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Would Jesus Choose Your Church?

Would Jesus Choose Your Church?

What did Jesus Christ mean by “on this rock I will build My church” in Matthew 16:18? Where is Jesus’ church? Learn this Bible verse’s meaning and five points to identify the church Jesus built—and said would prevail.

[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]

What Kind of Church Would Jesus Want?

If Jesus came back today, which church would He choose? Would He go to one of the mega-churches with thousands of members who meet in a majestic building? Would He choose a small country-church, or one meeting in a strip-mall? And more importantly, would He choose your church? I hope such a personal question doesn’t offend you, because we will all do well to ask ourselves this question.

Moreover, how would He make that choice? As confusing as it may appear, the answer can be found, and it’s not as complicated as it first appears. On today’s Tomorrow’s World program, I’ll be giving you five signs to look for in locating the Church Christ is building. So, if you want to know the answer to the question of whether or not Jesus would choose your church, stay with me. I’ll be back in five seconds to give you five identifying signs of the Church Jesus built!

Five Identifying Signs to Look For

A warm welcome to all of you from all of us here at Tomorrow’s World where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. On today’s program I’m asking an important question. If Jesus were to return today, would He choose your Church? After all, He did say that He would build His church and the gates of the grave will not prevail against it.

Do you, dear friends, believe that? If Jesus failed to do so, then He is a liar and cannot be the Savior of the world! It’s just that simple. But if He is building His Church, and it continues to this day, wouldn’t you want to know for sure where it is?

Many think that all churches who profess that Jesus is the Christ are His and all we must do is “go to the church of our choice.” But, is His Church, as these people think, found in believers scattered through contradicting denominations and doctrines? Think about that! Not all churches even remotely believe the same things.

On today’s program I’ll give you five signs—and there are many more found in Scripture—that identify the church Christ is building, so let’s get started.

#1: Jesus said He would build His Church on a symbolic Rock.

Who or what IS that Rock? One large denomination alleges that their first leader was that rock, and they turn to Matthew 16 for proof. Let’s take a close look at that passage and see if they are correct. In verse 16, Jesus asked His disciple who they thought He was, and Peter replied:

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).

Jesus explained that it was the Father in heaven who revealed this answer to Peter. Then in verse 18, Jesus said:

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 (Matthew 16:18).

This passage has been used for centuries to validate the Roman church, but did Jesus say He would build His Church on Peter, as many believe? The New Testament scriptures were originally written in Greek, and there is a play on two Greek words found in this passage. Both mean rock, but they are not the same. Let’s read verse 18 again:

And I also say to you that you are Peter [Petros], and on this Rock [Petra] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [that is, the grave] shall not prevail against it.

Why two different words? What difference does that make? “Petros” is the masculine form of the word and means a small rock, or “a piece of rock.” It is translated into the English word Peter 161 times in the New Testament. Only once is Peter translated from a different word, and it has no relationship whatsoever to the word rock. “Petra” is the feminine form and refers to a larger rock, “a mass of rock.” You may have heard of the great rock outcropping in Jordan known as Petra. In effect, Jesus was telling Peter, that he was a small rock, or a piece of rock, but He would build His Church on a massive Rock—Himself! When petros is used for a person, it is translated Peter (161 times in the N.T. as already mentioned). But petra, when referring to a person, refers only to Christ. Notice this example in Romans 9:33:


There is this passage, written by Peter himself, which shows that Peter knew who the real Rock was. Referring to Christ, he wrote in 1 Peter 2:7–8:

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 [that is, petra] OF OFFENSE.”

Both Paul and Peter used the same word when referring to Christ. And, in 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, Paul leaves no doubt who the Rock is that worked with Israel when they came out of Egypt:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. [Notice this] For they drank of that spiritual Rock [petra] that followed them, and that Rock [petra] was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1–4).

The evidence is overwhelming. Jesus said He would build His church on a petra, a massive rock, a word reserved for Jesus.

There are numerous Old Testament references to the Rock, but let’s notice Psalms 18:46:

The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

Yes, Jesus, not Peter, is “the Rock of our salvation.” Could anything be clearer? So, the idea that Christ built His church on Peter is flawed.

Following Christ’s Exact Teachings

#1: Jesus said He would build His Church on a symbolic Rock.

Scripture after scripture attests to the fact that Jesus, not Peter, is that Rock, so let us look at what He taught His Church. But before I give a second sign, let me emphatically state that we here at Tomorrow’s World believe that Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, and that it is by grace that we are saved. That’s a given, and I doubt many of you would disagree. Therefore, I’m concentrating on signs found in the Bible which may not be understood by all. Christ appeared to His disciples after His resurrection and gave them a command that you can read of, in Mark 16:15. And this is sign number 2:

#2: The Church of God will preach to all the world the same gospel Jesus taught.

But don’t all churches do that? Sadly, most never preach that message. The word gospel means good news, so what is the good news Jesus proclaimed for three and a half years prior to His crucifixion? Shockingly, most don’t know! Do you? Is it the message of His death, burial, and resurrection? That certainly is good news! But what was His message that He proclaimed to His followers for three and a half years prior to the crucifixion? Mark tells us in chapter 1:14–15 about the beginning of Christ’s ministry:

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel [note this] of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14–15).

Many scriptures show us that whatever this message is, it was the message both Jesus and His disciples continued to preach. Notice how important it was for Christ to proclaim this message—let’s go to Luke 4, beginning in verse 42;

Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:42–43).

In our free resource Do You Believe the True Gospel, the late Dr. Roderick C. Meredith asks the following:

Exactly what is that kingdom? There have been many ideas. The Jews of Christ’s day thought that a Messiah figure would lead their physical nation to militarily subdue other governments until they reigned supreme over all men. Later, the concept emerged that the Church made up the Kingdom. Others have believed that the Kingdom of God is an ethereal realm set up in the hearts of men. Others see it called “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew’s gospel account and conclude that it must refer to eternal bliss in heaven. Some also maintain that the Kingdom is the person of Jesus Himself (p. 11).

How can a church be the Church Jesus built if it does not proclaim His same message? Please, dear friends, don’t assume you know what that Kingdom is! It’s shocking, but most professing Christian churches have never preached the true gospel that Jesus brought. But YOU can know it, if you order our free eye-opening resource Do You Believe the True Gospel? So, our second sign is that

#2: The Church of God will preach to all the world the same gospel Jesus taught.

Number 3 is:

#3: Christ’s Church will teach and practice God’s law.

Note these statements by the One who said He would build His Church on a Rock—that Rock being Christ.

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17–18).

There’s the example of the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to enter the Kingdom of God. Notice His reply;

So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

Jesus went on to name several of the Ten Commandments. He also chided the people of His day for calling Him Lord, that is, Master, but not obeying Him.

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46).

He followed with a well-known parable. Children even sing a song about it and how it contrasts building on a rock, or on sand.

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock [and the word there for rock is petra—a clear reference to Christ] (Luke 6:47–48).

The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 3:4:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4, King James Version).

Without the law there is no sin. Without sin there is no need for forgiveness. Where there is no need for forgiveness, there is no need for a Savior. Therefore, the Church Jesus is building will be striving to keep the law.

Repentance is More Than Just a Feeling

#3: Christ’s Church will teach and practice God’s law.

This is far more important than people realize, because the whole subject of grace is dependent upon law. We encourage you to not just believe us, but prove these things for yourself in your own Bible! As Paul asked and answered in Romans 3:31:

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

And this leads me to point #4:

#4: Christ’s Church will teach repentance from sin.

Notice again the beginning of Christ’s gospel as noted in Mark 1:14–15:

… Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Here we see two commands from the Rock—Jesus Christ. We must believe the Gospel, the good news Jesus and the Apostles taught; and that is not the same message taught in most churches today. No wonder Paul expressed concern for the church of God at Corinth where we read in 2 Corinthians 11:3–4:

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes [#1] preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or [#2] if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or [#3—note this] a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

In addition to believing in the same gospel Jesus taught, we must repent. But repent of what? Why sin, of course! But what is sin? As we have already read, it is the transgression of the law. Now see what John tells us about who knows God and who does not—1 John 2 beginning in verse 3:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:3–6).

The true Church of God will be preaching a message of repentance from sin, which the Bible defines as the violation of God’s law.

More Than Religion—A Way of Life That WORKS

Let us now look at the fifth sign.

#5: The Church that Christ built will be organized.

Many people today have given up on what they call “organized religion,” and I get that. There is far too much hypocrisy, insincerity, greed, and corruption in today’s churches. And this is not new. A history of professing Christianity is a sad history indeed. Bloody wars with swords and guns have been fought between major denominations. Predatory priests have abused thousands over the years. How can anyone believe that God is working in such churches? We understand sin is found everywhere on earth, but wars and institutional abuse is another matter. And how can one subscribe to a church that teaches the opposite of what Jesus taught? But does this mean all organized religion is wrong? Consider. What is the opposite of organized? Is Jesus the author of disorganization and confusion?

Jesus said He would build His church. The word He used for church comes from the Greek ekklesia. In simple terms, this word refers to an assembly, any assembly; but in the context that Jesus used it, it refers to an assembly of called out followers of His. It means the people, not the building.

One chapter from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians brings great clarity to this subject. In no way does he describe a disorganized body of believers scattered through multiple organizations. Quite the opposite. Beginning in chapter 4 and verse 1, Paul pleads with the Ephesians to maintain the unity of the faith:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1–3).

But was he promoting a compromising ecumenical movement between contradicting organizations? On the contrary, he spells out the fact that there can be no compromise when it comes to doctrine. He goes on to say,

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 (Ephesians 4:4–6).

That doesn’t sound like Paul considered it okay to attend the church of your choice! But is the Church Christ is building organized? Or is it, as many believe, scattered believers found in all denominations? Churches have different thoughts about baptism. What age—an infant, an adult, a teenager? What mode? Is He talking about sprinkling, or putting under the water entirely? And if it is even necessary at all. Yet, Paul says there is only one baptism. How does that work?

And not all churches have the same hope. Some believe in going to heaven, where the greatest joy is something called the “beatific vision”—staring into the face of God for eternity. Others believe the reward of the saved is here on earth. Some think you must keep the law while others profess love is all that is necessary. So how can there be…

One body and one Spirit… one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism….

Here is more of what Paul told the church at Ephesus, beginning in verse 11 of this same fourth chapter:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11–16).

I challenge you to dust off your Bible and read Ephesians 4 for yourself.

If you found this video helpful and want to learn more, be sure to get your free copy of our study guide Do You Believe the True Gospel? Just click the link in the description to order. It’s that easy.

And remember to like and subscribe to our channel so you can watch more videos on different Bible topics.

We here at Tomorrow’s World want to help you understand this world, through the pages of the Bible.

Thanks for watching!

See you next time.

Five Signs that Identify the Church Christ is Building

  1. Jesus said He would build His Church on a symbolic Rock.
  2. The Church of God will preach to all the world the same gospel Jesus taught.
  3. Christ’s Church will teach and practice God’s law.
  4. Christ’s Church will teach repentance from sin.
  5. The Church that Christ built will be organized.

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