The Church Jesus Built, Part 2
by Constant Coulibaly
In the second part of this article, I am more concerned with the issue as to how to prove that Jesus built the church He promised to establish. The reason for that is that some people still await the coming of the church. Members of the Roman Catholic Church often recite in concert, during their liturgies, the model prayer in Matthew 6. In so doing, they make a prayer of verse 10, which says, “thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Also, proponents of premillennialism hold that Christ intended to establish His kingdom. However, since the Jews rejected Him, He decided to postpone His plans until His second coming. In other words, the kingdom of Christ has not been established as yet.
The term “premillennialism” derives from “premillennial,” which itself comes from two words, “pre” which means “before,” and “millennium” indicating a period of 1,000 years. Premillennialism is thus the doctrine that purports that when Christ returns to earth, He will rule for a thousand years, and that we are now living in the age just before the thousand-year reign of Christ. But we need to appreciate the fact that the term “kingdom,” in the New Testament, is used as a synonym for the word “church.” Jesus used them interchangeably (Matthew 16:18-19; Luke 22:16). When John wrote to the Christians in Asia, he let them know that he was a brother to them in Christ’s kingdom (Revelation 1:9). So, this kingdom or church was in existence in the first century (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13). There is therefore no need today to pray or wait for its coming.
Furthermore, Jesus said on one occasion that some of His contemporaries would not die until they had seen the “kingdom of God come with power” (Mark 9:1). And, just before He started to ascend into heaven, after resurrecting from the dead, Jesus promised His apostles that they would be the recipients of power when the Holy Spirit had come upon them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). He had already made a promise concerning the advent of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). But in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8, the emphasis seems to be on the power that the Spirit would bring.
Notice, the kingdom was to come with power (Mark 9:1), and power with the Spirit (Acts 1:8). These three events actually took place on the day of Pentecost, and thus inaugurated the establishment of the church. The Spirit came down from heaven in the form of “a sound” (v. 2) that resembled “a rushing mighty wind” (v. 2). Verse 4 says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” “They” refers to the apostles, who had been in an upper room with a number of other disciples, all of them approximating 120 people (Acts 1:13-15). Speaking in tongues or known languages, which the apostles had not learned previously was a supernatural manifestation of the power endowment that Jesus promised to give them. Some people will argue that all the individuals gathered in the upper room that day received the Spirit. Such could not be the case because Jesus promised to give the Spirit to His apostles only (John 14:16-17).
Does the Lord’s church have any other salient characteristics? Yes. Jesus Christ is the Head of it. If you are looking for a church, look for the one that honours Jesus Christ as the Head (Ephesians 1:20-22). The Lord’s church is distinct in its practices, which are clearly outlined in the New Testament. Members worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24); it is the truth of the New Testament that directs their minds and hearts in what to do during worship to God. They make no use of mechanical instruments in worship; they only sing with their voices blended together (Ephesians 5:19; cf. Colossians 3:16).
Everyone who has been saved by baptism becomes a member of the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47). Men and women who come under the influence of the gospel of Christ, believing it, and obey His command to be baptised become members of His church. They don’t rebel against Him; they submit to His authority. This is a distinctive trait of members of the church that Jesus built. Obey today the Lord’s command to be baptised, and He will add you to His church (Acts 2:47).