Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 14, 1952

Why Did Christ Build A Church?

Morris M. Womack. Wyandotte, Michigan

Caesarea Philippi is mentioned only twice in the Bible: Matt. 16:13-19 (our text) and Mark 8:27. This city was situated at the extreme northeastern portion of Palestine. It is from this city that the Jordan River has one of its principal sources. Caesarea Philippi gets its name from Augustus Caesar, in whose honor a temple was erected there, and from Herod Philip.

In our text, one of the most important incidents of Christ's life took place—Peter's confession. Jesus inquired, "Who do men say the Son of man is?" Several conceptions were given. Some said John the Baptist (who had been beheaded previously), others said Elijah, and still others Jeremiah. Still, some had no inclination to definitely identify him and thus said, "He is one of the prophets." An interesting fact of this incident is that not one of them had received an uncomplimentary remark of the Christ. The Preachers' Homiletic Commentary on this passage says: "Only some five or six people in the whole history of literature have spoken disrespectfully of him."

But, to my mind, the most outstanding thought in this passage is Christ's promise to build a church. He promised to build it upon a "rock," (that is, the great truth of his Messiahship); and, furthermore, he never did promise to build but one.

With those things in view, I now ask, why did Christ build a church? We cannot doubt that he did build one. The presence of it today substantiates that. Did he build it to increase his popularity? If so, why did he wait until he had died and ascended to make it a reality? Popularity seekers want to be present when their laurels are handed out. So, that must not have been the reason. Then, contrary to some of my brethren and friends, he did not build it to furnish social enjoyment for his followers. It is not the church's mission to uphold the "Ladies' Aid," "Young Peoples' Christian Endeavor," or any other such departure from New Testament simplicity. Then, Christ did not build it, (as my premillennialist brethren teach) as a substitute for the kingdom, if, according to the views of some of them, the Jews forbade Christ's building the kingdom nineteen hundred years ago, how do we know that when he comes back they won't do it again. So, undoubtedly, that wasn't the reason.

But, our question is, why did he build it? I want to give three reasons why he built it. But, I would not attempt to say that these are the only ones, but to my mind, they definitely state New Testament teachings.

In the first place, he built it in order that he might fulfill prophecy. In Is. 2:1-5; Micah 4:1-8; Joel 2:2842; Dan. 2:44, and a host of other scriptures we find both direct and indirect prophecies of the establishment of Christ's kingdom. The Old Testament is replete with such statements. Thus, it behooved Christ "to fulfill all righteousness." We might go so far as to say that had Christ failed to carry out this particular in "fulfilling the law and prophets" the Old Testament, yea, the entire Bible, would be a farce. But, thanks be to God, he did fulfill this!

Then, Christ built his church that he might make of all nations one body. See Eph. 2:13-22. Christ preached peace to Jew and Gentile. Peace equals unity; peace in Christ equals unity in Christ. He reconciled Jew and Gentile in one body. See Eph. 2:16. No one can doubt the great need of unit today. When religious people who believe the same Bible cannot unite on that book's principles, then something is wrong. Christ prayed that his people be one, (John 17:20-21) and Paul gave us a simple recipe for pursuing that unity. (Eph. 4:1-6) Christ died to establish his church in order that he might unite in one body all peoples. It's high time for us to seek peace, unity in Christ Jesus.

Lastly, the church was built TO SAVE SOULS. A study of the New Testament will lead one to believe that this is the greatest reason Christ had. His very mission on earth was to save his people. (Matt. 1:21) Luke records Jesus as saying (Luke 19:10) that he came to save the lost. The grand mission of the church is that of saving souls. So important is this phase of the church that Paul spoke of Christ as being savior of the body (Eph. 5:23), which is the church (Col. 1:18), over which he is also head. (Eph. 1:22, 23)

Hence, we can easily see the great value of the church. Its value is infinite. Sinners should ever be encouraged to obey the Lamb of God, and thus let Christ forgive them of their sins and then be added to this great institution. Will you at once be constrained to learn of this great institution, and then be busy daily in teaching its great value to lost men and women?