When did the Church Start?

Yahweh called your name, ‘A leafy olive tree, beautiful with fine fruit.’ With the sound of a great storm he will set fire to it, and its branches will be good for nothing. And Yahweh of hosts, the one who planted you, has spoken evil against you,
because of the evil of the house of Israel and the house of Judah, that they have done to themselves, to provoke me to anger by making smoke offerings to Baal.”

Jeremiah 11:16–17 (LEB)

I was part of a thread on Twitter this week discussing the start of the church, Paul and what Christians in the twenty-first century are supposed to believe. There are actually people that believe Paul is the only one in scripture we are to listen to, and that the rest of scripture was not written for us. This includes the gospels. The gospels are not the gospel for us because we are supposedly in a different dispensation that started sometime after the cross. At least the people I was twittering with knew what they believed, and I was able to interact with people that actually are hyper-dispensationlist. They were hyper-dispensationlist, but argued that dispensationalism didn’t exist as a form of theology, it was the only way to read scripture. I guess most religions or cults claim their way is the only way and there is an inherent fear to explore any other possibilities.

Paul changed his view on scripture after encountering the Messiah on the road to Damascus. He viewed scripture one way and was murdering people who thought differently, then he realized he was wrong. He then went and tried to convince people that thought like he did previously and people from different religious backgrounds in his new found way to understand scripture. Some were willing to search the scripture and see if what Paul was saying was true, and others mocked and ridiculed him.

Acts 17:10–12 (LEB)

10 Now the brothers sent away both Paul and Silas at once, during the night, to Berea. They went into the synagogue of the Jews when they arrived. 11 Now these were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. They accepted the message with all eagerness, examining the scriptures every day to see if these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and not a few of the prominent Greek women and men.

I can understand random strangers on Twitter not paying any attention to someone like myself, who is presenting the idea that the whole word of God is true and applicable for all believers today, completely antithetical to their belief system. I have a hard time understanding people who have known me for decades in the church not being curious at all as to how I went from a dispensational Baptist-Pentecostal to someone who embraces the entirety of scripture now.

Acts 22:1–8 (LEB)

“Men—brothers and fathers—listen to my defense to you now!” And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Aramaic language, they became even more silent. And he said, “I am a Jewish man born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the exactness of the law received from our fathers, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, tying up and delivering to prison both men and women, as indeed the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me, from whom also I received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and was traveling there to lead away those who were there also tied up to Jerusalem so that they could be punished. “And it happened that as I was traveling and approaching Damascus around noon, suddenly a very bright light from heaven flashed around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene whom you are persecuting.’

So, when did the church begin? Many believe it started at the event described in Acts chapter two at Pentecost. Some think that Pentecost is called “Pentecost” because that is when the disciples in the upper room were given the holy Spirit and spoke in other languages.

Acts 2:1–4 (LEB)

2 And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in the same place. And suddenly a sound like a violent rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. And divided tongues like fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability to speak out.

The disciples were not gathered in Jerusalem in the upper room because it was Sunday. It was due to the fact that it was the feast of Shavuot, which always landed on a Sunday. Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot because “pente” is fifty, and Shavuot is the feast that is counted fifty days from the Sabbath in Passover week.

Leviticus 23:15–16 (LEB)

15 “ ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day of your bringing the wave offering’s sheaf—there shall be seven full weeks. 16 Until the day after the seventh Sabbath you shall count fifty days; then you shall present a new grain offering for Yahweh.

The weekly Sabbath is always on the seventh day of the week. The day after the Sabbath will always be a Sunday. This is not where Sunday was turned into a new form of holy day, it was simply a biblical feast day.

The next dispensational belief system states that the church started at the time of Acts 13. This is a form of ultra dispensationalism.

Acts 13:1–3 (LEB)

13 Now there were prophets and teachers in Antioch in the church that was there: Barnabas, and Simeon (who was called Niger), and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch), and Saul. And while they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart now for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them away.

