Forrest Darrell Moyer
There is much variance in the religious world today concerning the time of the establishment of the church. The plan of salvation, the worship, the government and many other things are involved in the time of her establishment. He who says that it makes no difference when the church was established is very misinformed. If the church were established during the days of Abraham, those who teach infant membership would have some ground for their contention. If the church were established during the personal ministry of Christ, the thief on the cross might be an example of man’s salvation today. If the church were in existence during the days of David, instrumental music might be acceptable. Thus you see the consequences of not knowing when the church was established.
The Church and the Kingdom
That the church and the kingdom refer to the same institution can be seen from several passages. First, we might observe that the church is the fulness of Christ (Eph. 1:23). You cannot be in the church without being in Christ because the church is the fulness of Christ. Yon cannot be in Christ without being in the church, His body (Col. 1:18). However, the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” in Colosse had been “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Christ” (Col. 1:13). They were in Christ (vs. 14) (Thus, we know they were in the church). To be in the kingdom is to be in Christ. Those in Christ had been translated into the kingdom. But those in Christ were in the church. So to be in the church is to be in the kingdom. They are the same institution.
Second, Christ used the words church and kingdom interchangeably in Matthew 16:18-19.
Turning to the prophecy of Isaiah, we learn:
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 (Isa. 2:2-3).
The Lord’s house is nothing other than the church (1 Tim. 8:15). Hence, we learn that (1) the church would be established in Jerusalem, (2) in the last days, and (3) the word of God would go forth from Jerusalem.
(1) Isaiah also tells us that the foundation (Christ) would be laid in Jerusalem (Isa. 28:16). It would be foolish indeed to affirm that the church was built on a hill in Galilee, when the foundation was to be laid in Zion or Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that the church was established upon the foundation of Christ.
(2) The expression “in the last days” tells us when the church would be established. Peter said, on Pentecost, that they were in the last days (Acts 2:16-17).
(3) Jesus, ready to leave the earth, said to the disciples: “Thus it is written… that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). That this is referring to the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-8 is evident. Beginning on Pentecost, when the apostles were “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1-4), the word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem. According to Isaiah the “house of the God of Jacob” (the church) would be established at the same time the word went forth from Jerusalem. Therefore the church was established on Pentecost, AD. 33, in Jerusalem.
“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.” This teaches (1) that the kingdom (church) would come during the lifetime of some standing in Christ’s presence and (2) that the kingdom (church) would come with power.
(1) There were eleven of the twelve apostles alive on Pentecost. (Acts 1:26; 2:1). This was during the lifetime of some standing by.
(2) Christ told the apostles to tarry in Jerusalem “until ye be clothed with power from on high.” This power was the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). The church was to come with that power. Since the power was the Holy Spirit, the church came when the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4); therefore, the church or the kingdom came on Pentecost. A few years later Peter referred to the fall of the Holy Spirit and called it “the beginning” (Acts 11:15). It was the beginning of the church.
Thus in our short study we have learned that the church came on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ in the city of Jerusalem in fulfillment of Isaiah 2:2-3 and Mark 9:1. In that day the word of the Lord, the law of God, went forth. Peter told the people to believe (know assuredly) in Christ (Acts 2:36). When they cried out desiring to know what to do, Peter told them, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (V. 38). This is God’s law to an alien sinner as set forth on the birthday of the church. It is not a question of what the thief did not do, but of what the law of the Lord tells us to do. Friend, have you done what the word of God says?