And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 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. (Mat 16:16-18)
What is the Rock upon which the church is to be built? Peter? No. The Rock is Jesus Christ – but note the context — the church is built upon the personal revelation of the Christ to the individual. In short, Christ is first in the individual. Gather together many to whom Christ has been revealed and in whom Christ dwells, and you have the church.
This tells us that the church is comprised of those in whom Christ dwells — of those who have received a personal revelation of Christ. It also tells us that the ministry of the church is to teach people that very fact – and then to edify those who are in Christ. Jesus Christ does not, “build His church,” by increasing members, money, and buildings. He builds it through the revelation of Himself to individuals. The church is built upon the Rock only to the extent that the individuals in it are built — not built up upon themselves — but built upon the Rock.