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Sunday, February 12, 2017 pm                                                NTChurchIndex                                  

THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH (4-2)
When Did the Church Begin? (2)

 

This morning we examined some passages from the Old Testament that show the church was a part of God’s plan even before the foundation of the world.  We showed in our lesson prophesies that in detail declared WHEN the church would begin and WHAT would happen on that day.  We examined three texts – Isaiah 2:1-2, Joel 2:28-32 and Daniel 2:44.  We also noted the transition from the Old Testament to the preparation of John and Jesus for the coming of the kingdom.  Finally, we saw the culmination of this in Acts 2.

In our lesson tonight, we want to revisit these and notice how the details undeniably prove that Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 was the beginning of the church/kingdom. 

 I.                     Daniel 2:44 – we noted the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. 

a.       Daniel said it was 4 kingdoms.  History reveals that from  the time of Babylon to the time of Christ there were 4 kingdoms.
1 - Babylon from 612-539 BC.  Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian Empire (Daniel 5:3-31)
2 – Medo Persia from 539-331 BC.  Daniel addresses this kingdom in Daniel 6-12.  Cf. Daniel 8:22.  During the rest of Daniel’s life he has a series of visions recorded in Daniel 6-12.
3 – Greece (Macedonia) from 331-30 BC.  Daniel 8:21 specifically mentions this kingdom.   He mentions a very wicked ruler who defiles Jerusalem.
4- Rome from 30 BC–ca 400 AD.  It is not disputed that it was during this empire that Christ came and His kingdom was established.  Daniel as he continues to have visions again sees these 4 kingdoms.  Daniel 7 records a vision of 4 beasts.  When interpreted, we find the 4 beasts are 4 kingdoms (same as Daniel 2).  Daniel 7:17.  Vs.18 notes but the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.   In further explaining this terrible beast 7:23-24 notes it is a 4th kingdom that is different, with 10 kings.  7:27-28 again describes the kingdom of the saints being given during this time. 

b.        What would happen? God would set up a kingdom.  Recall the numerous passages this morning as both John and Jesus spoke of the kingdom being at hand – Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 16:28, etc.

c.        It shall never be destroyed – that is because 1) It is not a physical kingdom (note: the Jews, and even some of His disciples did not understand this, but it one reason it will not be destroyed).  See John 18:36, Romans 14:17. 
2) The Bible speaks of the kingdom NOW in existence – Colossians 1:13, Acts 8:12, Hebrews 12:28 – we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken…
3) We are still here – though efforts have been made to destroy her, we still remain

d.       It will break in pieces and consume – many passages speak of our militant (spiritual) character – Matthew 3:10 – John preached that the ax is laid at the root of the trees.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 – the weapons of our warfare, Ephesians 6:10-18, etc.

 II.                   Isaiah 2:2-4 – Isaiah prophesies about 700 BC to a falling Israel and a sinful Judah. 

a.       The time – the latter days.  Fits into Roman empire.  It was described as the last days. 
Consider Matthew 3:1-2, Mark 9:1, etc.  The kingdom near.
Twice in scripture we read of Christ coming in “the fullness of the times” (Ephesians 1:10, Galatians 4:4-5) meaning the ideal time – this is true both physically and spiritually.  It fit His time frame.
Notice also Hebrews 1:1-2 – God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…”

b.       The mountain of the Lord’s house established.  It is typical in Old Testament prophecy for a mountain to be a reference to a kingdom (cf. Jeremiah 51:25) – the church is described as a house or household – Matthew 16:18 – I will build My church.  1 Timothy 3:15 describes the church as the house of God.
Furthermore, consider Hebrews 12:22-23 – we have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…

c.        All nations shall flow to it – Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19.  The great commission eventually would reach to all nations.  Consider Acts 1:8 as the Lord commissions His apostles to be witnesses beginning at Jerusalem, but eventually they would reach to the ends of the earth. 
Colossians 1:23 speaks of the gospel having been preach “to every creature under heaven.”

d.       Come let us go – many people will come and invite others.  It will be by invitation from its followers (not physically born into it) – evangelism.  As you study the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem you see these invitations – Acts 8:4 – they went everywhere preaching the word.  Acts 8 – Philip goes to Samaria and the Eunuch.  Acts 10 – Peter goes to Cornelius.  At the end of the book, Paul is in Rome having preached throughout Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia as well as numerous other places.
This is HOW the kingdom grows!

