I will build my church…
It is not a good idea to seek a comprehensive understanding of the nature and mission of the church by examining only one or two passages of Scripture. The story of the church begins long ago with God’s covenant of grace in which he promised to make from the childless Abraham a vast nation across the face of the earth (Genesis 12, 15, 17). From that point on, God was faithful to preserve for himself a remnant of the faithful leading up to the birth of the Messiah and the formation of what we commonly refer to as the church. The fact is, the church we see in the New Testament is the culmination of those promises made to Abraham and anticipated in Israel throughout the Old Testament.
Essentially, the Bible explains how sinful mankind can have peace with the holy God. It unfolds God’s plan to redeem sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Woven within that unfolding drama is the knowledge that God has entrusted to the church – the body of Christ – the work of proclaiming this good news and embodying the love and holiness which flow from it.
How God builds his church and that mission to which he has called her has not changed. God still brings sinners to faith through the proclamation of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). He still matures his people in the context of the church’s preaching, praying, and fellowship (Acts 2:42ff). He still creates a profound unity among men and women who have nothing in common except Jesus (Ephesians 4:3-6). God still displays his love through the love displayed by his people (1 Peter 4:7-9). He still sends his church into the world for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20). And it is still Jesus, the Lord of the church, who promises to build his church in such a way that she will remain faithful to the end of the age (Matthew 16:13-20).