THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). From this verse of scripture we learn that the church was purchased by the blood of Jesus. The church is therefore a most important institution. In this lesson we will be studying about the establishment of the church that Jesus built.
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:23-27). From this statement, which was written by Paul, we learn that the church is the body to be saved by Christ. This is not to say that the power to save inheres in the church, but rather that in the divine arrangement of things only those who are a part of the blood-purchased church have the promise of an eternal salvation. There are only two possible states: 1) in the church, and 2) in the world.
People in the world have only the promise of eternal banishment from the face of God by virtue of the fact that they are still in their sins, never having obeyed the gospel. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 reads, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Therefore, a proper understanding of the church and its function in the world is of extreme importance, being vital to those who would serve God aright. Jesus died in order to cleanse the church that he might sanctify it and present it unto himself a glorious church without blemish, spot or wrinkle, holy and acceptable to Jehovah.
As to the establishment of the church, the student will remember that during the days of the Babylonian captivity the prophet Daniel had foretold that four world kingdoms would arise. The last of these was to be the Roman Empire. Daniel said, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). From his prophecy we learn that the kingdom was to be established at the time at the Roman Empire. Therefore, we can know conclusively that the church was established at some date near the first century. Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and, in keeping with the prophecy of Daniel, he set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.
On one occasion, Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. 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. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-19). We direct your attention especially to verse 18 where Jesus made the statement, “I will build my church.” In another place Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.” Whenever the power came, the kingdom also came.
The church and the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, are the same. In Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” A parallel verse of scripture reads, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1,2). It can be seen that both Jesus and John made reference to the same divine institution. Jesus referred to this coming kingdom as the “kingdom of God” while John uses the term “kingdom of heaven”. Thus, the expression “kingdom of heaven” is synonymous with “kingdom of God.”
Another interesting parallel demonstrating this same truth can be found in Matthew 13:11 and Luke 8:10. In both places the gospel writer is recording Jesus’ famous parable of the sower. The former verse makes reference to the kingdom of heaven while in the latter it is called the kingdom of God. Further, the word “church” is synonymous with the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God”. In Matthew 16:18,19 the Lord 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. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Therefore, the New Testament teaches: 1) that the church, kingdom of heaven, and kingdom of God are all the same divine institution; and 2) that this institution was to come with power (Mark 9:1).
When we establish the time that the power came, then we will know the time of the establishment of the church. After the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary, his burial and resurrection from the tomb, he appeared to his apostles and said, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This gives us the further information that the power was to come in the city of Jerusalem. Just before his ascension into heaven, Jesus made another appearance to the apostles and said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8,9). The promised power is sometimes referred to as the “spirit of truth,” while it is here called the “Holy Ghost.” When we locate the time that Jesus redeemed the promise he had made to his apostles to send the Holy Ghost upon them we will have discovered the time when the power was send, and the time, therefore, when the church came into existence. In Acts 2:1-4, Luke (a physician who wrote the book of Acts, as well as the gospel of Luke) wrote, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” From these reference one can easily see that the New Testament scriptures plainly teach that the church was established on the first Pentecost day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb – about the year 33 A.D.
It will also be of interest to the student of the Bible to note that the church is sometimes called the “body of Christ.” In Ephesians 1:22,23 Paul wrote, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” In Colossians 1:18 Paul said, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” To be in the church is to be in Christ, or in the body of Christ. In Ephesians 1:3, we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ …” Please note that all spiritual blessings are to be found in Christ (in the church). Since all spiritual blessings are in Christ, there are no spiritual blessings in the world. The single truth should help us to have an even greater appreciation for, and love of, the body of Christ, which is his church.
Section 1-Fill in the blanks
The church was purchased by the __________ of __________.
There are only two possible states for a man: 1) in the __________, and 2) in the __________.
On one occasion Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will __________ my __________.”
The expression “kingdom of __________” is synonymous with “kingdom of __________.”
The church was to come with __________.
The apostles were to receive power when the __________ __________ came upon them.
The promised power came on the day of __________.
Paul tells us that Christ is head over all things to the __________ which is his __________.
All spiritual __________ are to be found in __________.
Section 2-Select the correct answers
People in the world are still in their sins, never having obeyed the gospel, and have only the promise of:
Eternal JoyEternal PeaceAnnihilationEternal Banishment from God
The prophet Daniel had foretold the church would be established during the days of the:
Babylonian CaptivityRoman EmpirePersian Kingdom
The church is the same as the:
Kingdom of HeavenThe Roman EmpireThe jewish Nation
John the Baptist preached in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent ye for:
The Kingdom of Heaven is at HandThe End of the World is NearMore Enjoyment of Fine Living
The church is:
Christ is the head of the body which is:
The ChurchThe schoolThe Jewish nation
Section 3-Complete the Scriptures
“Wherefore we receiving a __________ which cannot be moved, let us have __________, whereby we may serve __________ acceptably with __________ and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
“Who hath delivered us from the power of __________, and hath translated us into the __________ of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).
“To the praise of the glory of his __________, wherein he hath made us acceptable in the beloved: in whom we have __________ through his blood, the __________ of sins, according to the riches of his __________” (Ephesians 1:6,7).
“For as many of you have been __________ into Christ have put on __________” (Galatians 3:27).
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the __________ to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, __________ and __________” (1 Corinthians 15:24).
“But when they __________ Philip preaching the things concerning the __________ of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were __________, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
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