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Christianity Under Fire

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For one to say that the 'body of Christ' existed prior to the inclusion of the Gentiles and the grace of God is like a coroner saying that he is examining a body when in fact all he has is an arm and a telescope to examine it with.

Cynthia, thanks for responding. I am always amazed at how intimidated and silent Christians can become when it comes to responding to important questions like these.

Thanks for shining your light.

Cynthia means 'Light Bringer'

Many on the Internet have made some good arguments for different starting points for the church, but if we are to see the church as more than a Jewish assembly, more specificly 'the body of Christ', then I agree with you that we need to go past Acts Two.

Cynthia says: "Great question! I cannot say that it was when Jesus was talking to Peter in Matthew 16, for He said, "upon this rock I will build my church". I take this to mean that the church is not built yet, but will be soon! ...I do have to disagree with anyone who thinks that Peter was the first Pope and therefore the beginning of the first catholic church. When Jesus spoke to Peter, He was actually meaning what Peter had said and believed as what the church would be built on; not Peter the person. Anyway, that's my two cents worth."

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChristianityUnderFire/message/919

bj responds:

The following quote says:

"In Matthew 16:18 the Lord Jesus said, "I WILL build My Church." The future tense of the verb indicates, that the building of the church had not yet begun when Jesus said these words. He did not say, "I have built My church." He did not say, "I am building My church." No, the building project had not yet begun and thus the Church was yet future. At the time Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 16:18 the church had not yet begun."

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/dispen/begin.htm

Cynthia, the Catholics have built their idea of church on this passage which is future tense and was just Jewish.

The Catholics might be closer (not close) to the truth, if the church is now only Jewish but it isn't.

Cynthia says: "I also don't think that it was in Acts 2 either, for this had to do with only Jews and Israel."

bj:

This same article says that the church began in Acts Two because that is the first time Jewish believers were baptized in the spirit in fulfillment of 1 Corinthians.

"The key passage on Spirit baptism is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13-'For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.' The 'ONE BODY' spoken of in this verse refers to the CHURCH (see 1 Cor. 12:27-28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:30-32; Col. 1:18), the Body of which Christ is the Head. Spirit baptism is defined in 1 Corinthians 12:13 as that work of God whereby believers are baptized (immersed, placed) into Christ’s body, the church. How then does a believer become a member of the body of Christ? It is by Spirit baptism. The key to when the Church began is this: If we can determine when Spirit baptism first began, then we will know when the church began. When did God first baptize believers into His body? When were believers first placed into the body of Christ? To answer this is to determine the day on which the church began."

However, along with you I disagree with Acts Two as the starting point.

The reception of the spirit by only Jews in Acts Two was different from and didn't include Gentiles. (Acts 10:44-48)

Also real Christians today better not be proclaiming what Peter did in Acts Two when he said, "36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Notice it says 'all the house of Israel' which means none of the tribes are lost geographically.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. " (Acts 2)

Notice that they had to:

1) Repent

2) Be baptized in the name of Jesus,

before they could receive the Holy Spirit. If one is going to say that this is where the church, more specifically the body of Christ began then they should be preaching what the United Pentecostals, Catholics and the Church of Christ are teaching which is baptism for salvation.

Notice the difference between this and how the Gentiles later on were baptized in the spirit. (Acts 10:44-48)

I have not come to a final conclusion on this but you raised a point that I had never considered before when you said,

"I do however, think that it was sometime before, during or shortly after Acts 10; for it says that this is when people of The Way were first called Christians and really, it wasn't until Paul came on the scene (well into the latter part of Acts) that there was any mention of the word church; mainly just synogogues.... "

Peter similar to Jonah did preach under duress to the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48), and their reception of the Spirit did not happen the same way as with the Jews before them, Acts eleven also brings up some interesting points.

It says: "They then who had been scattered abroad through the tribulation that took place on the occasion of Stephen, passed through [the country] to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one but to Jews alone. Act 11:20 But there were certain of them, Cyprians and Cyrenians, who entering into Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, announcing the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus. Act 11:21 And [the] Lord's hand was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Act 11:22 And the report concerning them reached the ears of the assembly which was in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go through as far as Antioch: Act 11:23 who, having arrived and seeing the grace of God, rejoiced, and exhorted all with purpose of heart to abide with the Lord; Act 11:24 for he was a good man and full of [the] Holy Spirit and of faith; and a large crowd [of people] were added to the Lord. Act 11:25 And he went away to Tarsus to seek out Saul. Act 11:26 And having found [him], he brought him to Antioch. And so it was with them that for a whole year they were gathered together in the assembly and taught a large crowd: and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." (Acts 11, Darby)

These scriptures bring up some interesting points:

1) Some went to Jews only, 'speaking the word to no one but to Jews alone.'

2) 'But there were certain of them, Cyprians and Cyrenians, who entering into Antioch spoke to the Greeks also'

Some say that these Greeks or Grecians in other translations are really Jews, I now believe this to be true. These were Greek speaking Jews.

3) They sent Barnabas, when those in Jerusalem heard about this, 'they sent out Barnabas to go through as far as Antioch who, having arrived and seeing the grace of God, rejoiced, and exhorted all with purpose of heart to abide with the Lord; '

4) Here is the first reference to the 'grace of God' in the book of Acts and it is related to Grecians.

5) Barnabas was seeking Paul who he would eventually join up with. The apostle Paul is the apostle of the grace of God , to 'the Gentiles' (Acts 20:24-32), and had the whole counsel of God.

6) Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch, which seems to be the new headquarters for the body of Christ, 'having found [him], he brought him to Antioch '

AND

"Act 13:1 Now there were in Antioch, in the assembly which was [there], prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen, foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. Act 13:2 And as they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me now Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.

Act 13:3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and having laid [their] hands on them, they let [them] go.

Proves where they were sent out from (Antioch) by the Holy Spirit who says, 'I' , thereby proving that He is a person.

7) As you pointed out, this is where the disciples are first called Christians at this new headquarters (Acts 11), 'the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch '

This chapter along with Acts Ten, Thirteen and Fourteen seem to show that this new thing which, 'kept secret since the world began ' (Romans 16:25) was a process that didn't entirely happen in one event.

Maybe the start of the church, more specifically the 'Body of Christ' happened in steps which included Acts Ten and 13:46-14ff.

If Paul didn't start something new, why did he say:

" Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, " (Romans 16:25)

AND

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon." (Romans 16)

Even though the Jerusalem church recognized the ministry and message of Paul, they still concluded that Paul should go to the Gentiles while they went to the Jews. (Galatians 2:8,9; Acts 15)

Why is that if the programs were the same?

When one recognizes two programs in the New Testament, then things clear up.

Though Jewish Christians were instrumental in a limited way in reaching out to Gentiles, the apostle Paul was specifically the progenitor of this new thing which involved the mysteries/Two Becoming One. (1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 1:26)

If one looks at the common thread of all the mysteries preached by Paul, they will see that they involve 'Two Becoming One', whether it be God manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), Christ and the Church, Husband and Wife (Ephesians 5:32), Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2: 14-17; )

A Jewish assembly without Gentiles (Acts Two), may be considered a church/Jewish assembly but is not the body of Christ because a 'body' entails diversity in unity, Two become One, Jew united with Gentile and prior to Acts Ten that didn't exist.

Certain conditions must be met before Two can become One..God Made Flesh, guilt of all involved, Diversity, Faith,

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1)

Notice, that the indwelling Christ, which includes Gentiles is what constitutes the mystery and the body of Christ, which is one of the mysteries.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.' Two Become One' (Ephesians 5:32)

For one to say that the 'body of Christ' existed prior to the inclusion of the Gentiles and the grace of God is like a coroner saying that he is examining a body when in fact all he has is an arm and a telescope to examine it with.

Yes, the beginning of the church was about the indwelling Christ, but it wasn't until some time after Acts Two that this included the Gentiles and salvation was purely by the grace of God.

There is no evidence of the Body of Christ even being prophesied about in the Old Testament.

A Body requires Jew and Gentile first being guilty before God not Gentiles only being blessed through Israel.

The OT spoke of the Jews being commanded to be a light to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 43:10), but Israel failed, put the body of Christ on a tree, proved they were no better than the Gentile, and through faith the body consisting of Jew and Gentile was born. (Acts 13:46)

This is why it is no longer to the Jew first.

This is also one major reason the body of Christ cannot be confused with Israel prior to or after this present time.

Thanks Cynthia for bringing Acts Eleven to my attention.

"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two,(Jew and Gentile) thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we (Jew and Gentile) both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, (Not Just Peter) with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." (Ephesians 2; NIV)

Also check out:

Peter and Paul as Builders:

http://geocities.com/protestantscot/ttd/chapter8.html

BJ Maxwell 1/29/2006

Revised 07/13/2006

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