The church did NOT start on the Day of Pentecost
Followers of the “universal” church heresy believe that the church was started on the Day of Pentecost which was 50 days after Christ’s commission to His church (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) and bodily ascension into Heaven. These believe that the church was started because of the Holy Spirit’s descending upon this fragmented society of believers that Jesus left behind as to form them into a church. The thought is that the Holy Spirit baptized every believer into the universal, invisible “church” at the point of salvation. This heterodoxy is based upon a Protestant theory and rejects the plain teachings of the Word of God. As we look to Scripture, we’ll find quite a different view than that of the Protestants.
The church was founded and built during the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:18, we read where He said, “…I will build my church…” Without a doubt, the Lord Jesus built His church, during His earthly ministry, just as He said He would. Let us consider some scriptural truths concerning the time Christ built His church as to form sound doctrine rather than to rely on man’s feeble opinions:
- The Apostles were baptized by John the Baptist.
John 1:35-40 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; (36) And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (37) And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (38) Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? (39) He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. (40) One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
Acts 1:21-22 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, (22) Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
2. The church began to be formed in Mark 3:13-21 when the Lord chose 12 saved and baptized men to be His apostles (before Pentecost).
1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
3. Church discipline was established in Matthew 18:15-19 (before Pentecost).
Matthew 18:15-19 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (16) But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
This would be impossible in a universal, invisible “church.” Besides, how could we tell it to a church that did not yet exist? Notice that the disciples had no questions concerning the Lord’s use of the word, “church.” Why? Because they knew that they themselves were the church of Jesus Christ.
4. The two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, were instituted before Pentecost.
Matthew 3:14-17 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? (15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John 4:1-2 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (2) (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
Matthew 26:26-29 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. (27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (29) But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
5. The Great Commission was given before Pentecost.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
6. The church had a business meeting prior to Pentecost. They elected an Apostle in Acts Chapter 1.
7. They had a church role with about 120 members before Pentecost (Acts 1).
8. The initial 3,000 saved at Pentecost were added unto them. How can you add to something that does not already exist?
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
“Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4)! We undoubtedly have gleaned from the Bible that the church is the local and visible assembly of baptized believers, founded and built by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry.