In the interest of discovering the source of different faith systems, it is not intrusive, rude or unreasonable to ask the honest question: When did your church begin? Looking through the annals of history, one can easily track down the origins of many religious institutions. The Lutheran Church, for instance, was founded during the Reformation in Europe; the Baptists (at first called Anabaptists) quickly followed in the wake of further discontent with the corruption that was rampant in Catholicism. The Mormon’s church, on the other hand, began in America in the 1800s, whereas the Moonie’s church, which began in Korea, is a relatively recent addition to the religious tapestry of diverse faiths.
One might be just as honest to ask: When did the church of Christ begin? In contrast to other churches, it is much older, as Luke records the beginning of the churches of Christ in the New Testament (Acts 2, cf. Romans 16:16). God predicted the beginning of His Son’s church with precision: “And in the days of these kings (the Roman Empire, JDS) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). God foresaw the entire picture of Christ’s sacrifice and the establishment of His church hundreds of years before it was built (Matthew 16:18).
The first record of the existence and population of the church of Christ was at Peter’s preaching on Pentecost. Peter responded to the question “What shall we do” to be forgiven for crucifying Jesus with the command to “Repent and be baptized in the name of Christ Jesus for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Since Paul states that those who are saved have been “transferred (into) the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13) and Luke says those who were added to the church were “those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47), the Kingdom and the Church must be the same institution, both of which were established in times of the New Testament. The kingdom of Daniel’s prediction is the church of Luke’s historical record.
The difficult but correct position to take about the plethora of churches in existence today is that every church established after Pentecost cannot be the church that Jesus established and is, therefore, an organization of human origin, not Divine. So, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).