HOW WELL DO WE KNOW THE HISTORY OF THE N.T. CHURCH
- Lesson Six -
Good evening. This is the Sixth in a series of lessons on the history of the New Testament church. We will do a bit of a review of some of what we saw last week, add a couple comments then continue on into the Years of Reformation.
As we saw last time starting soon after the rapid embryonic growth of the church and it’s pushing through the times of persecution, it started to flower into something with many differences. The early church departed swiftly from the simplicity of a congregational form of government, which is laid out in the New Testament as the only Rule of Faith and Practice and gradually permitted more and more authority to be vested in “church leaders” or bishops.
Even in this early period there was a microcosm of the same things we see today.
1. There were sects pushing for inclusion of things never in scripture.
2. There were those trying to resist change by adding earthy rules and rulers to apply those rules.
3. There was even a sect trying to get back to the simplicity of early Christian worship.
4. Politics began to control the church through the councils.
Those same forces, change, anti-change, and governance by earthy rule and earthly rulers that existed then still exist today in various forms.
From these pressures gradually emerged what we think of today as the Catholic Church. “By the middle of the second century the church was well united under the authority of the bishops who gradually came to be regarded as successors to the apostles. In opposition to the heresies creeping in, the church came to be called the ‘‘catholic’’ or ‘‘universal’’ church. The adoption of a creed as the rule of faith and practice in the third century put forth the bud—the union of church and state under Constantine, and the writing of the Nicene Creed in 325 brought forth the flower; while
the setting up of a ‘‘papa’’ or pope as the ecclesiastical head of the church, culminating in the doctrine of his infallibility in 1870, produced the fruit as manifested in the Catholic Church of today." (Churches of Today In the Light of Scripture, L. G. Tomlinson, p. 17)
[Excellent book for study]
The Roman Catholic Church suffered a severe split in 1054, when a controversy over the wording of the Nicene Creed (along with jealousies) caused the Bishop of Constantinople to break away from the pope's influence, thus forming the Eastern Orthodox (Greek Orthodox) Churches.
From a study of church history, it is quite easy to see the gradual development of the Roman Catholic Church.
While the Roman Catholic Church claims succession from the apostles, the Bible shows many apostasies in this Church which have been formulated and fostered by the wisdom of men.
Let me spend just a few minutes with some.
I. BASIC DOCTRINES OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH: - THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH.
A. Roman Catholic Church Claims: - "Infallibility: A special gift whereby the Church is preserved from teaching error in matters of faith and morals. This is seen as a direct effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church." (Catholic Word Book, Reprinted from the 1973 Catholic Almanac, p. 23.)
B. "All interpretations of Scripture ultimately are subject to the teaching authority (magisterium) of the Church, a power given by God to the Church precisely to guard and interpret His message correctly." (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Vatican Council II, "Divine Revelation," p. 13)
C. Sources of authority for the Catholic Church:
1. The Bible (Old and New Testament).
2. The Apocrypha - Books of unknown / disputed origin. Established as equal with Biblical writings by the Council of Trent, 1546.
3. Sacred Tradition - Unwritten, oral teachings handed down, from His apostles through the Church and Church Fathers to the present.
i. "Her supreme rule of faith ever has been and ever will be the scriptures together with sacred tradition." (Ibid., p. 20, emp. Added JC)
II. SUMMARY OF THIS BRIEF - LOOK AT HISTORY
A. The Scriptures are not being followed:
1. Elders are NOT the highest office
2. The gospel was NOT sufficient
3. Burial in water was NOT essential
4. Purity of life was NOT necessary
i. Men became the standard
B. A Religious-Political organization
C. Worship became ritualistic
D. IT is a different institution all together - the falling away and the apostasy that are warned about in the Scriptures have occurred.
E. Now there are many things that crept into the early Catholic Church. Let me give you a list of some.
1. The prayers for the dead and sign of the Cross started about 310 AD. The custom of prayers for the dead exists in the Jewish faith and many other faiths.
