The only scriptural reference specifically highlighting Jesus as promising to build His Church is in the Book of Matthew. I am aware of the tomes having been produced, concerning God’s true Church, throughout the centuries. I suppose modest presentations remain necessary, for those desiring to authenticate the voice of Jesus. This is not suggesting that the author carries a responsibility to guide anyone towards God’s true Church, necessarily:
“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. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ” (Matthew 16:18-20) (NIV).
(1) The Church that Jesus talked about was not a physical structure. Jesus was referring to Peter’s understanding—which flesh and blood had not provided—having come to Peter by God’s revelation (v17). This, therefore, implies that the members of that Church would comprise those privileged to also receive the revelation, like Peter.
(2) Death would not prevail against that Church. It is impossible to destroy God’s Church because it is based on truth. Anything that is based on falsehood can stand, but only for a short period. God’s true Church is indestructible. There are many Churches that are as popular as assumed to represent God’s true Church. But they will all come to an end.
(3) Peter was given the authority, with which the foundation of that Church was to be established. Peter’s name was used as representative of the entire discipleship of Jesus (Ephesians 2:20). This is just as Peter became the spokesman, after the Pentecostal miracle of Acts 2. That miracle served to fulfill what Jesus had said in Matthew 16:18.
(4) The disciples were warned not to tell anyone that Jesus was the Christ. But, what if those disciples had not heeded the instruction not to tell anyone? Who else would then believe their assertion that Jesus was the Christ? The most important point is that there was no general publicity of the Messiahship of Jesus, but His activities would not be hidden.
Another important aspect of this analysis is that the physical humans have no role in the building of that Church. Peter might have decided to drop out of that Church, whose gates of Hades, Jesus said, would not prevail against it. Indeed, Peter and his colleagues later died, but that Church stands, up to this present date. It is impossible for many people to find that Church because people look for personalities when assuming God’s Church to be associated with individuals.
Naturally, humans desire to confer allegiance to physical things. Such humans are not different from those who failed to see the Christ in Jesus, in the first century. Just a few people saw The Christ, but the rest remained mystified. Even the renowned Theologians still believe that Christ left the scene, never to be seen again, after His resurrection and ascension to Heaven.
However, while true that the physical aspect of Jesus ascended to Heaven, His spiritual beingness, never left the scene. This is according to what Jesus revealed when giving instruction to His disciples after His resurrection. This is difficult to understand to the rest of humanity, but easy for those identifying with the spiritual aspect of Jesus, as revealed to Peter. That secretive aspect of Jesus remains hidden, even today.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Emphasis mine) (Matthew 28:19-20) (NIV).
This is the aspect of Jesus that was revealed to Peter, as shown in Matthew 16:16. The majority of people had all along seen the physical aspect of Jesus—referred to as the Son of Man. But those people had not seen The spiritual aspect of Jesus—as revealed to Peter, who had declared: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) (NIV).
The Son of Man and the Son of the Living God cannot be synonymous, though referring to the same person. The former is dishonorable, but the latter is honorable. Indeed it takes one with an analytical mind to see that there was nothing honorable in the physical body of Jesus. That body was presented to humanity as a sacrifice for their sins. All this falls in place, according to the pattern, as presented by Paul to the Corinthians:
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spirit did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:42-46) (NIV).
The literal translation of the word Adam means “Soil” or mud. This follows the reality that Adam came from the soil. But we see that the last Adam who became a life-giving spirit was Jesus. The difference between the two Adams is that the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Due to the sin at the Garden of Eden, the first Adam succumbed, so that He could not be a life-giving spirit.
Tempted similarly by the same tempter, Jesus overcame where Adam failed (Matthew 4:3-11). Figuratively, we are seeing two brothers engaged in the game of survival. One gets entangled in sin, unable to come out of it. His brother—even without having had any condemnation, whatsoever—sacrifices His own interests, in order to rescue His perishing sibling.
There could not have been any other way that the condemned brother could be rescued, from that condition of decay. Except through the unblemished Jesus, who had to first overcome where His succumbing sibling failed, before engaging in that gigantic rescue operation. These two brothers are of the same source—the Sons of the living God.
The only difference between Jesus and humanity is that Jesus is not a product of what happened at the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the surviving Son of the living God, just as Adam had been the Son of the living God. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). But Jesus is the one who remained to be the only express image of the living God—unlike Adam.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15) (NIV). “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4) (NIV) “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3) (NIV).
Though, as simple as narrated here, it baffles the mind of a mortal man, why Theologians go against this viewpoint? Only when carefully analyzing the words of Jesus, can one perceive that Jesus never promised to confer understanding to Theologians? Nevertheless, the mortal man continues in that state of bafflement, as unable to understand how Theologians could be reading through such Scriptures like the one following:
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:39-44) (NIV).
What baffles the mind does not, necessarily, invite despising those Theologians. One respects those Theologians, in consideration that they put much time studying God’s word. One sincerely values the time taken by any individual, putting many hours, studying God’s word. Although, Jesus Himself, alluded to the fact that the secrets of the Kingdom had been hidden to ordinary people (Mark 4:10-12).
The mortal man assumes that the Theologians are not ordinary. This is when considering the time spent on studying God’s word? Yet the hidden mystery lies in what Jesus asserted—as revealed by His Father in Heaven, concerning the Christ.
When sincerely looking for God’s true Church—where can one point at? The answer is as simple as appreciating that the beingness of Jesus, remains present until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20b). The misdirection has all along been committed by those declaring themselves to be the representatives of God’s true Church.
There is no truth in anyone declaring to be the representative of God’s Church. Because Jesus remains the only one holding the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus promised to give those keys to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
There is no record of Jesus ever promising to give those keys to any other person except Peter. However, Peter’s name was used as representing the early discipleship. It is possible that Jesus might have given those keys to others, after the death of the apostles. But there is no record of Him ever saying anything about the keys, except as categorically stated on Peter’s incident. We do not have any other source of information about Christianity, except what is recorded in the Bible.
A truthful person trusts only what comes from the original source, rather than accepting various forms of assumptions. The fact that Pastor so and so may have been a great preacher, does not entitle him/her to be the holder of the keys, necessarily. Nevertheless, Jesus said He would never leave His disciples until the end of the age. Only those with the propensity for idolatry, get fascinated by great preachers, when putting them in the position of Christ. There are many such preachers who have stocked this world, throughout the centuries.
The important question lies on what the fantastic preachers preached? Indeed, such preachers ought to be listened to, as long as preaching God’s word. But, as soon as they preach what is contrary to the teachings of Jesus, they deserve no attention, on that particular aspect, alone. See [Humans are potentially good, but also potentially evil].
A Christian should neither be in the business of validating personalities, based on what they preach at any given time. Nor should Christians be in the business of invalidating personalities on the basis of not saying the words of Jesus, at any given time. The focus should always be on validating the actual words—not personalities—necessarily. Amazingly, there is truth among most of those conglomerate Christian groupings. A wise person is able to select the nuggets of gold—from the filthy and muddy surroundings.
It, actually, would surprise many people that, like all of us, the early apostles, also had frailties. But, there is no need to dwell on their deviations—except to abide by what they said, as clearly advanced the teachings of Jesus. David was a man after God’s own heart. But many a Christian gets unnecessarily disturbed, by the story of David, concerning Uriah and Bathsheba.
One belongs to God’s true Church when having no time to think about other people’s sins, but focusing only on what Jesus taught. That person remains open to listening to whoever Jesus uses to expound His words. Without exception, we all need grace. The model of God’s Church is symbolized in forgiving one another and appreciating one another for being used by Jesus, at any given time. That is why there cannot be anyone to be first to cast a stone, against a fellow brother?
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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