No. 6. >> If I may, I would like to shift our focus slightly to the west. Is the Roman Catholic Church the oldest church? And are Roman Catholics within their right to assert that their church is the original church of Christ? >>DR. THOMAS E. MANTEUFEL: When Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, he wasn't found in an organization in the sense of a worldly system with headquarters and pomp and circumstance and so forth. And so he was not found in the Roman Catholic Church at that time. Or any other special church organization. The word "Church" Is used in Scripture. The Greek word is ekklesia to refer to the whole body of believers in Christ or a congregation of believers in Christ. This is clear when Paul addresses his first letter to the Corinthians: To the church of God in Corinth. To those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy. Together with those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. That's I Corinthians 1:2. In Chapter 12 then of I Corinthians, he describes all of this further when he says that no one can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. And we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, Verses 3 and 13 of Chapter 12. That is the church is made up of all of those who are converted and baptized by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:22, Paul says that the church is the body of Christ. That is it includes all who have Christ as their spiritual head. And that's why in Chapter 2 he calls it God's household. Built on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles with Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. These Ephesians 2:19 to 22. The church then is all those who are built on Christ as their rock and have him as their head. And have faith in what the apostles and the prophets have said. Now, going back to Matthew 16:18, which I quoted at the beginning, the Roman Catholic Church has claimed that because the name Peter means rock in Greek, then he is the rock on which the church is built and which Jesus was talking about. And that it properly consists of those that adhere to him and to his successors in the papacy, that is that the church consists of all of these. But as we've seen, Ephesians 2 calls Christ the rock on which the church is built. And in Matthew 16 Jesus had asked his disciples: Who do you say that I am? And Peter had answered for all of them: You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The Lord answered: Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven. And I am telling you that you are Peter. And on this rock I will build my church. The rock of the church is Christ and the revealed truth about him. And the church will be found wherever there are people who believe that truth. And Simon here was called Peter not because he himself was a rock or the rock of the church, but he pointed to the rock in the confession that he had just made about Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God. He was associated with the rock. Just as in the Old Testament King Jedediah was called Shalom, which means peace in Hebrew, not because he himself was peace. But which because of the peace which prevailed during his reign. And you'll find that in II Samuel 12:25 and compare that then with II Chronicles in the Old Testament 22:9. It's not right to say that the Roman Catholic Church was the original church and that all other denominations have rebelled against it or have started up without it or some such thing. Roman Catholicism was one church organization that arose among the Christians. And the doctrinal position which identifies Roman Catholicism contains many errors which did not come from Christ. As a historical church organization and denomination, it is older than the Lutheran Church, the Baptist church and so on. But when people are deciding which church to join, the criterion for them should not be age, the age of the church organization. But rather it should be doctrine. They should ask: Does this group teach what Christ and the apostles taught?