2. Symbolic use of wax candles started about 320 AD.
3. Veneration of angels and dead saints began about 375 AD.
4. Mass as a daily celebration was adopted 394 AD.
5. Veneration of Mary. The use of the term, "Mother of God", as applied to her, originated in the Council of Ephesus in....431 AD.
6. Different vestments for priests were worn starting about 500 AD. This is a possible adoption of Jewish custom.
7. The Doctrine of Purgatory espoused by Gregory the Great came into practice about the year....593 AD.
8. The Latin language, as the language of prayer and worship in churches, was also imposed by Pope Gregory I about 600 AD. (1 Cor. 14:9 – “So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.”
9. Prayers were being directed to Mary about the same time.
10. The kissing of the Pope’s feet—about 709 AD.
11. Temporal power was assumed by the Pope about 750 AD. (Assumption of political and secular government activities.)
12. Worship of the cross, images and relics—about 788 AD.
13. Holy water was authorized in 850 AD.
14. Veneration of Joseph began in 890 AD.
15. The blessing of bells sometimes know as baptism of bells was instituted by John XIV 965 AD.
16. Canonization of dead saints was started by John XV in 995 AD.
17. Fasting on Fridays and during Lent was imposed in 998 AD.
18. The Rosary copied from the Hindu in 1090 AD.
19. Sale of indulgences began in 1190 AD.
20. Transubstantiation was decreed by Innocent III in 1215 AD.
21. The Bible was placed in the Index of Forbidden books, Council of Toulouse in 1229 AD.
22. The Scapular was created in 1297 AD. (a fetish)
23. Forbidding the cup to the laity, started after the Council of Constance in 1414 AD.
24. The Doctrine of 7 Sacraments was affirmed in 1439.
25. Ave Maria began in 1508 and was approved by Sixtus V at the end of the 16th century.
26. Tradition was declared of equal authority to scripture, at the Council of Trent 1545.
27. The next year the apocryphal books were added by the Council of Trent.
28. The Creed of Pope Pius IV was imposed as official creed in 1560
29. Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by Pius IX in 1854 who also proclaimed the dogma of Papal Infallibility in 1870
30. Some modern ones are: Pius X condemned all the discoveries of modern science which were not approved by the Church in 1907.
31. Pius XI condemned the Public Schools in 1930
32. In 1931 he reaffirmed the doctrine of Mary and “the Mother of God”
33. In 1950 the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was proclaimed by Pius XII.
III. The Years of Reformation. The Falling Away and Apostasy led to the formation of the first denomination - “The Catholic church”. This group dominated religious and in some cases secular history through the period we are going to study next. “The Reformation Movement - or commonly known as the Protestant Movement.
A. Known as this for the “Protest” against the “apostate church - Roman Catholic church” as it became known.
B. It was not only a Protest against the “church of Rome” but the “popes of Rome”.
C. The years of reformation actually start a lot earlier than what we classically refer to as the reformation movement started by Martin Luther.
D. Let’s think about the long weekend we have set aside to observe Memorial Day. When you think about the history of Memorial Day, I ask you this question: How well do you know what it is that is being celebrated and observed? For most people it is a three-day long weekend.
1. On Memorial Day in the United States the flag is raised to the top then lowered to half mast. For many the Memorial Day weekend is about remembering those who gave their lives for the freedoms of this country. That is one hundred percent correct.
2. At noon on Memorial Day the flag is raised to full staff. Do you know why? Memorial Day is about remembering those who paid the ultimate cost, but the reason the flag is raised to full staff at mid-day is as a reminder of those who gave their blood for those who are still alive. You might think of this as a passing of the torch.
3. May it ever be each one’s desire to be willing to die for the same freedom as those who have already given their lives,
4. It is the responsibility of the living to remember. We have a responsibility to the Constitution of the United States to preserve it and to fight for it and if necessary to die for it. We are reminded that we have that duty. That’s the reason the flag is raised to full staff. It is for the living to remember their responsibility.
E. I use that as an illustration of what we are going to be talking about next.
1. As we noted in the earlier lessons we looked at what the term “church” means.
2. We learned that the church was prophesied throughout the Old Testament and that it was indeed brought into existence in the lifetime of those who would have heard Christ speak. In Mark 9:1 “He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
3. In Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Christ said you’ll go to Jerusalem and you’ll wait until the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you’ll be endued with power.
4. In the first four verses of Acts 2:1-4 “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
5. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. If the Holy Spirit came then the power came, then the kingdom came.
6. In Acts 2:47 the Bible says: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
F. This is the church that Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:18 said He would build. In verse 19 we find how the terms, church and kingdom, are used interchangeably. Christ says I will build My church and in verse 19 He says I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom. The kingdom and the church were one and the same. Matthew 16:18-19 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
G. I know I have spent a lot of time in our lesson showing how a church was established in Acts 2 as according to the promise made in Acts 1:8. We see that the Lord added to the church those who were being saved.
H. We also noted in our study that during the first century time period from the death of Jesus Christ in AD 33, to the close of the book of Revelation, about 96 AD, the church was fraught with problems.
1. We see the tremendous growth--3,000, 5,000--members who were added to this body of Christ. Yet problems appeared. Apostasy began. In Galatians chapter one Paul says I marvel that you are turning aside to a different gospel which is not another, but there are some who want to pervert it. That is the beginning of apostasy and the perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. For those 65 years the books that are written are written to Christians. If you look at Acts through Revelation, only one of those books was written to saint and sinner alike and that is the book of Acts.
I. Folks, we have read of the problems that were mentioned in the church. Then taking a look at the book of Revelation, we are told what the Lord has to say about the seven churches of Asia of which only two do not have condemnation. We see how there are churches, the body of Jesus Christ, who were not maintaining and keeping the purity of the word of God.
IV. As we look at the years of reformation bear in mind the history of nations as well. We might do well to have a look at this nation and its history. In doing so you will undoubtedly see through the different time periods, presidents and administrations, that there are people who did not honor the constitution of the United States. There are those who trampled on the freedoms that those in the past have died for in this country. Then you will also see periods of reformation, reforming. In those periods of reformation, a new government is elected that says all these things that have been happening in the past couple of years are not right and we’re going to reform and go back to doing things the way the constitution demands.
A. One of the things about a reformation is that often the whole idea might be right, but there isn’t a return to what the original plan was.
B. The actual point the country ends up at is better then the direction it was heading but not really back to the place it was before the digression took place. Some change has taken root and does not roll back.
C. We can see this very same principle as we study through the Old Testament. Remember the division that occurred in Israel after Solomon? The northern tribes and the southern tribes. The northern tribes followed after the teaching and actions of Jeroboam who lead them into apostasy.
1. One of the things that we see in the northern kingdom and in the southern kingdom are good kings and bad kings except in the northern tribes there are no truly good kings. In the Southern Kingdom there are good kings who would go back to the word of God and destroy all of the corruption and restore the Old Testament worship as it ought to have been.
2. Reformation occurred when Kings of the North or of the South made changes but did not completely return to the Law of God.
3. Restoration occurred where the Law of God was sought as the ONLY authority and practice.
D. In the Northern Kingdom we see those who want to be seen as practicing reformation. We see that in the life of Jehu. Jehu was the king in the north who followed the transgressions of the kingdom of Ahab. Ahab was a wicked king of the north. His wife was Jezebel. You don’t hear any fathers or mothers saying I think we should name our daughter Jezebel because of the conations of the wickedness of that individual.
E. Jehu is one who practiced reformation. 2 Kings 10:28-31 says (NKJV) – “28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel.” The idolatry which was so rampant in the hierarchy and in the kingdom of Ahab - Jehu destroyed.
1. Jehu destroyed Baal worship and if you want to see how read back before verse 28. However look at verse “29 However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.” He changed the order and place of worship. He changed the priesthood.
2. Jehu was getting rid of the foreign idols. The Bible says that the one thing he didn’t do was turn away from the sin that Jeroboam had committed.
3. Then in verse “30 And the Lord said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight,” . . . I want you to notice that God sees what Jehu had done was good to rid the land of these idols. Remember God said: I am a jealous God. You shall have no other gods before me. Jehu did these things and it was right in the sight of God that he did them. What was not right was the fact that he did not turn away. He still remained in sin.
