Does a church need to be established by the fulfillment of prophecy?
The organization known as the "Iglesia Ni Cristo" claims that the true church must be established by the fulfillment of prophecy. Is this the case? When we examine their arguments, we see that the INC is misguided.
Revelation 19:10 does not teach that the church must be established by the fulfillment of prophecy
A passage that the INC uses to say that a church must be established by prophecy is Revelation 19:10. We will quote the previous verse for context.
Revelation 19:9-10 (ESV) - 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The INC argues that because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, that means that the church of Christ must be established by the fulfillment of prophecy. Such an interpretation is a stretch since the verse says no such thing.
So then what does it mean that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy? The key to understanding this is in looking at why this fact is mentioned. Why is this said after the angel refuses John's worship?
The angel gave John prophetic words to write about Jesus. In response, John worshipped the angel. The problem with this is that the purpose of prophecy is not to glorify angels, but to glorify Jesus. That does not mean that all prophecy is directly about Jesus, but all prophecy ultimately glorifies Christ in its accomplishment of God's will. If John's reception of this prophecy resulted in him glorifying some other being, such as an angel, then the spirit of prophecy is perverted.
This is why we are told that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy: because all prophecy should bring glory to him. The spirit of prophecy is to testify to the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ.
The church was established by the fulfillment of prophecy in the first century.
The INC readily accepts that Jesus fulfilled many prophecies during his life on this earth. These fulfillments did establish the church. Additionally, miracles, signs, and wonders established the message brought by the apostles, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 2:3-4 (ESV) - 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
What the INC doesn't realize is that the true church, which is composed of all those who truly believe in Christ, can point to the exact same thing: that fulfillment which happened in the first century. That church that was established continues on to this day. Because Protestants do not claim to have reestablished the church, they have no burden to demonstrate their legitimacy through the fulfillment of prophecy, even given the INC's standards.
So when the INC says that their church has the fulfillment of prophecies and others don't, they ignore that all churches who teach the true faith were not reestablished, and therefore do have the fulfillment of prophecy in the same prophecies the INC acknowledge were fulfilled in the first century.
First, the INC carelessly misuses verses of the Bible in order to prove that a church must have the fulfillment of prophecy in order to be a true church.
Secondly, the INC mistakenly assumes that no other church has any claim to the fulfillment of prophecy. They fail to acknowledge that that claim of Protestants that the fulfillment of prophecy did accompany the establishment of their church in the first century.