Lastly, hyper-dispensationalism has the church starting around the time of Acts 28. This is where Paul, frustrated with the lack of faith of his own people, declares the gospel will be brought to the gentiles. A gentile is simply someone who is not a Jew. The current dispensation in this belief system is the only one that the instructions of God do not apply. How convenient! From Theopedia.com:

Hyper-dispensationalism (or sometimes ultra-dispensationalism), as opposed to traditional (or classic) Dispensationalism, views the start of the Christian church as beginning with the ministry of the Apostle Paul after the early part of the book of Acts. Although variations exist in specifics, all hyper-dispensationalists view the four Gospels and many of New Testament Epistles as applying to the pre-Pauline Jewish-Christian church or to the future Davidic Kingdom; not directly applicable to the predominantly Gentile Church of today.

Acts 28:23–28 (LEB)

23 And when they had set a day with him, many more came to him at his lodging place, to whom he was explaining from early in the morning until evening, testifying about the kingdom of God and attempting to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what was said, but others refused to believe. 25 So being in disagreement with one another, they began to leave after Paul made one statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through the prophet Isaiah to your fathers, 26 saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “You will keep on hearing and will never understand, and you will keep on seeing and will never perceive. 27 For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they hear with difficulty, and they have shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” ’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles. They also will listen!”

This concept of salvation going to the whole world was not something Paul invented. God always intended on making a way for the whole world to be saved through Abraham’s seed, Yeshua the Messiah, or in Greek, Iesous the Christ [Christos].

Isaiah 56:6–8 (LEB)

And the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh to serve him and to love the name of Yahweh, to become his servants, every one who keeps the Sabbath, so as not to profane it,and those who keep hold of my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain;I will make them merry in my house of prayer.their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,”declares the Lord Yahweh, who gathers the scattered ones of Israel (still I will gather to him, to his gathered ones).

The gospel did not start with Paul, nor is he the center of the plan of the Creator God, Yahuah. He was a vessel used by God to spread the good news of Yeshua the Messiah.

1 Corinthians 1:10–15 (LEB)

10 Now I exhort you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing and there not be divisions among you, and that you be made complete in the same mind and with the same purpose. 11 For it has been made clear to me concerning you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 But I say this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” and “I am with Apollos,” and “I am with Cephas,” and “I am with Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I give thanks that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that you were baptized in my name.

After being under the influence of dispensational teaching for over forty years, seeing how it captivates people like a form of cult, I now believe this system of theology, that took hold of Protestantism in the nineteenth century, is part of the great deception and apostasy of the church. Stephen tells us when the church started and the pre-dispensationalism theology Bible translation gets it right. The King James Bible was translated into English before dispensationalism theology was invented; therefore, it innocently translates the Greek word “ekklesea” to “church” where most translations will use a different word in this one passage.

Acts 7:37–40 (KJV 1900)

37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

The “church” gathered at the foot of the mountain to hear the Creator give them the ten words of instructions for living successfully on this Earth. It was an assembly of God’s people. This was the family of God. Just like any family there were problems. Some brothers didn’t want to follow the Father’s instructions and were disowned. They went and served wood and stone, trees, sun gods and fertility goddesses. Yeshua alludes to this with the parable of the prodigal son.

Jeremiah 7:16–20 (LEB)

16 “And you, you must not pray for this people, and you must not lift up for them a cry of entreaty or a prayer, and you must not plead with me, for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children are gathering wood, and the fathers are kindling the fire, and the women are kneading dough to make sacrificial cakes for the queen of heaven, and they pour out libations to other gods for the sake of provoking me to anger. 19 Are they provoking me to anger? ” declares Yahweh, “Is it not themselves they hurt, for the sake of the shame of their faces?” 20 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, “Look, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on the humankind, and on the animal, and on the tree of the field, and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be extinguished.”

These sacrificial cakes for the queen of heaven are still with us at Easter as hot cross buns. These symbols of other gods have been fully embraced by Christianity along with their festivals and special days. The Christmas tree has morphed from tree worship as well as being dismayed at the signs of the heavens, namely the winter solstice and sun god worship.

