My friends, I have just called your attention again to the statement of the Christ, when Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," the response made by Jesus was a benediction pronounced upon Peter for making that confession. I regret to say that the effort of the unbelieving world is to rob Christian people of their faith in that one fundamental statement, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
All of these books and lectures exalting Jesus, the man; Jesus, the Great Teacher; Jesus, the Matchless Man of Galilee; Jesus, the Great Philosopher, are laden with downright infidelity. You may not see that at first mention, but the effort is to exalt Christ as a man towering above his fellows in his ability to teach, to instruct, and in his philosophy of life. But they never mention the fact that he is God's Son. Let me say to you, brethren and friends tonight, I'm not especially interested in Jesus as a man, nor as a teacher, nor as a philosopher, but I am tremendously interested in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Saviour of mankind. This is where the emphasis needs to go. "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." "Blessed art thou, Simon." Where did you get it? Flesh and blood didn't reveal it, but my Father did. Now Peter, I'm telling you, "Upon this rock," that is, upon this great fundamental truth which shows my relation to the Heavenly Father: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." I think this is the strongest determination expressed. "I will build my church." I've had it in mind; it's according to God's pre-
This church mentioned by Him was builded in the year 33, according to our calendar. Well, again, in Zechariah 1:16, we love the prophet's declaration: "I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it." In what? In Jerusalem shall my house be builded. Now mark three things: Who built the church? What's the answer? Jesus Christ. When did he build it? In the year 33. Where did he build it? In the city of Jerusalem. Now that's just as simple as it can be.
Without going into details I'm referring you to the origin of all the denominations on this earth. You'll find an account of them, not in the Bible of course, but in the "Federal Statistics of Religious Census," a book your Congressman will send you on request. Now then, after you've investigated, you'll find this: each one of them was built by some other man than Jesus Christ, at some other time than the year 33, and at some other place than Jerusalem. Well, what is the conclusion? They were, therefore, begun by the wrong person, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. Therefore, they cannot be the thing which Jesus Christ had in mind when he said: "Upon this rock, I will build my church." I think that's very important, and that much depends upon it. Such things ought to challenge our most serious concern, research, and investigation.
Now, note another thing. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 16:18 in the year 32: "Upon this rock," a great fundamental fact, "I will build my church." Well, that means that he had not done it previously. "Will build," certainly cannot point backward. It refers to something not yet done. Now, I just want to say, that unless people in general will get the basic idea, and the fundamental conception of affairs, we can't make much progress in our efforts to come together. All of you, who perchance, are attached to some organization which teaches that the church was organized and set up previous to the time mentioned in this connection by Christ, are bound to be wrong about that. Christ said, I will build it. Now may I say to you this, that practically all the leading denominations represented in the city of Nashville, are based upon the erroneous idea that the church started back in the days of Abraham, or in the days of John the Baptist, or during the personal ministry of Jesus Christ our Lord. There lives not a man on earth, who can prove the correctness of such contentions. Now we've got to plant our Jacob's staff at the right corner and get our tripod correctly set, or else, we never can run the line aright and come out with no dissension and no controversy. Let's everybody, therefore, march back to Jerusalem, to the year 33, and recognize Jesus Christ as the builder of that great institution. The church was organized on that day of Pentecost. It was filled with the Holy Spirit and started out upon its great mission as God's institution through which His wisdom was to be revealed unto mortal man.
N. B. Hardeman, The Church, excerpted from Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons, Volume IV