Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Another thing that reformation will do is clear up our thinking on the church. If there is any subject that needs reformed biblical thinking it is on the purpose of the church. We read from our text that it is Jesus who will build His own church. He is the architect and the foundational stone; author and finisher of faith in God.
Our thinking about the church has become so confused with too much of man’s terminology being used today. We talk about ‘our’ Nazarene church, Baptist church, Pentecostal church, Presbyterian church, etc. It would seem that we have many denominations of churches today and not just ONE as the Body of Christ in fullness. We talk about going to church on Sunday morning. I often wonder how we go to something that God says “we are.” We are the church; we do not go to church.
The entry into the church is through the gospel of the Kingdom. There is no other way. When Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” He meant just that. In other words, our faith in Christ’s life and sacrifice on the cross, and our commitment to Him – is what gains us entry into HIS body called the church.
The church then is a body of people who have had a common experience of faith in Jesus Christ; they have a common birthright and future with the same Father. Through the acceptance of the gospel we are brought into the Body of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ. This has become so confusing today with all of our different ways and words that we use, and with all the denominations that have been raised up, etc. We have lost the true significance of what the church truly and simply is.
There are several different examples that is used to bring out what the Body of Christ is. For example it is known as God’s building, a temple, a house, the church, etc., but all of these point to one thing; that this one body is to be God’s representative here on earth, to let the world know who God is and what God has done.
In the Old Testament God chose one man. His name was Abram and God said to him: Genesis 12:1-3 “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” It is through this one man a nation came into being called “ISRAEL.” They were God’s chosen nation. God gave them His laws that set them above all of the other nations. They were to represent God in who He was and what He had done because all of the other nations were following false gods, deceived and totally lost and depraved.
By being placed on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea (the only piece of real estate tied to three continents without a body of water: Africa, Asia and Europe) they were to be ‘centripetal.’ This means that the nations were to come to the God of Israel and this is what happened. Any army that marched, trade that took place, etc. they had to come through Israel and when they did, like the Queen of Sheba when she came to Solomon, she was ‘overwhelmed’ by what she saw and heard. 1 Kings 10:3-5
We read in 1 Peter 2:4, 5 “As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We too, in the New Testament, have been chosen (John 15:16) and brought into Christ’s Body that is also known as a Holy Nation. Unlike Israel in the Old Testament the Body of Christ does not have any boundaries, we do not belong to any one national country, language, ethic group, physical heritage or world culture. Unlike Israel, that was to be centripetal, we are to be centrifugal. We are to go out, scatter ourselves and in the process share the great things that the Lord has done for us. (Matthew 28:19, 20)
Reformation brings us back to what the church is here for.