I want to begin a study about the foundations of the church.
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 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. 19 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. (Also Matthew 18:15-19) 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
These are foundations of a church. Matthew 18 deals with church discipline. Remember that all this is done in love hoping to bring the erring person back into fellowship. Back to Matthew 16, there are a few thoughts on the Rock that Jesus is referring to. (1) The Rock is Jesus himself. By dying upon the cross he became the Rock. (2) Peter is the rock because he is the first great leader of the church. Peter, as a leader, reminded us in I Peter 2:6-7: Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. In Ephesians 2:19-21 Paul said: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. Anything built on man is shifting sand. They built with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. (3) A person’s confession of faith is the rock to him/her becoming a Christian. There is only one way to salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. If there were more than one, I’d find myself wondering if the way I believed was truly the right way. But there is only one way.
When did the church begin? Let’s look at the law of “first mentioned”. In other words, where is a subject first mentioned in the Bible. The church, as we know it, did not exist in the Old Testament. There was a structure called the tabernacle that was taken down and put up, taken down and put up, over and over. The children of Israel went there to worship. Later a temple was built, but it wasn’t called church. Congregation is mentioned 100 times in the Bible. This is what they were mostly called. In Acts 7:38 Steven says a strange thing when he was preaching. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us. “Church” in this instance is “Ekkiesia” in the original. It means congregation, those called out. They were called out of Egypt. That is like the church; are we not also called out?
Some say the church started with John the Baptist. There was no commission and his baptism was called the baptism of John. Jesus talked about the future church to come. Remember that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. We have no trouble referring to God and Jesus as him; however, many refer to the Spirit as it. The Spirit is him as well, the third person of the Godhead. Did it begin at Pentecost? Yes or shortly thereafter.
How does a person become a member of a local church? First there has to be a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Second, baptism by immersion comes or a letter stating that from another church. Why do we have church membership? The affairs of the church have to be carried out. Being a member of a church won’t get you to heaven. You must be a member of THE CHURCH, the blood-bought one, to get to heaven. One should be part of a church, but it’s not essential to salvation. And baptism does not save you; it is an ordinance, a way of being recognized with Christ. Once a person is saved–receives Jesus as Savior and his/her sins are forgiven– that person is ready for heaven. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell that person immediately. Romans 8:9 says: But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. He came to us when we got saved. Not sometime later.
I hope this helped us get started. As we continue this study we will look at several things about the church.