WHEN, WHERE AND WHY THE CHURCH BEGUN
MEANING OF THE WORD
The word church means "the called out" and originally referred to any called out-group of people such as an army, a mob, or school. Jesus used the word church to teach us that his people would be called out of the world into God's service. The word suggests that the followers of Christ are separate from the world, sanctified or set apart to god's service (1 Corinthians 1:2). The followers of Christ are a peculiar people, different from the world and those who are dominated by fleshly lust, they are "…called…out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
HOW THE WORD IS USED
The word church occurs more than one hundred times in the New Testament and is used in three ways. First it is used to designate all of God's redeemed people in the Christian Age; those called out of the world into God's service by the gospel. Jesus used it in this sense when he said, "…upon this rock I will build My church…" (Matthew 16:18). It is used in this sense in Ephesians 1:22 where the Bible states that God gave Christ "…to be the head over all things to the church". Second it is used to designate God's called out people in a given city or country. "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth…" (1 Corinthians 1:2), "…unto the churches of Galatia" (Galatians 1:2) are examples of this use of the word. Third it is used to designate a local assembly of Christians for worship. "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place…" (1 Corinthians 14:23), is an example of this use. When we notice the context we can always know in what sense the word church is used.
The same people that are called the church in the New Testament are referred to in other ways. Jesus said, "…upon this rock I will build My church… AND I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…" (Matthew 16:18-19). Here the church is referred to as the kingdom. "…the house of God, which is the church of the living God…” (1 Timothy 3:15). Here the church is referred to as a house. “…for His body’s sake which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Here the church is referred to as a body. In each of these examples an important truth is taught about the church. When the church is referred to as a kingdom it shows the kind of government the church has, Christ is King, we are his subjects. The church is not a democracy. When the church is referred to as a house it shows that the church is God's family. When the church is referred to as a body this shows the unity that should prevail among God's people. It takes all members to make a human body and they are directed by the head; just so it takes all the members (Christians) to make the spiritual body and there is "…but one body" (1 Corinthians 12:20) with Christ as the head (Colossians 1:18).
WHEN DID THE CHURCH BEGIN?
Some teach that the church began back in the days of Moses. Some teach that the church was established during the personal ministry of Christ on earth. Some teach that the church was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. All of these views cannot be correct.
When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16), Jesus said "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). "I will build" is future tense and this shows that the church had not been built at that time but that it would be build in the future.
Several things are necessary for the church to be established. No one would be a member of a church that did not believe and teach these things:
1. That Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).
2. That Christ was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4).
3. That the Holy Spirit came (John 16:13; Acts 2:4).
4. That baptism is in the name of Christ (Acts 3:38).
5. That salvation is in the name of Christ (Acts 4:12).
Since no one would be a member of a church that did not believe and teach these things it follows that the beginning of the church cannot be traced back any further than when all these things were preached. The church cannot exist now, nor could it ever exist, without these things being believed and preached.
Since all these things were necessary for the beginning of the church, and we cannot find them preached before that time, we therefore conclude that the church began on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D.
If you attended a church service and the preacher announced, "We do not preach that Jesus died for our sins", you would not go back, would you? If he preached, “We do not preach the resurrection of Christ”, you would not go back, would you? If he preached, "We do not believe in nor preach the coming of the Holy Spirit, nor that salvation is in the name of Christ", you would not go back, would you? Why? Because the church cannot exist now, nor could it ever exist, without believing and teaching these things. How far back were these things preached? The day of Pentecost, 33 A.D., marks the beginning for all these things being preached.
The beginning is very important and Satan knows that if he can destroy our faith in the beginning he can destroy our faith in God's Word, in God's will. Many today deny the creation of man as found in Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. If one cannot accept the Bible account of creation he cannot accept the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection of Christ. Satan knows that if he can destroy our faith in the Bible account of creation he thereby destroys our faith in all the miracles of the Bible.
If one will not accept what the Bible teaches about the beginning of the church then he will not accept what the Bible teaches about the organization of the church, the worship of the church or the purpose of the church.
When the five things on our chart are preached, believed and obeyed you have the church. They were never preached before the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. They were preached on that day, they have continued to be preached since that day. Therefore, we conclude that the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. marks the beginning of the church.
1. When Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, the Savior gave him another name that meant a stone (John 1:42). Write the first letter of that name in the first blank from the left.
2. Write in the second blank the first letter of the name of the king who reigned in Judea when Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1).
3. Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob. His mother died at his birth (Genesis 35:16-20). Write the first letter of her name in the third blank.
4. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, had another name (Matthew 10-4). Write the first letter of his last name in the fourth blank.
5. One of the apostles was a Canaanite (Matthew 10:4). In the fifth blank write the first letter of his first name.
6. Lebbaeus had a surname (Matthew 10:3). Write the first letter of his surname in the sixth blank.
WHERE DID THE CHURCH BEGIN?
