Tag Archive | local church

What is, “the Church?”

A church is an authorized local assembly of baptized believers called out from the world, joined together in the doctrine and fellowship of the gospel and commissioned to execute the laws of Christ’s kingdom.  We will comment further on this statement, but we must first deal with some of the false beliefs concerning the church:

1.   The Church is NOT a “mystical, universal, invisible body” made-up of all “believers.”

1 Corinthians 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

      Setting aside the obvious fact that the Apostle Paul was addressing a visible local church (church at Corinth) in this statement, we will look to the natural usage of words in our English language:  According to our Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, the word “body” refers to frame, material substance, matter, a person, reality as opposed to representation, a collective mass, a corporation, and so on.  Obviously, there is nothing invisible or universal represented by these definitions.

      The word, “members,” means the limb of an animal, subordinate part of a building, or an individual of a community or society.  Again, there is nothing invisible represented.  It is imperative that common expression prevail lest we have no grounds for which to stand concerning an accurate interpretation.  How can we understand the simplest of sentences if we pick and choose the meanings of words?!  Christians will say, “I belong to the universal invisible church.”  How can this be when we see clearly that the church is a body and a body is local and visible by definition and has local, visible members as well?  Here’s the simplest of examples:

      I invite a friend over to come and see my new car.  I tell him that it is a Ford Mustang.  When my friend arrives, I show him the grill ornament of a Ford Mustang.  His reply would naturally be, “Where’s the car?”  To which I could answer, “It’s my universal car!”  He would then reply, “Well then, where is the rest of it?”  To which I would say, “It is my universal invisible Mustang made up of all Mustang owners.”  Does this make sense?  How can this car be driven?  What is the practicality of owning a grill ornament and then telling folks it is a car?

      The only way that this nonsense can be made functional is for us to throw out the common vernacular of the English language in order to make the diction relevant to our own idea of what a car is.  Then what?  Are we communicating?  No, we will still be left without true verbal interaction because we both are interpreting the words relatively.  We would be speaking utter nonsense!

      The phrase, ”Universal Church,” is an oxymoron.  It is impossible to have a body and for it to be universal at the same time!  In referring to the car analogy: What is its color?  How good is its gas mileage?  What size tires does it use?  Can I get a ride to town in it?  None of these questions can be answered sensibly because it is NOT a car!

      The Church is a local Body.  It is both visible and organized.

            The words “church,” and “assembly,” are interchangeable.  They both refer to a gathering of bona fide members.  The Phrase, “Local Church,” is redundant.  It is like saying, “wet water,” because the essence of a church (aka, “body,” or, “assembly”) is the fact that it is physical, and therefore must be local.

            “Church,” and, “churches” are used 114 times in the King James Version of the New Testament.  Of those, it is used approximately 22 times in an institutional sense such as “the church” (Matthew 16:17), and “the church of God,” (Acts 20:28).  By institutional, we mean that the Bible is addressing the church in an editorial sense; the same way we would speak of “the home.”  In this case we would be using the word “home” in an institutional sense and would not necessarily be discussing “my” home or “your” home specifically.  We would definitely not ever apply, “the” to a “universal home,” because all homes are local and visible with members that make-up that body.

            So, this leaves us with 92 instances (81%) of the words, “church,” or “churches,” all of which address specific churches in definite locations.

Here are a few questions for those who hold to a universal church:

1.         Who is its pastor?
2.         Where does it meet?
3.         How many members does it have?
4.         Who votes concerning membership?
5.         What were its offerings last week?
6.         When is its next business meeting?
7.         When and how are the spiritual gifts used?
8.         Does it hold the keys to the Kingdom?
9.         How or what does it bind on earth that it may also be bound in Heaven?
10.       When and where is its next prayer meeting?
11.       How are its officers elected?
12.       Where is the roll kept?
13.       How are its members disciplined?
14.       What is its doctrine?
15.       What is its system of finances?
16.       What are its standards of practice?
17.       How are the ordinances observed?
18.       How can it, “ordain elders in every city?”

      All of these questions are based upon the church’s operational characteristics displayed in the New Testament.  Obviously these can only be answered from a local church standpoint.  There is no “universal” church found in Scripture.  It has to be imposed upon the text or falsely believed in the human heart as an apparition.

