The Lord Jesus Christ guaranteed the continuance of His church forever when He said, "...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matt 28:20).
Even without the testimony of history the Word of God alone proves that there has been a succession of like minded churches from the time of the Lord Jesus Christ till now. However, I hope to use both the Bible and the testimony of history to prove this fact.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH:
The Lord established His church during His earthly sojourn. That the church began at Pentecost is a common error that has been taught extensively for over 100 years. The Lord empowered His already established church to do His work on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5, 8; Luke 24:46-49). The New Testament church is rather local and visible. Here is Scriptural proof that the New Testament church predates Pentecost:
1. The apostles were the first members of
Christ's church (1 Cor 12:28; Luke 6:12-16).
2. They were commissioned before Pentecost
(Matt 9:36-10:8, 28:18-20).
3. The ordinances of baptism and the Lord's
Supper were already in place before
Pentecost. (John 3:22; Luke 22:14-20).
4. The Lord set a system in place for the
NT church to discipline members before
Pentecost (Matt 18:15-20).
5. The church that the Lord Jesus started fit
the common definition of the Greek word
(ekklesia) which is translated "church."
To the Greek of Christ's day "ekklesia"
simply meant "an assembly or gathering
of citizens called out from their homes
and convened in the public place for the
purpose of deliberating." It means an
6. The church had 2 pastors prior to the
day of Pentecost: Christ and then Peter
(John 10:11, 14, 21:15-17; Acts 1:15,
2:14; 1 Pet 5:1-4).
7. The church assembled regularly
before Pentecost (John 20:19, 26; Acts
1:4, 13, 14).
8. Christ's gave His assembly ability to
understand His Word and authority to
carry out His will on earth before Pentecost
(John 16:13-14, 20:21-23; Luke 21:44-47)
9. They had a church roll of 120 names before
Pentecost (Acts 1:15).
10. On the day of Pentecost 3000 souls were
added to them (the church) (Acts 1:41).
The church had to already be established
in order for it to be added to.
CONFUSION ABOUT WHAT THE CHURCH IS:
Even though it is true that believers of this Age, both living and dead, are seated "together in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph 2:6) we will not physically assemble until the Rapture. A church that has never assembled is not a church yet. That is the church in prospect (Eph 1:21-23, 5:23-27; Col 1:18-22 ). Christ's future church in Heaven will be made up of all the saved of this Church Age (Rev 1:19, 4:1). However, there is no such thing as either a universal (catholic) visible or invisible church on this earth.
New Testament Baptists Have Always Been The True Church:
Most, even Baptists themselves, believe the Baptists are Protestants. However, Baptists predate both the Roman Catholic system and the Protestant groups.
The Roman Catholic "Church" was started by the Roman Emperor Constantine almost 300 years to late to be Christ's church. This corrupt system teaches baptismal regeneration, idolatry, marries the church with the state, has a hierarchy, and persecutes true believers, etc., etc.
Protestant groups seeing the corruption of Romanism began to separate from it in the 1530's. That's 1,500 years to late to be the Lord's Church. In spite of this separation they retained many of the traits of their mother church (Job 14:4).
MARKS OF A NEW TESATAMENT CHURCH:
Historically New Testament churches have always held these doctrines (Matt 28:20):
1. It's Head and Founder -- Christ. (Matt 16:18;
Eph 1:22, 4:15, 5:23)
2. It's only Rule of Faith and Practice -- The
Bible (II Tim 3:15-17; Acts 2:41-42; 1 Tim 3:15)
3. It's Name: "Church", "Churches" (Matt 16:18
Rev 2, 3; 22:16; Gal 1:1)
4. It's Form of Government -- Congregational
(John 20:23; Matt 18:17, 20:25-27; Acts
1:24-26, 6:3; Rev 2:6)
5. It's Members -- Only Saved people and only
people who of their own free will and accord
united with that Congregation (Eph 2:21
I Pet 2:5; Acts 2:41; Eph 2:8,9).
6. It's ordinances -- Believer's Baptism, followed
by the Lord's Supper (Matt 28:19-20; Acts
7. It's Officers -- Pastors and Deacons (I Tim
3:1-16; Phil 1:1)
8. It's Work -- Getting folks saved through the
preaching of the gospel (I Cor 15:1-4);
baptizing them; and teaching them to observe
all things that Christ commanded (Matt
9. It's Financial Plan -- Tithes and Offerings.
(I Cor 9:14; Mal 3:8-10; Matt 23:23; I Cor
16:1,2; II Cor 8:14)
10. It's Independence -- Separation of church and
state (Matt 22:21)