Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsJUST THINKING: Empowered, Not Born

JUST THINKING: Empowered, Not Born

I was just thinking how, once again, I heard it said that the church was born on the Day of Pentecost. In my opinion, and I think I can back it up by Scripture, that is erroneous. The Bible never indicates that perspective, which is steeped in Catholic tradition.

The Called Out

The Greek word used for church in the New Testament is ekklesia. It is formulated from two words which mean “called out.” The Book of Ecclesiastes is found in the Old Testament. That title is from the Greek Septuagint and has generally been translated as “The Preacher.” However, it literally comes from the Hebrew “qoheleth,” meaning “a gatherer.”

Consider this: Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost. In doing so, He began to gather His church by first calling out 12 men who followed Him for 3 years. Some say those were not the church. Then who were they? They were saved, baptized and discipled by the Lord Himself.

The Church Before Pentecost

The church was never birthed — it was gathered. Jesus spoke of the church prior to Pentecost according to Matthew’s gospel account. Jesus told Peter, “And I tell you that your are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will never overcome it” (Matt. 16:18 NIV). Some might say that was referring to the future time on Pentecost.

The foundation of the church was the apostles according to Eph. 2:20. I call your attention to Jesus’ teaching about church discipline — prior to Pentecost. The Lord, referring to a sinful brother, said: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17). This was prior to the crucifixion, the resurrection and the ascension of Christ.

An Empowered Church

As the Lord was about to ascend to Heaven, He spoke these words: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). Baptism is not a birth! We are born again before baptism, not after! Now this is important… and so often overlooked… “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven’” (John 20:21-22).

Jesus told those foundational believers whom He had gathered, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). One cannot empower that which did not previously exist.

Also, please note that, prior to Pentecost, there were more in the church than just the apostles. “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)…” (Acts 1:15). On the day of Pentecost, those came together and a miraculous empowerment took place, such has never been duplicated since. Peter preached to a crowd from everywhere but also to the church gathered that day saying, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 1:32-33).

So the church was empowered on that day, there were added to their number 3,000 souls and that continued; and the power is still evident today. One cannot add to something unless it previously existed.

The Sent Out

The “called out” were sent out on the Day of Pentecost. You don’t send a newborn out into the world. Instead, those who are sent out are those who have been called and trained (discipled) because of their experience. That is why Jesus spent three years with His church before He died on the cross.

Pentecost was a beginning all right, but it was not the beginning of the church. It was the beginning of the church obeying the Great Commission. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18-20).

On the Day of Pentecost, the church was empowered, but not born.