The beginning of any organization involves both time and place. Thus, we are interested in the time when, and the place where, the New Testament
Church began. Let us go to Isaiah 2:2-3 and notice what it says, "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days [That] the mountain of the Lord's house Shall be
established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let
us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go
forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
In order to understand what the Lord's house is, let us notice 1 Timothy 3:15, "but if I am delayed, [I] [write] so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Again, in Zechariah 1:16, we read, "Therefore thus says the Lord: 'I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,' says the Lord of hosts, 'And a [surveyor]'s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.' " From this scripture it can be seen that the Church is the house of God and He intended it to be built in Jerusalem. But, since we are studying prophecies about the establishment of the Church, let us notice another. This time, in Luke 24:46-49, we read, "Then He said to them, 'Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.' "
The Outstanding Points Are:
In this scripture, the Lord promises the apostles power from on high. How soon could they expect this? Mark 9:1 will help us. Notice, "And He said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.' " So, before the death of some of these people, the kingdom is to come. Added to this promise, we find the statement of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-2, "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' " The kingdom of Heaven, or the Church, was at hand in the days of John.
Now, we are faced with the task of finding the fulfillment of all these scriptures and subsequently the establishment of the New Testament Church. Briefly, let us notice what we must find in order to discover the proper beginning of the Church. This chart will help us:
The Prophecy ~ The Fulfillment
First of all, let us look for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. Acts 2:1-4, "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and [one] sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Thus we have met requirement number one--the Holy Spirit has come.
Now let us notice, are we in the city of Jerusalem? Acts 2:5, "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven." Also verse 14, "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.' " So, we are at the proper place--Jerusalem.
Next, let us see about the time. Acts 2:16-17, "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.' " The last days--that is what we are looking for. It is important to emphasize the fact that when the Bible says "this is that," the question of whether or not a prophecy has been fulfilled should forever be settled. Sometimes people make the mistake of looking for the fulfillment of a prophecy, even though the Bible plainly states it has already come to pass. To be specific then, Joel's prophecy concerning the last days came to pass in Acts 2.
Next, are all nations present? Let us see. Verses 5 and 14, in that order, "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven." "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.' " Thus, the right people have gathered.
What about repentance and the remission of sins? Were these preached? Note verses 37-38, "Now when they heard [this], they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?' Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' " These people were commanded to repent of their sins, and to be baptized in order that they might receive the remission of their sins.
We have but one more thing to consider and our study will be complete. What about the Church or the Lord's house? Was it mentioned on this day? Did it actually come into existence? Let us notice verse 47 for the answer: "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved."
Thus, every aspect of the prophecy has been fulfilled, just as divine wisdom declared. On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the city of Jerusalem, the Church of Christ had its beginning. The above statement is very important and implies many things. Namely, that any church that did not begin at that time cannot hope to be the Lord's Church. But someone says, "The church to which I belong was established before that--sometime during the days of John the Baptist." If such is the case, my friend, I am afraid that was too soon because Christ did not build His Church until after His resurrection. Now the very simple conclusion is evident. Any church built before Christ built His cannot belong to Him. But another says, "The church to which I belong was only brought into existence 200 years ago." Again, if this is the case, that is far too recent to qualify as the Church of the Bible. It is also noteworthy that the Lord's Church was, by divine wisdom, to be built in Jerusalem. Any church which was established in any other city cannot be the Lord's. For example, any church originating in Salt Lake City, Utah; Springfield, Missouri; London, England; or any other place other than Jerusalem cannot hope to meet the scriptural requirements of the New Testament.
Have you checked to see when and where the church of which you are a member began? Go to the encyclopedia and look it up. Find out a little bit about its
origin. See whether or not it can be traced all the way back to Jerusalem. If not, you need to make a change. But, you ask, "How can I decide on a church?"
One way is to compare every church with the Bible. If they do not agree, then reject them. Study carefully this lesson and the others in this series. Find the
Church with the right beginning, then proceed in your study. We believe the Church
of Christ is worth investigating. In fact, we believe if you do, you will
find it to be the Church of the Bible.
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