“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus answered and said to him ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’” (Matthew 16: 13-19.)
Peter was granted through this single act of faith that he would have the right to open up the Kingdom of Heaven before mankind. It was to be his honor even though he spoke openly what all of the other apostles knew and believed by then to be true (verse 20 tells us as much).
He was often the first to act and to speak, sometimes impetuously. And his reward from that day was based upon his belief. He knew. No other explanation was possible.
Now, if the Kingdom has not made it to this world then Peter is either very old, tired, and wearied of waiting to open up that door, or he died without exercising this great honor and Jesus somehow got it wrong. But any good student knows that the Kingdom was opened to access when Peter first and the others spoke a few months beyond the time the Lord gave to him the keys some 50 days after the Lord arose. We also know that the path through which we may have access to the Kingdom of Heaven is in Christ’s church, through entrance gained therein based upon our faith and out of our obedience to the gospel plan of salvation. For as we are “…baptized into Christ (we) are baptized into his death.” And when baptized into his death we have “put on Christ.” He wrote that all that had obeyed whether Jew or Greek were “…of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
I can put on many things: be it a coat, a suit, or a sunny disposition. But one thing is sure; with whatever it is that I “put on” it becomes an identifying element, it covers me physically or identifies me outwardly or spiritually and hopefully both.
The apostle Paul (of whom I will have more to say as time goes by) stated this of Christ — “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” To be in Christ is to be in the church, to be a part, a member of the body of Christ.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”
If you struggle with the notion that the church is what we see of the Kingdom of Heaven and is our entrance into it (for lack of a better way to put it) then you should read Hebrews 12 slowly and carefully.
The twelve knew who Jesus was (including Judas). Peter said it out loud and later opened the door that leads to God’s Kingdom. If you have not already, won’t you go through that opened door and enter too? Believe and be baptized; put on Christ and be in Christ; be a member of his body. Be built into a holy temple to God; to be in the Kingdom of Heaven along with the apostles and prophets.