On the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, the Lord promised His disciples, “…I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18). There is no question that the church did not yet exist at this time. Jesus would build it in the future. John the Baptist had been put to death already by Herod (Matthew 14:3-12). Thus, John the Baptist did not build the church. The church would be built by Jesus.
He would give to Peter, “…the keys of the kingdom…” (Matthew 16:19). Peter would open the door with those keys and proclaim the means of entry to the church of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Peter was one of those who would not die until the kingdom came—i.e., the church was established. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). Some who heard Jesus speaking that day would live to see the church come with power. After the resurrection of Jesus, the apostles were told, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This was the promise of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles. Again, Jesus said to them, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The kingdom would come when the power came upon the apostles. The power of the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of the Lord (Acts 2:1-4). When those gathered on Pentecost day, who heard Peter and the other apostles speak in other languages by the power of the Holy Spirit, learned of their guilty status before God, they asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The inspired response from Peter was, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). Those who did so were added to the number of disciples (Acts 2:41). The Lord added them to His church, the saved. Acts 2:47 says, “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Thus, Peter showed the way to be saved, to be in the church of Christ, in the kingdom of Christ. Whereas previous uses of the word “church” in the sacred Scriptures were promissory (Matthew 16:18), in Acts 2:47 the word “church” is used in the sense of existing; people were being added to it. Just as Jesus had promised, He built His church.
Jesus built one church (Matthew 16:18). It is the one body (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4), of which He is the savior (Ephesians 5:23). It is the one body into which Christians were baptized to be saved (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is the one body by which all people, Jews and Gentiles, are reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:16). The church is the Lord’s body of saved people. It is the Lord who adds one to this body when one obeys the Gospel. Let us drop modern concepts and designations for the church that are contrary to what is simply revealed in God’s word. Let us be Christ’s church, His saved body of people, nothing else.