The Church Is.
© 2017 Leo J Woodman
“The church is not in need of reformation or restoration, nor is it emerging. It has always been and will always be… those that gather around the crucified Christ. The church is.” – Leo Woodman
To apply labels such as reformation, restoration or emerging to the church is to label it as being formed, shaped or coming to into being via man’s will. Yet we would claim to be only bringing about what the Lord had planned for His church from the beginning. The thought that man somehow is more capable of bringing about the Lord’s will more than He is, is to overstep our bounds with immense arrogance. Jesus said He would build His church, so we should not to presume that humanity has deconstructed it. As if that were possible. If the gates of hell or hades cannot prevail against His church, how can humanity?
The church must be something other than what we imagine it to be. It must be more than what we claim it to be. It must be beyond the ability of man to form or destroy. Jesus said He would build His church on the bedrock statement that the apostle Peter made… “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Although Peter made the statement, it did not originate with him. Jesus said; “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”1 God Himself gave Peter the revelation about Jesus. The bedrock foundation for Jesus’ church was from heaven, not from man. The origins of the church is not from man, but from heaven.
For millennia man has sought to control, manipulate, reform, restore or bring into being the church Jesus established in His own blood. As Jesus was teaching His disciples how He would die he made this statement… “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”2 Not only was He speaking of how He would die, but how He would build His church (His assembly). The cross, His death on that cross and His resurrection draw all people to Him. They are not drawn to an institution, organization or movement. They are drawn to Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They are drawn to the one that died for their sins. Drawn to the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. His church is built on Him, the Christ, the Son of the living God.
His church came into being the day He gave himself for the sins of fallen humanity. His church is.
We need to look at the word of God to see the way His church would be built up from the bedrock of His sacrifice. Jesus Himself makes statements regarding how to draw people to Him. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”3 He commanded His remaining eleven disciples (apostles) to go and make more disciples from all the nations of the world.
In order for them to make these new disciples they had to share the good news (the gospel). They had to share what they experienced as they learned at Jesus feet, and what they witnessed at the foot of the cross. They had to share Jesus Christ and Him crucified with those that would listen. And when they came to believe in the Savior being preached to them they were to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. After these new disciples were baptized they were to be taught all that Jesus had commanded His apostles. Jesus and His commands built His church, it was not of human origin.
The how, where, and when of the building of Jesus church was revealed to the apostles by Jesus Himself before returning to heaven. This is what occurred before Jesus ascended to the Father… So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.4
Everything occurred just as Jesus said it would. Luke records the events of the building of Jesus church in the Acts of the apostles.When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.5 The apostles received the Holy Spirit Jesus as said they would, on the day of Pentecost. From this point forward they began to be the witnesses Jesus had said they would be. Beginning with Peter’s first address to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem.
Three thousand that had heard Peter speak about Jesus as both Lord and Christ believed, became disciples and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. The church was being built on the bedrock statement “Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. Peter had preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and three thousand were drawn to the lifted up Christ! The church (assembly) of believers had begun in Jerusalem. Immediately the teaching of everything that Jesus commanded had begun… And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.6 Such a simple and humble beginning.
Luke records in Acts the the beginning of the persecution of the church that spreads the apostles teachings to Judea and Samaria just as Jesus said would happen. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.7 The building of the church continued unabated even though the powers that be in Jerusalem were absolutely against it. They were fighting God Himself and they would not win, as Gamaliel the Pharisee had warned them.
The apostles by way of their teaching and preaching had witnessed to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as Jesus had commanded. Soon their witness would go to the gentiles and the ends of the earth. This happened through the apostle Peter going to the gentiles first in his meeting with Cornelius and his household, and later with the apostle Paul and his companions taking the apostles teaching to the rest of the world.
The church’s foundation is Jesus and His commands. It is continuing to be built to His standards. All believers are drawn to the crucified Christ. This truth has not changed and cannot be changed. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one will get to the Father except through HIM. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”8 The apostle Peter’s proclamation rings true today and until Jesus comes again.
There is no other name. The church is.
(all quotes from the ESV)
- Matthew 16:17
- John 12:32
- Matthew 28:19-20
- Acts 1:6-9
- Acts 2:1-4
- Acts 2:42
- Acts 8:1
- Acts 4:11-12