e.       Out of Zion shall go forth the law – Jerusalem –  this is where the church began.  This is the place of Acts 2.  cf. Acts 1:4, 2:1-4, Luke 24:47
Another prophecy we could address is Jeremiah 31:31-34 where Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant.  The book of Hebrews addresses Jesus having established this new covenant by means of His death – Hebrews 8:7-13 which quotes Jeremiah.  Hebrews 9:15-17 further develops the beginning of this New covenant or law.  This is why we are not under the Old Testament anymore!

f.         He will judge between the nations – more than once we are told that we will be judged by the gospel, the teachings of Christ – John 12:48-50.  Romans 2:16 – judged by the gospel.  Romans 14:10-12, etc.

g.       A kingdom of peace – John 18:36 – again it is as spiritual kingdom.  The kingdom that we are part of is a kingdom of peace – Ephesians 2:13-15 – Christ came and broke down the middle wall of separation. 
When we are as we ought to be – in unity – there will be peace – Ephesians 4:3, Romans 12:18 – live peaceably with all men, etc.

 III.                  Joel 2:28-32

a.       This morning we noted that Peter quoted this prophecy on the day the church/kingdom began.  It is how he began his sermon - Acts 2:16-21.  So we know that this is direct proof that the kingdom was prophesied and developed even as God intended.  But let us notice the details.

b.       It shall come to pass afterwards – Peter says “in the last days” – see Isaiah above. 

c.        I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh – on Pentecost it was given to the apostles.  As we have noted today, Jesus told them to wait until this happened. (Acts 1:7-8).  As a result of this, the gospel would be spread to all nations. 
NOTE: Acts 11:15-16 where Peter is explaining why he went to the Gentiles (Cornelius) he notes that “the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 
ANOTHER possibility with this is how those who become Christians are described – Acts 2:38 we receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit”.  While perhaps not understood, in some capacity Christians receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us and influences us.  This is taught too much to ignore it! 
However, the POINT HERE is that on that occasion and the surrounding times – we see the fulfillment of prophecy! 

d.       Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… - this was a time of prophecy and spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:5-11, etc.).  Prophets were a part of revelation as the word was presented in the first century (Ephesians 3:3-5, 4:11-12, Acts 21:8-9 – the daughters of Philip prophesied, 1 Corinthians 14:1ff, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 where both men and women prophecy, BUT with an understanding of their place, etc.)

e.       Also on menservants and maidservants – available to all.  This would not be merely for the Jews, but all – including servants.  NOTE again this would include Gentiles.  I am reminded of Cornelius and his household in Acts 10:44-47, etc.)

f.         I will show wonders in the heavens and earth – many marvels surrounded those times.  Consider events associated with the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45 – darkness from 6th to 9th hours; 27:51-53 – remarkable events at the death of Jesus; Also the events associated with Pentecost – Acts 2:1-4; AND it could have reference to the coming judgment against Israel that had rejected God – Matthew 24:29-31; It is also a picture of judgment in Revelation (Rev. 6:12-14, etc.).

g.       Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord – a day of judgment.  See the notes on previous point.  Judgment is a part of God’s plan.  And there is judgment yet to come – Matthew 25:31ff, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, etc.)

h.       It shall come to pass, whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved – an invitation that will lead to ultimate deliverance – from our sins. 
Peter quotes this and the people are cut to the heart – they ask what shall we do?  Acts 2:38 – Repent and be baptized.
Romans 10:13 – a general description of one who believes and confesses.  He calls on the name of the Lord to save him.
Acts 22:16 describes HOW we do this – be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

i.         For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance – we’ve already established this.  Not mentioned in Peter’s sermon, but Peter is declaring, “right here, right now, this is happening!”    Joel ties it to this event!

 

And thus we can see how the church/kingdom were in God’s plans, even from eternity.  Throughout Israel’s history, God made it known that something better was coming.

It is also worthy of note that FOLLOWING Pentecost, both the church and kingdom are spoken of as in existence. (Church - Acts 2:47 – KJV, NKJV; Ephesians 1:22-23, 1 Cor. 1:2, Kingdom - Colossians 1:13; 4:11, Revelation 1:9, etc.).  Furthermore, every description of the kingdom can also be related to the church.  We can address this at a future time if that is desired.

As we study the church, THIS is the church we are interested in addressing.  Let us resolve to remember the church belongs to Him and we want to keep her pure both in word and deed.  Think about it.