by Randy White Ministries Sunday, Feb 13, 2022

When Did the Church Begin?

The Question Nobody asks

  • The beginning of the church is perhaps the most important question for the Christian faith outside of the primary theological issues (The nature of God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the nature of revelation).

  • A. few of the doctrines affected by when the church begins:

    • Who can be saved, and how?

    • The need (or lack thereof) of baptism.

    • What are the requirements for living a Christian life that is pleasing to God?

    • How are we sanctified?

    • What is the Kingdom of God?

  • While almost all theologians tip their hat to the question, almost none do anything more than give a cursory answer, and that answer almost always parrots their theological persuasion.

    The Four Basic Options

    View 1: From The First Sinner Until Now
  • “[The] church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end…" (

  • “only one people of God" and refuses to establish any difference between Israel and the church.

  • This is the view of Covenant Theology, included Catholicism and Reformed movements of all kinds (Lutheranism, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, etc.)

    View 2: From Pentecost Until Now
  • This is the view of most of non-reformed evangelicalism, including most Baptists and most dispensationalists.

  • It keeps a minor distinction between Israel and the church but is not consistent in this separation.

  • “the New Testament church" and applies all the New Testament to the church.

  • “New Covenant" to have begun with Pentecost and the Kingdom is a spiritual reign.

  • It necessarily sees the book of Acts as the history and doctrine of the church. “The book of Acts details the beginning of the church and its miraculous spread through the power of the Holy Spirit." (

    • This becomes highly problematic on several occasions with several doctrines.

    • Saphira, miraculous healings, speaking in tongues, etc.

      View 3: From Mid-Acts Until Now
  • This view is despised by those who hold the Pentecost view, yet they equally despise a faithful examination of Scripture on the subject.

  • This view sees the church as the dispensation of the grace of God,“the mystery" (Eph. 3:1-7).

  • “mid-Acts" or “right division" or “grace churches" by those within. Those who reject the view often call it “hyper dispensationalism."

  • This view makes very strong distinctions between Israel and the church. It does not mix any Kingdom theology into the church, and it strongly refuses any view that puts the church under any of Israel's law. The view furthermore does not accept that the New Covenant is for the church since the covenants belong to Israel.

  • Those who hold to mid-Acts theology believe that practical doctrine for daily living comes from Paul's epistles, and especially when Paul is speaking to the church (rather than to Israel).

    View 4: From Post-Acts 28 Until Now
  • This view believes that Paul “the mystery" until somewhere after the close of the book of Acts.

  • This view stems from an assumption that as long as there is a Kingdom offer to Israel, God cannot be dealing with mankind generally. Thus, the Kingdom offer must be fully removed before the church begins. Since Acts 28 has Kingdom preaching, the church must be yet future.

  • Those who hold this view typically “prison epistles," Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Because of this, they reject Baptism and the Lord's Supper as practices of the church today.

  • “hyper-dispensationalists"“ultra-dispensationalists" by those who look upon the group despairingly.

    Why My Preaching Is Different Than Evangelicalism

  • “the church") began with Paul and not on the day of Pentecost, my preaching is very different from “standard evangelicalism."

  • If you're not sure, study the Scriptures! See where the Scripture points to a transition from Israel to the church. It may lead you to Acts 13:38-39!

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