|Volume 22 Number 9 September 2020||
The church originated in the mind of the infinitely wise God. Man could not have created such an institution. Jeremiah proclaimed, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). After sitting at the Lord’s feet for perhaps three a half years, His chosen apostles still did not understand the idea of the establishment of the church. In ignorance they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). He answered, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). When the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2:1-4), they with one accord began preaching the Gospel and baptized the multitudes, and the “Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The establishment of the church was not dependent upon the wisdom of men. The apostles preached only what was given to them by the Holy Spirit. The church was established on the first Pentecost after the death of Christ. Churches such as Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc. have much later dates of establishment. What conclusion must be reached in light of this information? These churches and all others with like dates of establishment cannot be the true church of Christ about which one reads in the New Testament.
Furthermore, the church was designed and built by that great Architect, Jesus the Christ. He stated, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock [Peter’s rock-bed confession of faith — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Matthew 16:16] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The wise man wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Just as it is the case with the establishment date, so also with its builder. If a church was built or established by man, it cannot be the true church of Christ!
Additionally, the church must have been established in Jerusalem. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “…For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3b). Acts 2, that great hub of the Bible, records the place of establishment to indeed be Jerusalem. Present day denominational churches have been established in a multitude of places, including the United States. What, then, are we to conclude about these churches? They cannot be the true church of Christ, about which one reads in the New Testament!
The original church, established by authority from God (Matthew 28:18), on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s death, built by the Son of God (Matthew 16:18) in Jerusalem, was given everything necessary for its existence and perpetuation. Peter wrote, “as His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge [Bible] of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). The church is “complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). The church is indeed divine in origin!
Like the Sadducees
The Sadducees were one of the Jewish sects in the New Testament. They, along with the Pharisees, originated in the intertestamental period. They were not as large a group as the Pharisees, but they did wield a great influence upon the people. In the early history of the Pharisees and Sadducees, a great rivalry existed between them as to from which group one would claim the office of High Priest. The Sadducees won control. However, because of their opposing teachings, the rivalry did not end.
The Sadducees, in spite of their relationship with the priesthood and the Temple, must be considered as extremely liberal in their teachings. They differed from the Pharisees in the things they believed and taught. Let’s notice some of these things.
The Sadducees denounced the resurrection, angels and spirit. “ …Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts 23:8). “The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection…” (Matthew 22:23). There are references in the Old Testament to angels, spirit and resurrection (Genesis 16:7; Exodus 23:20; Psalm 31:5; 49:15; 104:4; Ecclesiastes 12:7). Therefore, the Sadducees did not believe what was set forth in the Old Testament.
They discarded the oral traditions of the Pharisees. The Sadducees demanded that only the written Law (Pentateuch) was authoritative and they rejected oral traditions of the Pharisees. This, of course, conflicted with the teaching of the Pharisees who taught that God had given both the written and the oral law. We must discard anything that is in opposition to God’s Will and demand only what the Lord has authorized should be accepted (Colossians 3:17).
They denied what the Scriptures taught about the soul, punishment and reward. They neither believed the soul continued to exist after death nor that people would suffer punishment or receive reward after death. They believed that punishment and reward was in this life only. We must accept what the Bible teaches about the soul, punishment and reward (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 16:24-27; 25:31-46).
They demonstrated deism in their words and way of life. They believed that God was neither too interested in man’s life nor too concerned about one doing good or refraining from evil. The Bible teaches God has always been concerned about what man does, how he lives and the condition of his soul. That’s why, beginning with Adam and Eve, God has always had a plan for mankind. God is so concerned that He demands obedience to His Law (Ecclesiastes 12:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; James 1:21-22).
They determined to discredit the proclaimers of truth. In this way, they were much like the Pharisees (Matthew 22:23-33; Acts 4:1-4). Even on occasion, the Sadducees and Pharisees overlooked their differences to join forces in attacking Christ (Matthew 16:1).
Today, there are those who are determined to discredit the proclaimers of the Truth any way they can. When the Truth is hitting too close to home and the Truth cannot be answered, some will then attack the attitudes and motives of the faithful proclaimer by accusing one of being too harsh and unloving. What a shame! Today there are still some Sadducees, at least in belief and practice!