THE INCEPTION OF THE CHURCH
“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” (Acts 2:1-4).
Last week we began our discussion on “who” the church is rather than “what” the church is. The reason I say it this way is simply because the church is not a “what” but a “who.” The true church is not the building where you worship, but the sum total of all born-again believers who exist all over the world. You and I are members of this great mystical body of Christ! The church is those people who have been called out of this world to serve the true and living God. You are the Church!
Knowing this, let us examine how the body of Christ came into existence and what has made all of this possible. We can follow the historical events of the New Testament to find out how this body of believers was established.
The New Testament church came into existence on the day of Pentecost. When I say the New Testament church, I am referring to the body of Christ as stated in the first chapter of Ephesians. Though there were certainly believers prior to the day of Pentecost, the Spirit had not yet come in its fullness to bring about the reality of the New Covenant born-again experience. Under the terms of the New Covenant, the moment a repentant sinner accepts Jesus Christ he is baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-5). This experience was ushered in on the day of Pentecost. On that day, those who believed in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins were taken by God and placed into Jesus Christ.
This demonstrates that the church is a work of the Spirit and cannot be initiated or maintained by man, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. 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” (Col. 1:16-18). Here Paul plainly tells us that God has created all things including His church, and it is by His power that all things “consist” and are “maintained.” Here we find that the New Testament Church was produced on the Day of Pentecost.
Next week we will take a closer look at the day of Pentecost, and examine in more detail what it reveals about the birth of the New Testament church. This will help us to more clearly understand what constitutes a true New Testament church.
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