The Church That Jesus Built.
A series of messages prepared for
the 2018 Conference of Mount Hebron Baptist Church, Pucallpa, Peru
By Raul Enyedi
Introduction. The study of
ecclesiology, of the Lord’s church, is very important for our spiritual
lives. We were saved to serve God worship Him and bring glory to Him. In
Ephesians, 3:21, we read that God is glorified in His church and in Christ
Jesus. The church is the place of public worship and service. It is the
revealed will of God that all the saved ones, all his children be part of
one of His churches. Not doing so is disobedience toward God. We cannot
serve Him in our terms, but in His terms. Sincerity is not enough. Sincere
obedience to God’s word is required of all of us. Satan sowed much confusion
in God’s kingdom and it is his purpose to destroy the Lord’s church. He
tries to do it through persecution, and also by sending his ministers
(wolves in sheep’s clothing) in the midst of the flock, to cause division
and draw disciples away from the The Lord’s church. Satan was active in
producing false churches that imitate the Lord’s church, to keep the
disciples away from the true churches. The study of ecclesiology helps us
identify the true churches, the characteristics of the Lord’s church, its
functions and mission. It will help us, as members of a true church, serve
God according to His will. We will enjoy God’s blessings when we do this, at
a personal level as well as collectively, as a church. We will be spared of
many spiritual failures and we will be more healthy and more mature
spiritually. The study of ecclesiology is not about salvation. Salvation is
in the Lord Jesus, in a personal relationship with Him, not in the
membership of a church. A church cannot save you. Only the Lord can! But a
true church is where God wants all the saved ones to serve Him!
So, let us look at the Church that
Jesus Built. Our passage is from Matthew, 16:18, and it is the first passage
where the word „church” appears. We will attempt to take each phrase and
I will build my church.
First time the word „church”
appears in the New Testament is in this passage. It is a common
word, used 115 times in the New Testament. What does it mean? Today,
there is a lot of confusion regarding the meaning of the word
„church”. But this confusion is not due to the fact that the term
itself is ambiguous, but because the term was redefined in order to
justify departures from the truth. An example of the
re-interpretation of the word (adaptation from a book written by a
famous presbyterian, R.C. Sproul about the church): „I am glad to be
here, at the conference hosted by this church in Pucallpa. As
I entered in the church, I felt the wonderful atmosphere of
being among God’s elect and singing His praises. We gathered here
from three continents and I felt that I united my songs and prayers
with those of the whole church throughout the world and with
all the elect, the entire universal church. The fellowship of
the saints is sweet, and it is great to be among those that believe
and preach the Gospel of the Grace of God, the precious truth that
we have in common with the Evangelical churches and, more
importantly, with the apostolic church. It is great to know
that the church in South America believes the same things as
the church of North America and that of Europe.”
I used the word in 7 different ways
in just one paragraph.
Apostolic church (a
collective term designating churches of the first century)
(denomination of Evangelical/Reformed faith)
Universal visible church (all
the saved throughout the world at one given moment)
Universal Invisible Church
(the totality of the elect)
Regional church (church of
South America: all the saved in a certain area or all the true churches
in a certain area).
How many meanings does this word
have? One that is unfamiliar with the Bible might think that you find all
these meanings there. But it is not so. Many think that the Bible speak
about some dualism: local church and universal church, and they interpret in
different ways the relationship between them. We believe this confusion is
caused my the Arch-enemy of Christ and of His church, and not by the poor
choice of words by the Author of the Bible. The fact that there are about
40,000 kinds of „churches” today is a direct result of the confusion Satan
word chosen by the Author of the Scriptures to define
what He established is „ecclesia”. It is the translation of the
The word ecclesia is
not invented in the New Testament. It is used in the
classical Greek. It is used in the Septuagint (Greek
translation of the Old Testament) quite as many times as in
the NT. It is a clear word, with precise meaning. It means
an assembly, a congregation, a gathering together. It comes
from two greek words, „ek kaleo”, which would be translated
as „the called out ones”.
Looking just at
the etymology of the word, some theologians tried to
define the ecclesia as the total number of the called
out ones, without them being gathered together. But an
ecclesia is not just a multitude of called out ones, but
the gathering together of those that are called out from
their daily business to attend to the specific business
of the ecclesia in which they are members.
In order to have
an ecclesia, you need:
(kletoi, the ones that are called out);
to gather together on a regular basis to carry out
a form of
These conditions must be met if you
were to have an ecclesia.
There are three kinds
of ecclesia mentioned in the New Testament:
the assembly of
Israel in the wilderness (Acts, 7:38);
assembly of the Greek city of Ephesus (Acts, 19:32, 39)
All of them have in common a
membership that has to meet certain conditions, a form of organization and
ability of the members to assemble together. You cannot have an ecclesia
that cannot assemble. This is where the modern
definitions and usages of the word „church” fail. Whether you talk about the
Universal invisible church composed of all the elect, the universal visible
church composed of all the saved that are alive now on earth, or a
denomination, what they have in common is the impossibility of all their
members to gather together in one place and have a meeting. So, the very
first condition for being an ecclesia is not met.
Church. It is true that the universal church cannot meet
in one place in this day and age, some one told me, but we
need a plenary concept to include all God’s children. What
is wrong by calling them „Church”?
they are not an assembly, so that would be a misuse of
the term. If you don’t have a word to designate all the
elect, then make up one that is not in the Bible, don’t
create confusion by taking a biblical word and giving it
another meaning. God is not the author of confusion!
Neither should we! But, is it really true that the Bible
does not have a plenary word that includes all the
elect? No, it is not!
The Bible speaks
about the Family of God (Eph. 3:14) and presents
the covenant relationship between God and man as a
Father-children relationship. All His children, all His
elect make up His family. We call one another „brothers”
and „sisters” and Jesus is the firstborn among many
brethren (Rom. 8:29). Some of his children are already
in heaven, and some are on earth.
is that of God’s Kingdom. It is a complex one,
but simply put, we are brought by God in the Kingdom of
His beloved Son by regeneration (Col. 1:13). Yes, even
when we are born physically, we are born in a family and
in a state, becoming citizens of it. It is true also
Now, you have
Peruvian citizenship, I have a Romanian one and bro.
