In 536 BC while Daniel was alive in Babylon, the first of the four mentioned kingdoms fell. Following this, history records that Persia and Media combined and established a government that is identified as the second of the kingdoms mentioned in Daniel 2. The Persian Empire continued until 330, when its parts were absorbed into the Macedonian Kingdom following the death of Alexander. The heirs of four of Alexander’s generals, Lysimacchus, Pompeius, Cassander and Seleucus controlled the bulk of the Middle East, Europe and Africa. This kingdom continued until they were defeated and absorbed into the Roman Empire by 34 BC.
Now we have identified the four succeeding kingdoms from the OT prophesies and within history, starting with the Babylonian. To solidify this — three of the four are mentioned by name in the book of Daniel. The lone exception is Rome.
About sixty years beyond the last date above, the Bible records that John the Baptist came calling on the people of Israel to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This expression implied that the coming singular kingdom of God had moved close to its establishment. After John was put in prison, Jesus began teaching that the kingdom of heaven was “at hand.” As recorded in Mark 9:1, soon Jesus stated to the Apostles, “…assuredly I say to you there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Therefore, the kingdom of heaven, the church Jesus would establish, would be coming soon and “with power.” And there were some alive among the disciples and apostles who would not die until it would be established.
In Luke 24:49 the instructions to the Twelve were clear, “but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
At this point, we need to ask: “When did the power come and how may we know when these things took place?”
In Acts 1:6 – a question of the Apostles and its answer was recorded prior to Jesus’ death: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, saying, “Lord, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?” And he said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
What exactly has been identified to this point? First, we know that the Kingdom of God, the one that Christ came to establish, was to come with power. Second, we read that the power was to come through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, Christ said his Apostles would be overwhelmed with the power of the Holy Spirit when this took place. Now, only one question remains unanswered: When did the Holy Spirit come?
Despite what some may teach or hold to — at this point we should look at the first four verses of Acts 2: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat on each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
A multitude of believing Jews were later present in the Temple court. And the Bible states that the Holy Spirit that had descended on the twelve Apostles was present there on this Pentecost day, exactly fifty-three days past the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The record states that power came along with this “pouring out” or baptism of the Holy Spirit. This took place exactly as Jesus had stated how, where and when that his kingdom would be established. That day Peter used the figurative keys that had been granted him and unlocked the doors to the Kingdom of heaven – the Church of Christ. The terms of admission, including immersion in water, were also announced beginning that same morning. Peter quoted Joel 2 in effect appealing to the only prophecy in the OT that specifically mentioned the outpouring of the Holy Spirit “upon all flesh… and upon your sons and daughters…”
Four questions now arise. Can we locate a church which follows the given pattern, teaching and observing what the Bible teaches? Which Church does only what Jesus commanded, and what his Apostles and disciples taught and recorded for us to do? Which church should we be looking for to the exclusion of all others? And finally, where do you believe you should be gathering and worshipping on the first day of the week?
Paul wrote to Timothy, “…that you might know how to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
I have appealed to both the biblical record and history. And, for us today — we should be looking for the church that follows the pattern given within the New Testament scriptures, teaching and observing all the things Christ commanded. And if it follows those examples and patterns, what should that assembly be called?
Answer: the Church of Christ. The one assembly that was established by Jesus.