CHURCH BEFORE PENTECOST
We are well aware that the popular notion today is that the church was born on the Day of Pentecost following the Lord’s ascension back to Heaven. Whether one believes in a universal visible church or a universal invisible church or only in local churches, this is the common theory prevalent today. Since the Lord Jesus promised “…I will build my church…” we think it better to believe Him rather than some theory of man that says the Holy Spirit built the church. (See Matthew 16:18). The Greek word for “build” transliterates as “oikodomeo” and means to “dome up” or complete a house or building. Further to the point, John the Baptist used the word “bride” of Christ’s congregation while He was on earth, saying “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (John 3:29). The term “bride” is used consistently throughout the New Testament as a metaphor speaking of Christ’s Church, so it seems clear that John said that Christ had a Church prior to Pentecost!
Baptist elder S.E. Anderson in one of his books lists 21 things that Christ’s (local) Church had before Pentecost. Here is Bro. Anderson’s list.
1. Believers before Pentecost had the Gospel. (Matt. 4:23; Acts 19:4)
2. Believers before Pentecost were genuinely converted. (Luke 1:15-17; 19:1-10)
3. Believers before Pentecost were baptized after conversion. (Matt. 3:6-8)
4. Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their Head. (Matt. 23:8)
5. Believers before Pentecost were instructed in Church polity. (Matt. 18:15-20)
6. Believers before Pentecost were ordained. (John 15:16)
7. Believers before Pentecost were commissioned (Matt. 28:16-20)
8. Believers before Pentecost were organized enough for their needs. (John 13:29)
9. Believers before Pentecost had a missions program. (Matt. 10:1- 11:1)
10. Believers before Pentecost had the essentials of church-life. (Evangelism, service and worship, and the presence of Christ among them) (Matt. 4:9; 18:20)
11. Believers before Pentecost had qualified pastors. (John 21:15-17)
12. Believers before Pentecost had the Lord’s Supper. (Matt. 26:26-30)
13. Believers before Pentecost had the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)
14. Believers before Pentecost had Divine power to do Christ’s work. (Luke 9:1)
15. Believers before Pentecost sang “in the midst of the church.” (compare Heb. 2:12; with Matt. 26:30)
16. Believers before Pentecost had prayer meetings. (Acts 1:14)
17. Believers before Pentecost had business meetings. (Acts 1:15-26)
18. Believers before Pentecost had a membership roll. (Matt. 10:2-4; Acts 1:13-15)
19. Believers before Pentecost were united into a church in such a way that they could be “added unto.” (Acts 2:1 & 41)
20. Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their Foundation and Corner Stone (Matt: 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20)
21. Believers before Pentecost had Christ for a time as their pastor (“poimen”). Eph. 4:11 & John 10:14.
Now we raise this question: What did the church have after Pentecost that she did not have before Pentecost? She lacked one thing prior to Pentecost: The public testimony of God’s power. This was shown to all observers when Christ, the Divine Administrator, immersed His waiting Church into the Holy Spirit with demonstrable power as seen on that day of Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost she existed and lacked nothing that she gained on Pentecost other than that public testimony of Divine favor. So it was with the temple built by Solomon. It was complete and existed prior to the time the visible glory of the Lord filled the house. It was a real temple fitted for the worship and service of God, lacking only the visible Presence of God. (See 1 Kings chapter 8). And the Lord’s Church, prior to Pentecost, was a real, functioning Church, lacking only the manifestation of the glory and power of God which came on that Day of Pentecost.
IF a church of any kind was born or built or formed on Pentecost, why is the Bible silent on this matter? There is not a verse in the Bible that says that any kind of church came into being on Pentecost. And IF a church was established on Pentecost, she had to reach back into an old dispensation to get baptism, the Lord’s Supper and to get authority to make converts, baptize them, and teach them to observe what Christ commanded. Why do I say this? Because baptism, the supper, and the great commission were all entrusted to a body that existed prior to the church IF the church began on Pentecost. What body was this? So then, any church established after the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ has no ordinances and no commission or authority to act. And this is true for all churches which came into existence after Christ built His Church. What holes men dig for themselves when they leave off believing and following the Bible!