Building a Church 101
Architects must use their greatest wisdom and skill when building a building or embarrassment will result. The greatest care should also be shown when building a church. “Unless the LORD builds a house, They labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1). Jesus built the church using the greatest wisdom and care. Let’s examine that wisdom and care.
Jesus Built the Church Himself
Jesus promised to build his church (Mt. 16:18). The apostles would not build the church – Jesus himself would do so. The church would not belong to a man–Jesus said it would be his church.
Many churches have been founded by man. Some examples of man-made churches: John Wesley founded the Methodist Church. Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church. John Calvin founded the Presbyterian Church. Any church founded by man cannot be the church Jesus established.
Man does not have the right to establish his own church. Jesus said that he would establish the church. Any attempt by man to establish a church is a slap in the face to Jesus. It’s a slap in the face to Jesus, because man is saying that he can do a better job that what Jesus did.
Since Jesus built the church, it belongs to him. Notice that Jesus referred to the church as “my church.” Paul referred to the “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). Jesus paid for the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). Jesus had to pay for the church with his very blood. The church, therefore, needs to be important to us. So many men have given their lives for this country – we honor those men and this country for the sacrifice they made. Since Jesus gave his lifeblood for the church, we ought to reverence him and the church for which he died. Since Jesus died for the church, the church is nothing to treat with contempt. We need to support the church with every ounce of our being.
Jesus only promised to build one church. He referred to it as “my church,” singular rather than plural. The New Testament elsewhere teaches that there is only one church. “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). We “are one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5). We “are one body” (1 Cor. 12:12). The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). All the division that exists religiously cannot be pleasing to God, for he built only one church.
Because Jesus built the church and paid for it with his blood, he is its head. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is the head of the church. “He is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). Christ is the head (Eph. 4:15). “Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23).
Since Jesus is the head of the church, he should determine the church’s behavior. Since Jesus is the head of the church, we ought to have the music he wants, not the music I want. Since Jesus is the head of the church, we ought to have the church organized the way he wants, not the way I want. Since Jesus is the head of the church, we ought to give women the role he wants, not the role I want.
Are we honoring Jesus as the head of the church?
The Church was Established upon Jesus as the Foundation
Jesus promised to build the church upon a firm foundation (Matt. 16:13-19). Jesus came and asked his disciples what people were saying about him. The apostles told Jesus what they had heard people say. The people of his day sensed the kingdom was at hand. The people said they thought Jesus was a figure they expected to return before the coming kingdom. But, Jesus wanted to know what the apostles thought about him. Peter stands and says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus blessed Peter and makes Peter a promise. Jesus promised Peter that he would build his church on that rock, the rock of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.
The New Testament teaches that the church was established upon Jesus. “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). Peter called Jesus the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone” (Acts 4:11). “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.”
The Church was Established in Jerusalem
The Old Testament prophesied that the church would be built in Jerusalem. “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Is. 2:3). The Lord’s house would be built in Jerusalem (Zech. 1:16).
Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary that repentance and remission of sins be preached in his name beginning at Jerusalem (Lk. 24:47).
On the day of Pentecost repentance and remission of sins was preached in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem were dwelling devout Jews (Acts 2:5). Peter stood and told the crowd they had crucified the Messiah (Acts 2:36). They cried out, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter told them to “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
The Church was Established on the Day of Pentecost
The prophecies stated that the church would be established in the latter days (Is. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-2). Daniel prophesied that God’s kingdom would be established in the days of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:44). When John the Baptist began his ministry, he began proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matt. 3:1-3).
Jesus, too, began his ministry by preaching that God’s kingdom was about to be established. After John was imprisoned, Jesus began proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15). Jesus promised to build his church (Matt. 16:18). Jesus told his disciples that some would not die until they had seen the kingdom of God come (Mk. 9:1).
The time of Pentecost fits the prophecies made about the church. Isaiah prophesied that many nations would flow into the church (Is. 2:2) – At Pentecost, Jews were in Jerusalem “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Daniel prophesied that the church would be established “in the last days” (Dan. 2:44). Peter used Joel’s prophecy to refer to those days as “the last days” (Acts 2:17). Zechariah prophesied that the church would be established in Jerusalem (Zech. 1:16) – The events of Pentecost took place in Jerusalem. These events would have taken place during the time of the Roman Empire, just as Daniel prophesied.
After Pentecost, the church was considered established. The Lord added to their number those being saved (Acts 2:47) – Their number refers to the church. Peter said that the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles “at the beginning” (Acts 1 1:15).
Jesus built a wonderful church for his disciples. Are you a member of that church?