The Church: A Divine Design ~ The Authority of the Church

The Authority of the Church


Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV)  ~ “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”


In these verses, Christ has not fully fulfilled the plan for redemption, yet, He is already preparing the disciples for the work to come. He is revealing the design of the church and the authority it possesses.

As we’ve already considered, it is a blessing to be counted part of the church. The saved are born into the family of God and made part of the church, the Bride of Christ. There is nothing on earth like the church. There is no other group of people or organization that possesses what the church has. We are not just an organization or a gathering of people; we are the church of the living God.


Let’s look at the principles regarding the church:

The Construction of the Church (18a) ~ “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” In this one simple statement Jesus reveals the architectural design for the church. In many ways it is similar to other building projects and yet it is divinely unique.
  1. The Sovereign Ordination ~ “I will build my church.” Christ declares that it is His church and He will be the One doing the construction. The church was not hatched out of an idea that humanity needed a place to congregate, get motivated, feel good about themselves, and remain reclusive from the world. The church is an institution that was ordained of God Himself. Our blessed Lord founded the church, died for the church, determined when it would be born, and He built the church.
    1. The church is not an average, ordinary gathering of people. It is made up of the redeemed of Christ. Although I fear that many have lost sight of that divine truth. Many church bodies view the work of the Lord no differently than they do the work of the world. They have no more concern or devotion for the church than any other aspect of life.
    2. It ought to excite us to be part of the church. We ought to rejoice that we have been saved and placed in the church. We are part of the church of the living God!
  2. The Solid Foundation ~ “Upon this rock I will build my church.” There can be no doubt that the church was built upon a solid foundation. She has been here for some 2,000 years. Storms have come, persecution has been persistent, and many have tried to tear her down, and yet she remains. I want to take a moment to consider the rock on which the church was built. This has been the subject of debate and controversy for ages.
    1. The Myth—Some look at this verse and assume that the church is built upon Peter. Peter’s name in the Greek language was Petros which means “a rock or a stone.” The Roman Catholics teach that Christ built the church upon Peter, the rock. They claim that he was the first pope of the church.
      1. Clearly we know that Peter is not the rock to which Jesus referred. He was just a mortal, sinful man. He did not possess the ability or the deity to have the church built upon him.
      2. Closer examination of the text will refute this false doctrine. There are two different words translated rock in this verse. Jesus said, thou are Petros, and upon this petra I will build my church. The word petra means “a rock or ledge, a large stone, a prominent projecting rock or cliff.” Peter was a stone, but Jesus was and is the Rock upon which the church was built.
      3. Christ said, “You are Peter and on this rock [I, Myself, the great truth of your confession, the great truth found in the Word of God] will I build my church.” There is no question that the church is built upon Christ.
    2. The Messiah ~ The disciples had not yet embraced the fact that Jesus had come to offer Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world. This declaration points toward His death at Calvary and His being the foundation, the chief Cornerstone of the church.
      1. Had there been no Calvary, there would be no church. Had Christ not died, we would yet be in our sin without hope. The Rock is Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior and Redeemer of the world, and the foundation of the church.
    3. The Message ~ We need to take a moment to consider the context of this passage. Jesus had asked the disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? Whom say ye that I am?” Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He had rightly answered. He had recognized and received Jesus as the Christ. He saw Him as the Son of God. Peter’s faith was essential to his relationship with Christ.
      1. Now, the church is not built upon our faith; it is built upon Christ and Christ alone, but our faith is essential to being born into the church. Our faith is essential for the spiritual well being of the church. We must see Christ for who He is and believe upon Him in salvation. Jesus is the Rock, the foundation, and our faith is laid upon that foundation!
  3. The Spiritual Construction ~ “I will build my church”. Jesus is very clear in this regard. He is the One who will do the building. He will select the materials and place them in the church as it pleases Him.
    1. The modern church has lost sight of this fundamental truth. It appears that many have no confidence in His ability to build the church. Many have abandoned this principle for a quick prayer, a handshake, and a pass through the baptistery. They are trying to build the church based on their methods and motivation. Christ alone has the power to build the church.
    2. Many have lost sight of the obligation that we made when we joined the church. Yes, your name is written down on a pad of paper in some office file drawer that you are a member of “Coosa Valley Church of God”, but the obligation that you made when you joined the church was between you and CV, however, you also made that obligation to God as well.
    3. We too seem to have figured out which materials are suitable and which are not. It is not up to us to judge, but to welcome all that Christ adds!
Pastor Andy Lambert

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