Jesus built His church on a Rock
(Matthew 16:18)

What is the foundation of the church of Christ?

A. In the tenth generation after Adam, man had become so wicked that God decided to destroy him. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. He and his family were saved when all others were lost.

B. A few generations after the flood, man rebelled again. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’” (Genesis 11:4).

1. Notice how egotistical they were: “Let US build OURSELVES a city, ... let US make a name for OURSELVES.”

2. They excluded God from their plans. He confused their language and they ceased building the city.

3. “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

C. Ten generations after the flood there was a man who sought a better city. Before God called him, he lived in the great, modern metropolis of Ur. It was a wealthy trading city with a population of about 500,000. It had a school system, writing and advanced mathematics. But its inhabitants did not serve the one true God, but Nanna, the moon god, and his wife, Ningal.

1. When God told Abram to leave this worldly city, he left.

2. In Hebrews 11:8-10 we learn why. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac, and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

3. Abraham was seeking a city with better foundations than any city on earth. God has prepared a heavenly homeland for the faithful (Hebrews 11:16).

D. Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, became the father of a chosen nation, Israel. After 400 years in Egyptian bondage, they were led out and given a law by Moses. Later David was chosen as their King, and God promised that one of his decendents would establish an eternal kingdom.

E. Many generations passed. God sent prophets who told of the One who was coming. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4). The kingdom of God was at hand. Admittance to the heavenly city which Abraham sought, would be provided by one of his descendents.

F. Jesus, the son of Mary and the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem. When He was about thirty, he began His ministry and chose twelve men to be His emissaries.

G. “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it’” (Matthew 16:13-18).

H. Jesus promised to build His church on a Rock, a Rock so firm that even the gates of death’s realm would not overcome it.

1. As He later declared in the Revelation: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18).

2. Jesus built a church that defies death.

I. In times of turmoil when many of God’s children are being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14, 15), let us keep in mind that the church of Christ is built on a Rock.

J. God has ever been a rock of refuge for those who trust in Him.

1. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” we read in the beautiful song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4. In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul identifies the spiritual Rock from which Israel drank in the wilderness as the Christ, God’s Anointed.

2. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, spoke these words of praise in prayer: “There is none holy like the LORD, for there is none beside You, nor is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

3. After David was delivered from his enemies, he sang a song of praise. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge” (2 Samuel 22:2, 3). “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (2 Samuel 22:31, 32). “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, the Rock of my salvation!” (2 Samuel 22:47).

K. Jerusalem on Mount Zion was an earthly representation of that heavenly city Abraham was seeking. In Isaiah’s day the rulers of Jerusalem had rejected God’s word and had made a covenant with death. The city was doomed. But God promised something better for the faithful remnant of His people [See Isaiah 28:5, 13-15]. “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation’” (Isaiah 28:16).

L. Jesus Christ is this Foundation Stone in Zion.

1. In 1 Corinthians 3:10, 11 Paul says no one may lay another foundation: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
a. Christ is the foundation of His church.

b. Unfortunately many religious bodies and organizations have been formed in the name of Christ, which are not the church that Jesus built; they have a different foundation.

c. What did Jesus say about a similar situation among the Jews in His day? They also were divided into many religious parties and denominations. Jesus joined none of them and had harsh words for the sectarians.

“Then His disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch’” (Matthew 15:12-14).

d. If you are a member of a religious body founded on someone or something other than Jesus Christ, you are blindly following the blind and you will fall into a pit. In the judgement your group will be uprooted and cast into the fire.

e. Christ is the only foundation. Let us put our trust in Him: “As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33).

2. In a slightly different figure, Christ is called the Cornerstone: “Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed” (1 Peter 2:6-8).

a. Notice what determines whether Christ is for you a stumbling stone or the Cornerstone: whether you trust Him or whether you are disobedient to the word.

b. Under this figure, the inspired apostles and prophets are also in the foundation. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habituation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

c. The apostles and prophets are in the foundation because of their relationship to the Cornerstone. After His ascension Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach them all things (John 14:26) and to lead them into all the truth (John 16:12, 13). The teaching of the apostles and prophets in the New Testament is the teaching of Christ Himself through inspiration.

d. For this reason we also read in Revelation 21:14 “Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

M. What does it mean in practical terms that the church is built on the Rock?

1. We already have an indication in the passage that said Christ is a stumbling stone for those who are disobedient to the word.

2. Jesus explains what it means to build on the Rock.

a. It is simple really. The church on the Rock is the church that does what Jesus says.

b. Matthew 7:21-27 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness. Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

i. Are we building on the Rock or on the sand?

ii. The church built on Christ is the church that obeys Christ and His apostles.

3. In 2 Timothy 2:16-19, after Paul warns against false teachers who “overthrow the faith of some,” he continues: “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”

a. Jesus is building His church on the Rock. God’s solid foundation stands.

b. Notwithstanding all the profane and vain babblings, all the cancerous false doctrines that overthrow the faith of some, the solid foundation of God will stand forevermore.

c. The Lord knows those who are His. He knows who is building on the Rock and who is building on the sand. He knows who believes and who is disobedient.

Are we in the church on the Rock?

A. Are we seeking the city with foundations whose builder and maker is God? The foundation has been laid: Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God. To build on the Rock we must do what Jesus says.

1. “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4, 5a). Are we living stones in the temple of God, in the church that Jesus is building on God’s firm foundation?

2. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

a. If you are in the church of the firstborn ones registered in heaven,

b. and if “you make your calling and election sure” ... “an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10, 11).

3. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).

B. The city with foundations also has gates and walls. We must enter the gates and remain inside the walls. “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in” (Isaiah 26:1, 2). “His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!” (Psalm 87:1-3).

We must be certain that we are in the church on the Rock and not in some counterfeit church of human origin. We must be sure that we have entered the city by the gates by being baptized into the body of Christ, His church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22, 23).

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979, 1980, 1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive