HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Lecture 1: “Apostolic Fathers”
Now this is the first lecture in a series of studies on
Church History. And, at the Pensacola Bible Institute here in
Pensacola, we consider church history to be second only to the
Bible in importance, when it comes to the Christian knowing
what’s going on, and what’s been going on, and what’s going to go
You and I are living in the great unhinged, disjointed,
uprooted generation. And we put an emphasis on Church History
here at the Institute, because we believe it’s second only to the
Bible itself. Church history can give the modern-day Christian
stability in his growth and grace, and his service for the Lord.
Now, let me explain that for just a minute. I realize
history is a rather dull subject, and those of you who studied it
in high school and college have probably had enough, and have
probably had enough of it to stuff your gizzard full of it. But
you and I are living in a generation that doesn’t know its roots.
It doesn’t know where it’s been. A man said one time, “The only
thing that men learn from history is that men never learn from
history.” And the truth of the matter is, those who forget
history must be condemned to repeat it.
The briefest study of the United Nations and the League of
Nations should show the student what this matter means. And if
you want to know why we have a generation that doesn’t know where
they’re going, or how to get there, a generation that produces
almost one bible per year without any revival, a generation that
hops and skips from fad to fad at a maddening rate of a
psychopathic maniac, without knowing what’s going to happen, it’s
because they don’t know what has happened.
Now the briefest study of the word of God will reveal that
there is a gap between the Bible type of Christianity and modern-
day Christianity, which is so great that nobody who failed to
study church history could possibly understand the difference. If
you contrast modern-day Christianity to what you find in the
Bible, you’ll find a gap so great that efforts must be made to
make the Bible conform to the twentieth century.
And these new “bibles,” of course, are attempts to make the
Bible do that. There is no way on earth that a new Christian can
look at the religious situation around him and connect it with
the word of God. There isn’t any connection. Now, we’ll show you
what we mean here in just a very few minutes.
But the Christian needs roots. The Christians I am talking
to, many of them don’t know their genealogy. They don’t know
their lineage. They don’t know their forefathers. They don’t now
what kind of people they are, and what kind of people they are
supposed to be.
Somebody said, “Well, we just follow Christ.”
No chance at all!
The people who talk the most about “following Christ” are
the liberals who don’t even know Christ, the “Jesus people” and
“Children of God” who reject three-quarters of the Old Testament
and half of the New Testament, and the hippie communes and the
rest of them whose conception of Christ is what the Bible calls
an “unclean spirit.” In plainer words, knowledge of the Bible by
itself is not sufficient for the modern-day Christian, unless
he’s going to absolutely go across the grain of nearly everything
he finds in religion today.
You say, “If he does this, he’ll become a revolutionary.”
No, I didn’t mean that. None of Christ’s followers broke into
stores and stole television sets. And if there is one thing that
was not characteristic of Christ’s followers, it was never
characteristic of them to claim civil rights, or demonstrate for
rights. That’s one thing they just didn’t fool with.
What I’m saying is, you cannot possibly adjust yourself to
this modern present-day setup with peace of mind and peace of
heart, and find what God wants you to do, and do it in the
Biblical fashion God intends for you to do it, unless you have
some understanding of what happened between when that Bible was
written and when you got saved. And a lot has happened since that
Bible was written and when you got saved. And it is the purpose
of Church History to bring these matters where the Christian can
When the Beatles made the recording, “The Nowhere Man,” they
were simply giving the credal statement of the average person in
western Europe and America today. The average American has no
roots, no anchor, no moorings. He’s like a ship in a gale. And
that is the average Christian. If you want to know why the
contemporary situation doesn’t yield one soul-winner per 500
Christians, it’s because the average Christian has no moorings,
no anchorage; he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be, not even
from the word of God.
And when he goes to the word of God, he’s got 50 men to
interpret for him differently, and 50 versions with 50 different
interpretations. And, finally, he just gives up. If he knew
history, he wouldn’t give up.
And so we teach our students Church History as secondary
only to the Bible in matters of importance for the child of God.
The modern philosophies are all what we call “existential
philosophies.” To show how this works among the young people, we
have the famous “Do your thing!” or the “Now!” or the
“happening.” Now, to the uneducated layman who doesn’t understand
the philosophical or psychological background behind these words,
we’ll be as brief as possible. Those who refuse to study history
must repeat the lessons history teaches. And, as someone has once
said, the only thing that men learn from history is that men
never learn from history. And those who refuse to heed its
lessons are condemned to repeat them.
