|Volume 23 Number 10 October 2021
“Should the Gospels be included with the Old Testament?” someone inquired. The Gospel records contain information that precedes the establishment of the church in Acts 2. Furthermore, the Gospel records consist of historical and doctrinal material pertaining to Jesus Christ, Who lived and died while the Old Testament was still in effect. It is understandable, then, how one might ponder if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John belong in the Old Testament rather than in the New Testament.
However, there are reasons for which the Gospel records belong exactly where they are – in the New Testament collection of Bible books. First, note that there was 400 years of silence from the Godhead between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Though new revelation from God didn’t necessarily occur daily in any religious period when miracles were operative, 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament sufficiently sets them apart.
Secondly, the Gospel records were written well after the beginning of Christianity. They record historical information prior to and leading up to the establishment of the church and Christianity. No one knows precisely when each Gospel record was penned, but they successively fall in the range of about 30 to 60 years after the events they record. Hence, the Gospel records are where they belong, in the New Testament catalog of Bible books.
Why Is the Church Important?
Someone in a round about way essentially asked, “Why is the church important?” Rather than being an afterthought, stopgap measure as premillennialists suppose, the church was in the eternal mind of God, and it is fundamentally an indispensable component of God’s plan for the redemption of humanity. Note carefully the following passage written by the inspired apostle Paul.
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11 NKJV)
The “unsearchable riches of Christ” or the Gospel formerly was a “mystery” until it was preached plainly in the first century. Formerly, “from the beginning of the ages” (before Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity) it was “hidden in God.” Since about A.D. 33 through the present, God’s grand plan for human redemption has been “made known by the church.” The divine blueprint for man’s reconciliation to Him was in His “eternal purpose,” and “Christ Jesus our Lord” – the Messiah – the Son of God – is the key figure making deliverance from the penalty of sin possible.
Even more, the church is important because it was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ – “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The church doesn’t refer to a meeting place, such as a building, but to saved souls added to other saved souls by our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47). In that sense, the blood of Christ purchased the church one soul at a time. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). “…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5).
In addition, the church is important enough that it was the subject of numerous Old Testament prophecies. Our Lord Jesus Christ used the words “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably in Matthew 16:18-19 to refer to the same divine institution. Therefore, the Old Testament prophecies about the eternal kingdom of Heaven to be established in Jerusalem refer to “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) or “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Isaiah 2:2-3 refers to the kingdom or church as “the mountain of the Lord’s House” and cites Jerusalem as its place and when of establishment – “in the latter days.” Daniel 2:31-45 describes when the kingdom or church would be established, during the fourth earthly kingdom to rule the Mediterranean world and the Mideast – the Roman Empire. This passage also notes the eternal or unending duration of the kingdom or church of prophecy. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Joel 2:28-3:2 chronicles the purpose, where and beneficiaries of the prophesied kingdom or church. Daniel 7:13-14 announces the beneficiaries and the duration of the kingdom or church.
The church is also important because Jesus Christ is returning to retrieve it at the end of time. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3; c.f., 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father…” (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Yes, from several considerations, the church is important. The church about which we read in the Bible is of vital importance, so crucial that no accountable soul can go to Heaven outside of it – since the saved are added to and are the church.