FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

ORIGINS OF THE FALLING AWAY –

LESSON 3

2 Timothy 3:1-5But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

The History of the Falling Away Part I

In the previous lessons, we have learned that the Apostasy was already at work; yet, the Holy Spirit through the Apostles of Jesus Christ restrained it directly for a time (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Even during this time, the Apostle Paul witnessed clearly that the Apostasy would come, a falling away from the truth, brought on by false teachers and weak, unknowledgeable brethren.

This apostasy is going to take place in name, organization, worship, teaching, work, and reverence of scripture. As we look into the history of the apostasy, there are a couple of points we want to set forth up front –

  1. Historic Sources.

We want to acknowledge up front that much of recorded history is produced by the power in control of the specific times.  We would be incredibly naive to think that much of what we know is not slanted in favor of the powers that be. In this case, much of history was written by the apostate church; however, in the presentation of the birth of this apostate church, there is enough clear history to plainly share the fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s words.

  1. Historic Periods.

We will share this information in highlights of specific periods (there are vast amounts of information over the thousands of years of history). We will point out important trends and happenings, but restrain from detail in many of the points, as massive books would be needed to record it all; however, everything is researchable in detail, if something catches your interests (just use the search engine on your internet explorer). There are also many good books written on the subject of church history. In your research, just be careful of the historic influence (where it may come from! – consider point #1).   

  1. Please Men, or God?

Universally, the importance of this series of lessons is to set forth that apostate churches and reforms of the apostate churches may do whatever their founders desire them to do, and please men; however, they will never please God!

If the church of our Lord is to be faithful, it must only do the bidding of its founder, Jesus Christ, and such will never please men in general!

In this little slide, we see the end result of the two thousand years of apostasy from the original design of God’s wisdom for the body of Christ. In the introduction of the historic periods, we will see the birth of the lower section (Man’s Wisdom), to the full blown chaos of today, which in turn does not resemble anything the Lord intended for His body.


Period One:

Post Destruction of Jerusalem to the End of the First Century.

70 to 100 AD

Important Dates (all dates are approximate):

Although there is evidence that Gnosticism was introduced in Hellenistic influenced areas prior to the destruction of Jerusalem; it would blossom after this date.

Gnosticism was based on a philosophy of Docetism (from the Greek, ‘Dokeo’ – ‘To Seem’). Simply put, it reduced the humanity of the Son of God into an illusion, and perverted the Gospel doctrines of godliness into antinomian licentiousness (relating to the doctrine of antinomianism- opposed to moral law). These false doctrines would become the focus of the late writings of the Apostle John.

1 John 2:4He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 4:2By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God”

Christians had already begun to be persecuted under Nero – up to 68 AD, and continued under Domitian. Domitian was an emperor naturally inclined to cruelty. He slew his own brother, put to death many Roman senators, and also began full scale persecution of Christians. 

The last one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ to die, and thought to be the only one who would die of natural causes.

The letter of Clement to the Corinthians 96 AD – Clement was thought to be an elder in the church of Rome and known personally by both the Apostle Peter and Paul during their last days in Rome. The authorship of this letter is not stated in the letter itself, but a return letter several decades later would credit Clement as the author of the letter. It is primarily a letter of instruction to proper Christian living, as understood by Clement; and the support of proper church government as established through the word by the Apostles.

The Didache – The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 60-160 AD? – This document was discovered in 1873 by Philotheos Byrennios, and is believed to be the oldest piece of non-canonical writing. It is much less a letter than a handbook, consisting of instructions derived, supposedly, directly from the teaching of Jesus. 

Summary

The post-Apostolic era of the body of Christ has begun (with the exception of the Apostle John, although much of his time was spent in prison during the rule of Domitian).

Many of the poor practices that had attempted to find their way into the bodies of Christ had begun to gain traction. Gnosticism had become a full-blown threat, and lured many Christians from the truth.

In addition to the doctrinal attacks these early brethren would face, they would also now know a much more severe form of persecution (the full force of Roman power).

The first of the non-inspired writings would begin to surface, which in and of itself would not lead to apostasy, but would heavily influence the birth of prestige and influence among individuals; instead of the doctrine of Christ!

In all this however, most Christians still loved the truth and demonstrated it in their lives. In an anonymous letter titled, “Epistle to Diognetus”; believed to be written in the early part of the second century, Christians coming into the second century out of this first period are beautifully described as fulfilling the teaching of Christ in their lives, note:

“They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usage of the country in dress, food, and other affairs of life. Yet the present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct.

They dwell in their native lands as strangers.

They take part in all things as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign land to them.

They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast off their offspring.

They have the table in common, but not wives.

They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh.

They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven.

They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives.

They love all, and are persecuted by all.

They are unknown, and yet they are condemned.

They are killed and are made alive.

They are poor and make many rich.

They lack all things, and in all things abound.

They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches.

They are calumniated (note: spoken maliciously about), and are justified.

They are cursed, and they bless.

They receive scorn, and they give honor.

They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell.”

[Concise Church History, by John Hunt – AMG Publishers (pg. 49)]

There is much more recorded in this anonymous report; however, we can see the beauty of the instruction of Christ in the lives of these who love the truth!

Next: “The Spread and Persecution