Did the Bible prophesize the church of God? What did the Prophets of God tell about it?
Prophets Isaiah and Micah predicted that the law should go forth out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isa 2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Isa 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Mic 4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Mic 4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The Prophet Jeremiah predicted that the Lord would establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, that it should not be like unto the covenant that He made with their fathers when he brought them out of Egypt, that He would put His laws in their minds and write them in their hearts, that they would know the Lord and that their sins and iniquities should be remembered against them no more.
Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jer 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
The new covenant will be given to the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and not according to the old covenant that God made with their fathers.
Heb 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Heb 8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Heb 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Prophet Daniel predicted that the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that should never be destroyed and that it should consume and break in pieces all other kingdoms, and stand forever.
Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Noticed that the kingdom will never be destroyed and will consume all other kingdoms and will stand forever. These are the characteristics mentioned in the prophesies about the church of God that will be established. These prophesies were told thousand of years before it actually happened, and during their time, no one understands the meaning of their words. Why did the Prophets says that the new covenant and the kingdom (church) will stand forever? When we say that a certain thing will stand forever, it possesses strength and endurance and we all know that nothing will endure forever except the words of God. Therefore, what is the main element that will make it stand forever? What did the Prophets says?
Isaiah predicted that a foundation stone should be laid in Zion (Isa 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste), and that stone is Jesus Christ (Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ) Christ is the cornerstone that they stumbled upon. Rom 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; Rom 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Paul further explained that Jesus is the foundation of the church. 1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1Co 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the chief cornerstone -Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Jesus Christ is not only the chief corner stone but He is the head of the Church (Col_1:18 Eph_5:23). Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
How did God plan about the church of God? What is its beginnings?
There are many theories as to the church’s origin. Some believed that the church started at Pentecost, when after Christ’s ascension, God poured out the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. This is the theory of Scofield, the Campbellites, Holy Rollers and many Protestants. But the book of Acts does not tell us that the church originated on that day.
One of the typology of the church is it being God’s temple filled with His glory. In the Old Testament, when the Tabernacle was completed, the glory of God filled it. When the Temple was completed, the glory of God filled it. (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8: 10-11)
So, to say that the church originated on Pentecost is a mistake because when Christ left earth, He left behind Him the “church” that had been existing for almost three years. He had taught it, set Apostles in it, met with it after His resurrection, commissioned it, and commanded it to wait in Jerusalem for an enduement of power. On Pentecost the church was immersed in the Holy Spirit. The glory of God filled His new “tabernacle,” His “temple,” the “house of God”—the church.
How do we know that there was a “church” or “ekklesia” before Pentecost? Last time, we have defined the church or “ekklesia” as a “called out assembly” and that assembly existed long before the Pentecost mentioned in the books of Acts. During the Pentecost, they were already an assembly as they were assembled in the upper room praying and conducting a meeting (electing an apostle). See Acts 1: 14-26. Actually they were 120 in number (see verse 15).
Another reason is that Christ “set” the Apostles in the “church” before that Pentecost day (Mark 3: 13-19).
JESUS told the Apostles how to treat members of the church in Matthew 18: 15-17 and this was before Pentecost. Scofield, in order to get around this passage, says that this is instruction for the “future” church. Mason answers: “But it still remains unreasonable to believe that Jesus referred to something that the disciples did not understand, or that He indicated a rule of discipline relating, to a church that did not exist“ (The Church That Jesus Built, page 18).
The church had already its doctrines given to it before Pentecost. Christ sung with them before the Pentecost (Mar 14:26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.) and it was declared it was in the church (Heb 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.) Therefore, there was a church before the Pentecost.
Christ commissioned the Apostles in Matthew 28: 19-20 and it was given before Pentecost. Those saved on the day of Pentecost were “added to” the “ekklesia” (Acts 2:41, 47). We couldn’t add the 3,000 souls to nothing, so there must have been an “ekklesia” already in existence. Lastly, Judas was an apostle in the “ekklesia” and he died before Pentecost. Hence there was a church before Pentecost.
Concerning the death of Christ on the cross, is it really necessary to happen? What is the connection of the death of Christ to the church?
It was evident that the church was actually in existence during the ministry of Christ. Ekklesia means calling out and there was already a called out members of the church during Christ’s ministry, the Apostles, being the first ones. The death of Christ on the cross signifies the need to establish the new covenant that He will make. In order to do it, it was necessary to abolish the first institution to establish the second. Heb 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. The first was not removed during the life of Jesus, for He commanded His disciples to follow the teaching of the law as expounded by the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-3), and the vail of the temple was not rent in twain until He expired (Matthew 27:51; Ephesians 2:13-16).
The new institution was to be characterized by the absolute blotting out of sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and as the blood of animal sacrifices could never take away sin, it was necessary for Christ to die before the work could be done (Mat 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins; Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.) The shedding of blood signifies the remissions of sins. (Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Heb 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Heb 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Heb 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Heb 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. Heb 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Heb 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Heb 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.) This was further explained by Apostle Peter – 1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1Pe 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: The church was purchased by Jesus (Matthew 20:28; 1Corinthians 6:19-20).
The prophets, Jesus Christ and His apostles agree in placing the beginning at Jerusalem (Psalms 110:1-4; Isaiah 2:1-3; Isaiah 62:1-2; Joel 2:28-32; Micah 4:1-2; Luke 24:45-53; Acts 1:5-8; Acts 2:1-47; Acts 8:1; Galatians 4:21-31).
The early history of the Church is a history of triumph. The apostles began their labors in Jerusalem and in a very Short time a very great number of people had yielded to the Demands of Christ in Jerusalem and the surrounding country (Acts 2:37-42 Acts 4:1-4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:7). Soon Philip, the evangelist, introduced the gospels in the city of Samaria with great success (Acts 8:1-25), and Peter introduced it among the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48; Act. 11:1-26). Later, the church was preached to the Gentiles by Apostle Paul.