In Matthew 16:13–18, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” And then He proceeds to reveal to His followers what is the true basis of the Church; indeed of Christianity itself.
The true basis of Christianity is the identity of Jesus Christ. Your identity as a Christian is not based on a bunch of personal opinions. It is not based on a catalogue of traditions. It is not based on an institution. And if you think otherwise, you are completely misguided in your belief that you should follow Jesus.
Your identity is based on who Jesus is. The Church is built on the identity of Christ. Because of who Jesus is, the gates of hell will never overcome the people of God. This is a fantastic thing to grasp. Because you see, the identity of Christ, as confirmed by His resurrection, is not just personal opinion. It is not like believing in fairies at the back of your garden.
The identity of Jesus Christ is rock-solid. It is something that you can totally base your life on. Because the identity of Jesus Christ is confirmed by the evidence of history.
How did the Church of Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormons, begin? It began when the angel Moroni allegedly gave Joseph Smith the golden plates of the Book of Mormon on Mount Cummorah. It was a private revelation to one individual. He then told others, and others believed his story.
How did Buddhism begin? The Buddha Gautama sat under a bodhi tree until enlightenment came to him. It was a private revelation to one individual. He then told others and others believed his story.
How did Islam begin? It began with Allah dictating the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. It was a private revelation to one individual. He then told others, and others believed his story.
These were all private revelations to one individual. He then told others, and they believed his story.
Consider how different are the origins of Christianity. It was not a private revelation given to one individual whom others believed!
Everything Jesus did, He did publicly. Christianity is built upon the publicly revealed identity of Jesus Christ – an identity that can be historically attested. Christianity is based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Christianity didn’t grow because it subjugated nations with a sword, like many religions did. Christianity didn’t grow because it provided an attractive philosophy – that’s what religion does.
Christianity grew because there were thousands of people on the Day of Pentecost willing to stand up and testify that Jesus Christ had indeed risen from the dead. That Jesus was precisely Whom He had always said He was, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Christianity grew because even decades later, in the circle of people known to the Church at Corinth, Paul could still point out 500 eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ, and could say, “If you have any doubts, go and ask them.” Christianity grew because for generation after generation, thousands upon thousands were willing to die as martyrs for the truth that they had seen, that their parents had seen, that their grandparents had seen the risen Christ.
The fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, the fact that the gates of hell could not overcome Him either, is the ultimate guarantee of His identity, that everything He said, and everything He claimed was true, and that He has indeed died for your sins, and that He is indeed the only way to God.
The Christian faith is never blind faith. That’s why it’s’ called Christian. Because it has an object, and that object is Christ, and Christ is rock-solid.
You are not defined by your past. You are not defined by your works. You are not even defined by your family. Ultimately, you are not defined by the local Church where you worship. There is only one thing that can define you if you are in Christ.
I want you to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Your identity stands or falls on the identity of Jesus Christ. Learn to stand on it. Feel how solid it is under your feet. Learn to depend on it.
Because in this wishy-washy world, rapidly evolving evil world – you’re really going to need to know that your true identity is in Christ.