Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –
Jesus gives us something to think about after a weekend of serving God and His people:
I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18b)
These words of Jesus give us the first use of the word church in the New Testament. It is the ancient Greek word ekklesia – a “called-out group.” Many people consider the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as the “birthday” of the church, but Jesus certainly anticipated the eventually joining of Jewish and Gentile believers together in the one body, the church. The church would be made up of all those who truly trusted in the message just revealed to the disciples: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
This statement of Jesus was a clear claim of ownership – He said, My church. Please note, the church belongs to Jesus. This was also a claim to deity – only God can say the church belongs to Him.
Taken together, the promise is wonderful:
– Jesus brings His people together in common: I will build.
– Jesus builds on a firm foundation: On this rock I will build.
– Jesus builds something that belongs to Him: My church.
– Jesus builds His people into a stronghold: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Here is a comforting promise: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. As dark as things seem sometime, we can trust the promise of Jesus that the forces of death and darkness can’t prevail against or conquer the church.
As you seek to serve Jesus, His people, and a needy world this week, keep it in mind: the church belongs to Jesus. Fundamentally, the church doesn’t belong to the pastor, to the elder or deacon board, or to the congregation. The church certainly doesn’t belong to the government or its leaders.
The church belongs to the One who purchased it with His own blood. Whatever we do for the sake of God’s church, let’s do it with boldness and trust in Him, and do it for His glory and recognition.
Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik