ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
WHEN DID THE LORD’S CHURCH BEGIN
Jesus told Peter, ". . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Note that Jesus stated, "I will build my church"—not churches. With so many religious organizations in the world today, how does one identify that church—the one Lord promised to build? We are able to identify something by the characteristics it possesses. For instance, imagine a parking lot filled with vehicles. Someone tells you the identifying characteristics of one automobile. Could you find the one described? Let us say those characteristics are a Ford Explorer, blue, with Goodyear tires, and tinted windows. You locate an automobile with all of those characteristics except it had Michelin tires; is that the vehicle? No. Or, you found one that fits every description, except it does not have tinted windows; is that the automobile? No. All characteristics must be met to have the vehicle.
In the New Testament, we are given the characteristics that describe Christ's church. First, consider the time and place of the establishment of the Lord's church. The Scriptures teach that the church was established in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Prior to Pentecost, the kingdom (or the church) is mentioned in the Bible as being in the future. In Jesus' statement in Matthew 16:18 He said, ". . . I will build my church." "Will build" is future tense; thus, the church had not yet been established. John the Baptist, Christ's forerunner, taught, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). "At hand" meant it was near; it was not far off.
The Lord informed His disciples that the kingdom would come with power while some of them were yet alive. "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" (Mark 9:1).
Hundreds of years earlier, Isaiah (2:2-3) and Micah (4:1-2) had prophesied of the going forth of "the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Prophecy of the beginning place, Jerusalem, is also written in Zechariah 1:16, "Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it." In this passage, "my house" refers to "the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15).
Following His resurrection and just before His ascension, Christ told His disciples, "ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). He told them to preach "in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47). Where? At Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4). The prophecies regarding times and place of the establishment of the church had been fulfilled. After the Day of Pentecost, the church is always mentioned in Scripture as being in existence. Therefore, any religious organization that had its beginning at some other time or some other place cannot be the Lord's church. —Andy Cates, Cottondale, Alabama