The Church Is Born
The birth of Jesus Christ was the most unique birth that has ever occurred, because Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was born of a virgin. But the birth of Christ, as He took the form of man, became flesh, and dwelt among men, was for a specific purpose—that He might become the sacrifice for our sins through His death, burial, and resurrection, and, in so doing, that He might bring into existence His church. Without the birth of the church there would be no salvation for any of us.
A study of the birth of the church is particularly important when we understand that there is much error taught concerning the church. The church is a vital institution, absolutely essential to our salvation. There are those who teach that the church is not essential, that it is a temporary institution, that the church was simply brought into existence as an afterthought. They say Jesus came to establish a literal earthly kingdom on earth but was unable to do so because the Jews rejected Him. He then set up the church to last until such time as He would come again and then be able to set up His earthly literal kingdom and reign therein for 1,000 years.
This doctrine is known as premillennialism. There are many forms of premillennialism, but all are false. The most prevalent form is dispensational premillennialism. In our study today, as we talk about the birth of the church, we will refute, without question, the dispensational form of premillennialism. As we refute this false notion of premillennialism—that big “P” word as we might call it, we’re going to use some other “P” words (six of them to be exact) that will clearly refute the false doctrine of premillennialism.
Jesus Christ promised to build His church. Now, if something is promised, then it’s not really an accident. We are also going to see that, in giving the promise to build His church, Christ used the words church and kingdom interchangeably. That tells us that the church and the kingdom are one and the same institution. Look at Matthew 16:18-19:
And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Peter had just made the good confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus said,
Upon this rock [that is, the confession of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God], upon this foundation,
I will build my church. But notice, He said,
...I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus used the terms church and kingdom of heaven interchangeably, clearly showing they are one and the same institution. The church is not plan B, not an afterthought, not a temporary institution. The church is plan A, promised by Jesus Christ, clearly promised.
The church was planned by God, and that plan was implemented through Jesus Christ. After the fall of man in the Garden, after Eve succumbed to the temptation of Satan in the form of the Serpent, God set in motion a plan by which fallen man might be reconciled or redeemed. Because of His great love for us, God made this possible through Jesus Christ. The culmination of that plan would be the crucifixion of Christ, His resurrection from the dead, and, ultimately, the establishment of His church, His kingdom, which He purchased with His own blood.
In Genesis 3:15 God says to Satan
I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. God was saying to Satan, “You will deliver a minor blow to my son, Jesus Christ, through the crucifixion. But, in coming forth from the dead, Christ will deal you a fatal blow.” In coming forth from the tomb, after shedding His blood on Calvary, Christ, through that shed blood, purchased the church. The church was in the mind and plan of God long before these things ever occurred.
Another passage along this line is Ephesians 3:8-11, where the apostle Paul writes,
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Notice, the manifold wisdom of God was to be made known by the church, according to the eternal purpose. The church was the purpose and plan of God, long before Christ ever died upon Calvary.
The church was prophesied. The prophets spoke of the coming kingdom or the church. Time does not permit us to look at several prophesies, but let’s concentrate on Isaiah 2:1-4, where we have a clear prophesy concerning the coming kingdom of Christ or the church.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, 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 Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The latter days to which the prophet makes reference are the days of the Christian age as they were ushered into existence. When he says that the Word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem, the law out of Zion, that is exactly what happened when the church was born. When the church was established on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, the Word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem.
Daniel prophesied also of the coming kingdom. In Daniel 2:31-44, in the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he said that in the days of the Roman kings the kingdom or the church would be established and would endure forever. The church has been established according to prophecy.
Just prior to its coming, preparation was made for the church to be ushered into existence. John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord. In Matthew 3:1-2, we read,
And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
In Mark 9:1, Jesus spoke to some who were standing with Him,
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. Notice, Jesus said some of those standing there would not die until the kingdom of God had come. Not only would it come, but it would come with power within the lifetime of some of the people standing there with him.
A key passage is Acts 1:6-8, where Jesus promised the apostles the power of the Holy Spirit:
They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The kingdom came into existence when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Remember Mark 9:1, where Jesus said the kingdom would come with power. Then He said to the apostles that the power would come when the Holy Spirit came upon them. We are now about to see when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
The church was presented on Pentecost. That is when the power came from the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Look at Acts 2:1
And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. What did they speak on this occasion? They spoke the words of the kingdom of God. They used the keys to the kingdom, as Jesus had promised, in order to admit people into the kingdom, or church, for the first time. The church was presented on Pentecost. It was promised, planned, prophesied, prepared, and presented. Therefore, our final “P” shows us that it is, indeed precious.
The church is the only plan God has had for saving mankind. Look at I Peter 1:18-20:
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. (KJV)
Notice, Christ was foreordained to shed His blood before the foundation of the world. Does that sound like that the crucifixion of Christ was something He had not anticipated? It was planned by God. The shed blood of Christ is the substance through which redemption or salvation takes place. We must be redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. In Acts 20:28 beginning, the apostle Paul addressed the elders at Ephesus and said to them,
Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
So, the church is not, as premillennialism teaches, an afterthought, an accident, or a temporary institution to last until such time as some earthly kingdom can be established. Such is not taught in Scripture. The church is the only institution God has ever had in mind, through which, and in which, all men must be saved.
How do we get into that kingdom, the church? Through belief in Christ as the Son of God, repentance of sin, confession of the sweet name of Christ, and burial in baptism for the forgiveness of sins. God’s Word says the church is the bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5:23, we read,
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. It is essential, then, that we be in that body in order to be saved.
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