27. Does God have a specific plan for the Church which is found in Scripture?

27. Does God have a specific plan for the Church which is found in Scripture? 

Jewish people have a great misunderstanding about the Church as you could well understand.  Therefore, it is important that we understand the Bible’s teaching about it.  When Jesus the Messiah told Peter, “I will build My Church” He revealed one of the most important reasons for the incarnation.  Although the Church is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the plan and purpose for the Body of Christ is clearly spelled out for us in the New Testament.  Before we begin looking at the specific prophecies concerning the Church, it’s important that we have an understanding of what the Church is.  The Church as used in our study is referring to the Body of Christ, which is made up of all true believers.


1. It Was A Mystery

What is a New Testament Mystery?  A “mystery” has reference to a teaching or doctrine that was not revealed in the Old Testament, but is now revealed in the New Testament.  It does not carry the idea of a secret to be with held, but it is to be made known.  There are several examples of “mysteries that are found in the New Testament.  Some examples are:

  • the rapture – 1 Cor. 15:51-52
  • Christ indwelling the believer – Col. 1:26-27
  • Israel’s partial blindness – Rom. 11:25
  • the mystery of iniquity – 2 Thes. 2:1-17.

One of the great set of verses that shows that the Church is a mystery is found in Eph. 3:3-10.  These verses explain the mystery of how the  Jewish people and the Gentiles are in one body.

Eph 3:3-10 – That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.  And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

The Bible clearly teaches that when a person places true saving faith in Jesus, they become a member of the Body of Christ.  The mystery is that both Jewish people and Gentiles are members of the very same body.  This was something that was not revealed in the Old Testament, it is a New Testament mystery.   As one thinks about the Body of Christ, one could ask, “How is a person placed into the Body?”  Paul gives us the clear answer in his first letter to the Corinthians.

1 Cor. 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

As we can see, entrance into the Body of Christ is by the Holy Spirit baptizing us into it.  Entrance into the Body takes place at the time of salvation, which means, this is when the baptism of the Spirit takes place.


Because the Church is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the prophecies about the Church begin in the New Testament.  As a matter of fact, there’s not a lot said about the Church in the past, but Jesus the Messiah did make a few very important statements about the Church in the New Testament.


Matt. 16:18 –  “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.

This is the major statement that Jesus made concerning the Church during His earthly ministry.  His use of the future tense, “I will build” indicates that this program had not begun.  The question that we need to consider is, “Is the Church in existence now, and if so, when did it begin?” 


1. When did he Church Begin?

Except for Matthew 18:17 (which is talking about Church discipline) the next time we see the word “Church” is in Acts 2.

Acts 2:47 – Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

It would seem that somewhere between the Lord’s announcement in Matthew 16:18 and Acts 2:47, the Church had begun.  I believe that this construction began on the Day of Pentecost, ten days after our Lord’s ascension into heaven.  This view is supported by Peter’s reference to the events of Pentecost as “the beginning.”

Acts 11:15-16 –  “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning.  “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

Another very interesting verse in Acts sheds some light on the subject.

Acts 1:5 – for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. ”

In Acts 1:5, which is before the Day of Pentecost, they had not yet been baptized by the Holy Spirit.  This means that even at this point, the Church had not yet begun.  But, everything changed in Acts 2.  Taking all of these verses into consideration, it seems clear that the Church, the Body of Christ, began on the Day of Pentecost.  This is the “beginning” that Peter made reference to in Acts 11:15.  Remember, according to 1 Cor. 12:13, the way a person gets into the Church, the Body of Christ is by the Holy Spirit baptizing them into it.  This is what took place in Acts 2.   I  know there are differences of opinions on this matter concerning the beginning of the Church.  There are many fine believers who hold o a different position, but I conclude based upon the evidence presented that the Church is presently in existence and that it began on the Day of Pentecost.

2.  How does the Church grow?

In the present, the Lord Jesus is concerned with the growth of the Church, which is His Body.  Since it’s people who make up the Church, the growth of the Church revolves around individuals.  When someone gets saved, the Church grows and when someone gets built up in the faith, there is growth. But, to be specific, what means does  Jesus use to promote growth?

1.  He uses the Scriptures.

1 Peter 1:23 – For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.

2 Tim 3:15 – and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Jesus.

From these verses we can clearly see the vital role that the Word of God has.  It’s my belief that no one can get saved without the use of the Bible, nor can a believer grow without the use of Scripture.  We faithfully proclaim the Word and it is the Holy Spirit who applies it to the heart of the hearer.  Because the Bible plays such an important role in the salvation of a soul and the edification of a believer, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important that we don’t tamper with Scripture.  Satan seeks to do all he can to mess with the integrity of the Word.  He knows how important it is.  As believers, we must contend earnestly for that which God so graciously delivered to the saints.

2. He uses the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:13 – For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, no one would ever get saved.  He takes the Word of God and uses it to convict us of our need for Jesus as our Savior.

3.  He uses Believers.

Ephesians 4:11-12, 16 – And He gave some as apostles and prophets and evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

These are amazing verses.  To think that it is possible for us to be used in cooperation with Jesus to the building up of His Body.  How does He use us?  He does so by the gifts that are given to us.  Every true believer has been given spiritual gifts to be used in His service.  When they are faithfully exercised, God will bring forth fruit for His glory.  Souls will be saved and believers will be built up.


Because the Church is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the prophecies about the Church begin in the New Testament.

1. The Rapture

1 Thess. 4:13-18 – But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The next great event to happen in God’s prophetic program is the rapture of the Church.  This is a signless event.  There’s not one single prophecy that needs to be fulfilled before the rapture can take place.  All of the signs and prophecies that may be fulfilled in our day are pointing to and setting the stage for the second coming of Jesus the Messiah to the earth.  This will take place at least seven years after the rapture.  When the rapture takes place, all true believers who are alive at the time will simply disappear.  Their bodies will be instantly changed and they will meet Jesus in the air.  If a true believer had already died, their body will be resurrected and changed.  It will be united with their spirit which had already been in heaven and they too will meet Jesus in the air.

The rapture is only for believers who were saved during the Church age.  That’s from the day of Pentecost until the rapture.

All believers will be changed.  None will be left behind for any reason. 

1 Cor. 15:51-52 – Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

There is no such thing as the “Partial Rapture” found in the Bible.  It’s important to note that these words were spoken to the most carnal church in the New Testament.  Surely if some would be left behind at the rapture for some reason, it would happen at this church.  However, Paul assured even the carnal Corinthians, if the rapture happened  while they were still alive, all of them would have been changed.

The rapture is imminent.  That means it can happen at any time.  There is nothing in the way of it taking place today if God so desired.  We are not to set dates or become irresponsible while waiting, but we are to find ourselves occupied in service for His honor and glory.  It is helpful for all believers to have an understanding of the rapture.  It is one of the things that God uses to instill hope in  the believer.

After the rapture (the catching away of all true believers) there are going to be two specific events that are going to take place for the Church.  These will be taking place in the heavenlies while the tribulation period is taking place on the earth.  These two events will be for the Church saints only, those who were saved from the day of Pentecost until the rapture takes place.  

The first great event for the Church in the future as we saw last time was the rapture, but what happens to the Church after that?

2. The Judgment (or Bema) Seat of Christ

2 Cor. 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 Cor. 3:11  – For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is {to be} revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

This judgment is not to determine who goes to heaven or hell.  Nor is it a judgment designed to punish the believer for sins committed either before or after salvation.  This judgment revolves around the works of the believer from the time they were saved.  This judgment determines the believer’s rewards.  This will be the time when all true believers as stewards will stand before our Lord and be required to give an account of the way we have used our gifts.  What will be made clear is the motive behind the service we rendered to God.  Did we do what we did for our glory or for the glory of Christ and Him alone?  That’s the question and the ultimate issue at hand.  The result of the judgment is either a loss or a receiving of rewards.  In the New Testament, five crowns are mentioned, each one being a separate reward for faithfulness.

1. The Incorruptible Crown- 1 Cor. 9:25-27.  This is given to those who were faithful to Scripture.  They obeyed the Lord’s commands and endured self sacrifice for the sake of holiness.

2. The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8.  This is given to all of those who love His appearing.

3. The Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thes. 2:19-20.  This is the soul winner’s crown.  It is given to all those who have any part in the salvation of a soul.

4. The Crown of Glory

1 Pet. 5:1-4.  This is the shepherd’s crown. It is given to all those who share in the ministry of shepherding the flock of God.

5. The Crown of Life

James 1:12.  This is given to those who went through persecution and trial for Jesus’ sake.  Rev. 4:10 tells us that we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus, for He truly deserves them.  No, we won’t be doing a balancing act with crowns on our head.  We will gladly cast them at the feet of our Lord and Savior.

After the rapture of the Church, and the judgment seat of Christ, the marriage of the Lamb will take place for the Church.  This too will take place in the heavenlies while the tribulation is taking place on the earth.     

3. The Marriage Of the Lamb

What is the marriage of the Lamb and who will participate?

Rev. 19:6-9 – And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ¶ “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”

In several N.T. passages the relation between Christ and the Church is spoken of figuratively as the bridegroom and the bride.

Eph. 5:25-33 –  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.

2 Cor. 11:2 – For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

At the rapture of the Church, Christ is appearing as a bridegroom to take His bride unto Himself.  All that was promised and pledged is now to be consummated.  What are some of the specifics of the marriage of the Lamb?

The time of the marriage.  Scripture reveals that the marriage takes place sometime between the rapture and the second coming of Jesus to the earth.  In Rev. 19:7, it says the marriage has come.  This is in the aorist tense, which signifies a completed act.  So from this, we see that the marriage has already taken place at the time of the second coming.  In Rev. 19:8, we see the bride already dressed in fine linen which is said to be the bride’s righteous acts.  These righteous acts are those which have been accepted at the judgment seat of Christ.  So the marriage takes place between the judgment seat of Christ and the second advent.

The participants in the marriage

The marriage is only for the bride of Christ.  The bride is made up of Church saints,  those who were saved from the beginning of the Church (the day of Pentecost) until the rapture.  According to Daniel 12:1-3, Israel and the O.T. saints will not be resurrected until the second advent.  Are they going to miss out on anything.  Not really.  But, scripture does teach that the Church is a unique group of believers.  There is a difference between the marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper.  The marriage of the Lamb is an event that has particular reference to the Church and it takes place in heaven.  According to Matt. 22:1-14, Matt. 25:1-13, and Luke 14:15-24, the marriage supper is an event which takes place on the earth.  The wedding supper is a parable which pictures Israel and the Gentiles being invited to salvation during the tribulation period.

After the rapture, the judgment seat of Christ, and the marriage of the Lamb, the next great event is the second coming of the Messiah Jesus.  After His return, there are going to be some judgments that will take place, but these do not involve the Church.  The next event that involves the church is her entrance into the Millennium.  The Church saints, along with those who were saved during the tribulation and the Old Testament saints, (who will be resurrected at the Second Coming) will enter into the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom.

The Millennial Kingdom

Rev. 20:4-6 – And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Entrance into the Millennium

The Church saints will enter into the Millennium along with other groups of saints.  The Old Testament saints who will be resurrected at the Second Coming will enter in.  Those who were saved (both Jewish people and Gentiles) during the tribulation period, but were killed during that time will enter in.  And those who were saved (both Jewish people and Gentiles) during the tribulation period, but survived the entire seven years will enter in.  The reason the judgments as found in Ezekiel 20:33-38 and Matthew 25:31-46 is to determine who was saved during the tribulation period so they can enter into the Millennium.  The verses in Ezekiel describe the judgment for the Jewish people, while the one in Matthew describes the judgment for the Gentiles.  All who enter the Millennial Kingdom at the beginning will be saved.  Because some will have their earthly physical bodies in the Millennium (those saved in the tribulation period and survived),  there will be people born during the Millennium.  The Church saints however, will have their glorified bodies at this time.  This is going to be a wonderful time.  The Lord Jesus will be ruling and reigning on His throne from Jerusalem.  We will be offering to Him pure, deserved worship.  And, most of all, He will be receiving the glory and honor that is due His wonderful Name.

In answering these last three questions, I hope that you have seen the importance of keeping the nation of Israel, the Gentile nations and the Church separate.  In doing this we come away with an accurate understanding and interpretation of God’s prophetic Word.