by Jerry Shugart
IX. Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church (ekklesia)
Let us look at the following question asked by the Lord Jesus and the answer given by Peter:
"He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt.16:15-18).
This confession of Peter, that the Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is the "rock" upon which the Jewish church was to be built. Alfred Edersheim, a Jew who converted to Christianity, explains the meaning of the "rock" here:
"Perhaps it might be expressed in this somewhat clumsy paraphrase: 'Thou art Peter (Petros)--a Stone or Rock--and upon this Petra--the Rock, the Petrine--will I found My Church...so Christ
promised that He would build His Church on the Petrine in Peter--on his faith and confession" (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah; Part Two [Grand Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing, 1971], 83-84).
According to the Lord Jesus it is faith in the truth that He is the Christ, the Son of God, upon which the ekklesia is to be built. On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter used facts of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus to prove that the Lord Jesus is the promised Christ. Peter ended his sermon with the following words:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
Charles Ryrie says the following about the theme of Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost:
"To us today it does not mean much to say that Jesus is Christ or Messiah. To a Jew of that day it was an assertion which required convincing proof, and it was the theme of Peter's sermon. Peter's proof is built along very simple lines. First he paints a picture of the Messiah from the Old Testament Scriptures. Then from contemporary facts he presents a picture of Jesus of Nazareth. Finally, he superimposes these two pictures on each other to prove conclusively that Jesus is Messiah" [emphasis added] (Ryrie, "The Significance of Passover," Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct. 1955, Vol.112, # 448, 335).
Zane Hodges, past Chairman of of the New Testament Department at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes the following in regard to Peter's words:
"Peter concludes his address with the assertion that 'God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ' (2:36). His hearers then reply, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' (2:37). But such a reaction presumes their acceptance of Peter's claim that they have crucified the one who is Lord and Christ. If this is what they now believe, then they were already regenerated on Johannine terms, since John wrote: 'Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God' (1 John 5:1; cf. John 20:31) " [emphasis added] (Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege, 101).
On the day of Pentecost those who believed the "good news" that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, were "born of God" and saved. Later, after hearing the gospel preached the Ethiopian treasurer asked to be baptized with water and his faith was based on the same truth:
"And Philip said, If thou believeth with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37).
That is the same gospel which Paul preached to the Jews shortly after he was converted:
"And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God...proving that this is the very Christ" (Acts 9:20,22).
The following is what Apollos preached to the Jews:
"For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus is Christ" (Acts18:28).
The fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is the heart and soul of the gospel of the kingdom and Lewis Sperry Chafer said that "the gospel of the Kingdom...consisted of a legitimate offer to Israel
of the promised earthly Davidic kingdom, designed particularly for Israel" [emphasis added] (Quoted from G. E. Ladd, Crucial Questions about the Kingdom of God [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952], 50).
Certainly that is not the gospel by which the Body of Christ has been built and is now being built. H.A. Ironside said the following about the gospel which Christians are to preach today and the same gospel by which the Body of Christ is built:
"All through those OT dispensations, the gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe, it says, 'that Christ died for our sins.' No man preaches the gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary's Cross" [emphasis added] (Ironside, God's Unspeakable Gift [London: Pickering & Inglis, 1908], Chapter 2).
X. Nations That Do Not Know You Will Hasten To You
Shortly before the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven and shortly before the day of Pentecost He gave the Apostles the commandment to go "into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk.16:15).
Since the Apostles concern prior to the day of Pentecost was in regard to the kingdom being restored to Israel (Acts 1:6) they certainly understood that the Gentiles would be brought to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus as a result of the agency of the nation of Israel according to the OT prophecies:
"Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor" (Isa.55:3,5).
According to prophecy Gentiles will saved as a result to the agency of the nation of Israel:
"And I will bring them (Israel), and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness...And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing...In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you" (Zech.8:8,13,23).
Before the disciples would go to the Gentiles they were waiting for Israel to repent and be converted. Since the nation had not repented and turned to the LORD then when the disciples were scattered upon the persecution of Stephen they preached the gospel only to the Jews:
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts 11:19).
None of the Apostles who were originally given the commission to preach the gospel to every creature ever went to the Gentiles except for Peter, and even then it took a special revelation from the LORD before he would go to a Gentile. John Nelson Darby, who is widely recognized as being the father of modern dispensationalism, wrote the following about that commandment:
"When the Lord was parting from the disciples, He gives them the commandment, 'Go ye and disciple all nations.' Where is the fulfillment of this by the apostles whom He had chosen? This was their special commission from Him, as risen and having all power in heaven and earth. The principle and value of the dispensation could not be altered. But where is the fulfilment by the twelve apostles? Scripture affords it not. There is no account of the twelve in Scripture going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature: nothing which Scripture recognises as the accomplishment of this command" [emphasis added] (Darby, The Apostasy of the Successive Dispensations).
It is evident that the reason why the original Apostles were not going to the Gentiles was because they were waiting for the entire nation to repent and be a blessing to the whole world. Since the Apostles knew that according to prophecy the nation of Israel was to be the agent for bringing the knowledge of the Lord Jesus to every creature upon the earth Peter told the nation to repent on the day of Pentecost:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21).
All of this provides even more evidence that on the day of Pentecost the divine purpose was in regard to Israel and therefore it had nothing at all to do with the Body of Christ.
Sir Robert Anderson, an early dispensationalists who preached alongside Darby in the 19th century, wrote the following commentary on Peter's words at Acts 3:19-21:
"To represent this as Christian doctrine, or the institution of 'a new religion,' is to betray ignorance alike of Judaism and of Christianity. The speakers were Jews--the apostles of One who was Himself 'a minister of the circumcision.' Their hearers were Jews, and as Jews they were addressed. The Pentecostal Church which was based upon the testimony was intensely and altogether Jewish. It was not merely that the converts were Jews, and none but Jews, but that the idea of evangelising Gentiles never was even mooted. When the first great persecution scattered the disciples, and they 'went everywhere preaching the Word,' they preached, we are expressly told, 'to none but to the Jews'."
"The Jerusalem Church, then, was Jewish. Their Bible was the Jewish Scriptures. The Jewish temple was their house of prayer and common meeting-place. Their beliefs and hopes and words and
acts all marked them out as Jews...Nothing was further from the thoughts of these men than 'founding a new religion.' On the contrary, while hailing the rejected Nazarene as their national Messiah,
they clung with passionate devotion to the religion of their fathers" (Anderson, The Silence of God [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978] 75-78).