Christ the Builder
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Jesus calls the church “my church,” and rightly so, since it is comprised of “all that the Father gives [him]” (John 6:37), whom he has redeemed and is purifying “for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). And he is not only the Lord of the church, he is its builder—a builder who will complete what he has begun.
The Lord Jesus Christ declares, ‘I will build my Church.’
The true Church of Christ is tenderly cared for by all the three Persons in the blessed Trinity. In the plan of salvation revealed in the Bible, beyond doubt God the Father chooses, God the Son redeems, and God the Holy Ghost sanctifies every member of Christ’s mystical body. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, co-operate for the salvation of every saved soul. This is truth, which ought never to be forgotten. Nevertheless, there is a peculiar sense in which the help of the Church is laid on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is peculiarly and pre-eminently the Redeemer and Saviour of the Church. Therefore it is that we find Him saying in our text, ‘I will build—the work of building is my special work.’
It is Christ who calls the members of the Church in due time. They are ‘the called of Jesus Christ.’ (Rom. 1:6.) It is Christ who quickens them. ‘The Son quickeneth whom He will.’ (John 5:21.) It is Christ who washes away their sins. He ‘has loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.’ (Rev. 1:5.) It is Christ who gives them peace. ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ (John 14:27.) It is Christ who gives them eternal life. ‘I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.’ (John 10:28.) It is Christ who grants them repentance. ‘Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance.’ (Acts 5:31.) It is Christ who enables them to become God’s children. ‘To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.’ (John 1:12.) It is Christ who carries on the work within them when it is begun ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ (John 14:19.) In short, it has ‘pleased the Father that in Christ should all fullness dwell.’ (Col. 1:19.) He is the author and finisher of faith. He is the life. He is the head. From Him every joint and member of the mystical body of Christians is supplied. Through Him they are kept from falling. He shall preserve them to the end, and present them faultless before the Father’s throne with exceeding great joy. He is all things in all believers.
The mighty agent by whom the Lord Jesus Christ carries out this work in the members of His Church is without doubt the Holy Ghost. He it is who is ever renewing, awakening, convincing, leading to the cross, transforming, taking out of the world stone after stone, and adding to the mystical building. But the great chief Builder, who has undertaken to execute the work of redemption and bring it to completion, is the Son of God, the ‘Word who was made flesh.’ It is Jesus Christ who ‘builds.’
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We ought to feel deeply thankful that the building of the true Church is laid on the shoulders of One that is mighty. If the work depended on man, it would soon stand still. But, blessed be God, the work is in the hands of a Builder who never fails to accomplish His designs! Christ is the almighty Builder. He will carry on His work, though nations and visible Churches may not know their duty. Christ will never fail. That which He has undertaken He will certainly accomplish.
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—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 290–293.
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