By Garreth L. Clair
Now that we have covered that which leads to the establishment of the divine institution (i.e., the church of Christ), we are now ready to look at its establishment in reality. The church of Christ was not established until all the conditions of prophecy were met. Notice please the following facts relative to this fact:
1. The Old Testament prophets predicted that the time for the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom (i.e., the church) was the latter days, or last days (Isa. 2:2).
a. The apostle Peter stated that the pouring out of the Spirit which Joel said would be in the last days was the explanation of the events occurring in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:15-21; cf. Joel 2:28-32).
b. If the day of Pentecost was indeed in the “last days” of Joel’s prophecy, we may conclude that Pentecost was the same “last days” of Isaiah’s prophecy. Consequently, the day of Pentecost of Acts 2 is the correct time for the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom (i.e., the church of Christ).
2. The Old Testament prophets said that the Kingdom of Messiah was to be established in Jerusalem/Zion (Isa. 2:3; Mic. 4:2). The word of the Lord, the law of the Kingdom, was to go forth from the city of Jerusalem.
a. Jesus Christ stated before he ascended to his Father, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved. 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 among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:46,47).
b. Jesus further directed his apostles to go to Jerusalem and wait there until they were clothed with power from on high in order that they might be his witnesses and preach the gospel message (i.e., the message of the Kingdom, the church) to the whole creation.
c. The apostles did as Christ instructed them according to Acts 2:1-4. From the facts revealed in Acts 1 and in the first four verses of Acts 2, it is evident that the apostles were in the right place (Jerusalem) at the right time (the last days of the Mosaic dispensation) for their part in the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom, the church of Christ.
3. The Old Testament prophets said that people of all nations would make up the kingdom which they predicted (Isa. 2:2-4).
a. On the day of Pentecost, “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5).
b. Then Peter and the eleven preached repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus for the first time in the history of the world. The apostles preached that the promise was to the Jews assembled there, and to their children, “And to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
(1) “All that are afar off, ” in this context, refers to the Gentile nations (cf. Eph. 2:12,13).
(2) Application was made to all nations in that which began on Pentecost day recorded in Acts 2, although some eight to ten years later the Gentiles were officially brought into the Kingdom, or church (Acts 10,11).
One may argue that the church was not established on the day of Pentecost and that, therefore, the prophecies pertaining to the city of Jerusalem have not yet been fulfilled. The person who makes such an argument simply does not understand the difference between beginning and maturing. Please observe the following argument by David Lipscomb, “Cornelius was not thefirst Gentile brought into the church. Those scattered abroad went everywhere preaching. Some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. ‘And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.’ Of this work the apostles seemed to take no cognizance until after the admission of Cornelius (and his household). When this was done, they sent Barnabas to look after them ” (Questions and Answers, by Lipscomb and Sewell edited by M.C. Kurfees, 1921 by McQuiddy Publishing Co.). For a fuller discussion of this point see Salvation From Sin by David Lipscomb 1913, same publisher, pp. 149ff.
4. The Old Testament prophets further predicted that the Lord would be the ruler of the kingdom when it was established (Isa. 2:24).
a. On Pentecost day Peter said, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
b. Christ had already been given all authority (power) in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18-20). He had also been exalted to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33).
c. Jesus Christ was seated on the right hand of God in heavenly places and was/is “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:20-23).
d. Further, Christ had been given the throne of his father David (in lineage) and of his kingdom there would be no end (see Lk. 1:32,33 and 1 Cor. 15:14-28).
The church of Christ (i.e., the Kingdom) was established on the day of Pentecost. Notice please the following facts:
1. One way of establishing the scriptural authority of a philosophy is through deduction; to this concept we now direct your attention in establishing the facts about the establishment of the Kingdom on Pentecost day:
a. The Kingdom was to come with power (Mk. 9:1).
b. The power was to come as the Holy Spirit came to the apostles of Christ (Acts 1:8).
c. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost day (Acts 2:14).
d. Consequently, the kingdom of God (the church of Christ) was established on that particular day nearly 20 centuries ago.
2. The necessary elements for the establishment of the kingdom were present on Pentecost day.
a. Jesus Christ was proclaimed as a reigning king for the first time in the history of the world (Acts 2:33).
b. A new law was bound upon mankind; the word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2,3; Acts 2:38).
c. Subjects (citizens) were added to the kingdom for the first time (Acts 2:41,47).
On the day of Pentecost and thereafter the church of Christ, the Kingdom, is referred to as being in existence. Before the day of Pentecost, as we have already established, the church was referred to as being in the future or at hand. Notice the following facts that establish the fact, the church is spoken of after Pentecost (Acts 2) as being established:
1. The obedient were added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
2. Fear came upon the (existing) church when Ananias and his wife Sapphira died because of the lie they told (Acts 5:11).
3. A great persecution arose against the church (Acts 8:1).
4. People were being translated into the kingdom (Col. 1:13,14; 1:18).
5. They had received a kingdom (Heb. 12:28).
6. The Lord had made them to be a kingdom (Rev. 1:6,9).
In bringing this lesson to a close there is a continuous need to review the facts relating to this lesson:
1. The matter of identity: Each Christian ought to be able to distinguish the church from Old Testament institutions and from religious institutions of modern human origins.
2. To identify the system of law which governs the church since its establishment. It is extremely difficult to know when one is correct religiously if he does not know where his proper beginning is!
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 7, pp. 200-202
April 7, 1988