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Discovery Magazine 1/1/2002

The Birthday of the Church

[Open your Bibles to Acts 2]

Hundreds of years before the church was established, men of God prophesied its coming. Prophets like Isaiah, Micah, Daniel, and others foretold the establishment of the church. They taught that the “house of God” (the church—1 Timothy 3:15) would be established in Jerusalem in the days of the kings of the Roman Empire (Isaiah 2:2-3; Daniel 2:31-49).

We know that the church (also known in the Bible as the “kingdom”—Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:2,13) still had not yet been established when John the Baptizer was living because he taught “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). “At hand” means that the church would be established in the near future. Jesus taught the same truth when He was on the Earth. After John the Baptizer was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee and taught that “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). According to Jesus, the establishment of the church was drawing near. It had not been established yet, but Jesus promised it would come and that some who heard Him preach would not die until they had seen the establishment of the church (Matthew 16:18; Mark 9:1).

This may come as a surprise, but the church was not established until after Jesus died on the cross, rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven. The Bible reveals that shortly after Jesus returned to heaven, many people were visiting Jerusalem because it was an important Jewish occasion (the Day of Pentecost). Thousands of these visitors heard Peter preach a powerful sermon about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and he convinced them that Jesus was the Son of God (read Acts 2:14-37). On that day approximately 3,000 people believed Peter, obeyed his commands, and were added to the Lord’s church. 

Before the events recorded in Acts 2, you never read where the church had been established. It was spoken of only in the future tense. However, after the events of Acts 2 and throughout the rest of the Bible, the church is referred to as already having been established.   

On Pentecost, almost 2,000 years ago, the church of Christ was born. It was not the result of some accident. It did not stumble into existence by chance. Rather, the Lord’s church was in God’s mind before the world ever was created (Ephesians 3:8-11). And just like the prophets foretold, it began in Jerusalem in the days of the Roman Empire and rapidly spread throughout the world.

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*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

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