The accent on the existential “now” or the “happening,” the
“moment-by-moment experience” that changes with the situation,
leading to what we call “situation ethics,” is merely the result
of scientists and philosophers casting off the moorings and
lashings, and saying, “There’s no beginning of time, for time is
relative. There’s no distance to be traveled, because distance is
relative. And there’s no known speed, because speed is relative.”
From this they have gathered that truth is relative. And from
this they have gathered that the only reality is this second.
That’s the background of the modern “hippie” movement. And, if
you want to know where it comes from, it comes from left-wing
philosophical professors in universities.
You must never forget that Communism was not started by a
day laborer or by a farmer. It was started by a newspaper
reporter. That’s what Karl Marx did for a living; he was a
journalist. We must never forget that modern Communism is not a
laborer’s movement at all. It is a college movement.
Now, as I have said before, those who refuse to study
history just have to repeat the mistakes. And this emphasis on
evolution, gradually going up and yet not being sure now of
whether we’re going up or not, and consequently concentrating on
the moment-by-monent experience as the only reality, has produced
a whole generation of Christians who don’t know their own people
when they see them. This has produced a hybrid or bastard
Back in the Old Testament, the Book of Hosea, the Lord spoke
of it when he said, “They’ve brought forth strange children.” We
remember a couple of strange children, of course, from Lot. And a
peculiar new birth produces a peculiar child. And a peculiar
godfather produces a peculiar set of orphans.
There is no way in the world to root and ground the
Christian properly, at least the Christian who reads, unless he
understands where he came from, who his line of people are, how
they got off the Scripture like they’ve gotten off, and how to
get back. And, of course, in these things, we’re talking about
the mature Christian. We’re not talking about the mass of babies
who are fed milk by one or two Christian celebrities.
After all, our purpose is not to act as celebrity to train
the babies. Our purpose is to raise up men the stature of Bob
Jones Sr. and Billy Sunday–the normal Christian stature, the
fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ. And, to do this, Church
History is an absolute essential.
For example, did you ever pick up a Bible and read very
carefully the New Testament, and then try to somehow or another
make that thing line up or adjust itself to what you see in your
town where you live? Hasn’t it ever struck you kind of funny
there isn’t any way under God’s Heaven to reconcile the New
Testament with what you find in the town where you live? And,
when I say you, I mean everyone reading this book anywhere in the
world. Doesn’t it ever occur to you that it’s rather strange that
in the New Testament you find the church supporting widows over
60 years old? Does your church support widows? Doesn’t it occur
to you that it’s rather strange that you can’t find a church
building anywhere in the New Testament? Aren’t there some in your
Did you ever actually just sit down and really try to figure
out whether or not you’re a Bible believer or just an infidel?
Did you ever stop to think about this? I mean, figure on these
things. Look at it carefully. The greatest Christian in the New
Testament didn’t have any Sunday school. He didn’t have any
buses. And when he died, he didn’t have any property and didn’t
have any holdings. And never reported his conversions!
Now, we’re not knocking anybody who does these things. What
we’re saying is, have you ever stopped just for a minute to think
that if that Book is the word of God, like some of you profess to
believe, that you don’t know anything about it in the modern-day
America in which you live? Nor does anybody else. Did you ever
wonder how things got into the condition they got into?
For example, do you realize that the majority of professing
Christians in America, at the time I’m writing this, are Roman
Catholic? Did you ever find the word “Catholic” in any Bible you
ever picked up? Where did it come from?
Did you ever read about a “nun” in the Bible? Did you ever
find the word “purgatory” in any Bible? Doesn’t it ever occur to
you rather strange that there are in America pretty close to
14,000,000 people who pray to Mary as the “Mother of God”? And
you couldn’t find it in any New Testament ever printed–not even
a Catholic New Testament.
In plainer words, the trouble we have today is the Christian
gets saved, and he gets his milk. And then his leaders rush him
right into the maddening business of stripping fruit off the vine
as quick as you can get it, without any regard to the truth. And
many of the people who pick on Billy Graham and criticize him for
his compromising are a great deal worse than he is when it comes
to these matters.
Now, I’ll give you one more example. Did you ever wonder how
peculiar it is to pick up a book like Faith Magazine from Bob
Jones University, where you read about a new book by one of their
faculty members called The Inspiration of the Bible by Dr.
Custer. And the advertisement says Custer says that Christians
should use the inspired word of God. Do you realize that Dr.
Custer never believed that he had a copy of the inspired word of
God? Doesn’t believe he has it now? Doesn’t believe it you have
it, and doesn’t believe you get it. Did you know that?
Do you realize that when John R. Rice says in his newspaper
it’s wicked for Christians not to read the word of God, and it’s
bad for them not to read the word of God, because the word of God
is the infallible, inspired word of God from heaven, that he no
more believes it than he believes he has 14 toes. Did you know
Hasn’t it ever struck you as kind of strange that, when you
pick up that Book, that Book nowhere says the “original
manuscripts” were inspired? It said, “All scripture is given by
inspiration.” It didn’t say the “original manuscripts.” The verse
right about 1 Timothy 3:16 said that Timothy knew the Scriptures.
Do you think Timothy had the original manuscripts?
Now this points out what we’re talking about. It’s very
important for the child of God, if he’s educated–we’re not
saying you can’t by without knowing church history–what we’re
saying is, if you spend any time at all buying anybody’s books to
read them, you’d better know church history before you read
Now, what happened between the time Acts 28 shut down and
J.C. Penney and K-Mart and Woolco opened up? Do you know? Don’t
you think you should know?
No public school indicates what happens. If you go to public
school for years, you could never figure it out. The public
schools are not allowed to teach Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. They’re
not allowed to teach the history of great revival. They’ll
mention the Great Awakening in passing, or the Cumberland-Berry
revival in passing, but they won’t tell you about the issues.
They won’t tell you about what was preached, more than one sermon
by Edwards that’s now put in a past tense, Calvinistic setting,
where people make fun of it and laugh at it and think, “My,
weren’t those preachers stupid?”
A Christian needs roots. He needs roots. A Christian needs
to know not only where he’s going, which he can get from the
Bible, what he is to do now, which he can get from the Bible, but
where his gang has been, and how they got into the condition they
got into. And, when we study church history, we’re going to
clearly find three lines of people: Biblical people, anti-
Biblical people, and compromising people.
Compromise in church history can always be spotted by a
Roman bible with an equal authority to the Bible, while
professing to believe in the fundamentals. When we get to
studying church history, we’ll find the compromisers are always
spotted by the fact that they will not tolerate any absolute
authority. They want two or more authorities. And this, of
course, is the Roman position.
Then we find an anti-Biblical line coming clear through
history, which is a study of the lives of the great philosophers
and scientists in the main–although, of course, we have
exceptions, that prove the rule. But history takes a peculiar
direction, and racial and political theories never affect the
determined course of God or Satan.
When we begin to study church history in a few lectures,
we’ll begin to study the movements of the Holy Spirit through
history as contrasted with the movements of Satan through
history. And, as I’ve said before, no racial or political
theories will alter or affect either of these courses.
For example, the Bible clearly tells you how it’s going to
wind up. And, if you know any Bible at all, by studying the Book
of Revelation, you know how it’s going to wind up. The question
is, what went wrong after Acts 28 that made it wind up that way?
And that’s what church history is about.
In our studies we’re going to trace the movements of God and
Satan throughout history. Secular histories omit the spiritual
conflicts. And for this reason, when you study secular history,
the histories by Bulward, Gibbons, Wells, Ridpath, Churchill and
the rest of them, you’re not really learning history. And this is
why nations continue to make the same mistakes over and over
again. Because they never pay any attention to the spiritual
conflicts that occur throughout history. The present situation
comes from pretending that history didn’t take place. But history
did take place.
For example, history shows that all fascist systems are just
alike. Now, history shows that. The Communists have concentration
camps, just like the Fascists. The Communists will torture and
murder you to obtain their ends. So will the Roman Catholic
Church. Now that is the judgment and the witness of history. What
you or your friends think about it really couldn’t amount to
Facts are stubborn things. Truth is a stubborn thing. And
the truth of the matter is, the concentration camps in Germany
were operated under the auspices of Adolf Hitler, Heidrich,
Himmler, Eichmann, Hess, Kurt Franz over Treblinka–and every one
of these men was a Roman Catholic. And none of them were
excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
Now, it is true that you or your friends may not like that.
But, after all, in the search for truth and fact, where the Holy
Spirit has come to guide us into all truth, we’re not interested
in what you think about it–or your friends.