4. This is the principle of reformation that is seen throughout the Old Testament. This is seen in the history of the New Testament church also. People are reformed but they are not restored. They will turn away from certain things but they will not leave other things, just as Jehu did.
F. Let’s go down to verse 30 where it says . . . “and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart”, this is what Jehu had done right in the sight of God. God despised the actions of Ahab and the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu did what was in the heart of God. The verse goes on; “your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation. 31 But The Lord has just given Jehu a promise and now we see the word “but”. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.” What we are looking at here in this text is really and truly the basis of what we see in the New Testament of the church as the years of reformation.
V. After Years of corruption and doctrinal changes, came a period in time when people said it is time for us to reform. Now it certainly is a good thing that these men recognized the changes that had occurred.
A. The problem of this period was not the restoration of the New Testament church but the creation of many denominations. The Catholic Church is the first of the denominations. As a result of this time period we’re going to be looking at, we will find a movement that lead to the creations of other denominations.
B. When we think of the reformation movement we also know that history calls this the Protestant movement.
VI. It covers the years 1000 A.D. to 1800 A.D. What we find during these years is the mentality that things have been corrupted and need to be changed. Reformation is taking place.
A. There are a number of elements behind the reformation:
1. One was the corruption of practices within the Catholic Church. When we look at Martin Luther and various other reformers we find they saw some corruption that they then protested against. They weren’t protesting against the church. They were protesting against certain things: about the pope that was in power; or the things that were being practiced such a indulgences; or the changes in doctrines that some of them did not agree to or agree with.
2. Then there were internal problems that led to the division in 1054 AD the Greek Orthodox Church was created. The Greeks and the Roman Catholics were at odds with each other from as early as 580 AD. It had to do with where the pope should come from—whether it should be from Rome or Constantinople. It was basically a power thing. There was friction between those two and finally the Eastern Orthodox Greek church was established. This was a major split in the Catholic denomination.
3. There was a Papal Schism, a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which three men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418). Politics at that time almost completely consumed the work of the Catholic Church.
4. There is a time period from about 1229 to 1834 where the Catholic Church practiced what is commonly known as The Inquisition. The inquisition was a vile, terrible time period in history, especially the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
i. Historians use the term "Medieval Inquisition" to describe the various inquisitions that started around 1184. The legal basis for some inquisitorial activity came from Pope Innocent IV's papal bull Ad extirpanda of 1252, which explicitly authorized the use of torture by the Inquisition for eliciting confessions from heretics. By 1256 inquisitors were given absolution if they used instruments of torture.
ii. Popes were put into place that practiced abominations of wickedness and yet simple people were put on the rack and tortured because they did not agree with the pope’s actions or with the pope.
iii. It was a time period when the church and the government were welded together therefore people feared for their lives because in opposing the doctrines of the church they broke the laws of the land where they lived.
(a) The wars of independence of the former Spanish colonies in the Americas concluded with the abolition of the Inquisition in every quarter of Hispanic America between 1813 and 1825.
(b) In Portugal, in the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, the "General Extraordinary and Constituent Courts of the Portuguese Nation" abolished the Portuguese inquisition in 1821.
(c) The last execution of the Inquisition was in Spain in 1826. In Spain the practices of the Inquisition were finally outlawed in 1834.
iv. In Italy, after the restoration of the Pope as the ruler of the Papal States in 1814, the activity of the Papal States Inquisition continued on until the mid-19th century, notably in the well-publicized Mortara Affair (1858–1870). Called the “Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition”, the name of the Congregation became "The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office" in 1908, which in 1965 further changed to "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith", as retained to the present day.
5. One of the great things about an element of time in reformation was the period known as The Renaissance period. When you talk to people about the renaissance it’s most frequently about the art. Renaissance is an awaking of knowledge. People who had been in slumber, who had been uneducated and deemed as uneducated, desired to know, they wanted to learn. This was one of the major elements that drove the reformation.
