There is no way I can fully explain divine history. God is infinite and He transcends both time and space. Our finite minds will never fully comprehend divine history. But I can seek to explain human history from God’s perspective. That is the purpose of this series.
We’ve looked at 1) salvation is the same throughout history; 2) Scripture must be interpreted by a literal historico-grammatical approach and 3) God’s promises given to Israel in the Old Testament were unconditional and yet to be fulfilled. This segment briefly explains the beginning and time of the church.
The church began after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 2. God’s organization of the church in Acts 2 established the beginning of the Bride of Christ, which will be raptured to heaven for the wedding supper of the Lamb. The first usage of the word “church” is found in Matt 16:18 where Jesus promises that He will [future] build His church. It is future tense meaning that the church had not yet started.
Some people say the church began in Abraham’s tent. The Jewish nation began with Abraham, but not the church. The Jewish nation began with God’s covenant to Abraham called the Abrahamic Covenant. This has yet to be fulfilled and will be fulfilled when the Lord returns at the Second Advent.
Some people say the church replaces Israel. Any person who trusts in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross becomes a part of the Body of Christ. There is no difference of race in the Body of Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal. 3:28). But racial Jews will continue to live scattered around the world during the Church Age. They were broken off from the root (Rom. 11:19). However, sometime in the future, at the conclusion of the Church Age, the nation of Israel will be grafted back in (Rom. 11: 24-26). The grafting process begins shortly after the rapture of the church, during the Tribulation and will be seen in its healing fullness at the Second Advent.
It’s interesting that the last mention of the word “church” is in Revelation 3. That is because the church is raptured to heaven (1 Thes. 4:13-17) for the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9). The church, the Bride of Christ, will be joined to Jesus and the Lord ushers in the Millennial rule at the Second Advent (Zech. 14:4-11; Rev. 20:1-6).
The church is a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). Israel was family of God; the church is royal family of God, because it is the Bride of the King of Kings.
How then should we live? Holy, with fervency and always seeking to depend solely on the Lord’s Word by His Spirit. We should live with a focus on eternity rather than any kind of attachment to the world. We should live as royal ambassadors trying to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the church.
The fifth segment addresses the background of the completed canon of Scripture.