Bible InfoNet Home Firm Foundation World Video Bible School
Search
 Where would you like to go?

What's New
Short Articles
Feature Articles
Outlines
  Books of Bible
  Conversion
  Topics
Chart Lessons
Links
Tools



Bible InfoNet: large collection of Bible related articles, outlines and a place to ask your Bible questions and receive a quick email answer.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

The New Testament Church
Is Divine In Origin

By Louis Rushmore

The one church over which Jesus alone is head and which bears divinely given names is divine in its origin. Two factors primarily attest the divine origin of the church, namely: (1) The first conception of the church is attributed by Scripture to the mind of God before creation, and (2) The divine hand mandated and established the church by the power and authority of heaven. Especially after a careful examination of these points below, the earnest student should experience little difficulty identifying the church of the Bible, in spite of abundant denominational confusion in the religious world.

Origin in the Mind of God

Many people mistakenly believe that the church was an after-thought of God, devised somewhat reactionary to the Jews' rejection of Christ as their Messiah. Not aware that the words church and kingdom are interchangeable terms (Matthew 16:16-19), they also view the church as a substitution for the kingdom. This scenario would defraud God and Christ of both their omniscience and omnipotence.

The apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians the unfolding of God's plan for man's redemption through the church (Ephesians 3:3-12). In verses three through five, he noted that God's plan had formerly been a "mystery." ". . . by revelation he made known unto me the mystery . . . Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." This mystery provided for the inclusion of the Gentiles; "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (verse 6). Though unnoticed by the Jews and men in general, several prophecies acknowledge that both Jews and Gentiles together were always intended to be the beneficiaries of God's plan (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Isaiah 62:2; Joel 3:1-2; Luke 2:25-32).

The explanation and declaration of God's plan, first called a mystery, here said to be the Gospel, is charged to the church. Furthermore, the church is attributed to the eternal purpose or mind of God. "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (verses 9-11). Titus 1:1-3 and 1 Peter 1:18-20 each also address God's eternal plan for the redemption of man, which was clearly proclaimed only after the establishment of the church.

The church was God's idea, not man's idea. God planned to build the church from before the creation of the world and man himself. God determined Christ should be the head and Savior of the church (Ephesians 5:23). It was always God's plan to redeem fallen man through the church. Hence, the saved are added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47); the Lord's church is, therefore, the body of the saved.

Established by God

Not only did God establish the church in his mind from the dawning of eternity, but he chose a time suitable to himself to establish that divine institution on the earth. Fundamental to comprehending the transfer of the church from the mind of God to its establishment on earth, are: (1) The church and kingdom are synonymous terms for the same divine institution, (2) Therefore, all prophecies about the establishment of the kingdom equally pertain to the church, and (3) The kingdom (church) of prophecy is spiritual, not material in nature.

The suggestion that the church and the kingdom refer to the same institution appears absurd to many sincere religious people. A careful review of the pertinent passages, though, will reveal this is biblical fact. Observed already, kingdom and church are used interchangeably in the same conversation of the Lord (Matthew 16:18-19). That text portrays Jesus promising "the keys of the kingdom" to Peter, which keys (authority to bind and loose, Matthew 16:19) he used in the first recorded Gospel sermon (Acts 2). Acts Two chronicles the birthday of the church; from that point forward all reference to the church is as a present entity, not yet future. Since Peter used the keys of the kingdom essentially to unlock the church, the church and the kingdom are the same institution.

Additionally, the apostles made no distinction between the church and the kingdom. Paul called Christians in Corinth "saints," comprising "the church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2), whereas he addressed Christians in Colosse as "saints," members of "the kingdom" (Colossians 1:2,13). The apostle John also matter of factly stated he was a member of the kingdom (Revelation 1:9). All these were unquestionably members of the New Testament church, yet they were members of the kingdom, too. They were members of "one body" (Ephesians 4:4), variously called "the church" (Ephesians 1:22-23), "the temple of God" (1 Corinthians 3:16), "the house of God" (1 Timothy 3:15) and "the kingdom" (Colossians 1:13). Each different designation merely employs another descriptive term for the same divine institution.

