From Acts 2 To Luther
A. Kingdom was established at Pentecost after D.B.R. of Jesus.
1. Mark 9:1
2. Revelation 1:9 - “I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. . .”
3. Colossians 1:13 - “He has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
B. The Church then departed from the truth as time progressed.
I. What Happened To The Church Once It Has Been Established?
A. After Acts 2 the church grows and multiplies.
1. Acts 2:41 - 3000
2. Acts 4:4 - 5000
3. Acts 5:14 - “And believers were more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.”
4. Acts 6:1 - “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied. . .”
5. Acts 6:7 - “And the word of the Lord increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
B. In Acts 8 - They spread because of persecution.
C. In Acts 9 Saul is persecuting the church, when he sees the light.
1. According to history he later became a victim of his own previous work.
2. Historians say about 68-69 AD Paul was put to death by some of Nero’s men because of false accusations of the Jews.
D. Problems in the churches developed.
1. 1 & 2 Corinthians deals with problems that developed.
2. Colosse had heresies such as Mysticism and Gnosticism.
3. In Revelation - Seven churches with problems.
a. 4 churches had things that needed changing.
b. 2 churches commended.
c. 1 - Laodecia - nothing found that was good.
4. Acts 20:28f - Paul warns of the future.
a. Grievous wolves in sheep’s clothing.
b. Even from within.
II. The End of The First Century.
A. Last of the Scriptures written.
B. Romans were persecuting Christians.
1. Ruler when John was exiled to Patmos until 96 A.D.
2. Domitian killed in 96 by his own personal servant.
3. He was a paranoid man, even suspecting his family to be after him.
4. Had become so afraid of those around him he locked himself in a room only allowing one of his trusted servants in.
5. The young “trusted” servant plotted to kill him because Domitian had killed his own master and stolen him to be the Caesar’s own servant.
6. Perhaps that is what John meant when he said, “these thing must shortly come to pass” in Revelation 1:3; 22:6.
a. because God was going to remove that evil thing that was killing His people.
7. “Stephanus, his trusted servant, killed him as he was about to take a bath.”
-Seutonius - Roman Historian of the day.
8. Then the church was relieved for about 10-12 years.
III. The Second and Third Century.
A. Trajan came to power
1. 110-112 A.D. - Christians were persecuted in Asia Minor once again. Began allowing some of his governors to persecute Christians.
2. Asia Minor - Modern Turkey.
B. 160-180 - Marcus Aurelius - allowed persecution.
C. In 250 - another persecution arose.
D. Diocletian allowed Galarius to kill Christians in 286.
1. This began the worst persecution ever.
2. Thousands of Christians killed.
a. thrown to lions
b. burned at the stake.
c. served as torches on roads.
d. soaked in oil and tar, put on poles, in Diocletian’s garden. He would take his friends into the garden at night to show the beauty of his flowers and use the Christians as torch lights to illuminate the garden.
IV. The Fourth Century.
A. In 311 A.D. Galarius repented on his death bed.
1. Didn’t believe in God, but was sorry he had mistreated Christians.
2. Signed a law ceasing persecution of Christians.
B. 313 A.D. Constantine signed a law that Christians would never be persecuted again by the Roman government.
V. The Church during this time.
A. Had slowly fallen away by this time.
B. In 175 A.D. some of the writers of the time had written that a bishop was different from an elder - one was selected to be head over the other elders.
C. About 250 A.D. - They began selecting one man from each of those bishops around the country to be head of all the area “diocese”.
D. By 606 A.D. - The Catholic Church declared Boniface III to be the universal head of the church.
1. It was determined at that time that whatever he spoke were the words of God.
2. cf. Heb. 1:1,2
E. Paul painted this picture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3ff - perhaps had papal Rome in mind.
F. By 580 - Instruments of music were added to the church worship and rejected.
1. About 60 years later they were introduced again and gladly received.
2. How error creeps in - It is a slow process but it comes.
VI. After 1000 A.D.
A. By 1100 - Papal customs came in - Holy water, etc.
B. By 1200 - Baptism by sprinkling.
1. A few years later began praying through Mary. - In 1967 she was finally deified by the church.
2. Sprinkling of the dead began to save them.
a. cf. Heb. 9:27
b. cf. 1 John 5:17
C. In 1415 John Huss, in Prague, Czechlosovakia was burned at the stake.
1. The bones of John Wycliffe were dug up and burned as well.
2. These signified that the Catholic Church was not going to put up with heresy.
3. The sin of these men was the desire that every man be allowed to study the Bible for themselves.
VII. Reformation - 1500 - 1800’s.
A. 1517 - Martin Luther, a Catholic Monk, rebelled against papal authority.
1. Though he knew what happened to Huss and Wycliffe he stood up for truth.
2. Listed “95 Theses” or 95 things wrong with the church and nailed them to the doors of the church at Wittenburg, Germany. In these he challenged the priests to respond - none responded.
3. The pope wrote him and told him to recant, if not, excommunication.
4. Luther takes the letter and burns it on a public bonfire in Wittenburg, Germany. Then pope was out to get him.
B. Luther Started Something.
1. People began to get texts of Scripture.
2. Others Stood up - Zwingli and Calvin in Switzerland.
C. William Tyndale desired “to see the Bible in the hands of every plowman”
1. Henry 8th burned him at the stake in 1529.
2. Tyndale died with these words on his lips, “O, God open the eyes of the king of England.”
3. In less than 30 years, the same king commissioned Miles Coverdale to revise Tyndales work to make it available to the people --A sign that God answers prayer!
4. About 12 or 13 translations took place before the KJV in 1611.
D. During this time effort was made to reform the Catholic Church.
1. Luther and Zwingli tried to straighten it up.
2. Not working.
3. Erasmus - produced the Greek text in 1516.
A. In early 1800’s men began to realize that reformation was not going to work.
B. Restoration was a must!
1. Back to the Bible.
2. Speak where the Bible speaks, and silent where it is silent.
3. Production of the Church of the New Testament was the goal.
C. Alexander Campbell
1. Most prominent preacher of the day among all religious groups.
a. like a Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell of today.
2. Yet he started a movement to go back to the Bible.
3. He begged people to wear the name “Christian” only, not “Campbellites”
4. “If I say it and the Bible doesn’t, don’t believe it,” was his attitude.
5. He didn’t start a new church, he sought the church of old.
6. He used the pattern of N.T. Scripture to rebuild the first church.
7. It is like a seed that grows:
a. Plant the seed and it grows the kind planted.
b. Not sowing corn and getting beans.
c. Sow the Bible and you get a Bible kind of church.
A. The concept of the Lord’s church has suffered change over time.
B. But we can have the church of the Bible, if our will is to bring it about.