Jeremiah 10:1–6 (LEB)

Hear the word that Yahweh speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says Yahweh: “You must not learn the way of the nations, and you must not be dismayed by the signs of the heavens, for the nations are dismayed by them. For the statutes of the peoples are vanity, for it is a tree cut down from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with the tool. He decorates it with silver and gold, they strengthen it with nails and hammers, so that it does not stagger. They are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, they cannot speak. Indeed, they must be carried, for they cannot march. You must not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil; furthermore, to do good is not in them.” There is none like you, O Yahweh, you are great and your name is great in might.

The Father was so angry at all of this idolatry that he disowned some of the family of Israel. Here it is talking about the tribes that sinned with Jeroboam. They are called the House of Israel, Joseph and sometimes Ephraim.

Jeremiah 3:6–10 (LEB)

Then Yahweh said to me in the days of Josiah, the king, “Have you seen what apostate Israel has done? She has gone on every high hill and under every leafy tree and she has prostituted herself there. And I thought, ‘After her doing all these things to me she will return,’ but she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw that for this very reason, that on account of apostate Israel committing adultery I divorced her and gave the letter of divorce to her. Yet her treacherous sister Judah was not afraid and she went and prostituted herself also. And it was because of the frivolity of her fornication that she defiled the land and committed adultery with the stone and with the tree. 10 Yet even in all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares Yahweh.

Judah returned “but only in pretense”. Paul speaks of these family problems in the letter to the Romans. Anyone of the divorced family could come back through Yeshua the Messiah, along with the rest of the world. He likens to being grafted in to the natural olive tree, which is Israel, or the family of God.

Romans 11:17–24 (LEB)

17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although you were a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them and became a sharer of the root of the olive tree’s richness, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you boast against them, you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off in order that I could be grafted in.” 20 Well said! They were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand firm because of faith. Do not think arrogant thoughts, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity upon those who have fallen, but upon you the kindness of God—if you continue in his kindness, for otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And those also, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, because God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

We can be grafted in to the olive tree. If we act like the disobedient children of Israel with our trees of foreign gods and breaking of the eternal covenant, we can also be cut off again once we are grafted in. Being grafted into the olive tree is what is meant by being part of the family of God or “joint heirs with Jesus”. There is no such thing as a gentile believer in Yeshua. One is either a gentile or part of the family of God.

Galatians 3:23–29 (LEB)

23 But before faith came, we were detained under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. 24 So then, the law became our guardian until Christ, in order that we could be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

The point is we are heirs through Yeshua and brought in as sons and daughters of Abraham. The law could not do this. It actually separated people from the family because of unpardonable sin. Yeshua was able to make one sacrifice for all times to repair that problem. The law was a guardian, which if one looks up to what Paul was speaking about, they would find that this specific Greek word was referring to a person a family would have to be a tutor for a child. This tutor would guide and instruct the youth in their learning. Once the child was grown, that person was no longer needed as a tutor. Did the child forget everything the tutor taught and not continue following their instructions? Of course not! They simply no longer needed the tutor to guard and instruct them. It is the same way with the commandments. Do we forget about the Sabbath now that we are in Messiah? Of course not. He called himself lord of the Sabbath and told us it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. However, a dispensationlist will say that is not written to our dispensation. Dispensationalism theology appears to be a satanic loophole for everything anyone does not want to do.

Galatians 4:1–7 (LEB)

4 Now I say, for as long a time as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he is master of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the time set by his father. So also we, when we were children, we were enslaved under the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that he might redeem those under the law, in order that we might receive the adoption. And because you are sons, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! (Father!),” so that you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, also an heir through God.

There are not two gospels, one for gentiles and one for Jews, as dispensationalism claims. Paul is a mere man who was a vessel of God used to proclaim the good news that had been spoken about for hundreds of years before Paul lived. The “mystery” of the gospel has been solved. There is a way through which the whole world could be brought near to God. We have the advantage of knowing it was through Yeshua the Messiah. The church is simply a united family of God grafted into the commonwealth of Israel. Be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily and see if this is true.

Featured photo is by Terren Hurst on Unsplash.

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