Now, that type of rough orientation is necessary because
you’re never going to find out what happened to Christianity
until you start facing facts. And if you wonder today why we have
a blind, compromising, soft, effeminite, ineffectual Christianity
is because people respond to it like some of you responded just
then when you heard what I said. You’re just as blind as a bat
coming in backwards. You don’t know your roots. You don’t know
your backgrounds. You don’t know the lessons of history. You
don’t know that the way you feel is exactly the way any demon-
possessed person felt when their favorite god was attacked. And
you don’t know that, in past times and past history, certain
things speak for themselves, regardless of your feelings about
it. People like you, who think that Roman Catholicism is not a
fascist system for torture and murder, we call bigots. A bigot is
somebody who refuses to face the facts. And, when it comes to
bigotry, I suppose evolutionists and Roman Catholics are some of
the most prejudiced bigots on the face of this earth.
You say, “Well, that’s just your opinion.” No, the Second
Law of Thermodynamics, one of the three laws upon which all
physics are founded, teaches there’s entropy in a closed system,
and, as entropy increases, randomness increases. That is, to be
an evolutionist, you have to be just a little bit “touched” in
the head. As Burgon used to put it, you have to take an excursion
into Cloudland. I believe that’s the way it was put.
The facts are, the sun is burning out. The facts are, the
earth is cooling off. The facts are, the vegetation is smaller
than it was back yonder. The facts are, you’re dying. The facts,
according to uranium breakdown and carbon 14, is things are
degenerating and falling apart. Now those are facts proved
eventually by a coffin, a shovel, and a pile of dirt.
But a bigot won’t accept a fact.
If the Lord didn’t slap ’em finally shut and shut their
mouths and bury them, they’d rise up from the grave and tell him,
“There is no death”–like Mary Baker Eddy tried to do.
Now, all fascist systems are alike. Every system to improve
the world and bring in “peace on earth” is a fascist system that
will kill the good. That’s the lesson of history. The lesson of
history is, the only way you can have peace is by killing. That’s
the lesson. You want peace in China? You exterminate 14 million
Chinese who disagree with you. You want peace in Russia? You
exterminate 8 million. You want peace in Germany? You exterminate
6 million. Those things happened. The people were exterminated.
How you feel about the system is immaterial.
If you subscribe to socialism or Communism or fascism or
Catholicism, that’s your business. One road to hell is just as
good as another. But the facts of history show that any system
set up to bring in peace on earth without Jesus Christ coming
back is a system that will torture and murder to obtain its ends.
That includes your system and the system of all your friends.
All right, church history concentrates on the progress of
Christianity from Acts 28 up to 1991. And it is the focal point
of western civilization. There won’t be time in a study of church
history to cover all the sidelights and random effects of
missionary work in Asia and Asia Minor and Africa. We’re
concentrating primarily on the Western world. But, in
concentrating on the Western world, of course, eventually we’ll
get into the great missionary activities of the Western
Christians who evangelized the East.
Not knowing the influence of the Catholic Church on the
world empires causes continual repetition of the same errors.
Anybody not familiar with the history of the Roman Catholic
Church is condemned to die for a false cause on this earth. And
I’m not a Communist. If you want the documented evidence on the
past history of the Catholic Church, you’ll find it in the works
of John Carrera, or especially Avro Manhattan, or the highly
documented scientific work of Paul Blanshard–all documented,
Xeroxed, photostatic copy, name, date, line, verse, chapter,
heading, publishing company, page number. We don’t deal with
folklore and superstition in these lectures. Anybody who doesn’t
know the influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the Western
world empires must continually repeat the same errors. And, when
we study church history, we’re going to run into Rome in all of
her ghoulish glory every time we turn a page.
And, if you don’t like this, I suggest you cancel this
class. Once a bigot, always a bigot. There has been no cure known
to God or man for a man who is wise in his own conceit. The Holy
Spirit who came, came here to guide and lead the Christian to all
truth. And He’ll testify of the truth, not a lie.
A good example is in Vietnam. In Saigon, a couple of decades
ago or so ago, a Buddhist monk sat down on the streets and burned
himself to death, after sending one of Kennedy’s Roman Catholic
friends, the archbishop and head of the secret police, plus the
president–they all belonged to the same church–a note saying,
“Enforce a policy of religious equality.” This was done after the
Buddhist flag was torn down, the Buddhist temple was closed on
Buddha’s birthday, while the Pope’s flag flew around and the
Catholics celebrated the Mass, and everybody observed Christmas.
