Identifying A New Testament Assembly
Compiled by Lonnie Ford for the Nepali Brethren
III. THE ORIGIN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ASSEMBLY
- IT WAS PURPOSED BY GOD BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH.
- God, with great wisdom and care Purposed, Planned and Ordered His glorious perpetual house.
- It was ordained with unfathomable love, to include you and me; 1 Cor. 2:9 -- "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the World, (Acts 15:18).
- God desired a vehicle -- a means or method, to reveal Himself.
- This witness needed to be visible and local so all could see.
- God has always had such an entity: the family, the tabernacle, the temple and the assembly.
The New Testament Assembly and the Gentile engrafting, though -- a mystery that was hidden throughout the Old Testament dispensation, was designed by God for our ultimate and eternal good, (Ephesians 3:1-10; Romans 11 cp. Eph. 2:4-6; 11-22; 1:3-6).
SO THE CHURCH WAS FOUNDED BY JESUS CHRIST AS HIS NEW COVENANT HOUSE.
- With God there are no surprises.
- God's promises will be fulfilled, His name will be held as a memorial.
- Jesus established the church during His Personal Ministry on Earth.
- He promised to not only build His Assembly, but also promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, (Matt. 16:18).
The scriptures confirm that Christ was faithful and built the Assembly.
- This house was a local, visible entity -- organism where God could dwell with His people.
- Through His presence in the house, it would shine as a light to the world.
- We read as recorded in Heb. 3:1-6; "Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God's house. 3 Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ was faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope."
- In these verses Paul compares and contrasts Christ and Moses.
1) We are encouraged by these verses to observe fully -- to take an extended look at Jesus.
So Christ is superior to Moses as the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant.
These thoughts were designed and set forth to show Israel that as they did trust Moses who led God's people with integrity and devotion, so much more -- they can trust Christ as the Author and Finisher of their faith under the New Covenant.
So, the Assembly is the house which Jesus built and Jesus demonstrated unwavering integrity in His human experience.
He was tempted, tested, suffered even to death on the cross yet never yielded to sin -- never fell.
2) He is set forth as the "Apostle" or one sent on a mission and the "High Priest of our Profession."
3) Moses is set forth as an outstanding leader of the Old Covenant House.
4) Jesus is set forth as the supreme figure of the New Covenant House.
- Both had one outstanding trait or characteristic, it is that they were faithful to God.
- Yet Christ is set forth as superior to Moses in the following ways:
5) In that He is 'Son over His own house' (verse 6) whereas Moses is servant (verse 5).
- When it says "Moses was faithful in all His house" it does not mean to imply that the house belonged to Moses, it belonged to God, (Cp. Numbers 12:7-8).
6) Christ built the house (verse 3-4) whereas Moses was a faithful servant and member of the house, (verse 3-5).
- Moses was faithful to God and highly favored by God.
7) Moses and all the house of which he was a part were merely a foreshadow, type, figure of which Christ was the reality and substance, (Heb. 3:5; chapters 8-9).
So Jesus is to be trusted and the house which He built is to be sought and embraced with all our heart.
We are members of that house, only as "we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," (Heb. 3:6).
JESUS BUILT THE HOUSE BEFORE THE CROSS AND THEREFORE IT IS PRE-PENTECOSTAL.
- No, He never turned back and never gave up, but was faithful to the end.
- The apostles were "set in the assembly" before Pentecost as the very first of the various "spirituality's" designed for the development of the assembly to maturity, (1 Cor. 12:28).
Christ sent the twelve on a limited commission, (Matt. 10:5-15; Luke 6:13).
- This is recorded as having taken place almost two years before the completion of Jesus' earthly ministry, (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16).
Rules of discipline, designed to maintain the purity of the assembly, were given before Pentecost, (Matt. 18:15-18).
- Later He sent 70 on a similar mission, (Luke 10:1-24).
The Lord established the New Covenant with His assembly, (Heb. 8:5-13; 9:12-18; Matt. 26:26-28; 18:15-18).
The Ordinances (Baptism and the Lords Supper) were given to the assembly before Pentecost, (Matt. 28:18-20; Matt. 26:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; etc).
The Lord gave to the Assembly the Great Commission, (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Luke 24:46-48).
- Christ also taught the disciples in Matt. 18 concerning the government of the assembly, (cp. John 20:23).
The Holy Spirit was promised to it in a special, abiding capacity before Pentecost, (John 14-16).
And Christ sang in the midst of the assembly before Pentecost (Heb. 2:12; Matt. 26:30), in fulfillment of Psalms 22:22.
Christ had His bride before the cross, John 3:29 -- The faithful of the Assembly will make up His bride, (2 Cor. 11:2).
Christ had His house before the cross, Mark 13:34 -- The Assembly is His house, (1 Tim. 3:15).
Christ had His flock before the cross, Luke 12:32 -- The Assembly is His flock, (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
- The Commission summarizing the church's responsibility was given before Pentecost, (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
- How can we know this was His assembly?
- Because He promised to be with them all the days to the end of the World (age), (Matt. 28:18-20).
- He could have said this only to an entity, organism or institution that would live on after the decease of the Apostles who were gathered together with Him on that occasion.