By Ron Halbrook
“For the truth’s sake,” every mouth should confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In Matthew 16:13-19, we have the record of Peter confessing Jesus Christ: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is the grandest truth of all the ages! It is the foundation, the very bedrock of truth upon which our salvation rests. Jesus said, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter was only a man, fallible, and subject to err; his name indicated that he was only “a stone” (Jn. 1:42). Peter, himself only a stone, had confessed the great bedrock which is the foundation of the Lord’s church. Men are to be saved in Christ, called into Him, and thus added to His church upon this solid foundation: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. ” “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
Not even the realm of death could stop Jesus from keeping his promise: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell (hades, realm of death) shall not prevail against it.” He arose from the dead, victorious over hades and death (Rev. 1:18). He then commissioned His apostles or royal ambassadors to proclaim the reign of the great King. The gates of His kingdom were to be opened wide by the preaching of the gospel. The apostles could not originate the message of truth of themselves but could only declare what was revealed to them from heaven. Jesus said, “Whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (New American Standard Version). Not only Peter, but also all the other apostles were under the commission (see Matt. 18:18; Jn. 20:20-23).
After Jesus rose from the dead – proving Himself to be the Christ, the Son of the living God – He sent the apostles out preaching the truth which had been settled in heaven. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk 16:15-16). the ambassadors of the King were to preach one gospel in all the world: (1) he that believeth, and (2) is baptized,:-(3) shall be saved. The message was settled in heaven, revealed to the apostles, and could not be changed by men. Men might disbelieve and disobey, but the message of truth could not be changed. The message was not: (1) he that is sprinkled as an infant, (2) is saved, and (3) can believe when he is 12 years old at confirmation service. The message was not: (1) he that believeth, (2) is saved, and (3) shall be baptized to show that he was saved or in order to join the church of his choice. When men obeyed the gospel by obedient faith, they were saved in Christ and added to his church. This church stands upon the solid rock: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
The Roman Catholic theory says that Christ confessed Peter in Matthew 16. Did Christ confess Peter as the bedrock of truth? Is the church of Christ built upon a man who remains in the realm of death to this day? Was Jesus declaring Peter to be head of the church? Was Peter to be “Father” and “Bishop” of the whole church, the “Vicar of Christ” and very presence of God upon earth? No! A thousand times, no! Let us ever remember that Christ did not confess the primacy of Peter, but rather Peter confessed the primacy of Jesus Christ. Peter is not the foundation of the church, Christ is. Peter did not rise from the dead, Christ did. Peter did not sit on the throne, reigning over God’s people, Christ did. Peter was not crowned head of the church on earth, Christ was crowned head over all things to the church “in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22-23).
Truth Magazine XXIII: 36, p. 578
September 13, 1979