After Peter told Jesus that He was the Christ, He replied, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven...and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it" (Matt. 16:17-18). This was the first time Jesus ever used the word "church." The disciples were probably thinking, "What's a church?"
The Greek word for "church" means "the called out ones." These are people who are called out of the world to follow Him and His ways. What kind of church is He constructing, and what is it supposed to look like? Here are some things about the church that Jesus builds:
1) It is built on revelation, not speculation. Jesus told Peter that His Father had revealed this truth to him. Reveal means "to pull back the curtain or veil," so that you see things that you've never seen before. Once you actually see who Jesus really is, it will change the way you think and act. It is a life-changing experience.
2) It is built more on followship than leadership. Jesus continually talked about following and said little about leading. "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He was looking for followers who would deny themselves. Leadership becomes easy when you have people who are willing to follow. So where do the leaders come from? The people who faithfully serve Him with godly attitudes become qualified to become the leaders in His Church.
3) It will fight Satan and not other believers. Satan is the enemy, not other Christians. Jesus said, "The gates of hell will not overpower it." Hell is Satan's domain. I've never seen a soldier attack anyone with a gate because it's not an offensive weapon. A gate is designed to keep an invading army from taking it over. The Church is called to plunder the devil's kingdom and set the captives free, and the gates of hell aren't strong enough to keep us out! Satan knows this, so he plants lies through gossip and slander so that Christians will attack other believers instead of him.
4) It is built on submission to authority, not resistance to authority. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable to you" (Heb. 13:17). Contrary to popular belief, submission is not a curse word. Humility and submission are linked together, just as pride and rebellion are linked together. It's impossible to submit to authority without humility. Humility is having a cooperative spirit.
5) It is built on love, joy, peace and not hate, anger, turmoil. Having a good attitude is a basic building block of His Church. Gal. 5:20-22 tells us the works of the flesh are strife, outbursts of anger, dissensions, and factions, while the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. James 2:19 says the demons also believe, and tremble. They believe in God, but they still act like demons. If our faith isn't producing the character of Christ in us, then something is wrong with our faith!