In Ireland, the newspaper reporters were told, “Our job is
to fight for our rights, and overthrow Ulster. And we have the
right to do it, according to their principles. Once we’re the
majority, they have no right to rise against us, because our
principles teach nobody can rise against us.” That’s the official
statement of Ingolls, Trotsky, and the Communist Party. The
official statement is, “We have the right to revolt, but once
we’ve established a government, nobody has the right to revolt
against us.” All fascist systems are the same. Some of them are
called Communism; some of them are called Socialism; some of them
are called Catholicism. They’re all the same black cat.
And, if you study history, you know that. And if you don’t,
you don’t. Christians refuse to face the facts because of
accusations of being a bigot or being prejudiced. With the
tremendous pressure of the modern left-wing Communist press on
Christians all over the country, they’re so afraid of those two
terms, bigotry and prejudice, they are afraid to take a negative
attitude toward anything the world takes a positive attitude
towards. If you want to see how wild it can get, you watch all
the world mourning the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 17),
and crying and casting dust on their heads and weeping and
wailing and gnashing their teeth, while the saints up in Heaven
are rejoicing and saying, “Hallelujah!”
Did you ever read those passages in Revelation 17, 18, and
19, about the city built on the seven hills, whose cup was a
golden cup and whose colors were purple and scarlet?
Now, the reason why the modern Christian is afraid of the
words “bigotry” and “prejudice” is because he is ignorant. He
doesn’t know the matter of Rome. If you studied church history
and knew church history, you would never worry about anybody
calling you a “bigot,” when you made a statement like, “The most
damnable influence on this earth outside of atheistic Communism
is the Vatican State.” And you wouldn’t worry about what people
thought. Backgrounds in church history equip you to face a
hostile world that is still against God. They let you get your
bearings, to know your moorings and your lashings and your
anchor, so that you can take the stand that a Christian should
The people of Martin Luther’s day said, “The whole world’s
He said, “All right, then I’m against it!”
John said, “Love not the world, neither the things in the
world.” Paul said, “Be not conformed to this world.” Christ said,
“I pray not for this world.” Paul said, “Christ came to deliver
you from this present evil world”–the one you’re living in! And
there’s nothing in the world that will give you a spiritual,
divine hatred for the world system which you should have, like
knowing what it has done to Biblical Christianity between Acts 28
and where you’re now listening.
Now, when I said “hate,” some of you Christians almost had a
heart attack. Because, in the first place, you rejected the
statements of your Saviour when He said, “If any man come after
me, and hate not his mother, father, brother, sister, daughter,
or son, wife, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
And, in the second place, you rejected your Saviour’s warning,
that “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in
the sight of God.” And, in the third place, you rejected the
Biblical statement that said, “These six things doth the Lord
hate, a lying tongue, a false witness,…” and then he listed a
whole bunch of them.
Now, you see, it’s already getting “hairy,” as they say out
in the world. You know why it is? Because this last generation of
Christians who came up since 1940 are Bible-rejecting Christians
who profess to believe it–but where it crosses the world system,
they won’t take any of it.
Now another good reason why the Christian should learn
something about church history is because the conditions of both
the Second Coming and First Coming of Christ are very much alike.
Consequently, the corrupting influences that are at work at the
Second Coming of Christ, have already been at work before the
First Coming of Christ.
For example, when the Lord Jesus Christ came the first time,
Rome was in power. If you studied Daniel 2, you know that Rome is
in power at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. The first time
Christ came, His forerunner was John the Baptist. The second time
He comes, His forerunner is Elijah. The first time He came, He
appeared secretly in private to believers only in the manger, and
thirty years later, publicly at the ministry of John the Baptist
to His enemies. At the Second Coming, He comes privately, first
of all, to believers only, at the Rapture; and then, seven years
or more later, publicly to His enemies, when every eye shall see
Him. At His first coming, there was one universal spoken
language–Greek. At His second coming, there will be one
universal spoken language–English. At His First Coming, He was
preceded by 400 years of corrupt pagan philosophy, which was
written down as the greatest advancements in civilization known
to man–Greek culture. At the Second Coming, He will be preceded
by 400 years of pagan philosophy and nonsense, which will be
interpreted as the highest point man has reached–evolution.
In plainer words, if you know history, you’re prepared for
history. No better preparation could be made for the Judgment
Seat of Christ than for a Christian to get himself in tune to
what a Christian should be, according to what God Himself has
determined Christians are through 19 centuries.
