The New Testament Church - Its Establishment
One thing which sets the New Testament church apart from manmade denominations is the facts relating to the establishment of these churches. Questions such as: 1. When was the church established? 2. Where was the church established? 3. Who is the founder of the church? are helpful in determining whether a particular church is the New Testament church or a manmade denomination. Let’s see what the Bible teaches about when, where, and who established the Lord’s church and contrast those facts with the facts about the establishment of various manmade denominations around us.
First, when was the church established. Isaiah 2:1-4 talks about, “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” being, “established on the top of the mountains” (NKJV). Isaiah is foretelling the establishment of the Lord’s church which is referred to as the Lord’s house (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:5). Isaiah 2:1-4 places the establishment of the Lord’s house, “in the latter days” (NKJV), which may not be terribly specific by itself. It is helpful to notice on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection we have events transpiring which were also to take place in the last days (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21). Daniel 2:44 tells us, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall 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” (NKJV). The kings being referred to in this passage refer to the fourth empire to arise starting with the Babylonian empire (Daniel 2:36-43). The fourth empire to arise after the Babylonian would be the Roman empire. The Lord’s kingdom or church would therefore be established in the days of the Roman empire. Jesus promised His kingdom would be present with power within the lifetime of some who heard Him teach (Mark 9:1). The New Testament will speak of the church as a thing in the future prior to the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 (Matthew 16:18, etc.). After the events on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Bible speaks of the church as a thing which is already in existence (Acts 2:47; 5:11). Churches which begin hundreds of years later like the Roman Catholic church with the first pope around A.D. 606, or the many Protestant denominations which begin several hundred years after the establishment of the Roman Catholic church, or other denominations which have been established after the founding of the United States of America are certainly not the church one can read about in the New Testament for the New Testament church existed much earlier than any of these various denominations founded by men.
The establishment of the Lord’s church took place in Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3 says, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (NKJV). Jesus told the apostles to tarry in Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Luke 24:49). The preaching of the gospel takes place in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-5), people were obedient to that message (Acts 2:37-41), and such people were added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Which church were they added to? The one you can read about in the New Testament. The one which began on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Churches exist today which were founded in Europe or in the continent of North America. Such churches are not the one we can read about in the New Testament but rather are churches founded by men in places the New Testament says nothing about the founding of the church taking place at.
The founder of the New Testament church is Jesus. He declared, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, NKJV). Jesus died and purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Christ is head of the church and loved the church so much He gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:23-27; 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Denominations were not founded by Jesus but were founded by men. Denominations are not following the teachings of Jesus but rather are following the teachings of men. Churches founded by men like Martin Luther (Lutheran church), John Calvin (Presbyterian church), Joseph Smith (Mormon church), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Scientist), Charles Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses), John Wesley (Methodist church), King Henry VIII (Episcopalian church), and John Smythe (Baptist church) are not the church you can read about in the New Testament.
Let’s be committed to abandon the various churches founded by men and resolve to simply be the church you can read about in the New Testament!