      Some may ask, “But how is Christ the Head of the church if it is not universal?  Wouldn’t that mean that He is the Head over many churches?”  Again, the institutional, editorial usage of the word, “church,” does not affect its definition.  One could also ask how, “Christ… is the Head of every man…” (1 Corinthians 11:3)?!

      The idea of a “universal” church is not only a contradiction in terms, but is also an extremely nonsensical, unscriptural theory which leads us into false ideas about God, His Word and especially His true Church.  It is rank heresy!  Since the church is the, “pillar and ground of the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15), it is important that we understand what the church is, for, if the pillar and ground fall, then all will crumble!  Consider some things:

1.      “Universal church,” doctrine lumps the Family of God, the Kingdom of God and the Church of God into one huge invisible, mystical specter.  The Protestants learned this from their harlot mother, the Roman Catholics.  Rome has been the number one tormentor of the Baptist people since its inception in the early 4th Century AD.  The Catholics believed that their “churches” were sub-parts of the hierarchy leading up to the Pope, which made-up the physical visible kingdom of God.  To gain entry into this organization, one had to be sprinkled by a Catholic priest.  This would place that person into the “church,” which to the Catholics, was also the family and kingdom of God.

      As Luther and others, “protested,” they had to maintain Catholic baptisms as being legitimate or admit that they themselves had not been acceptably baptized.  When the “protesters,” or, Protestants realized that they had to maintain the Catholic baptisms, they fell into a dilemma: they had to admit that the Catholic “church” was, in fact, the kingdom of God but on the other hand they had to prove that they themselves were not bastards concerning the faith.  Luther fixed this little problem with announcing that the “church” was universal and invisible, thus including all that named the name of Christ into the “church” or the mystical, invisible kingdom of God.  This was the perfect compromise so that they could protest Rome and yet include themselves as being part of the catholic family and kingdom of God.

NOTE: The Family of God is made-up of all the saved.  The church of God is made-up of those that are saved and baptized into authorized assemblies.  The kingdom of God will be discussed in the next chapter.

      It is amazing that many Baptists have bought into wholesale Protestantism by believing in this “universal, invisible church!”  Luther, Zwingli, Melanchton, Calvin and Knox are just a few of the famous Protestants that also persecuted our ancient Baptist forefathers.  By holding to this heresy, many Baptists today are excluded from clutching their inheritance which God has provided exclusively through His true churches.

2.      It teaches that all churches (Catholic and Protestant alike) are a branch of the “true” universal “church.”  These have never recognized Baptists as being legitimate, so Baptists are excluded from their definition of the church.  Baptists today, on the other hand, have also embraced this heresy like victims of Stockholm Syndrome, and now hold to the same teachings that were the source of their own persecution!

3.      The intention of such heresy is to merge all “Christian” faiths into a one-world religious organization.  Never mind the fact that biblical doctrine becomes extinct in such a mystical background.  Again, the worst is that more and more “baptists” are embracing this heretical doctrine which causes them to be unequally yoked with baby sprinklers and other idolaters, all (supposedly) in the name of Christ.  The Baptist people are digging their own graves by embracing such untruth and are being used as a part of this modern perilous system to usher in the Antichrist.

Revelation 17:1-7  And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:  (2)  With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.  (3)  So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  (4)  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  (5)  And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  (6)  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 

2.   The Holy Spirit does NOT supernaturally “baptize” anyone into some “mystical universal, invisible church.”

            There is only one “proof” text for such a notion and it is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13:

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

            Universal Protestantism, which began with Martin Luther, teaches that a sinner who trusts Christ as Savior is, at that point, mystically baptized by the Holy Spirit into the universal invisible church.  Since there is no such entity as a “universal” church in Scripture, there is absolutely no need to interpret this passage as such.  To make this definition fit, we would have to compromise the common understanding of the church in 114 references for one presumably vague verse.  The proverbial tail begins to wag the dog at this point.  The entire “Holy Spirit baptism into a universal church” theory rests upon this one verse.  Here are just a few thoughts concerning 1 Corinthians 12:13:

1.      By one Spirit,” is easily interpreted within the context of this chapter.  Notice that 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 is dealing with spiritual gifts by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, causing the body of Christ to be able to function:

1 Corinthians 12:1  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

1 Corinthians 12:4  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

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.