Nate has an American one. Have you ever met all the
citizens of Peru? Does all the country have to be
gathered together in order to be a state? No, it
does not. So, the ability to assemble together is
not a necessary condition for a kingdom or a state.
And neither for a family. Back in Romania, I have a
big family and we are scattered all over Romania.
Regarding my immediate family, my brother lives in
Germany, my sister works in Austria, my mother goes
back and forth to Italy. Only my youngest brother
lives in Bocsa, where I live. We don’t get to meet
often. My larger family has never met in one place.
But we’re still family. My brother from Germany is
no less my brother than the one that lives in Bocsa,
whom I meet weekly in church. The fact that we are
not gathering together does not dissolve family
ties. So, ability to gather together is not
necessary for a family to be a family.
This is also
true for the biblical concepts of Family of God and
the Kingdom of God. But it is not true for the
concept of ecclesia, the church of God. You cannot
have an unassembled assembly. The ability to
assemble together is fundamental to the notion of
ekklesia. So fundamental that the Greek language has
a verb derived from the noun „ekklesia”,
„ekklesiazo” , to gather together, to assemble (Lev.
8:3). Do you have a verb derived from „iglesia”?
What would it be? Iglesiar? It it would exist, it
would mean „to assemble”. Therefore, „iglesia” is an
So, there is
no need to apply the word „church” to something that
already has an inspired word defining it. It is
wrong, too, because it creates confusion. But this
confusion is intentional because the fact that today
there are about 40,000 different kinds of churches
has to do exactly with the confusion created around
the word „church”.
So, how does
the Bible define the word „church”? It has one
meaning, used consistently: A church is a local,
visible assembly of disciples, properly called out
from their daily lives to perform the public duties
given to them by the Head and Founder of the church.
Such an assembly is organized according to a given
model, there are conditions for membership and she
has specific functions that only she is authorized
knows only one meaning for the word „church”. Not 2,
nor 7. Just one. The church cannot be both universal
and local, both visible and invisible. It is either
one or the other. And since a universal church
cannot assemble, we must conclude that this doctrine
is not biblical, but it is an invention of men, a
seed of the enemy planted among the Lord’s churches
to sow confusion.
Therefore, when Lord
Jesus Christ said that He will build a church, He means He is
going to build a local visible assembly, not a universal,
visible or invisible entity. Whatever is spoken about the
church, its nature, its functions, its perpetuity, is spoken of
a visible, local assembly. Every time the word „church” appears
in the New Testament, it refers to such an assembly. Lord Jesus
used the word 21 times, and every time He means a local assembly
(3 times in Matthew and 18 times in the book of Revelation).
But, some may object:
Doesn’t apostle Paul refer to all the elect, not just to
local churches when he says in Eph. 5:25 that Christ gave
Himself for the Church? It is true that He died for all the
elect, whether members of churches or not. He died for His
church as an institution, purchasing it in a special way to
be His Bride.
In Acts, 20:28,
Paul clearly refers to the local church of Ephesus (the
same church to which he writes the words quoted above)
and says that the Lord gained the church through His own
blood. It is not a universal church there, but a local
All the usages of the
ecclesia, all the metaphors that describe it are visible,
concrete, localized. A body is a local, visible organism. If
we have body parts spread throughout the world and
throughout history, if we have a hand in Romania, an ear in
Peru, a mouth in America, a leg that died 2,000 years ago
and an eye that was not born yet, can we say that we have a
body? No, we cannot. But in the case of the local church, we
can, the church being composed of members that are
assembling together in one place.
The importance of
rightly defining the words: If we believe in a dualism of
the church (local and universal), we will apply to the
universal church (actually the Family of God) some of the
verses that God attributes to the local church. This causes
confusion and apostasy among the Lord’s churches and the
establishing of false churches that imitate the true one. It
will lead to an active opposition from nominal Christianity
to the true churches and to apostasy on the part of the true
churches. There are two doctrines that produced more damage
to the Lord’s churches then all the errors put together: 1.
the doctrine that man is a co-worker with God in his own
salvation and 2. the doctrine of the universal church. Both
are serious errors that we must avoid at all costs.
What church did our
Lord Jesus build? A local visible church, whose members are
believing, baptized disciples, that meet together on a
regular basis to fulfill the duties that Christ gave His
I will build.
This is construction language. The verb in Greek is
oikodomeo and it means literally to dome up a house, built
it to the roof, finish building it. Several metaphors are
used in the New Testament for the church in reference to a
building: God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15, God’s building; God’s
Temple (Eph. 2:21). The church was built as God’s new
Temple, to replace the old one. There are many similes
between the church and the Temple. Both are built by an
authorized builder. They are built after a divine pattern.
Both are God’s inhabitance on earth, enjoying His special
presence. Both were authenticated by God at their
dedication. Both have the purpose to gather in them God’s
sons and daughters for the purpose of public service and
Though there are
many similarities between the Church and the Temple in
Jerusalem, one striking difference is the building
itself. The Temple is made of literal stones. The Church
is composed of living stones. 1 Pet. 2:5. The materials
used by the Lord to build His church are persons that
are spiritually alive, that have been regenerated by the
Spirit of God. Only they are the proper material for
God’s new Temple, the Church.
A lost person
in the membership of a church will weaken that
building, because it is not the same material as the
rest of it. A lost person does not fit in this
spiritual building, no matter how moral that person
is. Why? Because he is spiritually dead and the
stone must be a living one. Because the building is
spiritual and he is carnal. Because the purpose of
the building is to contain a holy priesthood that
brings spiritual sacrifices accepted by God, and he
is neither holy, nor a priest, and therefore, his
sacrifices are not acceptable before God any more
that Cain’s offering was. A church must be composed
of regenerated persons in order to fulfill this
membership door to wide, let goats and wolves and
foxes to come into the sheepfold and you end up with
a spiritual zoo. The sheep will suffer and will
eventually have to leave that church. The building
must be spiritual. Otherwise, the Lord will withdraw
His presence from it.
