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The Centrality of the Church in God’s Purpose

Together, let’s read Matthew 16:13-19:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered 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 tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus said, “I will build My Church.” Building His Church is the central thing God is doing on the earth.

“Who do you say that I am?”

Jesus did not ask “What is My name?” or “Where do I come from,” but “Who am I?”

In essence, “What am I doing here?” “Whom do I represent?” “What is the meaning of what I am doing here?” “How do you understand what I am doing?” “What is the Father doing through Me?” “How do you understand everything you see in My life and work?”

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Peter didn’t just get the name right, he understood this is the Messiah that God had revealed in the Old Testament, the eternal Son of God, the Savior of the world, the One who takes away our sins, the One through whom we overcome the enemy, the One who establishes the Kingdom of God on earth, the One who reveals God. The incarnate God, the perfect image of God, the Christ who fulfills all God’s purposes. This is the meaning of Peter’s revelation.

This is not something that came out of Peter’s own brilliance or was learned from some teacher. He got it from God. He had received the revelation of God. He deeply understands the purpose of God!

“On this rock, I will build My Church.”

The revelation of the Person and purpose of Jesus Christ is the Foundation on which Jesus will build His Church.

This shows us the centrality of the Church in the purpose of God. It’s not that God has many purposes, and this is merely one of them. This is the core purpose of God. He said, “I will build My Church.” This is Jesus’ purpose for coming.

Building His Church is the central thing God is doing on the earth. His purpose is not to “redeem the culture,” “Christianize society,” reform political systems or improve everyone’s standard of living, but to build His Church.

There are many good things we could do, but God has called us to the highest: the building of His House, the preparation of His Bride, the equipping and maturing of His Body. Consequently, our ultimate goal is not social improvement for its own sake, through such means as education, medical institutions, agricultural projects, political reform, humanitarian work or the “Christianizing of the culture.” Projects of those kinds will only be beneficial as they directly assist in, or proceed from, the completing of our task, which is to build His Church. They should not be ends in themselves. Our goal is the building of His Church.

Everything Jesus did was for this purpose.

We know Jesus invested a lot of time and energy in building leaders. But why? Building leaders was His strategy; His goal was to build His Church.

Certainly, Jesus came to die on the cross. But was this just to get us to heaven? He delivered us from eternal destruction and from the power of darkness to build His Church!

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11)

Before the creation of the world, this was His purpose, His vision – to build His Church. This is the centrality of the Church in God’s mind.

We are called to be part of this great eternal purpose – the building of God’s Church.

Let’s thank and praise God for this privilege!

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Malcolm Webber
Malcolm Webberhttp://leadershipletters.com
Originally from Australia, Malcolm came to Christ in 1980. He is married to Ruth; they have six children. Malcolm is the founder and executive director of LeaderSource SGA, an international leader development ministry. He is also the founder and senior pastor of Living Faith Fellowship – a multicultural church in Indiana, USA. With a successful background in the business world, Malcolm holds his Ph.D. in the field of organizational leadership and works with Christian leaders in many nations. He has written over 30 books, the most popular of which is To Enjoy Him Forever, and his writings have been published in both scholarly and popular journals. His Leadership Letters are read by thousands of leaders around the world every month. Malcolm is deeply committed to the preeminence and centrality of Jesus Christ, the priesthood of every believer, healthy leadership and holistic leader development, and the global calling of the local church.

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