The Door-Step Evangel

Which Came First?
Dr. Ronald L. Tottingham

It has very aptly been said that the New Testament Church is a product by and for the New Testament time, and that the New Covenant must of necessity be in force prior to this new program (church). How could the New Testament Church (of the New Covenant) be established or of force until after the Resurrection? For the resurrection was the beginning of the New Covenant through the fulfilled sacrifice of Christ. How could you have a "new program" (church) until you have the shedding of "The Blood of the Covenant," of He who is the Life and Head of a "new and living" institution? A good question and one that deserves an answer.

Here is the proof text: Hebrews 9:14-18 "(14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (16) For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. (17) For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (18) Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

What is the answer those who would hold that Christ established the first Church during His personal ministry upon earth would give? For the period of Christ's life upon earth was before the Testator (He Himself) had died and the New Covenant was NOT in force yet. The answer is simple enough. None who accurately follow the Bible believes that the New Testament Church is "of force" until after the resurrection. Even Christ still went to the temple and told others to do so until after the resurrection.

Some have become so "churchy" that they likely have put an "idolatry of the Church" above rightly dividing of the Truth. Then again, where does the Bible say the New Testament did not begin until after Jesus' resurrection? The Bible itself shows us the New Testament beginning with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John 1:1. ("The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God...) Hebrews nine only states that the covenant of the Levitical ordinances lasted until the true Blood of Christ was shed, then Abraham's Covenant, or the "Covenant of Faith" was mediated in full. Temporary price (animal blood) allowed only temporary covering of sin, but the true price (Christ's Blood) allowed full and permanent "taking away" of sin. Thus, allowing God to complete His promises in full to His people.

The New Testament Church was begun by Christ (future sense - to begin now and on into the future) so it could be completed for service when it (the first church or Mother) was baptized into the Holy Spirit as the New Testament "House of God" (I Timothy 3:15 "...in the house of God, which is the church of the living God...") on the day of Pentecost. Just as the Old Testament Houses of God were thus baptized in Exodus 40:33-35 ("And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle") and I Kings 8:10-11 ("And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.).

However, the New Testament House of God was to be built of "human stones" (I Peter 2:5, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house...") rather than rock, lumber, and cloth. "Lively stones" prepared by John the Baptist as we are told in Luke 1:17 "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias...to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" and again in Acts 1:21-22 "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.", and set by Jesus Christ as we see in Luke 6:12-16 "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor." and I Corinthians 12:28 "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles..." )

The word "ecclesia" means "called out" as a legislative body is called out by election to assemble in legislative form, or to assemble out together. God's Church (Churches) is assembling now and serving for reward soon. The New Testament Church could not be ready for service at its "baptism" at Pentecost unless it was built, or "framed," prior. Who ever heard of moving into a house (the Holy spirit moved upon and into the church at Pentecost) without a floor, frame and more? How could 3000 have been added as we are told in Acts 2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls," to something not yet framed?

How then could the church begin before the New Covenant began? By being built of the Master Himself during His own personal ministry upon earth. then when He died as Testator of the New Covenant, His church of the New Testament (covenant) was ready and waiting to be "baptized" by the Holy Spirit and begin its ordained service.

The Door-Step Evangel is published in the interests of Evangelism and information as a Church paper, sincerely devoted to the cause of Jesus Christ. We are in favor of everything that is right and opposed to everything that is wrong.

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