1 Corinthians 12:31  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

            The Apostle Paul is not dealing with the doctrine of baptisms in this Chapter, he is addressing gifts from the Lord Jesus via the Holy Spirit.  For this doctrinal truth we can simply compare Ephesians 4:3-8 with 1 Corinthians 12:4, 28:

Ephesians 4:3-8  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (4)  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  (5)  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  (6)  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  (7)  But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  (8)  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

1 Corinthians 12:4  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

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.

            Many “scholars” are confused because they associate the word, “by” with John the Baptist’s statement that the Lord Jesus would baptize “with” the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11).  It must be made clear that the Holy Spirit has not been seen in holy writ to be the administrator of any kind of baptism, whether spiritual, or of water, or otherwise.  The Baptist’s statement in Matthew Chapter 3 clearly reveals that the Lord Jesus is the administrator of the baptism with the Holy Ghost.  The Lord is seen to be the administrator and the Holy Spirit is the substance, as a local church pastor is the administrator of baptism while the water is the substance.  In other words, just as we are baptized by the pastor with water, a person can also be baptized by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit.

            Notice how the words, “with” and “by” are used in other verses concerning the Holy Spirit:

a.       With” the Spirit or Holy Ghost:

Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

2 Corinthians 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

            None of these references reveal that the Holy Spirit is an administrator, but is the substance.  We are clearly shown that we are filled, baptized, etc., WITH the Holy Ghost (substance), not BY the Holy Ghost (administrator).  Once again we must repeat:  the Holy Spirit is never seen as the administrator of any kind of spiritual baptism, but is seen as the substance of that baptism.  We will discuss Holy Spirit baptism in the, “Church’s Anointing,” section of this chapter.

b.      By” the Spirit or Holy Ghost:

Matthew 12:28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

Acts 13:4  So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

Luke 4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

2 Timothy 1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

            In every instance we see that when “by” the Spirit or “by” the Holy Ghost is used, it refers to the Spirit’s leadership and/ or enabling.  This doctrine becomes clear when we understand the fact that when the, “…Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13).

            Looking specifically in the book of 1 Corinthians, we can see that the word, “by” when used with the word, “Spirit” is simply defining the leadership and/ or enabling of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, specifically in and through the (local) church:

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

1 Corinthians 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

      Now we arrive at the previously cited “proof” text of the Universalists:

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

            This verse, just as all of the ones formerly listed, applies to the Holy Spirit’s leadership and enabling.  It is the Spirit of God who guides the new believer in all truth.  1 Peter 3:21 tells us that water baptism is the, “…answer of a good conscience toward God…”  How else are we led to the baptismal waters if not by the Spirit of God Himself?  He led us by reproving our hearts concerning sin, pointed us to faith in the Lord Jesus’ finished work on the cross, renewed us, cleared our conscience of offense toward God and guided us by His Truth into the local church through the baptismal waters.

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.

2.      Baptized into one body.”  The door to church membership is opened through scriptural water baptism.  Paul has been addressing this local church throughout the entire First Epistle to the Corinthians, so, in order to maintain the correct perspective and avoid introducing a false doctrine, we must stay true to the context.  Here is the introduction to 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:1-2  Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,  (2)  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

            Notice the comparison between, “the church of God which is at Corinth,” and, “with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”  The Apostle is simply saying that this epistle is specifically written to the local church at Corinth, but its teachings are applicable to all believers in every other church.  The word, “place,” in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is defined:

            “A particular portion of space of indefinite extent, occupied or intended to be occupied by any person or thing, and considered as the space where a person or thing does or may rest or has rested, as distinct from space in general.”

            Concerning the word, “place,” in this verse, Strong’s Concordance says:

1) place, any portion or space marked off, as it were from surrounding space

1a) an inhabited place, as a city, village, district

1b) a place (passage) in a book

2) metaph.

2a) the condition or station held by one in any company or assembly

2b) opportunity, power, occasion for acting

            Obviously this word points to certain localities wherein saints are designated to assemble, also known as church meeting houses or other places of assemblage.

            In 1 Corinthians Chapter 5 (along with Matthew Chapter 18) we see the authority given to the (local) church to expel its wayward members.  In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians we also find that this same erring brother had repented and was accepted back into the fold.