If there is one thing the Bible teaches, it teaches that all
dispensations end in collapse. That should be clear to any
student of the word of God. Yet, strangely enough, without a
knowledge of church history, a student who believes the Bible and
studies the Bible can often come out with the wild idea that this
age is going to end in a great revival. You’ll hear John R. Rice
often writing books called We Can Have Revival Now. John R. Rice
has not seen a revival since 1940. And, before then, he saw some
little ones located in one or two small towns. He’s not telling
the truth. When John R. Rice points about having revival now, you
know what he points to? He points to the bus ministry of pastors.
John R. Rice has no bus ministry, and he’s not a pastor. He’d
better write about something else.
Two men who speak a great deal about revival are Vance
Havner and Leonard Ravenhill. There isn’t any indication in the
last 50 years of history in America that either man has ever had
a revival, or that there is any coming.
Nor am I here to put a wet blanket on you and tell you that
you can’t have revival in your own heart or in your own
community. What I’m saying is, God’s word in history is not going
to be overthrown just because somebody wants to make a living off
publicizing their work, evangelism.
Every dispensation in the Bible ends in collapse. The law of
entropy works throughout the Bible like it works anyplace else,
and if you want a great study in the law of human collapse, you
ought to read the Book of Judges. The Second Law of
Thermodynamics, the law of entropy the deals with the randomness
that occurs through a passage of time is the only scientific law
that’s provable and demonstrable anywhere, that absolutely
overthrows the theory of evolution without any other proofs being
produced. That’s the only one you need.
You say, “What about the fossil evidence?” You don’t need
any of it. You don’t have to refer to the embryology or anything,
or the genetic code. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a
universal law which shows conclusively there never has been the
evolution of anything, except temporarily in local spots.
And the same may be said of revival.
Now, if we talk about the great revivals of the Philadelphia
church period, Revelation 3:8, we’re talking about something
else. When we begin to study church history, we’ll talk about
that very extensively. But we must always be careful to believe
what God as He said it, where He said it. And, in studying the
messages of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, chapter
2 to chapter 3, which I hope you have, you will observe the early
church did not keep the word of God; entropy set in. You will
observe the only church that kept the word of God was the
Reformation church of Martin Luther and the King James
translators–Revelation 3:8. And, at that time, due to a sudden
rise of worldwide revival, thousands of Christians who never
studied history or didn’t believe it, thought the Kingdom was
coming, and became postmillennial evolutionists in theological
matters. You notice that, to this day, Bob Jones University has
never taken a stand for premillennialism–and it never will.
Because at least half the money that is donated to Bob Jones
comes from people who reject three-quarters of the Old Testament.
We call them amillennial and postmillennial people. And that’s
why the creed at Bob Jones, recited every morning at 10 o’clock
in the chapel, there is never a statement made on the
premillennial coming of Christ. It is not considered to be one of
the fundamentals by Bob Jones University. Some of you Baptists
were tricked on that one, too, weren’t you?
You better study history! Above all things, you better study
church history! Church history is the most valuable discipline I
know, of the literary disciplines, outside of the Bible itself.
History follows the laws of thermodynamics–not the theories of
idealists and socialists. History doesn’t follow the thesis,
antithesis, synthesis of Heckel. It follows a course straight
down to hell, with temporary refreshment and revival in local
Now, wouldn’t you know that somebody who read the Bible
would believe that? How could any man who read Genesis not know
that the end of Adam and Eve’s testing ended in the fall, the end
of Noah’s generation ended in the flood, the end of Abraham’s
generation ended in the tower of Babel, the end of Abraham’s
progeny, Isaac and Jacob, became slave laborers in Egypt. And,
when they were called out of the land of Egypt, they ended in
apostasy in the wilderness. And, after they were taken to the
Promised Land, they went back to Ashtoreth and Baal and had to be
delivered. And when they finally got the king God wanted them to
have, Saul and Solomon, Solomon apostasized, and the kingdom
split in two–and Nebuchadnezzar tore it up.
