In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus made this promise almost two thousand years ago. Notice that Jesus did not say He would build a church, or churches, or one of His churches. He did say, “…I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18). The apostle Paul wrote, “There is one body…” (Eph. 4:4). Paul also wrote, “…the church, which is his body… (Eph. 1:22,23). From these verses it is obvious that Jesus only built one church. The word church comes from a Greek word “ekklhsia” which means “called out.” The church in the New Testament was composed of people who had obeyed the Gospel and thus they were called out of darkness into the Light of the Son of God (2 Thess. 2:13, Col. 1:13). It is our plea for people to return to this simple pattern. With more than one thousand denominations existing today, can we find the church Jesus promised to build?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes! The Bible gives us all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), so God has given us the information we need to recognize the church Jesus built. Read the Bible, find the description of the church and then find the one church that matches that description. I would like to suggest some distinguishing marks of the church Jesus built.
First, an illustration. If someone were to ask you to go to the airport to pick up someone you had never met, you would ask for a description of the person. For the sake of this illustration, we will say the description you are given is as follows: the person is a Caucasian male who is six feet tall and weighs about two hundred and fifteen pounds, they have brown hair and brown eyes. You would immediately recognize this description is helpful, but not enough to distinguish them from a host of other men. So, you would probably ask for more information. The man they say will be wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. He also has a scar on his forehead. But, and maybe even most importantly, they will also tell you the person’s name. Armed with this information, you could find this person quite easily. So, let us begin our journey looking for the one church built by Jesus Christ.
Next, notice the Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom of heaven denote the oneness of the church. The church of Christ is the kingdom of heaven. This is evident from Jesus’ use of the words in Matthew 16:18-19 when speaking to Peter,
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Notice Jesus promised to build His church and give Peter the keys to open the doors to the kingdom of heaven. Obviously, Jesus is using two descriptive terms to describe the same thing. Now to the Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom of heaven.
Notice only one kingdom was prophesied. Isaiah and Micah wrote about the mountain of the Lord’s house being established in the last days in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1-3 and Mic. 4:1-2). Notice there is only one mountain, and one house. All nations were to flow into it. Daniel also prophesied the kingdom being established in the days of the Roman kings (Daniel 2).
The Old Testament prophets told us the King was coming and He would build His kingdom. Jesus alone has the right to build the church. He alone is the One Who shed His blood to purchase the church. Notice Paul’s statement in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
Also consider when the church was built. The Old Testament prophesied that the kingdom of God, the church, would be built during the time of the Roman Emperors (Dan. 2:44). Jesus lived and died during the days of the Roman empire. So, we would expect the church Jesus built to be established during those days, which exactly what the Bible teaches.
Notice also where the church was built. Again, the Old Testament prophets predicted that the church would be built in Jerusalem (Isa. 2, Dan. 2, and Joel 2; to name a few). We learn in Acts 2 that that is exactly where the church was established.
It should be abundantly clear that of all the major “religious groups” that exist today that we can say without fear or hesitation that they were all built during the wrong time, in the wrong place, by the wrong person, and they carry the wrong name! The only exception to that rule is the church of Christ. Please carefully and prayerfully read your Bible and see if what we have written is not so.