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Christians

Following in the footprints of Jesus

THE REAL CHURCH

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of [hades] 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."

Matthew 16:13-19, English Standard Version


 

Jesus' disciples lived in a world without churches.  Not one single church.  At least like we know them today.

They were all Jews, the descendants of the patriarch Abraham and followers of the Ten Commandments which Moses had brought down from Mount Sinai after they had escaped from the Egyptian pharaoh.

For roughly 1500 years, they had worshipped as one people, following the laws engraved by God on the stones and living by the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances that God required of them under the first Covenant.

Yes, there were sub-groups, or sects, like the Pharisees and the Sadducees with their own interpretations of the Law, but overall they were one people, who even from the time of Abraham (some 600 years before the Ten Commandments were given) had worshipped a deity they considered to be the one true God of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19). 

So when the apostles began preaching on the day of Pentecost after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, many Jews considered them to be heretics.  They were so blinded by their own understanding of the Jewish religion that they could not apply the Scriptures and see that what these men were saying was actually true.  The Saviour had come.

Even thirty or more years later, when Paul was brought before the governor Felix, some of the Jewish leaders still could not see the truth.     They considered the believers in Jesus simply to be a sect or a faction, of the Jewish faith, like the Pharisees or Sadducees.

Acts 24:1-5, English Standard Version,

And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus.  They laid before the governor their case against Paul.

And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying: "Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.  But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.  For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.  He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.  By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.


 

So it is interesting today that we live in a world that has many "Christian churches".  They have different names, different beliefs, different customs, different traditions.  No wonder people get confused. 

So which church was Jesus referring to when He told His disciples that He would build a church that would last throughout the ages – that would last beyond the their lifetime, and the lifetimes of others?

In a world filled with churches, how can we find the real church?  The one Jesus said he would build?

The answer lies in the New Testament itself.

If the church Jesus was going to build is still around today, we need to see for ourselves just what it was like.

The real church is one that...  UNDER CONSTRUCTION

  • Teaches the same message as the apostles (Galatians 1:6-10)
  • Refuses to accept false doctrines and the ideas of men (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7)
  • Values every member equally (1 Corinthians 12:14-26)
  • Cares for the needy (Acts 4:34)
  • Prays and sings with the spirit and with understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15),
  • Has leaders who are humble and set an example for others to follow (1 Peter 5:3)

 


© Bevan Collingwood 2017