The Church Jesus Builds 

by David A. DePra
Back to the Goodnews

Jesus said: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (read Matthew 16:13-19)

This verse is part of a much larger passage – a passage that is one of the most pivotal and important in the entire Bible. But this verse has most often been taken out of context. The result has been predictable: The entire meaning of what Jesus is talking about has become corrupted.

Jesus is really issuing ONE promise. He is saying, “I am going to build the church which cannot be conquered by the enemy.”

But we need to understand what Jesus meant by, “My church.” The NT Greek word translated, “church,” which is the word, “ekklesia,” means, “called out ones.” Note that: Called out ONES. The church is comprised of INDIVIDUALS who God has called out of this world to Christ – and who, of course, have embraced Christ by faith. Thus, when Jesus said He would build His church, He was saying He will build His, “called out ones.” He was not talking about building up an organization. He was not talking about numbers, money, visibility, or prestige – not even within the body of Christ. No. He was talking about the individuals – not who are IN the church – but about the individuals who ARE His church.

How will Jesus build the people who ARE His church? “Upon this ROCK I will build my ekklesia.” What ROCK? That is easy to answer from this passage. Jesus just told His disciples that they were blessed because they had received a revelation of Christ Himself from the Father. He immediately proclaims, “Upon THIS Rock I will build my people.” Jesus Christ – His presence within His people, and the inward revelation of Him within His people – HE is the Rock upon which the people that constitute His church are built.

All through scripture Jesus Christ is called the Rock, or the Foundation, upon which God builds. But Jesus "as a doctrine" is not the Rock He is talking about -- Jesus is not merely going to build a doctrinal construct upon Himself. No. We must have true biblical doctrine. But those doctrines tell us that it is God’s will that the LIVING Christ dwell within each believer, and that each believer must come into an inward realization of Him. This will renew our minds according to the Truth, resulting in obedience, and a continual discovery of, and an experiencing of, Jesus Christ. That is the BUILDING that God is doing -- upon the LIVING CHRIST in each believer. That is how Jesus builds His people.

God wants to build up each believer in Christ. He wants each believer to come into an inward revelation of Christ – just as the disciples began to do in Matthew 16 – and He wants to build each believer upon the presence and revelation of Christ.

Can we see that if this is what Jesus meant when He said, “I will build my church, “ that any other building that is going on by professing believers, and ministries – can we see that Jesus Christ could not possibly be doing that building through them?

Herein we see the answer to the question: Where is the one true church? The answer eludes people because they continue looking for a visible church, ministry or organization. No. The one true church consists of individuals in whom Christ dwells. In fact, the ekklesia consists of every person who has ever lived, or will live, who is in Christ. Thus, the true church is not a visible church. It is, as it were, invisible – seen only to the extent that Christ is seen through His people.

Of course, there have always been those who claim to be, “the one true church,” to the exclusion of all others. All cults make this claim. Some cults, especially the leaders, claim that the gospel of Jesus Christ was not preached until they came along. They claim that God raised them up to restore the Truth. But there are also other churches and groups within what is called, “orthodox Christianity,” who would never say they are the, “only true church,” but who nevertheless claim that they are God’s TRUER and BETTER church. They suggest, if not demand, that THEY have what others cannot have – unless those, ‘others,” join THEM. They claim they are special. Many point to members, money, visibility, and prestige as, “proof,” that God has blessed them. In other words, GROWTH is their proof. But is this the GROWTH that Jesus promised that He would undertake in His people?

The only thing that matters to God is the measure of Christ. In fact, by the time God is finished with this age – finished with His own people – only that which is of Christ – only that which Christ Himself has built – is going to remain. All else will be proven to be of no value. (see Hebrews 12 and I Cor. 3) And this does not merely apply to the outward. It also applies to a person’s personal spiritual life and relationship with Christ. If my personal spiritual life is merely religious, merely emotional, merely intellectual, based in pride, based in personal ambition – all that is NOT of CHRIST IN THE BELIEVER – is not going to pass through into the eternal ages. Only that which is of Christ will do so.

There is much, “fake Christianity,” today – really it has existed for 2000 years. The gates of hell have prevailed against that which is fake – against that which has NOT been built from Christ. As we progress towards the end of the age, God is going to more and more separate, expose, and prove what is built of Christ and what is not.

So, in conclusion, when Jesus said, “I will build My church,” He was stating that He would build up the believers in Whom He would personally dwell – He would build up those individuals in Himself UPON THIS ROCK – upon the presence and revelation of Himself in them. And it is ONLY what Jesus builds upon HIMSELF that can prevail against the gates of hell -- because only Christ in His people is eternal.

Back to the Goodnews