In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” This “rock” upon which the Lord promised to construct His church was His own deity, or the fact that He (Jesus) was the Christ, the son of God. Upon this firm foundation, Jesus promised to erect both a physical and spiritual Kingdom, with Himself as the “chief cornerstone.”
However, it wasn’t until about a year later, on the Day of Pentecost in the year 30 A.D., that this “construction” was begun and the church brought into being. On this day the Apostle Peter stood up before several thousand of the Jews in Jerusalem, and presented to them the fact that they had murdered their Messiah.
In response to this accusation, the Scripture records:
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the Apostles, “Friends, what are we to do?” , Repent, – said Peter -, repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38).
Later in this 2nd chapter of Acts, Luke records that “day by day the Lord added to their number those whom He was saving” (Acts 2:47). This was the original church of Christ.
As to the doctrines or beliefs of the early church, they included such things as the deity of Christ, the necessity for living the Christian life, and the promise of eternal life for the faithful believer.
Its ordinances were two in number:
- The immersion (baptism) of the penitent believer in water, for the remission of sins, and
- The weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.
According to the Scriptures, there were several names given to this body of believers, both, as individuals and collectively, but prominent among these were two. In the latter part of Acts 11:26, it is recorded that “It was in Antioch that the disciples first got the name of Christians” And in Romans 16:16 we read, “All the churches of Christ greet you” (N.A.S.V.). The term “Christian church” is also often used because it can readily apply as a collective name for the entire body of believers.
This, then, is the New Testament Church-pure and simple. It was organized at the command of Christ, and under the direction of His Spirit-directed Apostles. Its teachings, doctrines, and ordinances, free from all pomp and ritual, were plainly revealed within the pages of God’s Word.