1 Corinthians 5:13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

            Galatians 6:1 also admonishes us,

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

            Most would agree that these verses cannot apply to the “universal” church.  There is no means of discipline in the so-called universal church.  Also, there is an extreme doctrinal problem with applying these passages to a universal mystical body: this would mean loss of one’s salvation!  According to the universal proponents, when we are saved we are “baptized” by the Holy Spirit as an administrator into the substance of the universal invisible “church.”  To be expelled would mean that one would have to be saved again in order to be restored.  In other words, we would have to be un-baptized by the Holy Spirit and re-baptized into the mystical body when we repent.  As nonsensical as this may be, it is just as fallacious to try and fit a universal, invisible “body” into 1 Corinthians 12:13.

            It is also drivel for us to believe that a body can be invisible or mystical.  As seen previously, by definition a body has to be visible, real and made-up of members, just as a husbandry, building, fold or assembly.

1 Corinthians 3:9  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

1 Corinthians 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

            If a “body” is universal, mystical and invisible, then verses 25-26 make no sense at all:

1 Corinthians 12:25-26  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  (26)  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

3.      The word, “We.”  Protestant Universalists believe that the use of this word by Paul supports a universal invisible “church” because he was not a member of the Corinthian congregation.  This is an attempt to build a (false) doctrine from one word which is a primary characteristic of the cults.  It is true that Paul was not a member of the Corinthian church when this epistle was written, but that certainly does not mean that the use of the word, “we,” has to express inclusivity.  As addressed earlier, Paul is using this word in an editorial sense.  For example, one could say, “We get right with God when we repent of sin and confess it to Him.”  The use of the word, “we,” does not automatically tell us that the speaker is not right with God, but means that he is simply speaking in an editorial sense concerning repentance.  Besides, if the “we” in verse 13 would have to necessarily imply that Paul was included, then the “ye” in verse 27 would inevitably indicate that Paul would have been excluded:

1 Corinthians 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

            This would have to be interpreted as the Apostle Paul not being a member of a local church.  By default, it would also make us to believe that the city of Corinth held the only church.  Both ideas are nonsense.

            In order to gain a better understanding of the editorial use of, “we,” in verse 13, we can compare it to the editorial use of the word, “I,” in Chapter 13:1-3.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  (2)  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  (3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

            Obviously, the Apostle is not saying that all of these hypothetical examples apply to him exclusively.  Again, this is an editorial usage of the word, “I.”

            As another example, we can see where Paul editorially uses the words, “we,” and, “ye,” sometimes when referring to the same group:

1 Thessalonians 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

            The Protestant interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 has spilled over and caused much confusion in the Baptist ranks.  As God’s called-out people, we should hold to the old way and the true doctrines of God within the contextual confines of Scripture.  Why would we desire to take one verse (1Co 12:13) out of context at the behest of baby-baptizers in order to make it fit into a Protestant pattern?  There are several motives for this, such as promotion, avoiding persecution, etc., but whatever the reason, it is costing us the inheritance that we will soon see the Lord has for us specifically through His church!

The Crux of the Matter

            The Bible teaches that a saved person should be baptized by water into a local church.  The Universalists, with their mystical, invisible “church,” make baptism out to be salvation.  Friends, salvation and baptism are never synonymous in Scripture!  When we say that a person is “baptized” at the moment of salvation into the universal “church,” we are watering-down both the doctrines of salvation and baptism.   By combining these doctrines, we are destroying their uniqueness and integrity in order to make an unholy mixture.  The New Testament precedent has been to baptize those who have previously been saved into water.  The record bears out that the thief on the cross was saved, but was never baptized.  We know this to be true because the Savior Himself told him that he would be in Paradise that very day with Christ personally.  Some will say, “But this was BEFORE the resurrection.”  We will search in vain if we are hoping to discover a single verse of Scripture that points us to this doctrine; it suffers the same fate as the doctrine of infant baptism where the Bible is concerned.

            Some will rebut, “But what about the baptism of the Holy Ghost?”  This subject will be covered in the, “Church’s Anointing,” section of this Chapter.

            Also, if we say that baptism and salvation are synonymous in any way, we will be opening ourselves to be telescopically introduced to even more false doctrines from Protestants and Campbellites, the many views of which are too numerous for this small volume.  May it suffice us to simply state that we are Baptists, which are solely Biblicists in matters of faith and practice, and should have no tolerance for denominational heresy.

3.   The church did NOT start on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

            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, however, 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:

a.       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.

b.      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.

c.       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.

d.      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.

e.       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.

f.       The church had a business meeting prior to Pentecost.  They elected an Apostle in Acts Chapter 1.

g.      They had a church role with about 120 members before Pentecost (Acts 1).

h.      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.