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On this Rock I will build My Church


Paul  Wong

 

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18)

 

This statement of our Lord Jesus Christ has been the subject of controversy within the Christian religion for many centuries.  There are three interpretations from various sources.

 

The Roman Catholic Church’s interpretation of this verse is that the apostle Peter is the rock that Christ talked about, therefore they believe he was their first pope.

 

"Christ appointed the Apostle Peter to be the first of all the Apostles and to be the visible Head of the whole Church, by appointing him immediately and personally to the primacy of jurisdiction.  According to Christ's ordinance, Peter is to have successors in his primacy, over the whole Church and for all time. The successors of Peter in the Primacy are the Bishops of Rome." 

 

DeFide, quoted in Ludwig Ott. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, ed. in English by James Canon Bastible, and tr. from the German by Patrick Lynch, (St. Louis, Mo.: Herder, 1954); Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, (Oct. 7, 1954), pp. 279-282.

 

The second interpretation comes from Protestant churches that ascribe “this rock” to Peter’s confession of “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Mt. 16:16)  Then there is a third interpretation that  “this rock” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Let us examine other Scriptures and see what they say about the rock.

 

“For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God.  He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” (Deut. 32:3-4)

“And he said: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:2-3)

"For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?(2 Sam. 22:32)

"The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!” (2 Sam. 22:47)

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psm. 18:2)

“Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.” (Psm. 78:35)

“and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4)

 

There is overwhelming support from the Scriptures that “this rock” that our Lord talked about can only refer to Himself and not Peter or Peter’s confession.  It is helpful to note that Peter’s Aramaic name “Cephas” actually means "a small stone," while the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Rock Of Ages.  Even Peter himself acknowledged our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Rock”.

 

“Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." (1 Pet. 2:6-8)

 

Using a common metaphor of “the rock” that is often understood by builders to be a strong and solid foundation for a building our Lord Jesus Christ spoke this parable.

 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” (Mt. 7:24-25)

 

The Church of God is called God’s building (1 Cor. 3:9).  The apostle Paul wrote:

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:10-11)

 

Here is the decisive, compelling and convincing evidence that “this rock”, which is the only foundation for the Church, can refer to no one and nothing else except the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The gates of Hades shall not prevail

against the Church of Jesus Christ

 

The most confusing aspect about Christianity is the vast number of denominations that exist in the world today.  Which one is the Church of Jesus Christ?  The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are very clear.  He said “on this rock I will build My church”, and not “My churches”. 

 

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)

 

“There is one body” signifies there is only one Church and “one Spirit” means He is the same as the Holy Spirit of God.  “One Lord” indicates this one Church is under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.  “One faith” means this one Church believes in the true faith that is taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles.   “One baptism” shows that believers can only administer the one true form of water baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ.  “One God and Father of all” is the One True God who manifested Himself in the flesh as the Lord Jesus Christ.  The heavenly Father is the Spirit of God “who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

 

Some people teach the Church of Jesus Christ is composed of all the various denominations in the world.  This contradicts with the above truth because these denominations do not have a unified faith and baptism.  The only Church that qualifies to be the Church of Jesus Christ is the original one that was established by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself built that early Apostolic Church by the power of the Holy Spirit and it is the model church for all congregations.   Any church that resembles the original Apostolic Church in all the important aspects is the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

What has happened to the original Apostolic Church?  If you read the Acts of the Apostles you will understand how the church had deteriorated and fallen.  The apostle Paul had warned the believers, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30)  That time was about A.D. 60.  Just thirty years later about A.D. 90 the apostle John wrote to the believers, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 Jn. 2:18-19)  Here we can see who were in the Church of Jesus Christ and who were not. 

 

In A.D. 96 the apostle John was exiled in the Greek island of Patmos where the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him pathetic condition of the seven churches in Asia Minor. 

 

1.    To the church of Ephesus the Lord Jesus Christ said, “You have left your first love.” (Rev. 2:4)

2.  The church of Smyrna have “the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9) 

3.    The Lord revealed the sins of the church in Pergamos, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. . . there are those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.” (Rev. 2:13-14)

4.    The church in Thyatira allowed “that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20) 

5.    Jesus told the church in Sardis, “I have not found your works perfect before God.” (Rev. 3:2)

6.    To the church in Philadelphia the Lord said, “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie.” (Rev. 3:9) 

7.    The Lord’s message to the church of the Laodiceans is this:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot.” (Rev. 3:15)

 

These seven churches in Asia Minor symbolize the general condition of all the denominational churches in the world.  Every one of them has faults.  These words of the Lord Jesus Christ are not only for them but also for all the congregations in our present time: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19)

 

Again, you may ask, where is the Church of Jesus Christ?  Let me show you where it is.

“Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."  Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.  But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” (Rev. 12:12-14)  “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17)

 

“The woman who gave birth to the male Child” signifies the Church of Jesus Christ which is persecuted by the devil (Eph. 5:23-25, 30-33; 1 Thes. 2:14-15).  “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle” indicates God will protect and renew the strength of the Church of Jesus Christ  (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11-12; Isa. 40:31).  “Where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” is an indication that the Church of Jesus Christ will be hidden and preserved from the devil for a period of time.  During the time of the prophet Elijah God protected the remnants of Israel from the wicked Jezebel by hiding them in caves (1 Kn. 18:13; 19:18).  Throughout the history of Christianity when the Church of Jesus Christ was persecuted God had always provided a safe haven for the saints.  The two characteristics of the Church of Jesus Christ are that they “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:17) “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12).

 

Of all the Ten Commandments the fourth one relating to the Seventh Day Sabbath is not kept by the majority of the visible congregations in Christendom.  The New Testament is very clear about the early Apostolic Church keeping the Seventh Day Sabbath (Acts. 13:42-44; 16:13).  Church history informs us that the day of worship was officially changed from the Seventh Day to Sunday by the Roman emperor Constantine when he embraced Christianity.  True to the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ that His Church would be built and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” there is a continuity of the Seventh Day Sabbath observance throughout the ages. 

 

Click on the URLs below  

 http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/sabbaththrucenturies.html

Victorious Saints in China 

 http://victorioussabbathkeepers.yolasite.com

House Churches in China  

http://housechurchesinchina.yolasite.com

 

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against the Chinese Church

http://www.persecution.org/concern/2001/06/p2.html

Excerpt from an article written by Heather Hunter

International Christian Concern Correspondent:

 

“Despite the many problems the Christians face, the believers of China also have some amazing testimonies.  The following story was told to us by Brother Yung: "A few years ago the authorities wanted to ruin a baptismal service that my church had organized. They planned to block up the creek with rocks and put feces in the water so it would become dirty.  However, one of the church members, the wife of a police officer, came to know about their evil plans, and she informed the church leaders.

 

The night of the planned service the believers gathered together in a house and began to pray. They were going to wait and see what happened.  Meanwhile, around 40 police officers were gathered together in a building next door. As the Christians prayed, the building where the police were gathered began to shake. The police became very afraid and fled from the building, abandoning their evil plans to ruin the baptismal service. The Lord had answered the prayer of His children and the Christians were able to carry out their baptismal service as planned. Praise God for His faithfulness to the Christians of China. Their buildings are destroyed but the church - the body of Christ - is being built up day by day!”

 

 
May  God  bless  you
 
A Sermon based on this article was preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on April 19, 2003
 
This is article is published on this Website on July 15, 2009
 
For Comments please write first to: arkpw@sbcglobal.net
 

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