6. Another element is the Translation of Bible into different languages. The Bible had been kept out of the hands of the common people by the Catholic Church. It is often know as the chained Bible. The chained Bible was chained to pulpit and the only ones who could open that chained Bible were the priests. What happened during this time period, and you can still see this in some of the old churches in Europe, is walls, and gates, were built around the pulpit to keep the people away from the Bible. The problem with the Bible that was chained to the pulpit was that they were in Latin and people couldn’t read it anyway.
7. Martin Luther was one of the first to start writing the Bible in a language that is known to the people. He wrote the Bible into the German language. Those translations of the Bible into different languages helped the common man to be able to read the word of God. Something that the Catholic Church even today deems that the common man cannot do. You can’t read the Bible and understand the Bible without some form of seminary or theology training by the church.
8. Then the element of the Invention of the printing press in Gutenberg (1454) meant that the Bibles that were translated into different languages now could be mass produced. The first book that was ever printed in what we would look at as books today was the Bible.
9. These are some of the elements that lead to the reformation period. The reformation period as we know it did not just start with Martin Luther.
VII. Back in 1208 all the way through 1400 AD we have a group of individuals known as the Albigenses (or Catharists) who recognized that the Bible was the sole standard of authority and that the pope was not. They repudiated the authority of tradition. During a period of inquisition in 1400 this group was finally destroyed. The reforms they espoused were a reaction against the often scandalous and dissolute lifestyles of the Catholic clergy in southern France. Their theology, neo-Gnostic in many ways, was certainly not a return to the church in the NT. They were not “Bible Christians”.
A. Also during this time period we have Peter Waldo. Waldo became deeply troubled over the spiritual state of his soul and desperate to know how he could be saved.
1. The first thing he resolved was to read the Bible, but since it only existed in the Latin Vulgate, and his Latin was poor, he hired two scholars to translate it into the vernacular so he could study it. Waldo read, explained, preached and circulated the Scriptures, to which he appealed against the usages and doctrines of the Roman Catholics.
2. He established an order of evangelists, who went through central and southern France, gaining followers. They were bitterly persecuted; driven out of France, found hiding places in the valleys of northern Italy, and have endured, and now constitute one of the leading Protestant churches of Italy.
3. Peter Waldo was a proto-Protestant. He was a merchant turned prophet who simply believed in the word of God with all his heart, which he demonstrated with all his life.
B. Another one that was not well known was Peter Du Bruys. He criticized infant baptism, opposed the erecting of churches because the building did not edify God, but the people gathered in His name did, opposed the veneration of crosses, opposed the doctrine of transubstantiation, and denied the efficacy of prayers for the dead. He was burned at the stake in 1126. In or around the year 1126, Peter was publicly burning crosses in St Gilles near Nîmes. The local Roman Catholic populace, angered by Peter's destruction of the crosses, cast him into the flames of his own bonfire.
C. John Wycliffe was born in 1324, educated at the University of Oxford, where he became a doctor of theology.
1. John Wycliffe was one who resisted and protested the Catholic Church. Wycliffe attacked the veneration of saints, the sacraments, requiem masses, transubstantiation, monasticism, and the very existence of the Papacy.
2. In the years before his death in 1384 he increasingly argued for the Scriptures as the authoritative base of Christianity. Also that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments.
3. Wycliffe was also an advocate for translation of the Bible into the vernacular. He completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe's Bible. His translation was of the New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384.
4. The Catholic Church excommunicated him. After his death, Pope Martin V had his bones dug up and burned. His ashes were thrown into the River Swift because he was a heretic.
D. Jan Huss in 1369 through 1415 read and admired Wycliff though Huss was a Czech theologian, Roman Catholic priest, philosopher, master, dean and rector of the Charles University in Prague. Church authorities had banned many works of Wycliffe in 1403, Hus translated Wycliff’s Trialogus into Czech and helped to distribute it. Huss was burned alive with his books in 1415. He was burned at the stake and his ashes were thrown in the River Rhine so his soul could not settle.
E. These are the most well know reformers though there were others. One thing of note is that each were exposed to scripture and found between scripture and practice a vast gulf.