Let us ask
ourselves: Am I a living stone in God’s Temple? Am I
truly saved by His grace? Is my past life truly
buried with Christ, as I professed in my baptism and
do I live this new life in obedience to Him? Am I a
living stone, whom God shapes and places in His
As to the time of
building, we have here the future tense, „I will build”.
What does it mean? It could mean that Christ did not
start the building project in the moment of speaking,
that the building of His church was yet future at that
time, or it could mean that He will finish building it
to the roof, that is, He will finish what He has already
believe that the church was born on Pentecost, in
Acts, 2. But there is no proof of that. On the
contrary: Jesus started gathering His church
immediately after He was baptized by John the
Baptist. John looked at His group of baptized
disciples and called them „the Bride”, a metaphor
used later only for His church (John 3:29). Apostle
Paul told the Corinthians that God set in the church
first apostles. Where were the apostles set? In the
church. When were they set? The only place is in
Luke, 6:13, 17/Mark 3:13. We have in this text all
the requirements of an ecclesia:
calls out his disciples from among the
multitudes. He separates them.
spending the night in prayer, he elects from the
midst of the disciples 12 apostles.
Jesus, together with the 12 and the rest of the
disciples, come down the mountain and re-unite
with the multitude.
conditions for having an „ecclesia” are met in
these texts. And Paul says that the apostles
were set „in the church”.
object that the church is founded on the work of the
cross, therefore she could not have existed before
the cross. It is true that the work of the cross is
foundational for the new covenant and for the
church, but that is not a sufficient argument. The
ordinances of the church (baptism and the Lord’s
Supper were established before the cross), and they
are church ordinances that point to the work of the
that the Great Commission, which represents the
authority we have for preaching the Gospel, for
baptizing and teaching disciples, is given
before the Pentecost (the alleged date of birth
for the church).
The nature of
the building of the church, like that of any
sanctuary before (Tabernacle and Temple) required a
process of building before its dedication for public
usage. The building of the church started with the
calling of the first disciples of John and continues
for the space of the entire public work of Jesus
Christ. He gave the Great Commission to His already
built church in view of what the immediate event
that would follow His ascension: the baptism in the
Spirit at Pentecost. The church did not begin its
existence then, but it was dedicated and
authenticated as the New Temple of God. It fully
started its public function at Pentecost, but if
functioned according to the way it was organized and
taught previously, during the Lord’s earthly
will build”. The builder of the church. We greet
people in the services of the church by welcoming them to
the house of the Lord. We do not or should not mean by this
the physical building, but the spiritual one. But false
churches say the same thing, they also welcome their members
and visitors „to the house of the Lord.” Are false churches
„houses of the Lord?” Who can build a house for God? Anyone,
as long as he is sincere? Will God accept any habitation?
Builder. From the Bible we find out that God’s house
must be built under His initiative by a person
authorized by Him. 1000 years before Lord Jesus Christ,
his ancestor, king David wanted to built a house for God
in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:1-3). David was sincere. He loved
God more than anything. First, he brought the Ark of the
covenant in Jerusalem. He wanted to dwell close to God,
in His presence. But then, He felt bad because he was
living in a palace and God was still dwelling in the
Tabernacle. He wanted to make Jehovah a permanent
resident in his city, in Jerusalem.
Nathan the prophet tells him
to go ahead and do all that he has on his heart.
Building a house for God sounded like a good idea.
But God sends a message to David through Nathan (v. 5):
„Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” You
are not the one! I refuse to let you build me a house.
Why is that? For several reasons, but one of them is
that man cannot manipulate the presence of God. If God
was to dwell somewhere, it would be a place of His
choice, and He would take the initiative. He would
choose and appoint the builder of His house. You cannot
just build a house for God and expect God to come dwell
in it because you invite Him. It doesn’t work this way.
God chose Solomon, whom He called His son, to build that
Jesus says: „I will build my church”, as a new
Temple, He tells us two things: 1. He is God (If he
was just a created being, he should have said: I
will build God’s church) and 2. He is the authorized
builder. I will build it. I, myself. Not through
intermediaries, but personally and directly. This
means that His church/churches have no human
founder. Their trace in history go all the way to
Judaea, when God incarnate walked on that land and
gathered his disciples around Him. Joseph Hooke, an
English Baptist said it well in 1701: „That
religion that is not as old as Christ and his
Apostles, is too new for me.”
Last year was
the anniversary of the Reformation. 500 years since
Martin Luther, an augustinian monk, nailed the 95
theses on the door of the catholic church in
Wittenberg, Germany. That act brought the Protestant
churches into existence. 500 years is a respectable
age, but those churches are not old enough to be the
Lord’s churches. Neither is the Catholic Church or
the Eastern Orthodox church. They are 1,700 years
old. Still too young. If any denomination has its
beginnings anywhere else but the land of Judaea and
at any other time than Christ’s earthly ministry,
that church was not founded by God’s only authorized
builder, and therefore, it is not God’s church.
has to be built according to the divine
blueprint. The Tabernacle was built according to
the plan given by God to Moses. The Temple was built
according to the plan given to David. The church is
built according to a plan, too. That plan reflects
God’s purpose for it. When I read the description of
the building of the Tabernacle, or the measurements
of the Temple in Ezekiel, for example, I am amazed
at the attention to detail that is given to these
buildings. Some things are repeated over and over
again. This is not to make our Bible reading boring,
but to show us that God’s house has to be built
exactly as He wants to, to the smallest detail. If
something was off or missing from the Temple, do you
think that God, who gave the blueprint would still
have approved it with His glory? No, certainly not!
What does this tell us about the church as his
House, His Temple? Everything that we do in church
must be done according to His will. We serve Him and
worship Him as He tells us, not as we think would be
pleasing to Him!
Why are there
today so many kinds of churches? They are different
one from another, from foundation to the roof. They
are built after different blueprints. All of them
claim to be the house of God. Some even call
themselves Church of Christ. But just because you
claim a name, it does not mean that God approves it.
Lord Jesus built His church according to the divine
plan. What is God’s blueprint for a church?
characteristics of the church: 1. Christ is
its Founder, Head, Captain, Lawgiver; 2. The Scriptures are its
final authority. 3. All members are equal, no hierarchy among them;
4. a spiritual building composed of regenerated persons; 5. She has
only two ordinances (baptism and the supper that she keeps exactly
as they were delivered by the Lord). 6. The church fulfills its duty
as the Lord’s representative body on
earth, as the administrator of the Keys of the Kingdom. 7. She
carries out her work, her spiritual warfare with spiritual weapons,
not carnal ones. She never persecutes or imposes her faith on others
The main role and
functions of the church: 1. to glorify God; 2. To proclaim the
Gospel; 3. To be God’s Temple on earth; 4. To be the pillar and
ground of the truth; 5. To be the salt and light of the world
The church’s method of
perpetuity: by succession of churches. A new church is organized
out of a previously existing one. This is the clear pattern of the
The Great Commission
(Matt. 28:18-20) was given to the churches, not to saved
individuals. It is the pattern of perpetuating the Lord’s
Baptism is a church
ordinance. We become members of a local church by our baptism.
This is why only those set apart by the congregation can baptize
others. If any one can baptize and by it add members to the
church, it would be chaos. There would be no unity, no order and
Why is it that we don’t
have woman-pastors and evangelists? If the commission was given
to every saved individual, then both men and women could preach
the Gospel , baptize and pastor churches.
In the New Testament, we
find the churches multiplying according to the Great Commission
pattern: churches sent out missionaries to preach the Gospel,
baptize the converts and gather them together in church capacity
for teaching all the commandments of Christ. Those that have
been taught continued from step 1, sending out missionaries,
baptizing and teaching others...
In the New Testament
we find 4 generations of churches (1. Jerusalem; 2. churches
of Judea, Samaria and Antioch; 3. churches in Galatia,
Ephesus, Phillipi, Thessalonic, Berea, Corinth; 4. Laodicea,
Colossae). These churches were not self-organized, they did
not appear by schism from other churches, but came into
existence according to the Great Commission pattern: Christ
established the first church that later settled in
Jerusalem; preachers from them went out, preached the
Gospel; those that believed were baptized and later
organized as distinct churches. The church in Antioch sent
out Paul and Barnabas and through their work new churches
were formed. Those churches sent out missionaries and
organized other churches, in areas where the apostles didn’t
come. So, we have the principle of church perpetuity set out
in the Great Commission and we see it put into practice.
Church perpetuity is accomplished, therefore, by an orderly
succession of churches.
In order for a church to
rightfully claim that she is a true church of Christ, His spiritual
Temple, she must be built according to God’s blueprint. She must
have the same doctrine, the same practice and the same origin with
the first church that came out in existence.
I will build my church.
God’s house is unique. Once the Tabernacle was built, you were to bring
your sacrifices and offerings there. No more private altars
(Deuteronomy, chapter 12). Once the Temple was finished, God’s presence
left the Tabernacle and filled the Temple, as a sign that from then on,
anyone who worships him has to come to Jerusalem. When Christ built His
church as God’s earthly house, its purpose was that in any place a true
church exists, the true believers should gather to it for public worship
The alternative way of
Jeroboam (1 Kings, 12:28-31). „It is too much for you to go to
Jerusalem.” It costs you too much. It is too inconvenient. Here is a
simpler alternative. Go to either Bethel or Dan. You don’t have to
go to Jerusalem to the altar for God to receive your sacrifices and
offerings. You can worship Jehovah at these altars as well. This is
the way of Jeroboam, whom God condemned as a great abomination.
Their rituals looked similar to the ones practiced in Jerusalem.
They worshiped Jehovah, not a pagan god, they burned incense like in
Jerusalem, brought their offerings and sacrifices in a very similar
manner. They had horned altars that looked exactly like the one in
Jerusalem. Yet their worship was rejected and their religion was a
The way of Jeroboam took a
hold in Judah, as well. They started erecting altars in their
cities. 350 years after Jeroboam, Judah had many such altars with
their own Levite priests that were performing religious activities
dedicated to Jehovah. They were closer to truth than those in the
north. They had no golden calf, their priests were levites and they
kept the right feasts. Yet, we read in 2 Kings 23:8 that King Josiah
broke down those altars and brought all the priests to serve in
Jerusalem in order to reestablish the unicity of that altar.
There are many churches today
like the alternative altars of Jeroboam. They were erected by men
that were not sent by God. Their pattern or blueprint may look very
similar to the true one, they have varying degrees of truth and
their worship and service may resemble the one in the true churches
or even exceed it. But they are nothing but alternative altars. God
authorized one altar, one Temple, one church. It is the duty of all
God’s people to be part of one of His churches. If they do not, they
are disobedient. Do not take membership into a true church lightly.
It is a great privilege and responsibility to be a living stone in
God’s building. Treasure this blessing. Do not trade Jerusalem for
Dan, Bethel or Beer-Sheba. Serve Him faithfully in this Jerusalem!
Do not alter the blueprint!
Don’t change the doctrines, nor the practices, but be faithful
preserving them as they have been left by Our Lord and handed down
God’s house is authorized by Him.
That means that God approved that habitation to be His house, He put His
Name in it. After Israel built the Tabernacle in the wilderness, God
filled the new house with His Glory, authenticating it before the
people. When he moved from the Tabernacle to the Temple, He did the
same. When he moved from the Temple to the Church, on the day of
Pentecost, He authenticated the building that Jesus built, by a visible
and audible manifestation of His Spirit. The Church did not start at
Pentecost any more than the construction of the Temple began when God’s
glory filled it. On the day of Pentecost, the church was a building
already finished, waiting to start serving its purpose before the world.
The baptism in the Spirit,
which was prophesied by John and promised by Christ, was a unique
event. It does not mean what protestants say today, that it is the
act of regeneration by which an individual is added to the Universal
Invisible Church. It is the baptizing of God’s new house, the
dedication of it, God showing His approval of it and that He takes
residence in that sanctuary!
It is a unique event. It was
repeated, however, in the house of Cornelius, in a smaller scale, to
prove that Gentiles and Jews are added equally in the new House,
which has no middle wall of partition, like the Old Temple.
Why is this important?
Because the baptism of the Spirit, if it is a unique event,
testifies that the Church that Jesus Built will last for the entire
period of time between His ascension and His second coming.
When God approved a new
place of worship, it meant the end of the old place of worship.
When God’s glory filled the Temple, He showed the people that He
put His name, His presence in that sanctuary. In a sense, He
moved form the old Tabernacle to the new Temple. What happened
to the Tabernacle? Was it left standing? Did it become a museum?
No, most probably it was dismantled.
When God moved from
the Temple to the Church, what happened with the Temple from
Jerusalem? It was eventually destroyed. In both cases, the
previous habitation of God ceased to exist after He moved
His name in a new one.
The first Temple, built
by Solomon and authorized by God, was destroyed in 586-87 BC.
After the 70 year captivity, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and
started building the Second Temple. The building was commanded
by God. While it was smaller and a lot more modest than the
First Temple, it was still an approved habitation of God. But
the Second Temple never had the glory of God filling it like the
first one, when it was inaugurated. Why is that? Not because God
refused to acknowledge it, but because the Second Temple was
built on the same place, according to the same pattern as the
First Temple. No new authentication was needed.
If they have built
the Temple on a different location or have made significant
changes, then God would have needed to approve it in the
same way He approved the first Temple and the tabernacle.
But, because the Second Temple was the same kind of building
as the first one and was built according to the same
pattern, no new authentication was needed.
Let’s apply this
principle to the new Temple, the church. God approved the
church that Jesus built during His earthly ministry, by
filling it with His Spirit in a visible and audible form. As
long as individual churches are being built according to the
authorized pattern (The Great Commission model, which is a
succession of churches), you don’t need another baptism of
the Spirit to authenticate each new local church. The first
church was authenticated, and by it, all the churches that
descend from it. If the baptism of the Spirit is unique, it
means that churches of the same kind as the one baptized in
the Spirit on the day of Pentecost will exist until the end
of the age.
If there would be any
break in this chain, if churches that perpetuate themselves
by the Great Commission model would cease to exist, if all
the local churches would be destroyed at one time by
persecution or apostasy, then God would need to approve the
first new church that would come into existence the same way
He approved the one that Jesus build, by another baptism of
Also, if churches
would come into existence in a different way than the one we
find authorized in the New Testament (by church succession),
if unbaptized people could start baptizing others, for
example, and organize new churches, or if new churches could
come into existence from schisms from other true churches or
if believers could organize themselves into a church, with
no connection to a previously existing church, if all these
methods that we can’t find in the Bible would become lawful
means to organize new churches, then God would have to
approve such churches in the same manner He approved the
The uniqueness of the
baptism in the Spirit tells us that the church that Jesus
built will continue until He comes and also tells us that
there is only one authorized way to perpetuate for the true
churches, and that way is by obeying the steps of the Great
Commission, by a succession of churches organized in the
same way as those in the New Testament.
this rock” - The Lord is not referring to Peter. He didn’t build his
church on Peter, as Rome says. The word rock, „Petra” is a massive
block, while „Petros” (Peter) is a smaller one. The Rock is not even
Peter’s earlier confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the
living God, as the Protestants try to say in order to make everyone that
make such a confession to be part of their universal invisible church.
There is no such thing. The Rock, the foundation, is Lord Jesus Christ
Himself. The church is built on Him. He is the Rock of our salvation.
Peter Himself makes this
clear enough in 1 Peter 2:4-10. He uses the same construction
language that our Lord was using in Matt. 16:18. The church is a
spiritual building. Each member is a living stone. The nature of
each stone is the same as the nature of the Rock, because believers
are a new creation, made after the image of the Son of God (v. 4-5).
The Rock is Christ Himself, presented by Peter as the angular stone
(6-8) and a Rock (v. 8; same word used in Matt. 16:18 for Rock,
In the book of Psalms, we
often read about Jehovah God being the Rock, a name that refers
to salvation, shelter, protection (Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14,
In other books of the Old
Testament, we find the name „Rock” applied to God (Deut. 32:4,
15, 18, 31; 2 Sam. 23:3, etc.). He is a true Rock, providing
true salvation, unlike false gods who offer false protection
In the Old Testament, the
word „rock”, when used figuratively, never refers to a human
being, because it is a salvation metaphor. And it never refers
to a confession, a statement of faith. It refers to false gods,
as people put their hopes of salvation in false gods, who cannot
provide real salvation and protection, and it refers to the True
God, Jehova, who is a real rock for those who trust Him.
The New Testament is
consistent representing Christ as a Rock, even the antitype of
the Rock struck by Moses in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:4).
interpretation that the Rock upon which the Church is built is
Peter is false. And so is the interpretation that the confession
of Peter is the Rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock, the foundation
and the corner stone of the Church.
The fortresses built on rocks
or mountain cliffs were hard to conquer. It was easier to defend
them than those built out in the open. He is the Rock, the
Foundation, the Protector of His church. The whole building rests on
Him and will collapse only if He will collapse. Until that happens,
His Church will remain standing.
The gates of Hell shall not
prevail against it. The Tabernacle lasted for about 500 years.
Solomon’s Temple for about 500. The second Temple lasted for almost 600
years, until it was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. How long will the
church last? It has existed continually for almost 2000 years. How long
will it last? Until He comes! He promised that the Gates of Hell shall
not prevail against His church. There never was a time and never will be
that the Lord did not have a true church on earth since he built the
The Gates of Hades was the
name of a cave where pagans built a Temple dedicated to Baal. They
believed that the cave was the door to the underworld, used by the
fertility gods to go in during the winter season and come out during
summer. It is a metaphor for the kingdom of darkness, the realm of
This is a promise of victory
for the Lord’s church. It speaks of its perpetuity. Not just
survival, as the powers of darkness would attack the church but she
would survive. It is more than that. The words our Captain uses show
the church as being on the offensive. The image the Lord uses shows
His church marching, advancing into the realm of darkness, attacking
those gates, which cannot hold us back.
