"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18
In the early centuries of the Christian era, Santa Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul) was one of the great churches in Christendom. When, in 1453, the city fell into the hands of Islamic forces, the church was turned into a mosque. Today it is a museum.
Changes like this do not contradict the assertion in the hymn line “The church shall never perish,” nor do they deny what Jesus said of the church, “The gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Christ’s church of believers, the communion of saints, will endure, as another hymn writer states, “even when steeples are falling.” Church buildings may be destroyed by fires and floods, or be converted into other kinds of structures as they were in Russia, but the church proper—people, believers—lives on.
In our times of great neighborhood changes in our cities, many once-beautiful church edifices are all but abandoned. This fact we regret, but we are consoled by the conviction that the church invisible continues, and even thrives, in other communities.
The true church, that is, the sum total of all Christians the world over, lives on because it is built on Jesus Christ. He is the “chief Cornerstone” in the solid “foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles—and the prophets before their time—did not build Christendom on the flimsy ground of human opinion—not “on wood, hay, or straw,” not even on the more solid things: “gold, silver, costly stones” (1 Corinthians 3:12), but on the Gospel truth that Christ Jesus, God’s Son, came into the world to save sinners.
The truth of salvation through faith in the redeeming merit of Jesus Christ stands firm, and so does the church based on it. You and I, as believers, are integral parts of that structure.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I believe that Your church will endure because it is built on Jesus Christ, my Savior. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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