Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it (Matthew 16:18).
For more than 50 years, I have been committed to the church, without reservation. I love the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am not speaking of just the universal church, the body of Christ, of which all believers are members, but the local church, congregation, or assembly.
It was through the influence of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California, that I became a Christian, and where I was also nourished in my faith as a young believer.
Shortly after receiving Christ, I began graduate study at Princeton Theological Seminary and then later transferred to Fuller Theological Seminary. I continued my studies for five years while also directing my business in Los Angeles and serving as a deacon in the church.
In 1951 God gave me the vision for Campus Crusade for Christ International and He led my wife Vonette to be a vital part. From the very beginning we viewed ourselves as an evangelistic arm of the church, and we work that way in every one of the 196 countries in which have staff. We have always encouraged and, in fact, required, our staff to be actively involved in a local congregation. Most of our staff are "sent out" and supported by their home churches. We see the local church as a vital part of the work that God is doing in the world.
Just after Peter confessed Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Jesus told him. "Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it" (Matthew 16:18, NLT). The rock statement was triggered by Peter's confession, because confession of Jesus as the Messiah provides entry into the church (Romans 10:9). In fact, many scholars believe Jesus was referring to the confession itself as the rock (Greek: petra, or bedrock). Confession of Jesus is, indeed, the bedrock of the church.
Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us: "Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near" (NLT).
Where we meet together, or assemble, is the church. It may be a big building on the corner with the tall steeple, or it may be a house church in China. It is not where God lives, as He lives inside of each believer, even when we are not assembled. But it is where He promised His mysterious, manifest presence, wherever two or three are gathered in His name.
Jesus "...loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25, NIV).
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
Copyright (c) 2003, Bill Bright. All rights reserved. However, readers may copy and distribute this message as desired, without restrictions in number, as long as the content is not altered. Forwarding this e-mail to friends is encouraged. For many evangelistic and spiritual growth materials, visit the Campus Crusade for Christ Web site at ccci.org. See campuscrusade.com for Bill Bright's own materials.