“Let us be clear about this fact, that the Church is not merely a company of people whose sins are forgiven and who are going to heaven; it is a company of those whose eyes have been opened by God to recognize the person and work of the Son.” -Nee
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church;and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” -Matthew 16:13-18
Today’s post will focus on the above passage. It reveals the foundation of Church. The same foundation that Paul refers to when he says “According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation.” What foundation did Paul and the disciples lay? Well, it starts in Matthew 16 with Peter’s famous confession.
Jesus is sitting with his disciples, he begins to speak with them by asking two questions. The first question was “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They gave the answers, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. This was the answer by the general population of people, as to who they thought Jesus was.
Then Jesus turns the next question a little bit more personal by asking his disciples,
“But, who do you say I am?” Peter is the first to speak up with the famous words, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
We know that no one knows the Son except the Father. And it’s the Father’s job to reveal His Son to us in our spirit. And Jesus lets Peter know that flesh and blood did not reveal that to him but His Father in heaven did.
THE ONE FOUNDATION
If I were asked the question today, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? I would have to reply, he is a bible study, or he is this doctrine or that doctrine, or he is the institutional church or he is this theory or that theory, he is this teaching.
So what is the significance of the second question, Who do you say I am? The answer to this question reveals the foundation of the church. The answer is a confession based upon a revelation of a living Person. And that person is THE CHRIST! This was the confession Peter gave, THE CHRIST, the Son of the Living God.
The Christ that God is summing up all things in, the Christ who is Head over the church, the Christ who is above all things, the Christ who holds all things together, the Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father and so much more. The church begins with the revelation that CHRIST is today, right here right now, an active, real and living person. He is the Son of the living God, so if God is living then Christ is living, which makes Christ Alive and Real today.
A MAN CENTERED GOSPEL
So Peter has just confessed who Jesus is, THE CHRIST, the Son of the Living God. Then Jesus replies back to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Now see this is where some can get tripped up and think Jesus is saying he is building his church upon Peter because of his great confession. This idea indirectly communicates that man has something good in him. This is also a gospel centered around man and not the person of CHRIST. It reveals the lack of revelation as to the living person of CHRIST and him as the center of all things, even the church.
As you will see, Peter’s name means little rock. The Greek 4074 Petros a small stone, means properly, a stone or a pebble, such as a small rock found along a pathway.
But this is not the same as the ROCK upon which The Christ will build his Church. The Greek word for Rock that’s used in the same sentence is 4073 Pétra. Which is “a mass of connected rock – One Big ROCK. This is distinct from 4074 Pétros which is “a detached stone or boulder. Peter is a piece of THE ROCK who is Christ.
The church is built on the revelation of the person of The CHRIST who is the Son of the living God and not Peter. Visualize Jesus pointing to himself when he says, Upon this Rock, I am the Rock which the church is built upon.
“What then is the Church? It is a structure of LIVING stones founded upon the ROCK. And what is that rock? Here it is that we need to be very clear. It is the confession based upon a revelation of a Person. It is based upon the The Rock Christ – yes, but a revealed Christ not a theoretical or doctrinal Christ.” -Nee
It is this church that the gates of hell will not overpower because the gates of hell cannot overpower CHRIST. The church is only the church because the living CHRIST is in her. But if you do not see Christ as a real and living person you will miss the biggest portion of who THE CHRIST truly is, the foundation and purpose of the church. He is Everything, the ALL in ALL – He is THE CHRIST and THE CHURCH.
The main difference between the two questions Jesus asked that day is it contrasts between those who know Christ as a person and those who just know things about Him. To know things about Christ does not mean that you know Christ.
So who do you say He is? This confession is important because it is the foundation upon which the church is built. Even today this can only be revealed to you by the Father. The church is not built upon our theories and doctrines but on the very Person of CHRIST.
CORNERSTONE AND FOUNDATION
We see Peter came into a fuller understanding of what he confessed that day before The Christ, in 1 Peter 2:4-6 and 9-10:
4”As you come to Him, Christ the living stone, who is rejected by men, but chosen and precious in God’s sight, 5 “you also, like living stones,are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “See, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame…”
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
It is the person of Christ who is the foundation and cornerstone of the spiritual house of God. This house is made of many small living stones that are a part of the one big ROCK being built together. So, Who do you say I am?
“No man knows the Son except the Father. Flesh and blood cannot know the man God has established. Yet He must be known, for the Church’s foundation is not only Christ but the knowledge of Christ.” -Nee