The term „prevail” is a word
used for a total war between two armies, and one, no matter how much
it tries, is overwhelmed and will end up in total defeat.
When we preach the Gospel,
when we witness, we are on the offense. The Gospel goes forth and
His Word will not return to Him without fruit. The Gospel of the
grace of God is the banner under which the Lord’s churches march and
storm the Gates of Hell.
The Gospel speaks of the
glorious work of our Lord and Head and Bridegroom. By the
preaching of the Gospel, our Father pulls people from the
kingdom of darkness and brings them into the Kingdom of His
beloved Son (Col. 1:13). The Gospel is the power of God unto
salvation to everyone that believes (Rom. 1:17)
Why are we involved in this
great struggle, greater than ourselves? Because our Lord is involved
in it. He is our Captain. Satan failed to defeat Him in temptation
or death. He was crucified, but His death was no defeat. Christ’s
death was totally under His control. He had power to give up His
life, and power to take it back. He died the death He chose, at the
time He chose and in the place He chose. He died that death because
it was the determined way to procure our salvation from eternal
death and ruin.
Christ died according to
the Scriptures. Was buried according to the Scriptures. But he
rose again, the third day, according to the Scriptures. His
death was not a defeat, but the seal of His victory against
Satan. Through His death and resurrection, He spoiled
principalities and powers (Col. 2:14-15), as a victor removes
the armor and the signs of authority from his defeated enemy.
Our Lord left His church
to represent Him on earth. The church acts in His Name as His
authorized representative. But this means that the powers of
darkness have turned against us, too. Satan roars like a lion
and throws his fiery arrows toward us. We are involved in this
total war against Satan because our Captain is. And he orders us
to follow Him. The closer you are to
Him, the more you will be attacked. But there is no place safer
or better to be than near your Captain. So, don’t compromise!
Don’t break the lines, do not desert! Be faithful until the end!
You may feel sometimes the burden of doing His work. Opposition,
needs, suffering. There is a price to pay for being His
disciple. It is far better to pay the price than compromise and
betray the Lord.
The perpetuity of the Temple.
The church, the institution that Christ built, will never perish, will
never be defeated by Satan and his forces. It will exist continually on
earth, through local churches that have been organized according to the
Great Commission pattern and who descend from the first one that Jesus
built. There never was a time since the organization of the first church
in which true local churches did not exist.
Biblical proofs of church
In Matthew, 16:18, Christ
promised His church victory of the Gates of Hades (the powers of
darkness). Since the church is a local assembly, if Satan have
destroyed all the churches at one time, through persecution or
apostasy, then the promise of Christ failed. While many local
churches perished or were lured into apostasy, our Sovereign God
always preserved a remnant of faithful churches.
The church, as an
institution, being the Temple of God for this age, will not
perish as long as His presence is in it, just as the Old Temple
did not perish until God left it. Christ promised His church
that He will be with them until the end of the age (Mat.
29:18-20), which means that He will not depart from His
churches. His presence among His churches guarantees their
Christ is seen by
John, in Rev. 1-3 as walking among the churches. This is a
confirmation of Christ’s promise from Matt. 28. He warns the
local church of Ephesus of removal their lamp stand if they
do not repent, which is a removal of a church from His
presence. It means the apostasy of that particular church.
While local churches may fall in apostasy and have their
lamp stand removed, there never was a time that all the
churches fell in apostasy, so that there was no lamp stands
left for Christ to walk among.
Paul says in Eph. 3:21
that God is glorified in the church „throughout all ages”. This
implies a continual presence of the church on earth, century
after century, until He comes. This agrees with Christ’s promise
to His church to be with her every day until the end of the age.
But if all the
churches fell in apostasy from the fourth or sixth century
until the sixteenth (the time of the Reformation), then for
that period of time, God was not glorified in any church,
unless we will say that the Great Harlot glorified God by
being drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs (Rev.
Our Lord instituted the
Supper as a church ordinance, not a private or individual
practice. The apostle Paul teaches this in 1 Cor. 5, 10 and 11.
The loaf of unleavened bread symbolizes His body that was broken
for us, but it also symbolizes the church as a body
(1 Cor. 10:17), which must purge herself to celebrate the
Supper as a lump free of leaven (1 Cor. 5:6-8). So, the Supper
does not symbolize the communion of an individual believer with
His Lord, but the communion of the local church, as a body, with
her Head. This is why the Supper is taken by the whole church,
not by smaller fractions of it (1 Cor. 11:17-20).
The Lord’s Supper
is celebrated continually, „until He
comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). By whom? By His churches. The
continual practice of the Supper until He comes implies the
continual existence of His churches until He comes.
Since baptism is a
prerequisite for church membership and for participation in
the Supper, and since the valid administrator of baptism is
a true church, then it means that for the ordinances to have
a continual existence, it requires that churches that
practice them must have a continual existence. If true
churches ceased to exist for any given time since Christ
founded the first one, then the authority for performing the
ordinances ceased with the last true local church that died
or fell into apostasy.
1 Tim. 3:15 teaches us
that the church is „the pillar and ground of the truth”. „The
pillar” and „the ground” are two figures of speech also borrowed
from construction language. The pillar and its foundation have
the purpose of upholding the upper part and the roof of a
building. If they fail, then the whole building will cave in and
be destroyed. The church has the responsibility to uphold the
truth. „The Truth” is the teachings of Christ, everything that
He commanded His church to teach the new disciples (Matt.
The teachings of
Jesus Christ are not some
abstract, theoretical doctrines, but
practical. They are the truth that set us free from
the bondage of sin. They sanctify us. They glorify Him and
help us grow spiritually. The more an individual and a
church know of the teachings of Christ, the more mature and
holy and useful they will be.
