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The Doctrine of the Church: The Origin of the Church

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Last Sunday evening we began a Biblical journey into the Doctrine of the Church. I preached on The Church Today. This evening I want to preach on the Origin of the Church. Where did it come from. When it comes to the Church, our President is actually right: You didn’t build that!” Jesus is the founder and the foundation of His Church. Jesus told his disciples, I will build my church and that is exactly what he did.

The church in this world, as imperfect as it now is, was founded by Christ. Just as Jesus was the incarnation of God in the world, so too the Church is the incarnation of Jesus in the world.

His teachings, found primarily in the Gospels, are our charter documents. “Love each other as I have loved you” is its guiding principle. The preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom is our purpose.


            1. from the beginning, God intended to prepare a people especially for himself
                1. just as Christ, the eternal Son of God, was always in relation to the Father, so God always planed for Christians to be called the Body of Christ
            2. the church, as we know it today, did not exist in the Old Testament
                1. however, God has always had his Elect People


            1. on several occasions in the days of the Old Testament, God chose persons or groups of persons to be in a special relationship with himself
                1. these relationships took the form of covenants
            2. these covenants contain elements that are a foreshadowing of the New Testament church
                1. in each of these covenants, God called a people to himself and bound himself into a relationship with them for the purpose of exercising his righteous rule over them
                2. yet, in none of these covenants did God established the close, personal relationship that is symbolized in the New Testament’s description of the Church as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ
            3. while it is a mistake to identify Israel as the Church in the Old Testament, Christians must understand that the church is an heir to the ethical instruction of the Old Testament
                1. the Levitical code underscores the requirements for all of God’s people of all ages: We are to be a holy people
                  • “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” (Leviticus 20:26, NIV84)
                2. this principle has never changed
                  • “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:19–22, NIV84)
                3. what has changed is our ability to live a holy life
                    1. the church is the heir of a new promise and of a new and better covenant into which Israel has never entered
                    2. the line of separation between Israel and the church is the event of Christ— his life, death, resurrection, and exaltation before God
            4. the apostles understood, and rightly so, that the church was a new creation of God under a new and better covenant than Israel’s
              • “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:14–15, NIV84)


            1. the church is the earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God
                1. at the same time, we recognize that the church by no means exhausts the meaning of the kingdom of God
            2. while the Kingdom of God and the Institutional Church are by no means identical, we must understand that the Kingdom of God is present in this world in the lives of true believers


    • ILLUS. A vanguard consists of the leading units at the head of an army. In the day when armies battled each other almost toe-to-toe, the vanguard would lead the line of march and would deploy first on the field of battle. Some members of the vanguard where trumpeters who trumpeted messages, signaled maneuvers, and summoned the surrender of towns and castles. There were also men called sappers (today’s combat engineers) whose job it was to clear obstacles for the main army.
            1. I can think of no better description of the Church in the world today
                1. one of these days, Jesus will invade this earth with the armies of heaven
                  • “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Revelation 19:14, NIV84)
                2. today, the church is the Vanguard or leading unit of that army
                    1. in this world we meet the enemy head-on
                        1. that enemy consists of all who would resist the reign of God in this world
                    2. often the church slugs it out toe to toe with the enemies of the gospel
                3. like trumpeters in the Vanguard, gospel preachers summon the surrender of spiritual strongholds in the lives of people
                4. like the sappers whose job it was to clear obstacles for the main army, Christians are clearing spiritual obstacles in this world through their use of spiritual gifts and talents, and intercessory prayer in order that the main army may eventually win a great victory


            1. according to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the initial message of Jesus’ preaching was a call to repentance on the ground that the Kingdom of God was at hand
              • “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14–15, NIV84)
              • “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17, NIV84)
            2. the Kingdom of God is a foundational concept in the teaching ministry of Jesus
                1. Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future hope
                2. Jesus’ announcement that the kingdom of God was at hand meant that the “reign of God” had broken into human history
                3. a kingdom implies three things
                    1. it implies the activity of reigning
                    2. it implies a people over whom the rain is exercised
                    3. it implies a realm in which the rain is effective
            3. part of the present reality of the kingdom of God is his activity of reigning
                1. the preaching of Jesus makes it clear that God’s reign brings two major results:
                    1. repentance
                    2. salvation
            4. repentance means to change the mind, which in turn lead to changes to conduct
                1. repentance is a change that sees our former state of mind and conduct as wrong and sees the righteousness of a new relationship to God
                2. the people to whom Jesus preached his message were in a wrong relationship to God and had not allowed God to exercise his reign in their lives
                3. through repentance Jesus offered them the opportunity to place themselves under God’s rule
                    1. the same is true of lost people today
                    2. men without Christ are estranged from God and are under condemnation
                    3. the message of the Church is the same today as it was when Jesus preached the gospel— through repentance Jesus offers the lost person the opportunity to place themselves under God’s reign
            5. salvation means to receive the free gift of God’s grace that places us in a covenant relationship with God through Christ
                1. in salvation God does three things:
                    1. He sets aside the condemnation that results from wrong action and attitude
                    2. He forgives sins and removes sins penalty, which we so rightly deserve
                    3. He includes the believer in the eternal Kingdom of God
                2. salvation heals the breach of separation between man and God, pays the penalty of sin, and releases sinners from the power of sin
                  • ILLUS. Jesus and demonstrated this saving power through his ministry of healing, the exorcism of demons, and even raising the dead.
            6. the evidence, therefore, that the kingdom of God is present is revealed through our victory over sin and evil
                1. sin and wickedness no longer have dominion over us because repentance and salvation have brought the reign of God into our lives


