The New Testament is the worthy completion of the Old. It is the only proper end to which the Law and the Prophets could have led. It does not do away with them, but enriches in fulfilling and replacing them. It has in itself the character of completeness, presenting, not the rudimentary beginning of a new era which requires constant modification and addition to meet the needs of changing times, but a revelation suited to all men in all times. Jesus Christ cannot be made known to us better than He is in the four Gospels, nor can the consequences or doctrines which flow from the facts of His death and resurrection be more truly taught than they are in the Epistles.
The Old Testament records the formation and history of Israel, the people through whom God revealed Himself in the world until Christ should come. The New Testament reveals the Church of Christ, consisting of all who are born again through faith in the Son of God and so made partakers of the divine and eternal life of Christ (Jn. 3:16)
As this body, the whole Church of Christ, cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place, since many of its members are already with Christ and others scattered throughout the world, it is appointed to be actually known and to bear its testimony in the form of churches of God in various places and at different times. Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members (Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 12:7)
Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord, draws its authority from Him, and is responsible to Him (Rev. 2:3). There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organized union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them (Acts 15:36).
The chief business of the churches is to make known throughout the world the gospel or good news of salvation. This the Lord commanded before His ascension, promising to give the Holy Spirit as the power in which it should be accomplished (Acts 1:8)
Events in the history of the churches in the time of the apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of the Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles in the Scriptures.
The following account of some later events, compiled from various writers, show that there has been a continuous succession of churches composed of believers who have made it their aim to act on the teaching of the New Testament. This succession is not necessarily to be found in any one place; often such churches have been dispersed or have degenerated, but similar ones have appeared in other places. The pattern is so clearly delineated in the Scriptures as to have made it possible for churches of this character to spring up in fresh places and among believers who did not know that disciples before them had taken the same path, or that there where some in their own time in other parts of the world. Points of contact with more general history are noted where the connection helps to an understanding of the churches described.
Friday, January 08, 2010
The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent: Chapter One--A Permanent Pattern
As I am reading The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent, I plan on posting a few short excerpts from each chapter to give an idea of some of the material in the book. Following is an excerpt from the beginning of chapter one.