Matthew 16:18 reads “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Here Jesus speaks of the response peter gave to His question “whom say ye that I am?”. Peter's answer, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” is what Jesus was speaking of when He spoke of the rock upon which he would build his church. This is the same imagery that was used in the book of Daniel when He wrote of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”. This stone of course is Jesus Christ.
So what is "Church" all about? The word church in the Bible is taken from the Greek word "ekklesia" which is defined as "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly", and conveys the sense of "congregation". Jesus Christ organized the first "congregation" of believers at Jerusalem, and commanded them to go everywhere preaching the gospel. Over time, this work resulted in called out assemblies of believers who had responded in faith to the gospel of Christ all over the world. Just as Noah was given a pattern by God, Moses was given a pattern by God, and King David was given a pattern by God, so too the church has been given a pattern in Scripture for carrying out the work of Christ today, which is why VBC is here!
Many have confused the issue relating to church in Scripture by relegating the local church unimportant through the teaching of the “universal” church. There are certainly places in scripture where the church may be viewed in the future sense of being gathered together in Christ, which we are told in Ephesians 1:10 will happen in the dispensation of the fulness of times. However, the majority of references to church in our English Bibles, renders the word congregation in its truest sense and carries the idea of an actual assembly of people in one congregation. For a few more insights into this doctrine, please read our article on Church Membership.
So, how important is the church? Apparently Christ thought it was of great importance, since we read in Ephesians "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" ~ Ephesians 5:25