VIII. The reformers that are well known to us, the history books and to mankind are these:
1. Martin Luther
2. John Calvin
3. John Knox
4. Ulrich Zwingli
5. Henry VIII – Church of England and
6. John & Charles Wesley
A. One of the things we should note about these individuals is that they strived just like Jehu with a good thought in mind. When you look at the elements, the basic principles which these men brought to the reformation movement, a major one was that we must accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. That’s a good thing, but with this also came the concept of what is not contrary to scripture is for scripture and scripture for it. That last concept is a stumbling block in the Protestant denominations.
B. The difference between the reformers like Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli was that Zwingli said unless it is specifically stated in the Word of God we are not to practice it. Whereas Martin Luther’s concept was if it’s not contrary to scripture then it’s ok to practice it.
1. Those two mindsets were poles apart—North and South poles—in thinking. It’s unfortunate that Ulrich Zwingli died in a physical battle otherwise he might have been one of the restorers as opposed to one of the reformers. Because his mindset was very similar to the mindset of those of the Restoration Movement that we will study later.
C. With the reforming came acceptance of certain things that the Catholic Church was teaching and practicing as well as additional doctrine.
D. There was quite some time when Martin Luther looked at the Bible he thought that all the books of the Bible were great except the book of James. He had difficulty with the book of James. James says you’re not saved by faith alone yet this is one of the things that Luther held to. In time Luther did come to understand that what James truly was saying was not different from what Paul taught.
E. These basic concepts were good things, but they did not go back, just in the same way as Jehu did not depart. They did some good things in the sight of God, but they didn’t go back all the way. Though the principles developed in this time period were based on the fact that the Bible is our sole standard of faith and authority, more and more variation emerged.
F. Because the reformers of this time period focused on various errors they saw as most grievous they took different paths of reform to correct those errors. There were many, in fact, within the Catholic Church itself trying to reform certain things. People such as Desiderius Erasmus one of the great scholars of the Renaissance and Reformation period. He wrote “Praise of Folly” which played an important role in the beginning of the Reformation Movement. Yet he himself remained outwardly a Catholic and criticized reformers as sharply as he did the Catholic Church.
G. When you have a look at many practices in the Protestant religions today, those are simply practices of Catholicism disguised.
What we have as the result of work of these men are the protestant denominations.
1. Some of the basic Principles we see in these Reformers are:
a. The Bible is to be accepted as the only rule of faith and practice
b. “What is not contrary to scripture is for scripture and scripture for it.” (Simply stated, it says that anything may be accepted in religion which does not expressly contradict the Scriptures)
c. Doctrine of justification by faith alone.
d. The priesthood of all believers.
We have seen the church that Christ built. We have seen the start of the apostasy, and the gradual falling away. The church Christ built gradually became controlled by man and not the word of God. In its relationship to the world it gradually fell under secular control and then grew in worldly influence to eventually having more power then some kings because of its control of the people. It was no longer for the worship of God, but for the worship of man.
I am reminded of the warning in Matthew 7:15 to beware of those who come in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves. I have heard it said that the ravening wolves are greed, power, prestige, and violence. These are the servants of the evil one and they hide oh so well in the clothing of the sheep.
Will the Catholic denomination ever return to the true church of Christ? I don’t know. I’m certainly no prophet. Right now within that denomination great struggles are going on. Some characterize these as struggles between the liberal and conservative. Those are political terms which certainly reflect to the world what the world expects to see but there are more things involved. Those same wolves are advancing within that body; there is a war within going on in media such as on Twitter very similar to what goes on in the secular world.
What are we to do? Paul tells us clearly we need to follow Christ, keep the cross in mind, study God’s word, and learn more about Him and what we are to do in this world. Workout each day the tasks the Lord has given us, honor God with our worship, in thanksgiving always for the grace He has given us. Keep our eye on the goal and walk the walk we are given while we wait for Jesus to return.
Next week we will take a more in depth look at the reformation movement and the key individuals. I intend to take a look at the developments in this movement and what leads to the next movement, the restoration.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
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