IDENTIFYING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
In the religious world today there is so much confusion until multitudes do not know what to believe. The confusion is not from God, but from man. Paul wrote, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (I Corinthians 14:33). One can eliminate the confusion by going to Godís word, and accepting what He says on any subject.
Let us look now at the identity of the Lordís church. Godís prophet penned the following words concerning the coming church. "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. 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." (Isaiah 2:2-3). Let us notice some things from this passage. What was to be established? The Lordís house refers to the church. Paul wrote, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (I Timothy 3:15). The Lordís house and the house of God are the same thing, the Lordís church. Where was it to be established? The above passage says in Jerusalem. When was it to be established? The above passage said, in the last days. This is not speaking of the end of time, but of the last dispensation of time. To see the time in a clearer way we need to go to the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2 we find King Nebuchadnezzarís dream, which Daniel told the interpretation to the king. The image, in the dream, represented four kingdoms. Itís head of gold represented the Babylon Kingdom (Daniel 2:38). Itís breast and arms of silver represented the Medo-Persian King- dom. Itís belly and thighs of brass represented the Greek Kingdom. Itís feet of part iron and part clay represented the fourth kingdom, which was the Roman Kingdom. Now notice, "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." (Daniel 2:44). ďIn the days of these kingsĒ is speaking of the Roman Kings. ďShall the God of heaven set up a kingdomĒ is speaking of the church. The church is the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19).
Look at what we have: the church of the New Testament would begin in Jerusalem. It would be during the Roman Kings. It would be established by the Lord (Matthew 16:18). If your church doesnít have these identifying marks, then it is not the New Testament church. The New Testament church has Christ as its Head. ďThe churches of ChristĒ (Romans 16:16) does not refer to a denomination, but simply shows ownership. The church belongs to Christ, for He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). ---Charles E. Burch