The Church: It’s Beginning

By Franklin Burns

Although the entire Bible is God’s word, yet only the New Testament is God’s law to man today. The old law was blotted out and nailed to the cross of Christ (Col. 2:13-14).

Jesus Lived Under the Law

If the law of Moses was not done away until the death of Christ, it is evident that Jesus lived his entire life under the law. Since that is true, it is not surprising that He said to one who had asked what to do to inherit eternal life, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” (Luke 10:25-26). Jesus then quoted from the Ten Commandments in answer to the rich young ruler’s inquiry about what to do to have eternal life (Matt. 19:16-29, Mark 10:17-30, Luke 18:18-30). Jesus did so because Moses’ law was binding at the time, but this does not prove the law of Moses is still in effect today.

Disciples Were Told to Wait

In His teaching Jesus set forth many new principles and contrasted His law with the law of Moses to show its superiority (Matt. 5:21-48). Shortly before His final ascension into heaven, He told His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He also said, “But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

Jesus did not preach His new law of pardon during His earth life, nor did He allow His disciples to preach it until an appointed time after His death. The time when they were “endued with power from on high” was to be the appointed time.

Power Received on Pentecost

After Jesus arose from the dead, He talked with His apostles about the coming kingdom. “And He said unto them, it is not for you to know the time or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power, but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts t:7-8). In verse five of the same chapter He said, “Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Since they were to receive power when the Holy Ghost came, the time of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles must have been the appointed time when they were to begin preaching that the new law was then in effect. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be sent not many days after He was talking with His disciples on the day of His ascension to heaven (Acts 1).

In Acts 2, we have a record of what happened about ten days later on the day of Pentecost: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. But Peter, standing up with the eleven lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words, for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:14, 14-18). The appointed time had come!

The Beginning of Christ’s Kingdom

Jesus had said on one occasion, “Verily I say unto you, that 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). Later the apostles asked if He would “restore the kingdom to Israel” while He was then with them; He said that they did not then have power but would receive it after the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:6-8). These statements imply that the kingdom would be established when the Holy Spirit came bringing them the necessary power. Since the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, that is evidently the birthday of the kingdom of Christ, the church. It was then that the new law became effective.

Christ’s Executors

Jesus had told Peter, “And 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” (Matt. 16:19), The other Apostles were to have this power, too (Matt. 18:18). Peter delivered the sermon on Pentecost, “Standing up with the eleven” (Acts 2:14). Christ, the testator, made a testament or will which could not go into effect during his life (Heb. 9:16-17). His apostles were His chosen executors of the new covenant; or, to change the figure of speech, they were His personal ambassadors as He took the throne of glory (2 Cor. 5:20).

After His death, Peter, the executor, “read” the will. What Peter said was that which the Holy Spirit guided him to say, which was the words of Jesus. This guidance has been promised by Jesus: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance. whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). When the will was “read” it became effective, thus starting the church of God’s family or kingdom on earth.

Truth Magazine XX: 49, pp. 774-775
December 9, 1976