These teachings the
Lord left to His churches. The Great Commission from Matthew
28:18-20 is given to His church, not to individuals as
disciples. If the Commission was given to everyone as
disciples, then anyone can preach, baptize and teach the
converts. This has several implications that will throw the
Lord’s work into total chaos:
It means that not
just men, but women, too, can preach, baptize, teach and
pastor. They are disciples, too. Why discriminate if the
Commission was given to all the disciples, men and women
alike? While we find many women working and helping in
the churches in the New Testament, we find none that
baptizes or pastors. It would be quite difficult for a
woman to meet the condition of being the husband of one
wife, in order to qualify to be a pastor, wouldn’t it?
If anyone can
baptize, it means that baptism is not a condition to
enter into the membership of a church. It would be
impossible for a church to know its membership if
everyone would be out there baptizing other people.
Baptism is not just a public confession of our faith in
the Gospel, it is also the means of entering into church
membership (Acts 2:41; 1 Cor. 12:13, literal
translation), the place where the baptized are taught
all that Christ commanded.
If the Spirit
leads us to be baptized into a body, a local church,
where we function as members; if we become members of
the church my baptism, then baptism is a church
ordinance and not an individual one. And only those that
are set aside by a true church can properly fulfill the
If Christ entrusted
His Gospel, His baptism and His teachings to His church to
uphold and proclaim, then they will last as long as the
institution of His church will last, that is, until He
comes. So, 1 Tim. 3:15 is also a verse that proves church
Jude, v. 3, „earnestly
contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints”.
faith” means the things believed, as in Eph. 4:5. It refers
to the same teachings and beliefs called „the truth” in 1
Tim. 3:15 and „all things whatsoever I
have commanded you” from Matt. 28:20.
Notice that „the
faith” was delivered „unto the saints”. This is a usual
expression in the New Testament to refer to the disciples
gathered as a church (Eph. 1:1). So, this verse enforces
once again what 1 Tim. 3:15 said, that „the faith” or „the
truth” was entrusted to His church.
This „faith” was
given once. They need to „earnestly contend” for it because
if they lose the faith, if the teachings become corrupted,
they won’t be restored by some prophet. It is given but once
and it is their duty to defend it and protect it.
If God would keep
restoring „the faith” by some
reformer or modern prophet if churches would go
totally in apostasy, then this verse loses it force
altogether. Its clear meaning is that defending the
faith is urgent and of utmost important, because it was
delivered only „once”. There won’t be a second or third
delivery if they won’t stand for the truth immediately.
Since the faith (the
teachings of Christ) were delivered only once and were
delivered to the saints, to the church that is „the pillar
and ground of the truth”, it means that for these teachings
to survive until Christ comes back, we need a continual
perpetuity of Christ’s churches that defends and proclaims
These are the most
important verses that speak about the perpetuity of the church
that Jesus built, of the Temple in this current covenant. The
promise of Christ that the Gates of Hades will not prevail
against His church makes sense only if His church will exist
continually until He comes back, to attack and storm those
Gates. If at any time the institution of His church was
obliterated from the face of the earth, the Gates of Hades won
the battle and prevailed against the Church and against Her
Founder. But Christ promised victory, and in that promise we
have the promise of perpetuity of the church that He built until
this very day.
But, even though the church
as an institution will never perish, local churches die. This is a
fact. Some fold up. Some grow extinct, some are wiped out or
scattered by persecution, some fall into apostasy. Today this is the
Lord Jesus warned against
apostasy. All the authors of the New Testament warned against it.
Acts, 20:28-31. Apostasy of some churches is predicted just as much
as the perpetuity of true churches is promised. Looking at the
warnings in the New Testament and to the history of those churches
that did not heed them, we can identify certain signs of apostasy.
It is good to know them, because we can always verify ourselves by
Going beyond that which
is written. Going beyond the Scriptures. 1 Cor. 4:6. People will
always want to take out, relativize or allegorize what they
don’t like from the Scriptures. People think the Scripture alone
is not sufficient. But it is. Going beyond it is the beginning
Changing the Gospel of
the grace of God into a message of salvation by works.
persons as members in the church. Numbers are important for
false churches, not for God. When this happens, the church is no
more a flock of sheep, but a spiritual zoo.
ordinances. Changing the form, the meaning and the conditions
for baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Change of church
government from equality of all members to a hierarchy.
The presence of a spirit
the State. This is spiritual adultery. Israel in the Old
Testament was guilty of it. The Great Harlot of Revelation, 17
and 18 is seen as a woman who committed adultery with the kings
of the earth. Christ’s bride must be a chaste virgin, faithful
to Him, depending on Him for protection and nourishment, not on
Caesar (the State).
False worship is also
spiritual adultery. Israel was accused of adultery because of
worshipping false gods and for trusting in other kings to save
them, not in their God/spouse. The pleasing worship is in spirit
and truth. Satan perverted true worship and created in the false
churches a system of worship based on carnal desires and lies.
Let us take the
examples of the holidays that most Christianity observe.
What is their origin? They did not originate in the Bible,
but in the apostate Christianity. Take Christmas, for
example. Was Christ born on December 25th? No, he was not.
But the pagans had a holiday dedicated to the birth of their
Sun-God on Dec. 25th. When the pagans were „Christianized”,
they wanted to keep their holidays. So, the apostate church
allowed them to keep them, but change the names. Christ
became the Invincible Sun that the Romans celebrated on Dec.
All the things
that people do today in celebrating the „birth of
Christ” were in existence in the time of Jesus and the
apostles. The feast on Dec. 25th, the exchange of gifts,
the caroling, the rich meals, everything. But they
existed among the pagans, not among the Lord’s churches.
Paul told the
elders of Ephesus that he preached to them all the
council of God and he did not hide anything that was
useful to them. (Acts. 20:20, 27). Did he preach or
teach the keeping of holidays? No, he did not, even
though he taught them everything that was useful for
their spiritual life.
If we really
believe that the Bible is the final authority and is
sufficient for all our spiritual good, we will not add
to it man’s inventions as means to worship God. This is
Satan’s method of deception and true believers and true
churches must avoid it.
