The first assembly was at Jerusalem following the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in A.D. 30. The church grew rapidly, but because of increasing persecution, Christians eventually scattered to all parts of the known world. In doing so, the gospel message spread and other assemblies were planted wherever the gospel was preached. The book of the Acts describes this Christian movement. Revelation 2-3 contains letters of the Apostle John to seven of these churches which were in Asia Minor.
Although churches beginning in the latter part of the 1st century, and onward, were gradually marked by doctrinal error and departure from New Testament church principles, there has always been a remnant of assembly testimony upon earth, however small. During the Protestant Reformation in the 15th century, truths such as “justification by faith” were re-discovered, but it wasn’t until the early decades of the 19th century, that a movement of the Spirit of God appeared almost simultaneously in various places as Ireland, England, and continental Europe. The result was the blessed recovery of much divine truth which had been long buried under the accumulated rubble of ecclesiastical tradition and superstition.
Companies of believers began again to gather simply in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, recognizing the unity of the one Body, the Lordship of Christ in His assembly, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. They owned allegiance to no denomination, took no sectarian name, recognized no human head, and sought only to return to the New Testament pattern for the Church. These local assemblies were characterized by a deep concern for the spreading the gospel both in the homeland and abroad, and by a reverent searching of the Word of God to learn His will for personal and collective testimony.
Christ, the Risen Head of the Church, continues to preserve a testimony in many parts of the world where local assemblies of believers seek to wholeheartedly follow the New Testament pattern. Much of the truth recovered by the Spirit’s illumination has permeated evangelical Christianity during the last century, and is now being preached from many pulpits, as well as by means of radio, television, recordings, and the printed page. While this is cause for heartfelt thanks to God, there are still distinctive truths preached and practiced by those Christians who meet in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.