Wow. I just listened to the sermon by Dr. Joel Beeke, preached in 2009 during "Echoes from the Genevan Pulpit" aka the Calvin500 Conference.
Here is a link to the recording from SermonAudio, and here is a link to Beeke's paper which is a pretty close representation of the original talk. Dr. Beeke used the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build my church” as his text for the message.
A few key points:
The Status of the Church
The church belongs to Christ: “My church.” Christ died for the church to purchase her; therefore shouldn’t we cherish her also? We may be quick to criticize, but we should only do so as did Jeremiah, with tears streaming down our faces, weeping for her. Jesus was also exalted to God’s right hand to make intercession for the church; this should be emphasized more in our ecclesiology. Finally, Jesus used the word “My,” referring to His bride - the church - made possible through the proclamation of the Gospel.
The Substance of the Church
The church as founded upon Christ: “This rock” refers to the divine sonship of Jesus. Thus, the substance of the church is three-fold: 1) Christ is the undergirding cornerstone (I Cor. 3:11). 2) The apostles build their doctrine on Christ as the Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). 3) All the bricks form the building, the new Jerusalem, the true believers who are living stones built on the foundation of the apostles, who are in turn built on Christ the cornerstone (I Pet. 2:4-5).
The Success of the Church
Success as the workmanship of Christ: “I will build.” This shows us five guarantees: 1) wonderful indestructibility (as Flavel said, we must not to be quick to bury the church before she is dead); 2) wonderful institution (the bride of Christ has lasted 2,000 years; it is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints); 3) wonderful individuality (we complain about the church’s messiness, it's sloppy building site, but we are part of the mess — we are all a work in progress, and God deals with us individually to be the exact stones He wants in His building); 4) wonderful churchly inheritance (we cherish the church for this inheritance, that is laid away and undefiled, that we will one day receive); 5) wonderful invitation (Jesus has more work to do, as the world has not yet ended — we still invite people to come repent and believe the Gospel).
He had so much more to say than this, so I want to listen again to catch it all.
All of the MP3s from the conference can be purchased and downloaded at Ligonier. I purchased my copy of the entire conference during a $5 Friday promo. (Sales begin at 8:00am on Fridays at Ligonier.)
HT: Gospel-Centered Musings