We will do a little side slip here and do a little deeper study than the simple narratives I have been doing.
The First New Testament Churches
It is sad when we have to qualify Church by designating it New Testament. The Lord only knows one Church. That is the one He built to His specifications that no one, no person, no preacher has the right to change.
Every Church that follows what Jesus established is a true Church. Every “church” not built the way the New Testament says and with the pattern that Jesus gave is not a Church that Jesus built and therefore should be called a religious institution.
The fallacy of the ‘Universal Invisible Church’ theory has been demonstrated form the Scriptures. Along with this heretical teaching is another one just as heinous and misleading – ‘The Church’ began on the day of Pentecost along with the events in Acts 2.
There are 4 errors concerning the doctrine of the Church:
- The Holy Spirit indwelt each believer as a seal till the day of redemption.
- The Pentecost Birthday theory.
- The Holy Spirit Baptism theory.
- The Universal, Invisible Church theory.
The beginning of this heresy was the Catholic Church. They claimed that the church was ‘Universal and visible.’ This linked all physical churches into one link that was beholden to the Pope. When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church house door, his desire was not to start another church but to correct some abuses. He did not want to touch what was taught about the church because he agreed in the Universal church theory. When he was excommunicated, he had to change a few doctrines to be a little different from the Catholic church. One he changed was the visible. His doctrine of the church became, ‘Universal invisible.’ This has entered so many so called churches so much that it has infiltrated Baptist ranks. Scofield propagated this teaching with his Scofield Reference Bible. Under Hebrews 12:23 he has given the following statement.
Church (true), Summary: The true church, composed of the whole number of regenerate persons from Pentecost to the first resurrection (I Cor. 15:52), united together and to Christ by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:12,13), is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Eph. 1:22,23.)”
Here are the considerations of such a statement:
Jesus said in Matt. 16:18 – “I will build my Church.” The Pentecost beginning of the Church would rob Jesus of the opportunity to personally build His Church and make Him a liar. The Pentecost beginning would make the Holy Spirit the builder of the Church because Christ was already in heaven.
If the Church was started on the day of Pentecost, that would put the gospels in the dispensation of law, the old dispensation. This would put Matt. 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” into the dispensation of law. The sermon on the mount would then belong to the previous dispensation.
If the Church began on the day of Pentecost, it began with the apostles and not Christ. This would then be a man-made church. This would enable for man to de-emphasize the ordinances of the church and observe them in whatever manner they desire. There is no Great Commission that has been given to the church.
To be continued.