Jesus came here to build His Church when He said: “…and on this rock I shall build my Church.” (Matt 16:18). But what kind of Church did He come here to build? Is it visible? Is it authoritative? Or is it simply the conglomeration of all Christian believers no matter what one ultimately believes is doctrinally true?
In concert with His Redemptive act, Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church. First, He chose humans to carry out His work. The Evangelists represent Christ as gathering numerous disciples, but as selecting twelve from their number to be His companions in a special manner. To them He reveals the more hidden parts of His doctrine (Matt 13:11 “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given).
Second, He sends them as His deputies to preach the kingdom, and bestows on them the power to work miracles. These men, these leaders in the Church, were given the promise of being lead into all truth when determining what is eternally True, ie doctrines (John 16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.) In effect, Jesus gave Peter and the Apostles the power and authority to carry out His work (Matt 18:18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”) We know this because we know that nothing in heaven can bound that which is untrue, therefore whatever the Apostles bind on earth must be guided by the Holy Spirit that whatever they bind must be true in heaven as well.
And so, if a disagreement arises between believers on what is true, we are to go to the Church to settle the matter. In fact, it is quite plain this is the case when we look a little closer at the context of this latest passage. Jesus teaches us that when one believer sins against another that we are to go to him alone and tell him his fault, if he won’t listen to you then bring two or three brothers so that witnesses can testify to this so that every word may be confirmed by two or three others. But if he won’t listen to all of you then you are to go to the Church. Tell the church, but which church? The Church must be visible if we are to GO TO THE CHURCH.
You see, Jesus did not build an abstract and invisible Church.
- John 17: 20,21,23 “"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
The world has to see, but the world does not see with spiritual eyes; therefore, it must be visible. Matthew 5:14 makes the visibility of the Church quite clear as well. He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden
Since an invisible church of all believers would include people from every denomination, either doctrine does not matter or conflicting doctrine is okay. So does doctrine matter?
Third, Jesus established one church, which is visible and united in mind and doctrine.
-Acts 4:32 “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.
Believers were of one heart and one soul
- 1 Cor 1:10 “I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
No dissensions, same mind and judgment
- Philippians 1:27 “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel”
One mind, one spirit
-John 17:22-23 “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Christians should be one as Jesus and the Father are one. We are to be one as He and the Father are one SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW. The world doesn’t see with spiritual eyes. The world sees us on what we believe, those who believe as one are as a city set on hill. This city is the Church and this Church has authority. We know this because the church is the pillar, or protector, and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15).
But which church do we go to get the fullness of truth? Which one do we choose: the Catholic Church, the 10 or 12 Orthodox Churches or the 25,000 plus Protestant denominations? We need to go to the one which has been visible and settling disputes between believers in councils for 2000 plus years. The only church which can claim this to be true is the Catholic Church.