“I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew xvi.18 NLT
Jesus’ revelation about His Church to His twelve disciples is a constant source of strength and encouragement to Christians of all times.This first reference to the “church” in the New Testament, though brief, declares Jesus’ intention to build His church and to take His battle of saving souls to the very gates of hell.
The “Church” in this verse does not refer to a Christian denomination; nor is it a building or a sacred place of worship. “Church” refers to the group of people who responded to the call of the gospel. They heard the gospel, believed in Jesus, repented of their sins and accepted water baptism. They come together to learn Jesus’ teachings, to worship God and to fellowship with each other. This dynamic, organic body of “believers” are on a mission to lead more people to Jesus Christ.
This “Church” does not belong to any one man or group of people. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. He purchased all His followers with His own blood so that we might belong to Him. Our allegiance is not towards a man or to a certain group of people. If anyone lays claim to a part of the Church and calls it “his own,” he brings schisms into the body of Christ and demands a loyalty that should belong only to Christ.
Jesus has a plan for His Church; He sets the agenda and goals. To Him belongs the Church’s mission and vision statements! We, as Christians, are not called to invent objectives, goals and vision statements for the Church; instead, we are called to subscribe to the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ mission for the church is to make disciples of all nations. Every local church, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, should conform to the universal standards laid out for the Church by Christ and His apostles.
It is comforting and encouraging to know that Jesus will build His church. Jesus is the head of this universal body. From Him comes sustenance and life for everyone in His body. He decides where each “organ” of the body should be placed. He gives supernatural graces (spiritual gifts) to each member of this body according to His will and pleasure. By operating His gifts through each member, He causes them to grow in character, maturity and love.
Jesus is the Supreme Commander who leads His church from the front. The church marches ahead, shining the light of the gospel into the hearts of those trapped in sin. The powers of hell cannot resist such advances. The devil and all his minions might do all they can to prevent a sinner from turning to Christ. They may even unleash all their devices against the Church. However, there is no power in the Universe that can extinguish the Church of Jesus Christ. The Founder of the Church is none other than the One who defeated death through his own death.