            1. ultimately, the church in this world will experience the reign of God in Christ
                1. this aspect of the kingdom has not yet been fulfilled, and it creates a tension in our understanding of the kingdom of God
            2. the present church with its fellowship, worship, and proclamation is a part of God’s activity of ruling and, thus, is a part of the kingdom of God
                1. however, new the church as we see it today are the church of the New Testament is the perfect institution that it will ultimately be at the consummation of the age and the second coming of the son of God
                2. that future kingdom will far outshine anything the human imagination may contrive


            1. notice in our text for this evening that Jesus says, I will build my church
              • ILLUS. Charles Colson has written: “Biblically the church is an organism not an organization. It is a movement, not a monument. It is not part of the community; it is a whole new community. It is not an orderly gathering; it is a new order with new values, often in sharp conflict with the values of the surrounding society.”
            2. there is something supernatural about the Church
                1. the Church has lasted for a phenomenal length of time even though despots have attempted to destroy it from without and heretics have attempted to destroy it from within
                2. only the divine nature of the Church can explain its continued existence over the centuries
            3. it exists because the Father willed it, the Son established it, and the Holy Spirit indwells it
            4. in the pages of the New Testament several metaphors are used describe the Church that reminds us of its supernatural nature


            1. Jesus established and built his church for a specific purpose
                1. that purpose is found in what we call The Great Commission
                  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV84)
                2. the Great Commission is the command of the risen Lord and is the marching orders for his Church
                3. the central idea of the Great Commission is the command to make disciples of all nations
            2. this commission has several characteristics
                1. 1st, converts to Christ are to become followers, learners, and servants of the Lord
                    1. the command is to make disciples not merely to make believers
                    2. we are not merely to absorb doctrine, but the adopt a way of life based on what we learn about Jesus
                    3. today Biblical Discipleship is defined by those who have adopted a Biblical worldview
                      • ILLUS. Sadly, current research reveals that only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview. For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview. Among those adult Americans who consider themselves “born again” about 19% of that group hold a biblical worldview. The most troubling statistic is among young adults aged 18 to 23—that group referred to by demographers as “the Mosaics”. Only 1% have a biblical worldview.
                2. 2nd, the commission assumes the prerequisite that the present church will reach outside itself by going to those who need the salvation offered in Christ
                    1. the command go ye is not really a command at all, but an assumption
                    2. literally translated as you go it assumes that as believers go about their normal routine, that we will be about the business of winning people to Christ and training them in how to be a follower of Jesus
                3. 3rd, the commission covers the entire world
                    1. the Church is assigned the task of going into every corner of the world with the Gospel of Good News
                    2. it is an impossible goal made possible by the life and the gifts given the church through the Holy Spirit
                    3. Jesus has commanded that his Church spread out throughout the Earth to bring people under his reign and rule
                4. 4th, the commission establishes an identifying mark for those whom the church would reach
                    1. it is the ordinance of baptism in the name of the triune God
                5. 5th, we are to go under the authority of Christ himself who has commanded us
                6. 6th, the commission tells us to do this until Jesus returns to the very end of the age
            3. having been constituted and commissioned the church was fully established at the ascension of Jesus
                1. yet, the church was not operational at that time
                2. it would take a supernatural event to launch the Church into existence


            1. having been commanded to await the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, the nascent church assembled in an upper room and held a prayer meeting for about ten days
                1. though the Church had been fully constituted it was not yet functional because it had no power
            2. on the Day of Pentecost that power came
              • “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1–4, NIV84)
                1. the Church that Jesus established was waiting to be brought to life
                2. although the prophet Joel had foretold the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the experience at Pentecost was a new thing in Israel
                    1. at certain times in the lives of certain people in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit had come
                    2. but never had the Spirit come to indwell a group and transform them into a united whole
            3. through the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus kept his promise that a helper would arrive to instruct them and teach them all truth
                1. the key phrase in the Acts passage is as the Spirit enabled them
                    1. the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were not given to believers for their personal benefit
                    2. there were given to specifically enable persons to bear witness to the good news about Jesus Christ to the end that those who were lost might be saved
                2. the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are always meant to glorify Christ, to unify his people and to build up the church


            1. Jesus set the stage for the preparation of the New Testament with his promise of the Holy Spirit as One who would teach the disciple all things and bring all things back into their memory
              • “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26, NIV84)
            2. on this basis the inspired apostle under the guidance of the Holy Spirit prepared a number of manuscripts for the direction of the Church
                1. in time, these document became our New Testament
                2. they are the authoritative instructions of God to His people
                  • “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV84)
            3. as Baptists we stand with our Reformation fathers in the concept of Sola Scriptura— the Scriptures alone
                1. the Bible alone is our source for Faith and Practice not only for our personal lives but for the life of the Church

When Christ said that he would build his church, he meant what he said. He did it himself, personally. When he returned to heaven, he left a church in the world. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit breathed into that church the breath of life, and she became a living soul.

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