Our worship, as
well as our doctrine, gives us our identity. Is our
identity derived from the Bible or from Catholic
apostasy? Do we worship God in the simplicity of the
original Christianity or after the model of the
perverted Christianity? Let us
realize that God told us in the Bible, not through the
pope, how He wants us to serve and worship Him!
God did not leave the
worship to us, either. In His church, as His sanctuary,
things must be done according to His rules, not according to
ours. So, let us not change the worship, let us not pattern
it after the world or after apostate churches. Let us serve
Him in spirit and truth, bringing pleasing sacrifices to
Him! Anything else will lead to a rejection of our worship,
The ecumenical movement
is the ultimate sign of apostasy. It is something modern. It
basically is recognition of false churches as true churches. All
the signs of apostasy mentioned above are present in the
ecumenical movement. It is a movement of cooperation between the
harlot and her daughters, and true churches should stay away and
remain separate from false churches.
sister churches is scriptural and beneficial for the work of
expanding the Kingdom of God. Churches helping churches in
their missionary efforts and when one is in a time of need
(requiring financial or spiritual assistance) bonds the
churches together and makes them stronger and more efficient
in the propagation of the Gospel. Every church is
independent, but that does not mean that it should be
isolated from all the other true churches. Satan wants us
divided and quarreling among ourselves, because this way we
will grow weaker. if we are too busy fighting among
ourselves, we will miss fighting the great fight and
storming the Gates of Hell, as our Captain commands us.
So, while cooperation
among sister churches is desirable and beneficial, we need
to draw some lines, some principles of cooperation, which
will be our limits. Satan will also try to make us
compromise our churches for the sake of a false unity and
love. This is ecumenism.
Some churches don’t
set clear boundaries regarding their cooperation and
recognition of other churches. They may believe the true
doctrine, but in practice they deny it, by associating
themselves with churches that deny their faith. We may
compromise the testimony of Christ among us by associating
ourselves with false churches. We may not practice what they
practice, but if we associate ourselves with them, we
validate them before our sister churches.
If a virgin will
hang around prostitutes, others will naturally assume
that she is one of them. And eventually, she will begin
to dress like them and have the same habits like them.
It is the same with churches. If they cooperate with
false churches, what testimony will they have before the
world and before other churches? Don’t they actually
send out the message that they are the same with those
with whom they cooperate?
essentially recognizing false churches as true churches. If
we recognize the baptism and the ordination of another
church, if we receive members from another church by letter,
not by baptism, if we invite preachers from another church
to preach in ours, by this we give a formal recognition to
that respective church that she is an authentic church, as
true as ours is.
True churches are the
Bride of Christ. They need to keep themselves pure and
chaste until He comes. The great false religious system, the
mystery Babylon, is a prostitute and the mother of
prostitutes. Even though there are saved people in those
false religious systems (Rev. 18:4), this doesn’t mean that
their churches are true. You can have saved people in false
churches. They are called to leave those systems and to join
a true church.
A true church must
not cooperate with one that is involved in the ecumenical
movement or has obvious signs of apostasy that she practices
What is the practical result
of apostasy? The existence of alternative altars, of several kinds
of churches. An apostate church, one that forsook the faith and made
compromises with the world will most likely continue its existence.
The church of Rome exists even today, but it has been apostate for a
long time. Apostasy creates confusion, breaks the unity and the
peace among churches and weakens their testimony in the world.
Apostate churches will always try to justify their departures from
truth and will turn against the churches that remain faithful. They
will try to claim our history and our identity. At one point, it was
against the law for our churches to be called „Christian”. The name
was reserved to the official churches, who were apostate.
Apostasy is the greatest
danger of our generation. Satan persecuted the true churches and
could not destroy them. He tries now to lure them, to deceive them
as he deceived Eve, so that they would become unfaithful to their
Every single local church is
one generation away from apostasy or extinction. If we do not guard
the faith, if we do not proclaim the Gospel, our church will die.
How can we prevent this? Acts, 20:28-31: Watch and beware of the
danger. Follow the example of Paul, stay faithful to the teachings
of the Bible. Congregations need to be taught all things that Christ
have commanded, not just parts of them. This is a continual work.
Constantly prepare and train disciples. 2 Tim. 2:2. The next
generation must be prepared to continue in the same truths.
We have the tendency to say
that apostasy can happen to anyone except us. We are not immune to
it. The Israelites thought that Jerusalem will never fall, the
Temple will never be destroyed by the Babylonians because it was the
house of God. They despised, persecuted and killed the prophets that
said otherwise. They began to neglect the worship and the service,
they even brought pagan symbols and rituals in God’s house (2 Kings.
23:4, 6, 7). At one point we read about „hangings” in the courts of
the temple. Those were tabernacles in which they practiced sacred
prostitution. The Jews betrayed God, desecrated His house and
therefore God abandoned it and left it to be destroyed.
They looked upon the
Temple and may be thought that God wouldn’t leave such a nice
building to be destroyed. God doesn’t care about nice buildings.
Some might have said: „But we paid such a great price, we
sacrificed so much to build this expensive gold covered Temple.”
God doesn't care about how much money it was worth.
What does He expect then?
Obedience to his Word! Faithful, love driven service to Him!
Worship that comes from a heart that is totally devoted to Him.
Do we serve Him with all our hearts? If not, we may find
ourselves in the same danger as the Israelites in the time of
It is a great privilege to be one of the Lord’s
churches. But we have great responsibilities, too! Let us be found faithful
in the great work with which Jesus Christ entrusted us!
Ps. 93:5: Holiness becometh thine
house, o Lord, for ever. We are a holy people. We have been separated from
the world, we live differently, dress differently, worship differently. Our
standard is not to be a little better than the world or a little better than
false or apostate churches. Our standard of holiness and separation is found
in His Word. It alone regulates our life. It has the final say. Let us not
forsake the assembly, but treasure God’s
Temple, His church. Let us keep it pure from all uncleanness and
paganism. Let us come joyfully before our God and bring ourselves and the
fruit of our lips as an acceptable sacrifice to our Savior. And let us
diligently advance with the light of His Gospel into the kingdom of
darkness, for they cannot prevail against us!