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Roman Catholicism # 2: Upon This Rock

UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH 

What is this rock upon which Jesus is building His church? Some say it is Peter. Let’s take a closer look.   The story is told in Matthew 16:13-23.  Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  He asks them to give Him some feedback from the people.  “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”    They answered that some thought Jesus was a reincarnation of  John the Baptist who had just been beheaded by Herod.  Other thought He was one of the Old Testament prophets.  

Then Jesus asked  His disciples who they thought He was.  Peter, blurted out,

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” 

Jesus responded to Peter, whose original name was Simon, son of Jona.  

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven. And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the  Kingdom of  Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” 

Peter did not come to understand this  through human reasoning.  God Himself had revealed this great truth to Peter.  Nor will you or I ever understand who Jesus is until the Spirit of God enlightens our minds.  To the world the name of Jesus is just used in profanity.  The world mocks and hates Jesus and those who belong to Him.  But one who is born again by the Spirit of God,  loves Jesus.  He is precious to the believer. 

Upon Peter’s confession of Christ,  Jesus explained to His disciples and to us the foundation upon which His Church would be built.  The key to understanding this is found in two Greek words. Petros– meaning a stone  and  Petra– meaning bed rock.

  Let me paraphrase. He said to Simon.Barjona,  “Simon, from now on I am calling you Peter. You are a rock.  But the confession you have just made that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God is the bed rock upon which I am going to build my church.”   Jesus,  not Peter, is the bedrock foundation of His Church.   

Paul in Ephesians 2:20 declares that Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church and that His Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. 

What does he mean by that? It’s not that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, but the doctrine prophesied by the Old Testament prophets and the teachings and doctrine  Jesus gave to the Apostles is the doctrine upon which the Church is established. In Acts 2:42 we learn that the early church continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine. This doctrine, basically the doctrine of Christ that Peter confessed,  is the foundational doctrine upon which the church is built.  It is so essential that it remain pure that if anyone tampers with it and tries to change it, Paul says they are to be recognized as cursed by God.  Galatians 1:6-9.   

The doctrine of Christ is so essential to the Christian Faith that if someone perverts it, we are warned by John in II John 7-11  to have no Christian fellowship with the false teacher. With such a person there is no common ground on which we can work together in doing God’s work. Paul gives the same warning to us in Romans 16:17-18.   “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them (identify them) which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” 

Then in I Corinthians  3:9-11 Paul declares that Jesus is the foundation of the Church. 

Thank God that Peter, nor any other sinful human being,  is the foundation of Christ’s Church.  

 Although Peter later under the control of the Holy Spirit became a powerful preacher and although he was given  the privilege of using the Keys of the Kingdom, to  preach the Gospel and open the door of salvation to the Jews  in Acts 2,  to the Samaritans in Acts 8  and to the Gentiles in Acts 10; Peter by nature was a weak, cowardly, hypocritical,  vacillating person.  

Jesus called him a Rock as He looked ahead to what He was going to make of him. But Peter, by nature, was anything but a rock.  Three times he shamefully showed his cowardice at Jesus trial by denying that he even knew Christ.    

Later as a preacher he manifested cowardice and hypocrisy when under pressure.  Paul writes about it in Galatians 2:11-18.  Peter had been eating and having fellowship with Gentile believers in Antioch, as a good Christian should.  But when Jewish believers came from Jerusalem,  Peter immediately distanced himself from the Gentile believers because he feared what the Jewish believers would think of him. 

Paul immediately took action.  He confronted Peter concerning his duplicity and hypocrisy and taught him that Gentile believers were just as much a part of the church as Jewish believers. You can read the entire conversation in Galatians 2.  

How would you feel if some preacher, such as Paul,  approached you this way in front of all the others?  Would you grow  bitter and resentful?  Thank God, Peter accepted Paul’s correction humbly.   Later on  in II Peter 3:15  Peter refers to Paul as his beloved brother.  Thank God that Peter did not hold a grudge.  He was growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ  and in verse 18 of that chapter he urges all of us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord  and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

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April 28, 2006 - Posted by | Roman Catholicism

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