A Sermon by Fred R. Harrold, deceased, Ludlow, IL, February 1, 1959
Adapted for distribution by Richard Sprague, Kempton, IN 2016
Scripture texts: Matthew 16:15-20, Acts 20:28-35
“It is well for each of us to prayerfully ponder together on this all-important subject – The Church of which Jesus Spoke.”
- It was something in the future. “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18)
- “I will build.” We can understand this language. If I tell you, “I will build my house,” you will understand that I anticipate it.
- Did Jesus personally build His church? Let us see how he did it, for he was crucified and buried.
- But He arose on the third day. History that is recorded in the Bible and out of it established the fact of the resurrection.
- He appeared to His apostles and disciples many times.
- First to Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9.
- He appeared to about 500 brethren another time, I Corinthians 15:6.
- He spent forty days teaching his disciples after He arose from the tomb. “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3 KJV.
- He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” Acts 1:4b.
- When the day of Pentecost was come the Holy Spirit came upon them – “And they spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4.
- Now the church of which Jesus spoke was being established.
- Jesus himself gave the apostles the plan, pattern, blueprint for it.
- Now the Holy Spirit overshadows or puts within their minds the things they were to speak.
- Still the church that was being established was Christ’s church.
- Suppose we apply this to everyday life in building a house.
- If I furnish the material for the entire house;
- If I furnish the entire blueprint; Matthew 28:20.
- If I furnish the workmen; Matthew 9:37-38.
- Even if I was not present, could it not be said, ‘Fred Harrold built this house?’
- This is true of the Church of which Jesus spoke. He furnished all that was needed to build it even though He had ascended to heaven. Acts 1:9.
- Jesus not only said, “I will build my church,” He did build it. But how did he do it? It started on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2.
- In Acts 2:38 – Peter, one of the twelve apostles, when asked by penitent believers, “What shall we do?” said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
- Acts 2:39-42, 47 – “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he
testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” “Praising God and having favour with all the people, And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
- In verse 47 the church is spoken of as a fact. Jesus had said, “I will build my church.” And He did.
- Then when did Christ build His church? On the first Pentecost after He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.
- What were the TERMS OF ENTRANCE into His church?
- Faith – which comes by hearing the Word. Peter preached it on that day. Acts 2:41.
- Repentance – A natural result of saving faith. Jesus included it in Luke 24:47.
- Confession of their faith – also a natural thing to do. See Acts 8:36 where the Ethiopian treasurer confessed that he believed. See Matthew 10:32.
- Baptism for remission of sins – They were baptized in obedience to Jesus and the apostles who said, “baptized for the remission of sins.” See Luke 24:47.
- Only then could they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the heritage of every obedient believer.
- The Holy Spirit as a helper to understand the Word of God.
- To give strength in times of temptation.
- To comfort in times of sorrow and distress.
- Thus we see from these events how a lost sinner became a Christian, or saint (made holy), by believing and obeying the Gospel Peter preached.
NOTE BY RICHARD SPRAGUE: Everything necessary for salvation was available on the day of Pentecost. We need not add to or take away from it.
- Church government as illustrated from Scriptures.
- Jesus is the one and only head of His church.
- Ephesians 1:22-23 – “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
- Again, Ephesians 5:23 – “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body.”
- There is much CONFUSION these days regarding the church because men have usurped authority and established religious bodies or communions.
- But the church spoken of by Christ is still to be the same as when it began.
- Ephesians 2:20 – “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”
- This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:16. Again, “That rock was Christ…” I Corinthians 10:4.
- Peter had just uttered the eternal truth in Matthew 16:16 – “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The church is built on Jesus, not any man. See I Corinthians 10:4. The Rock is Jesus, the chief cornerstone in the foundation upon which He built His church.
- The Holy Spirit gave us the New Testament Scriptures as the blue print. See John 16:13.
- So there is no excuse for following men to the point of dividing the church.
- Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Rogers, etc., were but men.
(The same can be said of the Campbell’s, Stone, Scott, etc. who called us to follow Jesus and restore His church. Richard Sprague)
- None of these men could be our savior.
- No one but Christ can be the Head of His church as well as the Savior.
- The Apostle Paul warned that even some of the brethren would rise up and draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30).
- In I Corinthians 1 Paul said he had heard division and contentions had arisen.
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1:12)
- “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” See verse 13.
The apostles appointed elders as shepherds of the churches. Acts 14:23. The elders were to make sure the churches remained faithful to Jesus, Acts 20:28 and Hebrews 13:17, I Peter 5:1-4.
- The church Christ spoke of is the church plainly described in the New Testament.
- It was established on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2.
- Paul describes it in Ephesians 4:5 – “One lord, one faith, one hope, one baptism, one God and Father over all, above all and in you all.”
We must keep in mind the church Jesus spoke of is a divine institution with a divine head, had divine origin and divine ownership, has a divine purpose and plan, a divine name, and divine guidance.
Conclusion: The church of which Jesus spoke is to be united.
- Jesus prayed in John 17:21-- “That they all may be one, as thou Father are in me, and I in thee – that they may all be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
- Let us go back beyond all human leadership, divisions, human or man-made creeds, dogmas, and doctrines and follow the New Testament alone as our rule of faith and practice.
- By doing that we will help restore the church of which Jesus spoke when He said, “I will build my church.” It is His church. We read in Acts 20:28 “that he purchased with his own blood.”
Invitation: If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, now that you have heard His word, receive it gladly and come and confess your faith, repenting of your sins, and be baptized for the remission of your sins and be added to the church that Jesus spoke of when He said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
The Apostle Peter said in Acts 4:12 – “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
- Our decision hymn is “Would you live for Jesus and be always pure and good? Would you walk with Him within the narrow road? Would you have him bear your burden, carry all your load? Let Him have His way with thee. His power can make you what you ought to be; His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free; His love can fill your soul, and you will see ‘Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.” Hymn by Cyrus S. Nusbaum.
ADDENDUM 1: The following letter was sent to Richard Sprague by Lucille Harrold, the widow of Fred R. Harrold, while she still had the strength to write before dying. Fred and Lucille were like my spiritual parents in the Lord much the same as the Apostle Paul referred to Timothy as “My son…” in I Timothy 1:2.
“Dear Richard, I feel Fred would be pleased for you to have these sermons for he loved you much and was so grateful you were willing to give your life in service for the Lord. Some of the sermons were in a box in the basement, but they are still readable and God’s message is there. You keep what you want of them, use what good you get out of them, and I pray they will be a blessing in your life and possibly to others you know.
“God bless you in your service for Him. I love you very much.” Lucille Harrold
ADDENDUM 2: By Richard Sprague. I was baptized (immersed) by Fred R. Harrold at First Christian Church, Farmer City, IL, U.S.A. at the age of 17 on August 15, 1954. Fred and Lucille were my mentors during my teen years. I was 19 when, having felt God’s call, I decided to study for ministry at what is now Lincoln Christian University.
The elders of First Christian Church ordained me to serve in Christian ministry on March 29, 1959. I put my hands to the plow and have not looked back as I have tried to follow the example of Brother Harrold as a Christian minister. Fred R. Harrold was a devout advocate for Christian unity and restoration of the ideals of the church described in the New Testament.
May this sermon by him be a blessing to any and all who share that vision.
Electronically signed by Richard Sprague.