By Brad Harrub, Ph.D
One of the questions that plagues both believers and non-believers is “Where did I come from?” Deep down we really want to know about our origins. The story commonly recounted by evolutionists is that everything can be explained by naturalistic causes, and thus humans are the result of changes in nature over eons of time. Ultimately, they would point back to the Big Bang as the instigator that kicked off this evolutionary sequence of events.
While that may read well in textbooks, and may even be accompanied by pretty cosmological pictures or a diagram of the evolutionary tree of life, the fact remains that this naturalistic explanation has far too many holes. It is not logical. Where, for instance, did all of the matter for the universe originate? How does one get an ordered universe from a cosmologic explosion? And how exactly can evolution explain the origin of males and females, keeping in mind that whatever alleged organism we evolved from had to be able to reproduce asexually as it was evolving separate males and female parts? Simply put, this theory demands an enormous amount of faith—as the evidence does not support it.
A better, more logical explanation is that man came from God—that the creation account in Genesis 1 is an accurate description of our origins. We know man exists today, and we know something cannot come from nothing. Therefore man must be the product of an eternal God. In fact, if you were to step back away from the issue of “man’s origin,” it becomes clear that everything must have originated from God—even the church.
Jesus Christ: The Firm Foundation
So how about the church? We know it exists today—so where did it come from? If the church was in God’s plan from the beginning, then obviously His church has origins all the way back to God. Remember God had a plan to save men from the beginning. That plan was based on Jesus Christ acting as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind and conquering death. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church. Paul declared:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11, emp. added).
Without Him and His resurrection, there would be no need to worship. In that same letter Paul wrote, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty… And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:14,17). Clearly Christ is at the center of our answer regarding the origin of the church.
But where did the church actually come from? Evolutionists claim that man stood uprightly and first walked across the plains of Africa. They contend that this was the location of man’s origins. If we were to try to pinpoint the location for the origin of the church, where would that pin reside?
Christ, speaking in Luke 24:46-47, said: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Quite simply, Christ informed us that the church was to begin in Jerusalem (remember the prophecy given in Isaiah 2:1-4?; see also Zechariah 8:3). The beginning of the church can be traced all the way back to Peter’s first sermon that he preached on the Day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 2). Thus, any church that had its origins in America, England, or any other place beside Jerusalem and was not founded during the lifetime of individuals who walked with Jesus (Mark 9:1) is not the church being discussed by Christ. Recall the words of David in Psalm 127:1 when he wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
The origin of man did not start in some primordial soup in Africa. It started in the Garden of Eden, with a man and woman named Adam and Eve. If you believe that, and recognize the importance of that, then you will also realize the foundation of the church started in Jerusalem and is founded on Jesus Christ. Any other option does not agree with God’s Word. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church—if your church is founded on anything else, then you need to find a different church!
Jesus Christ: The Only Founder
I love the apostle Peter. I think the reason I love him so much is that in many ways he reminds me of myself—occasionally very brash, sticking his foot in his mouth, and all too often showing that he is just another frail human. But occasionally he gets it right! Really right. Jesus asked the question:
“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? ”So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16).
In this instance, Peter nailed it!
After Peter recognized Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus proclaimed: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, emp. added). The word “My” is possessive—meaning this will be the church that Jesus builds and that belongs to Him.
Consider for a moment if you belonged to a group known as “The People’s Church.” How does that fit in with the reality that Jesus built a church and it belongs to Him? If it is His possession, wouldn’t you want to be included in it? The time has come for many people to take a sobering look at where they worship and ask themselves, “Am I a member of His church or am I a member of a church founded by men that belongs to men?”
God or Man—Who Adds You?
When I was a young boy, I can remember sitting on hard wooden pews listening as the preacher announced new families who wanted to “join the church.” This happy occasion was often combined with a formal oath that was given to the family before they were officially admitted: “Will you be loyal to the Xxxx Xxxx Church and uphold it by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service?”
As we consider the concept of “origins,” the question arises, from whence did this oath originate? Having read Acts 2, this ritual and belief system seem alien to me today. The last verse of this chapter leaves little doubt as to how one obtains membership to the church. “…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). One does not “join the church,” but rather one is added to it by Almighty God. Look at that passage again—it is there, but for many years I had never given it much thought.
A close inspection of Acts 2 reveals that this notion of “joining a church” is not found in the Bible. We learn in verse 5: “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven”—indicating that the events taking place were occurring in Jerusalem. Verse 14 states: “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ‘Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.’” Peter thus had begun to preach the first Gospel sermon in Jerusalem. Verse 41 indicates: “They that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Three thousand people! Can you imagine the joy and the excitement on that occasion? Verses 46-47 inform us: “They, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
If you are considering the origins of the church, this concept of the “Lord adding” should make sense. It was in the plan before the creation of the world. The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ and He serves as the Founder. He built His church. It is God alone who can add us to that church. We cannot just arbitrarily select to “join” His church. Consider what would happen if we didn’t hold to His Truths and His commands?! It is only after we comply in obedience to Him that we find ourselves as eligible candidates for Him to add us into the church.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he observed, “But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15, emp. added). The church belongs to God and is the pillar and ground of Truth! Just as man has a true and logical origin, so does the church. Man was created by God to serve His purpose. Likewise, so was the church. Men who would fight tooth and nail against alleged fossil men will blindly embrace a church whose origins do not fit the Bible. Isn’t it time we find the right foundation, founder, and membership?