2 - BECAUSE OF THE CHURCH'S SCRIPTURAL BEGINNING
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 back' to Isaiah 2:2-3 and notice what is said, Isaiah 2:2-3 and notice what is said, "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 to 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."
From the above passage, the following points are evident:
|A. WHEN will the event happen||come to pass in the last days.|
|B. WHAT will the event be||the Lord's house will be established.|
|C. WHO will be involved||all nations will be present.|
|D. WHERE will the event take place||the city of Jerusalem.|
In order to understand what the Lord's House is, let us notice First Timothy 3:15, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, I which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." From this it can be seen that the church is the house of God. After Jesus had been raised from the dead, but prior to His ascension back to heaven, He said these words in Luke 24:46-49, "... Thus it is written, and thus it behoved 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 among all nations, ,beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. 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." The outstanding points are:
A. Wait for promise of the Father.
B. In Jerusalem.
C. Repentance and Remission of Sins to be preached.
D. Among all nations.
E. Beginning at Jerusalem.
In this scripture the Lord promises the apostles with power from on high. But the question is, "How soon will this take place?" In Mark 9:1 Jesus helps give the answer, "And he said unto them, 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." So before the death of some of those people in that day, the kingdom was to come. Added to this, we find the statement of John the Baptist in Matt. 3: 1-2, "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." The kingdom of heaven, or the church, was at hand in the days of John the Baptist.
But now let us see if we can find the fulfillment of all these scriptures and establishment of the New Testament Church. A Let us look for the COMING OF THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT. In Acts 2:1-4, we find that requirement m4et.: "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 mighty 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."
B. WAS IT IN JERUSALEM and ALL NATIONS PRESENT? In Acts 2:5 this condition is fulfilled: "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (See verse 14). WHAT ABOUT THE TIME? In Acts 2:16-17 we find that it was the last days: "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:" Here it might be well 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 in different generations even though the Bible plainly states that it has already come to pass.
C. WHAT ABOUT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS? WERE THEY PREACHED? Note verses 37-38, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest ofthe apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall reeive the gift ,of the Holy Ghost." These people were commanded to repent oftheir sins, and be baptized in order that they might receive the forgiveness of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
D. WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH or LORD'S HOUSE? WAS IT MENTIONED? Note verse 47 for the answer, "Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Thus we have found every aspect of God's prophecy being fulfilled, just as divine wisdom had declared. On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and His return back to heaven, the church of Christ had its beginning in the city of Jerusalem. The above statement is very important and implies many things. Namely, that any church established before this time is too early, and any church established after this time is too late.
Have you checked to see when and where the church of which you are a member began? But you ask, "How shall I decide on a church?" One way is to compare every church with the Bible. If they do not agree then reject them. 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.