions to the early disciples with respect to their standard of holiness were commanded by the apostles “through the Lord Jesus;” and anyone who rejected their teaching did “not reject man, but God” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). When the apostle Paul recorded certain principles and practices to govern proper worship when “the whole comes together in one place,” he admonished his readers to “acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:23, 37). Church discipline of disobedient members was commanded by the apostles “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). Clearly, all teachings and practices in organization, work, worship and doctrinal positions were to be based on the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
Does the religious group you support cite the God-inspired Scriptures for its establishment, its organization, its work and worship, and for its plan of salvation and doctrinal positions? A key identity mark that makes the church Jesus has built (and is building) different from all the other religious groups that exist today is having authority from “heaven” rather than “men” for all teachings and practices. Our appeal to you is that you will take the time to investigate the church here at Seminole Pointe; examine our teachings and practices to see if they are done by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. What church would be the church of God’s choice: one that has its authority from men, or one that has its authority from heaven?