ROBERT >> We talked about it last week, and I want to talk to you about it some more this week, about that church. Not just any church, not a new or different church, but the church of Christ you read about in the Bible. That church.
>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> Last week we discussed from Matthew chapter 16 how that the church you read about in the Bible was built by Christ. He built his church, that one and only church. And that church that you read about in the Bible that Christ built was built upon the foundation of himself. It was a divine foundation. It was built upon Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. It was the kingdom of heaven. And even the power of death, the gates of Hades could not defeat Christ, could not keep him from building that church.
Christ would be raised from the dead, he would ascend into heaven, and sitting upon his throne, from there he would rule and reign in the hearts of others through the truth of the gospel, that message revealed and confirmed by Peter and the other apostles that unlocked the doors of the church, as Jesus promised to give Peter the keys of the church and the power to loose and bind in that church as he did to the other apostles as well. And so we see the church of Christ that you read about in the Bible was indeed a unique church, not like any other.
I want you to notice this morning that that church had a beginning. We want to see today just how, when, and where that church began.
You know, when a woman is having a baby, it’ll be revealed long before the baby arrives. She’ll go to the doctor, and the doctor will estimate the time of arrival and a place for the baby to be born. You’ll also notice that just before the baby is about to be born that announcements will be made. And perhaps the sex and the name of the child will be given, there’ll be baby showers, all of this in anticipation of the coming birth. And finally, after the baby is born, it’s all recorded on the birth certificate.
So the Bible tells us about the beginning of the church, long before it began. And announcements are made just before it began. And then after it begins, we find the recording of that beginning. Let’s notice these things together today.
First of all, I want you to notice the beginning of that church was prophesied long before it began; and from these prophecies we learn a great deal about that church. Let’s go back first of all to Isaiah 2:2-3. Isaiah writing some 750 years before Christ and the beginning of his church, speaks of that time and that place and how the church will come into existence.
Isaiah 2, beginning verse 2, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Yes, this passage looks forward to the day when God’s church will be established. He calls it here “the house of the Lord”. In 1 Timothy 3:15 the apostle Paul speaks of “the house of God or the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
The Lord’s house is the Lord’s church. And Isaiah tells us that it would come to pass, that it would begin in the latter days, or the last days. And we’ll see exactly when that happened later on in this lesson.
You’ll also notice that many nations would flow into it when the word went forth from Jerusalem, when it came out of Zion. You see, this would be the place that the church would be established, in Jerusalem, that city that sat on Mount Zion, when the word of the Lord would go forth.
You read the same things in Micah 2:1-2; but Zechariah had also prophesied in Zechariah 1:16 how that the Lord would return to Jerusalem with mercy. And he says, “My house shall be built in it.” And so the prophets looked to that day in Jerusalem when the Lord’s house, his church, would be established, when it would have its beginning.
But now I want you to notice something else about the beginning of that church. Look in Daniel 2:44. This is a great chapter of scripture, because here we see Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a very interesting dream. And God had placed Daniel there in Babylon, having been taken captive from Jerusalem. You see, Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians had destroyed the city, had destroyed the temple, and they had taken many captive; and so Daniel was there in Babylon, and he became known as an interpreter of dreams. And so when the king had this interesting dream, they went to Daniel for an interpretation.
The king’s dream was about a statue, a great image with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron, with feet of iron and clay. And this image according to Daniel, not only in Daniel 2, but you can read more about it in Daniel chapters 7 and 8, this image represented four kingdoms.
The head of gold, the kingdom of Babylon; the chest and arms of silver, the Medo-Persian kingdom that would follow when Babylon fell; and the third kingdom, the belly and thighs of bronze, represented the Grecian kingdom by Alexander the Great; and then the fourth kingdom, the legs of iron, though not named by Daniel, historically refers to the Roman kingdom.
The Babylonians fell to the Medo-Persians, who fell to the Grecians, who fell to the Romans. Now, Daniel 2:44 says this about that fourth kingdom: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” You see, the kingdom of God would be established in the days of the Roman kings.
Another part of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar was seeing a little stone cut out of a mountain without hands. It was an act of God. It was divine. And that little stone would grow until it filled the whole earth.
What Nebuchadnezzar saw was the beginning of Christ’s church, the kingdom of heaven. It would begin like that little stone in Jerusalem, in the days of the Roman kings, but it would soon fill all the earth and go to all the nations.
Now I want you to notice something else from the prophets concerning the beginning of that kingdom, the church. Look with me in the book of Joel.
Joel 2:28-32. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My maidservants, and on My menservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
This is a tremendous prophecy that takes us from the beginning of the church to the end of the world, to that great and awesome day of judgment. But you notice it begins with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh. And it is a day of salvation.
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It’s a day when God calls men to be saved, to bring deliverance to the world through Jesus Christ.
So what have we seen so far? We’ve seen that the beginning of that church was prophesied long before it began. We learn that it would be in the last days, in the city of Jerusalem when the word would go forth, in the days of the Roman kings. It would be a kingdom that would fill the earth, and all the nations would come into it. It would begin when the Holy Spirit would be poured out, bringing salvation to all people.
But now I want you to notice something else about the beginning of that church. The beginning of that church was announced just before it began. Oh, it was long ago when the prophets spoke, but as the time drew near; we see it being announced consistently.
Look with me in the book of Matthew, in Matthew 3:1-2. “In those days John the baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
Yes, John the baptizer was saying the kingdom’s at hand. It’s right here. Watch out for it.
In Matthew 4:17 we see Jesus preaching the very same thing. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
And going further in Matthew 10:7, Jesus sends out his apostles to preach this message. The Bible says, And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Luke’s account puts it this way in Luke 10:9 and also in verse 11. He says that it’s near. So it’s at hand, it’s close by, it’s about to happen, it’s very near.
