April 26, 2013 10:28 pm

The New Testament Church Part 1

Posted In: The Blog, The Church

Re- Blogged From  Dewayne Dulaney

Many today would like to follow Jesus and be a part of his church, but are confused by the variety of competing creeds, religious bodies, and religious practices in today's world, most of which claim to be authorized by Jesus or instituted by him. In this series of lessons we will attempt to find out what the New Testament church was like, so that the honest inquirer may judge for himself or herself whether or not it exists today and how to associate with it. (Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from Today's New International Version [2001, 2005] or TNIV, the update to the New International Version, or NIV.) First, we will examine the founder and the place of origin of the New Testament church.

The New Testament church had the right founder: Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He promised to build it (Matthew 16:18). He had the authority to build it (Mt. 28:18). In that passage he stated, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. He gave Peter the privilege to be the first to state the terms of entrance into his church—the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 16:19). Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter began to do so, as he and the other apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit: he announced the terms first to the Jews (Acts 2:38) and then later, again at the instruction of the Holy Spirit, to Gentiles, or non-Jews (Acts 10:48). Jesus also was the right founder because he made the ultimate sacrifice for his church. He died to purchase her (Acts 20:28) and to make her pure and holy, fit to be his bride (Ephesians 5:25—27).

Some have thought John the Immerser (or “Baptist”— his title, which referred to his practice of immersing or baptizing his followers), the forerunner of Jesus, was the founder of the church. However, let's note carefully the order of events given in the Gospels. In Mt. 14:1—12 we have an account of John's murder at the hands of Herod. Yet Jesus does not promise to build the church until later, in Matthew 16. Note also that Jesus said in Mt. 11:11, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” This implies that John was not even in the kingdom. That kingdom is the church (Mt. 16:18—19; cf. Acts 8:12; 14:21—22; 19:8; 20:25—28; 1 Cor. 15:23—26; Col. 1:12—14; Heb. 12:22—28; Rev. 1:5-6, 9). Another point against considering John the Immerser or Baptist as the founder of the church is found in his own description of himself in the Gospel of John. In John 3:29, John the Baptist tells his followers: “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” John, then, was the friend of the groom, or “best man”, not the groom himself; thus, he has no rights or authority concerning the bride. As the parable inMark 2:18—19 and parallels implies, Jesus, not John is the groom; the church is the bride, as we've already seen above.

Jesus warned that some people, like the Pharisees (a group from which many of the Jewish religious leaders came) would find themselves uprooted by God, like weeds, because their worship and service to God was not based on his authority but on human tradition (Mt. 15:13).

Next, we must consider the place of origin of the New Testament church. It began at the right place—Jerusalem. In Isaiah 2:1—3 it is prophesied that Yahweh's (the Lord's) temple or house will be established in Jerusalem in the last or latter days. All nations will come into it, and the word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem. (Cf. Micah 4:1—2).

Jesus confirmed that his church would preach forgiveness and repentance from sins to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. He hold the apostles to wait there until they received power from the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:47, 49). The Spirit would not come to them until Jesus returned to the Father (John 16:7; cf. John 15:26). The apostles saw Jesus return to heaven and then waited in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4—9, 12). The Spirit came on Pentecost (Acts 2). In his sermon on that occasion, Peter says the “last days” spoken of in the Old Testament prophets have begun (Acts 2:16—21). So the church began that day in Jerusalem with 3000 converts (Acts 2:41). The word of the Lord began to go out from Jerusalem, as had been predicted.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the young evangelist Timothy, tells him the church is “God's household” (1 Tim. 3:15) or house, 1 Peter 2:5. The church is also God's temple (1 Corinthians 3:16—17; 1 Pet. 2:5 [TNIV margin]; Ephesians 2:19—22).

It is plain, then, that any religious body not founded by Christ and which did not begin in Jerusalem cannot claim to be his church.


Works Cited

Mac Gallery http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Ridge/1217/MacGalleryIndex.html(No copyright info listed): I found the "Made with a Mac" banner here.

Microsoft Office Online: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx (Clip art and photos). I found the images of the church building and of the "Roman Librarian" (by the "You're Invited to Comment" statement) at this site. © 2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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