At Acts 7:37-38 the scripture speaks of Moses and the church
in the wilderness. Question: Did the church that we read about
in the New Testament begin with Moses and the children of Israel
when they were delivered from the Egyptian bondage? The answer
is no! The word “church” as used in the New Testament
is derived from the Greek word “ekklesia,” which
means, “that which is called out of.” Thus in the
above scripture reference, it pertains to Moses and the Israelites
being called out of Egyptian slavery by Jehovah. The church
of the New Testament is made up of those who have been called
out of sin into the spiritual family of God (1 Timothy 3:15).
When Jesus promised to build His church upon the truth that
He is the Son of God, we know that it had not been built prior
to that time (Matthew 16:13-18). Therefore, it did not begin
with John the Baptist because he was already dead when our Lord
promised to build it. In fact, Jesus taught at Matthew 11:11
that those who would be in the kingdom would be greater than
John the Baptist. This would be true because they would have
greater blessings. John taught that the kingdom was at hand
(meaning that it was still future, but near, Matthew 3:1-2).
The words “church” and “kingdom”,
when referring to the redeemed are used interchangeably (Matthew
16:18-19). During Christ’s personal ministry He promised
that some of them living at that time would not die before the
kingdom came with power (Mark 9:1). After His resurrection,
Jesus instructed those who would be His apostles to remain in
Jerusalem until they received power from on high (Luke 24:49).
Prior to His ascension into heaven, Jesus informed His disciples
that the kingdom would come with power after the Holy Spirit
came upon them (Acts 1:6-8). The Holy Spirit did come upon them
on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts
2). From that time on the church (which is His spiritual kingdom)
was spoken of as being in existence (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13-14).