Just as it is necessary to know when the church began, it is also important to know where the church began. America is a great country - it is built upon the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and a Democratic form of government. Somewhere this nation took form, it had a beginning. Today if we could not find when and where the Declaration of Independence was signed, when and where the Constitution was written, where this nation began to be officially governed as a democracy, it would be impossible to maintain the government that we have.
The church began at a definite place and unless we know where the church began we do not know that we are a member of the church that Jesus built. To know where the church was established does two things. First, it helps us to know that we are members of the church that Jesus built. Second, it helps us to avoid being a member of nay church that Jesus did not build, for any church that began at some other place is not the church that Jesus built.
THE OLD TESTAMENT FORETOLD THE PLACE
Isaiah prophesied "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob: and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2-3). Isaiah said the Lord's house would be established in the top of the mountains. The word mountain here means government; hence the Lord's house would be above all government. This does not refer to the Old Testament house or temple - it had already been built. What does the Lord's house refer to here? It refers to the church (1 Timothy 3:15). All nations were to flow into or come into the house. This dies not refer to the Old Testament temple - it was national religion. All nations did not flow into the Old Testament house or temple. The law or word of the Lord was to go forth from Jerusalem. This does not refer to the Old Testament law - it began at Mount Sinai. The Lord's house here refers to the church - all nations were to come into the church and Isaiah names Jerusalem as the place where this would begin.
"… I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it …" (Zechariah 1:16). Zechariah said the Lord's house would be built in Jerusalem. This does not refer to the Old Testament temple - it had already been built.
Jesus said that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations; this was to begin in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).
Jesus commanded the apostles to preach the gospel to every creature, they were to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Luke 24:49).
The prophets of the Old Testament pointed forward toward Jerusalem as the place for the beginning of the Lord's house, the church.
Christ pointed forward to Jerusalem as the place for the beginning of the church. After Pentecost in Acts 2 the apostles pointed back to Jerusalem as the place of beginning for the church. Peter said, "…as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning " (Acts 11:15). The Holy Ghost fell on the apostles at Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Peter calls this the beginning. The first time that we find anyone becoming a member of the church is when people were added to the church at Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:47). This illustration shows that before the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. everyone pointed forward to Jerusalem as the place of beginning for the church. After Pentecost the apostles pointed back to Jerusalem as the place of beginning.
WHY WAS THE CHURCH BUILT?
God purposed or planned the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). It was God's plan that through the church His wisdom, love and way of salvation should be made known. It was God's plan that the church should preach the gospel to all nations.
Jesus built the church (Matthew 16:18) to carry out God's plan.
The Holy Spirit revealed the church in the New Testament.
The church is the "called out"; those called out of the world into God's service.
The church is a group of people who are "… sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be
saints …" (1 Corinthians 1:2).
The church is that group of people purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).
The church is that group of people over which Christ is head (Ephesians 1:22-23).
The church is that group of people who are subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:24).
The church is the pillar and ground or support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
The church is that group of people whose names are written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).
SECTION 1 - ANSWER IN A FEW WORDS
What is the meaning of the word "church"?
In how many ways is the word church use in the New Testament? - Name them
When the church is referred to as the kingdom, what does this show about the church?
When the church is referred to as a house what does this show about the church?
When the church is referred to as the body what does this show about the church?
Name three different views about the time for the beginning of the church.
Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18). This shows what about the beginning of the church?
Name five things necessary to be taught and believed in order for the church to be established
How far back can we trace the preaching of these five things?
Would you be a member of a church that did not teach and believe all five of these things?
SECTION 2 - TRUE OR FALSE
The word church occurs more than one hundred times in the New Testament.
The beginning of the church is not important.
Salvation in the name of Christ was preached first on Pentecost, 33 A.D.
Baptism in the name of Christ was preached before Pentecost, 33 A.D.
Isaiah said, "… out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Zechariah said the Lord's house would be built in Jerusalem.
Peter referred to Pentecost, 33 A.D. as the beginning (Acts 11:15).
People were members of the church before Pentecost, 33 A.D.
The apostles preached for the first time on Pentecost, 33 A.D. that Jesus died for our sins (Acts 2:22,23).
Zechariah referred to the Old Testament temple when he said the Lord's house would be built in Jerusalem.
SECTION 3 - MULTIPLE CHOICE
The church began:
during the days of Mosesduring the personal ministry of Christ on earthon Pentecost, 33 A.D.
The church began in:
The church is referred to as:
the kingdoma democracya commune
____________ planned the church.
Godthe apostlesJohn the Baptist
The Lord's house today (in the Christian Age) is:
the Jewish templethe house of Davidthe church
Christ built the church:
for a social organizationto take the lead in civil governmentto carry the gospel to the world
The church was purchased by:
the blood of Christthe blood of animalsthe blood of martyrs
____________ is the head of the church.
PeterAnnual conventions held by menChrist
People were added to the church first at:
In the New Testament the Lord's people are:
saved before entering the churchsaved outside the churchthe 'church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven'
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