The Ancient Faith

Home               Salvation               The Church of Christ               Acceptable Worship               Christian Ethics               Doctrinal Issues     The Holy Scriptures               Special Pages



Billy Orten

Matt. 16:13-18

We have for consideration a topic this morning that should be of intense interest to all God-loving and God-fearing people. Our subject is, “The Church That Jesus Built.”

For our text, we read verse eighteen of the sixteenth division of Matthew. Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee “that thou are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

There are two reasons why I like to preach about the church. One is because it is the grandest and most glorious institution in this old world.  There is not another like it. Another reason is because the majority of people do not understand the Church of Christ. They look at the Church of Christ as just another denomination, and they think we are so egotistical as to say our denomination is better than theirs. If we can get people to-understand the Church of Christ, perhaps they will not be so prejudice toward it. The Church is not a denomination, for denominations are unknown to the Bible. They are those plants the Heavenly Father path not planted and shall be rooted up.

It is our aim in this lesson to give you reasons why we believe you ought to be a member of the Church of Christ. It would be foolish for me to ask you to become a member of the Church of Christ unless I could give you Bible reasons for doing so. I would not say anyone to become a member of the Church just in order that we might increase our numbers and in doing so outstrip some other religious institution in town.



I do not believe any sensible person will contradict me when I say the church that Jesus built is the Church of Christ. He said, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” He did not say, “Upon this rock I will build John Calvin’s, John Wesley’s, John Smith’s or any other John’s Church, but upon this rock I will build MY Church.”  If I say Jesus just built one Church, do I make a mistake? I believe not, since He said, “I will build my Church,” and not Churches. In order for anyone to prove by the Bible that Jesus built more than one church, they will have to make this read: “Upon this rock I will build my churches.” Now since the church Jesus built is the Church of Christ and since He built but one, why do not all people want to be a member of that Church?

But says one, “Is it not true that the Church you are a member of and call the Church of Christ is actually the Campbellite Church and was founded by Alexander Campbell.” No! That slanders Alexander Campbell. Campbell did not build a Church; he only organized local congregations. He was one of the first to advocate a back to the Bible. However, he had as much right to start a Church as John Calvin or John Wesley did. I am not a member of a Campbellite Church; I am a member of the Church of Christ. This institution is sometimes nicknamed the Campbellite Church because of religious prejudice.

Some historians have referred to this institution as the Christian Church, but it was never called that by inspiration. Individually, we are Christians, but collectively we are the Church of Christ. Paul says, “The Churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16).



It might be worthwhile for us to notice the phrase “upon this rock.” What did our Lord mean by that phrase? What was the rock on which the Church was to be built? Peter had just said confessing Jesus to be the Christ, the son of God; Jesus then said upon this rock I will build my Church. It follows then that the rock was the truth that Peter had confessed, the fact that Jesus was the Son of God. The Church is built on.

Christ and He is the foundation. In other words, everywhere Jesus is declared to be the Son of God there the Church is to be built. To preach Christ is to lay the Foundation of the Church. .The writer of the Corinthian letter tells us in I Cor. 3:10-11„ “According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon, for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” Other institutions may rise up in this world and be great for a while but they must sooner or later fall. But not the Church of Christ; for it is built on a sure foundation, the Rock of Ages.

It is not built on Peter, as some insist, for Peter denies this in I Pet. 2:6-7, “Wherefore it is contained in the scriptures, Behold I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded: Unto you therefore which believe he is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, The same is become the head of the corner.”



But the question arises, “How may we become members of the Church Jesus built?” First, let me say, “You do not join it.” It is quite a fad to hear people talk about “getting saved,” and then “joining the Church.” A big evangelist will come into town and great numbers say they have been converted, become children of God, and after the preacher leaves they will join the Church of their choice. Friends, you may join some denomination but you cannot join, the Lord’s Church. Elders cannot vote you into it or kick you out of it. The Lord receives people into it and He will do the gathering out. He received 3,000 into it on the day of Pentecost; “And they that gladly received His word were baptized and the same day there was added unto them 3,000 souls” (Acts 2:41). “And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47).

Jesus tells us how to become a member, of this Church or Kingdom.   John, the third chapter in a conversation one night with Nicodemus, a master in Israel, Jesus said, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” This statement is plain and needs no explaining. We must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus explains this new birth in the fifth verse of the same chapter: “Except a man be born of the water and the spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

So the new birth is a birth of water and the spirit. There is no question about what Jesus meant when He said “Spirit,” but there is quite a bit of controversy over what he meant by water; I maintain He meant just what He said, “Water.” Of course, the only place water has any part in our salvation is in baptism. It is strange that people can understand what the Lord meant when He said, “Spirit,” but not be able to understand what He meant by “Water;” unless they are just trying to get around that one command of our Lord’s that so many despise, “Baptism.”

First the seed, which is the word of God, is sown in the hearts of men and women. It takes root and begins to grow. There is a faint beginning of life: It continues to grow until this person repents of his sins, confesses’ Christ, and is baptized. How was he born again? By water and the spirit.


But I know someone is ready to say we are born again by faith only.  Of course they quote I John 5:1 to prove it. Here the apostle of love tells us, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ inborn of God.” But this does not tell us we are born by faith alone. In connection with this let us read I John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”‘  Does this mean we are born by love alone? No, we are – born by faith and love. It takes both. But we read from this same apostle again in I John 2:29, “If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him.” Now shall we say a person is born again by doing righteousness’ alone? No, he is born again by faith, love, and doing righteousness. , What is righteousness? The Psalmist David says, “All God’s Common& are righteousness.” Therefore, we must obey God’s commands to be born again. What are his commands? Repentance (Luke 13:3), Confession (Matt. 10:32), Baptism (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). We have learned that to become a member of the Church that Jesus built, a person must be born again, by faith, love, and obedience to God’s commands.



And last, friends, this church which Jesus built can boast something of which no other institution on earth can boast. Its purchasing price was the blood of Christ. The Apostle Paul in his farewell address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus spoke of it in this manner, “The Church which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Nothing can be of any greater value than the blood of Christ, therefore, since the blood was given for the Church nothing can be of any greater value than the Church. So if we are to benefit by the blood that stained the Old Rugged Cross, we must become members of the Church for which Christ paid His blood.

[This is a transcript from Fifteen Radio Sermons (1951) by Lynwood Smith and Billy Orten. Subtitles have been added for reading ease].           

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”