Jesus made a promise to his disciples while he was with them. He told them plainly, “I will build my church,” and that is exactly what he did. The amazing thing about the fulfillment of this promise is that Jesus built his church in his absence. He laid the groundwork during his teaching ministry with the twelve disciples and others, but it wasn’t until much later that the fledgling church started to grow. The church of Jesus grew and flourished after his ascension to heaven, and it did so because Jesus went to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower his church.
The book of Acts tells the story of the growth and development of the early church, from the Ascension of Jesus to the imprisonment of Paul in Rome thirty years later. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, empowering regular people like Peter, John, and Stephen to boldly proclaim the Gospel to both crowds and councils, in the countryside and in the city. “I will build my church” is a promise that Jesus kept in the most remarkable way, and it’s a promise he continues to keep to this very day.
The book of Acts is the story of the ongoing mission of Jesus. But the book lacks a proper ending. That’s because the story of Jesus’s mission has not ended. It’s still being written through the lives and testimonies of regular people, in every corner of the world, who have been filled with, and empowered by, the Holy Spirit. “I will build my church” is the bold declaration that echoes through the ages, reaching us today with the assurance that we are a part of an ancient and enduring movement of God.
No one has been able to stop Jesus as he has built his church through the power of the Spirit, and no one ever will. The mission of Jesus continues, not only in the book of Acts, but at Hope Church in 2018 and beyond. He has built his church. He is building his church. He will build his church.