Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

The Establishment of the Church

Religious people differ on the date of the church’s establishment. To some it matters little, being simply a theological question with little practical value. Such a point of view is short-sighted, as misconceptions regarding this question have contributed to false theories regarding the kingdom of God.

A careful study of the issue reveals two important points. 1) The church and the kingdom are one and the same. 2) The church was established on Pentecost. The importance of these two points can be seen in the refutation of Premillinial theory. Premillinial thought permeates the denominations, and has influenced some Christians as well. The theory postulates that the kingdom has yet to be established. Advocates say that Christ will come again, at a future date, and reign on David’s throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years.

At present a series of novels, called the “Left Behind” series, is on the New York Time’s Best Sellers list. The literature, though fiction, is believed by many to be plausibly based upon “Biblical teaching.” The Premillinial theory is so endemic to Protestant denominationalism that it is equated as Christian. In other words, if you are a Christian, you believe it. Of course, such is not true.

The theory does not hold water. Without debunking each point of the theory, we note how answering the simple question, “When was the church established?”, successfully denies the plausibility of premillinial thought.

The Church and the Kingdom are One and the Same!

C.R. Nichol and R.L. Whiteside, in the third volume of their Sound Doctrine series, wrote the following:

Those who try to make a distinction between church and kingdom, because the words have different meanings, are illogical. The idea of government does not reside in the Greek word ekklesia, “church.” It is applied to the people of God, because they are a body of people called out of sin into holiness of life. This body of people must have government. Being ruled by Christ the King, they are a kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:9). As a body of people called out of sin it is an ekklesia, or church; as an organism, it is the body of Christ; as a government, it is a kingdom. (Sound Doctrine, III, pg. 18).

Any perceived difficulty in reconciling the various terms is alleviated when we understand them to be words describing different aspects of our relationship with God.

  • Those belonging to Christ are a called out body. Hence a church.
  • Those belonging to Christ submit to His laws. Christ has all authority in heaven and earth, and is the King of the Jews. Hence a kingdom.
  • Those belonging to Christ are loved by Him, and occupy the same place in affection and standing that a bride does to her husband (cf. Eph. 5:5). Hence the bride of Christ.
  • Those belonging to Christ together make up a unified organism, who get their direction from the head, which is Christ (cf. Eph. 1:22-23). Hence a body.

In all cases the terms refer to the same group of people. So, the idea that the church exists now, but the kingdom does not yet exist is without merit. This is further seen in the next point.

The Church was Established on Pentecost

The Pentecost referred to is the one immediately following the ascension of Christ. Note the following points which clearly show that the church, or kingdom is now in existence, and that Premillinial theory is wrong:

  • Jesus promised the establishment of the kingdom, with power, in the lifetime of that generation (Mk. 9:1).
  • Jesus promised He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). (Not yet in existence).
  • At His ascension, Jesus renewed His promise of the establishment of the kingdom, and indicated it was imminent (Acts 1:4-8).
  • The gospel was first preached on Pentecost, and was accompanied by the power promised by Christ that would accompany the establishment of the kingdom (Acts 2:1-4; 22-40).
  • The church is first spoken of as being in existence on this day, as those who were baptized were added to it (Acts 2:47).
  • Likewise, from this point on any reference to the kingdom recognizes that it is in existence. For example, Paul affirms that Christians are translated into the Kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:130; and John affirmed that he was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9).

Conclusion

The church and kingdom is one and the same, and was established on the Pentecost following Christ’s death. Premillinial doctrine is wrong!