The New Testament Church Part 2
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:27-29
There is no debate that Jesus was establishing the ordinance of the Church that we call the Lord’s Supper. Some will insist that because the Lord’s Supper is established here, that those present must be a church. But that does not necessarily follow. Those who would say that the Church was established here or prior to this are ignoring the major point of the text. The passage is clear that the New Covenant will be established with the shedding of Christ’s blood. This is expanded for us in Hebrews chapter 8. The Church could not have existed at the final Passover meal of Christ and His disciples because the New Covenant had not been inaugurated. The New Covenant required the blood of the Lamb. Without the New Covenant, there is no Church. What we have here in Matthew 26 is an establishment of the ordinance by Christ for something that is to come.
Christ uses the occasion of the Passover to demonstrate two important points to the disciples. First, He demonstrates that there is a continuation from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who established the Passover meal, is the same God who established the Lord’s Supper and who will establish the New Covenant. Secondly, Jesus is demonstrating something of a disconnection of the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. While the Old Covenant was expressed in types, forms, and shadows, the New Covenant revealed the archetype. The sacrificial lamb of the Passover, that needed to be killed year after year, was pointing to Jesus Christ who would shed His blood once and for all. In the nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. In the New Covenant, we see that this foreshadowed the spiritual people God would call to Himself in the Church. Those in the nation received the corporate blessing through the observance of the physical ordinances of circumcision and the Passover. This was pointing to the church that is in Christ, who experience the circumcision of the heart and the baptism of the spirit. Certainly, much more could be said about this but for our purposes, it is enough to see the connection as well as the disconnection.
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. Acts 2:14-18
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after Me is mightier than I . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire Matthew 3:11
For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. Acts 1:5
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 end of the earth. Acts 1:8
What happened at Pentecost was unique and can never be repeated. It was the fulfillment of the promise of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit as the Comforter, could not come unless He went away (John 16:7). All the believers were gathered together in one place (Acts 1:12-14). All the believers received the Baptism of the Spirit and all received the permanent indwelling or sealing of the Spirit. This becomes the norm for every believer from this point forward. While we do see the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, it is in a limited fashion and only manifests itself with certain people. We further see that the Holy Spirit can come on a person and depart from that person (1 Samuel 16:14). The operation of the Holy Spirit is not the same in the New Testament Church.
In Acts 2, Peter preaches the first Gospel message. It is not a coincidence that there are men who hear the message in their own dialect. This is the start of the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3:16), would be a blessing to the nations. This preaching was done in the power of the Holy Spirit. This message is the message of the New Testament church. It is a continuation of the message preached by John the Baptist and by Jesus. But it is also unique in that all believers can share the message and the message goes to the people all over the world.
On the day of Pentecost God inaugurates His Church by giving the message of the Gospel that will go to the Gentiles and the Holy Spirit to empower the Church to bring the message. This message is the message of the New Covenant. It calls the world to faith and repentance. Those who repent and believe are baptized in the names of the Triune God and receive forgiveness, righteousness and the promise of the Spirit by the blood of Christ.