Since the kingdom and the church are biblically interchangeable terms, every prophecy that foretells the establishment of the kingdom refers also to the church. The establishment of the church or kingdom in complete fulfillment of numerous prophecies is remarkable testimony of the establishment of the church by God. Churches since Acts Two begun by men were not established in accordance with prophecies of the church. God caused the first church to be built and established the only church corresponding to age old prophecies.

Isaiah 2:1-5; Joel 2:28-3:2 and Micah 4:1-3 identify the city of Jerusalem as the place of the establishment of the kingdom or "house of the Lord." Daniel 2:31-45 teaches the Lord's kingdom was to be established during the days of the fourth world kingdom from and including the Babylonian kingdom. Universally, religious people note the Roman Empire was that fourth earthly kingdom. The establishment of the church in Jerusalem in about A.D. 33 corresponds to the time and place prophesied for the establishment of the kingdom of prophecy. Further, during his earthly ministry, Jesus told some they would not die before the establishment of the kingdom (Mark 9:1); this statement of the Lord corresponds to both the prophecies of old and the commencement of the church.

Unlike humanly devised churches, the church of the Bible has Christ alone as its builder (Acts 20:28). Prophecy spoke of a stone cut from a mountain without the hands of men (Daniel 2:45), which stone is the "rock" (confession that Christ is the Son of God) of Matthew 16:16-18 on which Jesus promised to build his church, and the foundation of the church which is Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). Jesus, "a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God . . ." is "chief corner stone" (1 Peter 2:4-8; Acts 4:11), making Jesus also head of the church, head of the body and king of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

To the surprise of the Jews, and to the amazement of countless souls today as well, Jesus Christ did not come to establish an earthly or material kingdom (John 18:36-37). Had Jesus intended to establish an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem, Pilate as Caesar's governor could not have openly declared of Jesus, "I find in him no fault at all" (John 18:38). Jesus botched one invitation to become an earthly king, were that his desire, when he evaded those who wanted to take him by force and make him king (John 6:15). Still a better opportunity to become an earthly king, which offer Jesus also declined, was when the devil offered all the kingdoms of the world to him in exchange for adoration and homage (Matthew 4:8-10). (This would have been no temptation were the devil unable to fulfill his promise because Christ could know through his omniscience were the devil lying; nothing in the context indicates Jesus discounted the devil's claim, and the devil does rule in the kingdoms of men as the prince of darkness in this world [Ephesians 6:12; John 12:30; 14:30].)

Even the apostles were confused about the nature of the Lord's kingdom before their baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4. Their misgivings about the Lord's kingdom are apparent before the death of Christ (Matthew 24:1-3) and immediately preceding the ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:6-9). Many of the Lord's disciples deserted him when he taught them of the spiritual nature of the kingdom, but the apostles remained with the Lord (John 6:22-69).

The comparison of Zechariah 6:13 and Hebrews 7:14; 8:1-4 conclusively prove that Jesus Christ is not now ruling on earth, nor shall he ever rule on earth, enthroned in Jerusalem. Zechariah said Christ "shall rule upon his throne; and shall be a priest upon his throne." However, the Hebrew writer says of the Lord, "For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law" (Hebrews 8:4). The closest to the surface of this sphere any Scripture ever places the Lord in the future is in the air and the clouds (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 1:7).

Conclusion

Churches of human origin were begun by mere mortals instead of by the Holy Son of God himself. They were begun after the establishment of the Lord's church, most of them outside the era and influence of the Roman Empire, and in the wrong cities. Human churches are out of harmony with prophecies about the establishment of the Lord's church. At best, churches of man's devising can only sadly mimic the one true church, the one of the New Testament. The seed for harvesting a bumper crop of Christians and churches of Christ (Romans 16:16) is the unadulterated Word of God (Luke 8:11). When something else is planted in the hearts of men, or that heavenly seed is planted with an admixture of something else, a much different crop results. Speaking of these different crops, not the result of the Word of God, Jesus said, ". . . Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matthew 15:13).


H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email: had@worldnet.att.net
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

© Copyright notice: You may use the articles from this website for non-commercial purposes to include USENET groups, list-servers, and Bible classes provided you give the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for the information and do not alter the content.