Dispensationalists tell us that the church did not exist until the day of Pentecost, but is this true? I submit to you that it is not. Because of their disposition—their erroneous pre-supposition, where they have separated the saints of God into two categories—the Old Testament saints and the New Testaments saints, Dispensationalists must make this claim about the church in order to try and keep their house of cards from falling down. However, any true student of the Bible can quickly and easily dismantle their false assertion.
You see, in Acts 7:38 Stephen calls Israel "the church in the wilderness," using the Greek word ekklesia (εκκλησια). Why would he do such a thing if the church never existed prior to the day of Pentecost?
In the third century B.C., the Hebrew manuscripts were translated into the Greek language by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars. This translation is known as the Septuagint—Greek for 70. This translation of the Hebrew manuscripts is what Jesus and the apostles used. A comparison of the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament will reveal that they more closely resemble that of the Septuagint than that of the Hebrew manuscripts. Why is this information important? Simple; if the church did not exist prior to the day of Pentecost, why is it that three centuries before Jesus was born the Septuagint, in referring to Israel, used the Greek word ekklesia? Here are the passages from the Septuagint that use ekklesia:
Deuteronomy 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1-3, 8; 31:30
Judges 20:2; 21:5, 8
1 Samuel 17:47; 19:20
1 Kings 8:14, 22, 55, 65
1 Chronicles 13:2, 4; 28:2, 8; 29:1, 10, 20
2 Chronicles 1:3, 5; 6:3, 12-13; 7:8; 10:3; 20:5, 14; 23:3; 28:14; 29:23, 28, 31-32; 30:2, 4, 13, 17, 23-25
Ezra 2:64; 10:1, 8, 12, 14
Nehemiah 5:7, 13; 7:66; 8:2, 17; 13:1
Psalm 22:22, 25; 26:5, 12; 35:18; 40:9; 68:26; 89:5; 107:32; 149:1
You see, the church has existed since the beginning. Every individual—past, present or future—who has ever had the faith like Abraham—Old Testament saint or New Testament saint, Jew or Gentile—and has put their trust in the promised and prophesied Messiah, is and has always been a part of the church. There is only one body of Christ—not two. That body is His bride, and His bride is the church. There is only one people of God, and those people are believers—Christians.