And then notice what Mark has to say about it in Mark 1:15. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” It’s at hand, but Mark says the time is fulfilled. It was at hand, it’s close by, it’s near. It’s time for the beginning of Christ’s kingdom, his church.
Mark narrows it down a little bit further when we turn over to Mark chapter 9. Look at verse 1. Mark 9:1. “And He said to them,” that is, Jesus speaking to his apostles, “‘Assuredly I say to you. That there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.'” That’s right. The kingdom of God, this church that they were looking for, the house of God that would begin in Jerusalem, it would come while some of the apostles were still alive. It would be present with its great power. Matthew 16:28, Luke 9:27 tell us this same thing, how the kingdom would come with power while some of the apostles were still alive.
Look a little further in the book of Luke, Luke chapter 24. At the end of this great book, after the resurrection of Christ, Jesus spoke with his apostles. And this is what he told them beginning in verse 46. “Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you. But tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.'”
So you see, the church could not be established, it could not have its beginning until Christ had died and until Christ had been resurrected. And the apostles would go forth preaching repentance and remission of sins beginning in Jerusalem. They would preach that in the name of Christ, and they would be witnesses of Christ because they would receive power from Christ. And so as we look to the beginning of the church, we look for that day after Christ’s resurrection when the apostles are empowered and they preach repentance and remission of sins.
Now then, turn to the book of Acts. Acts chapter 1 picks up where Luke just left off. And you’ll notice here how that in verse 2, “Until the day in which He was taken up,” that is, Jesus Christ, “after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandment to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
Here we see Luke record how that Jesus was raised, how he was seen by his apostles, how he spoke to them for forty days about the coming kingdom, his church. And we read on, and he says in verse 4, “Being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which He said, ‘You have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'”
So the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would be poured out and the apostles would receive power not many days from this time that Jesus last spoke to his apostles before he would ascend into the heavens.
Notice in verse 8 he told them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and to all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And then Jesus ascended into the heavens, we read in verses 9 through 11. And verse 12 tells us that they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
Yes, the apostles went to Jerusalem to wait for the beginning of the church in just a few days. And now we turn the page to Acts chapter 2. And here the beginning of that church is recorded after it began. It was just as it had been prophesied, it was just as it had been announced. It began according to this record on the first Pentecost after Christ’s ascension at Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit-inspired words of salvation. Look at this with me. Chapter 2, verse 1, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come.”
The Pentecost was a Jewish feast fifty days after the Sabbath following the Passover. Jesus was crucified during the Passover week. He was raised that next Sunday morning. This was some fifty days from that Sabbath just before his resurrection.
Remember, he had been speaking with them for forty days. So just about ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, here we find ourselves in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
“They were all with one accord,” chapter 2 verse 1 tells us. All of the apostles except for one. You notice back in chapter 1 and verse 26, “They cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
You see, Judas, one of the apostles, had betrayed the Lord and had gone out and hung himself. He was dead. And so he was replaced by Matthias, who was numbered with the eleven.
Remember what Mark said, that some of the apostles would still be alive when the kingdom would come with great power and be present among them? And so here we see on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, ten days after his ascension, here are the apostles, the eleven and Matthias, “and they were all with one accord in one place” verse 1 also tells us. And that place was Jerusalem.
Remember, that’s where they had gone in Acts 1:12, just as Jesus told them. And here we see in verse 5 that they were dwelling in Jerusalem there.
And so here we are in the city of Jerusalem just as the prophets had said, just as had been announced. And then it began when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, and they received power to speak the word of the Lord, to bear witness to Christ.
Read it with me in verse 2. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind; and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And as you read on, you’ll see in the book of Acts that they were speaking the great works of God in the language of all the people that were there so they could hear, so they could understand.”
They were wondering what in the world was going on. And Peter explains to them, look in verse 14. “Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice, and said to them, ‘Men of Judea, and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words, for these are not drunk as some suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.'” And he quotes Joel 2:28-32 that we read earlier from the prophets, how that it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I’ll pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.
You see, the last days began when the Spirit was poured out. This is the last days. This is the age of salvation. As Joel said at the end of his prophecy, “It shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Yes, the church was about to begin.
There they were after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the apostles, the eleven who had survived; and there in the city of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit poured on them. They were empowered to reveal and confirm the gospel message by which anyone could be saved, could respond. And so the people wondered after hearing about the death and the burial and the resurrection of Christ, what do they do so they could be a part of this great church that was about to begin, so they could have their sins forgiven, so they could share in the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
Notice verse 37. After Peter had preached the Christ and the gospel message of salvation, “‘Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’ And now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
And so repentance, remission of sins was preached in Christ’s name. “With many other words,” the Bible says in verse 40, “he testified, exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
There’s the beginning of the church, the church that began as prophesied, as announced, as recorded in Acts chapter 2. Any church that did not begin in that same way, at that same place, at that same time is not that church. I hope you’ll stay tuned and you’ll watch us next week as we continue to see more about that church of Christ you read about in the Bible.
>> There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains.
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. E’er since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supplied, redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die. And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die. Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
>> There is beyond the azure blue a God concealed from human sight. He tinted skies with heavenly hue and framed the worlds with his great might. There is a God, he is alive, in him we live, and we survive. From dust our God created man, he is our God, the great I Am. Our God whose son upon a tree a life was willing there to give that he from sin might set man free and evermore with him could live. There is a God, he is alive, in him we live, and we survive. From dust our God created man, he is our God, the great I Am.
ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you, so let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053. You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966. And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv. All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth in Love.
>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace. From the toils that bind me it will bring release. Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so. Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall. Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all. Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low, till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go. When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven, sing that old sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven sing the sweetest song of all.