Who, who read the Bible, would believe in evolution? Or who,
who believe in the Bible, would believe what the political and
racial theorists are telling us about history? What man who
believes truth and fact would think that international socialists
had enough sense to come in out of the rain on a windy night? The
Church Age doesn’t end in revival. Do you think the Laodicean
Church, the last of the seven churches in Revelation 3, is having
revival? Do you think the Tribulation ends in revival? It ends in
Armageddon. Do you think the Millennium ends in revival? It ends
with Satan coming up with Gog and Magog, and fire coming down
Now, church history runs no differently. Church history
teaches certain absolute true facts that are in line with the
Second Law of Thermodynamics. And what a socialist or philosopher
thinks about history doesn’t ever enter the problem, really. It
has no effect upon it. What somebody like Haegel or Spinoza or
Liebnitz or Marx or Young or Pavlov of Nietsche or Carlyle or
Tupestrake or Hemingway or Steinbeck or the United Nations or the
CIA or the HEW or the National Education Association–what they
think about the lessons of history isn’t worth studying. History
teaches its own lessons. And, along these lines, we should be
careful never to reject what God says about history. Because the
Bible is an historical Book that it took longer to write than any
textbook on history you can get your hands on.
Now, these matters are all summarized in a book we used to
have in print that went out of print called The Sure Word of
Prophecy, which is a very, very, extremely brief study of church
history. And, in these lectures, we’re going into a great deal
more detail than we went into in The Sure Word of Prophecy. But
in The Sure Word of Prophecy, formerly called The Kingdom of
Heaven and the Kingdom of God, we went into these matters and
showed how history is absolutely consistent in following certain
fixed cycles of patterns. These patterns run in this way–
downward. Evangelism, education, culture, apostasy. Ecumenicism,
Romanism of paganism, then communism. Evangelicalism or
evangelization, education. That pattern is discernible in church
history from the New Testament to where you’re seated.
Evangelism or revival, followed by education, followed by
culture, followed by apostasy, followed by ecumenical movements
toward Rome, followed by either paganism or communism, which are
nearly identical, followed by evangelization or revival, followed
by education, followed by culture, followed by apostasy. And we
see this thing going right on down through the ages. We can get
the forecast ahead of time.
History follows the law of thermodynamics. It is a downward
movement, with a loss of entropy and randomness and confusion
increasing at the end of any dispensation. And this can be proved
in the test tube, in the factory, in the science laboratory, in
the Bible, out of the Bible, or anyplace else.
Now, in studying church history, we need to talk for awhile
about sources. When we talk about sources, we talk about the
books that men have written about church history that we’re going
to have to study in order to find out where we’re at and what’s
going on. Fortunately, there are scores of these available. There
are so many, as a matter of fact, that I won’t take time out on
these studies to list more than about 20 works. There are several
hundred major works, and there are several thousand minor works,
covering particular areas and certain small incidentals and
incidences in part. The autobiographies and biographies, of
course, are without number.
But the main sources for church history are as follows: —
First of all, the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious
Knowledge, published in 1908.
–The Catholic Encyclopedia, published in 1907.
–Documents of the Christian Church by Bettenson, published in
–Ayer’s book called Source Book for Ancient Church History,
published in 1913.
–Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History.
–The work by Philip Schaff called The Creeds of Christendom,
published in 1905.
–And, of course, the standard eight-volume by Philip Schaff,
called History of the Christian Church.
–Then we have Dargan, two volumes on A History of Preaching.
–We have two volumes by The Baptist Historian on Church History,
by the Baptist historian Newman.
–We have a book called A History of Christian Doctrine, by
–Then we have two famous historians, Dollinger, who is a Roman
Catholic historian; and Neander.
–Then we have a work by Neve called A History of Christian
–A large set of works by LaTourette called A History of the
Expansion of Christianity.
–Then we have The History of the Reformation by D’Aubigene.
And, of course, we have many others. A modern history of
fundamentalism you should get is The History of Fundamentalism by
George Dollar. A good book is The History of Christian Thought by
McGiffert. And, of course, the works by Baten, Hoitzinger, Vader,
and other works. There are many, many of these kinds. But these
are the main ones, and these will do.
Halley’s Bible Handbook is a very excellent little
abbreviated account of church history. Very abbreviated, but very
good. And you might like to make some references to that.
Then, in addition to this, of course, there are invaluable
biographies and autobiographies, which need to be studied, about
particular men which will yield a gold mine and a wealth of
information–particularly The Journal of John Wesley, for
example, and The Letters and Writings of Martin Luther, and
scores of others.
And these will be our sources in our study of church
Now, we’ve finished our first volume here, Volume 1 on the
study of Church History. In this first volume, we dealt with the
need for a study of Church History, and we also dealt with the
sources and material. In our next volume, Volume Number 2, we’ll
take up an actual study of the life and times of the Lord Jesus
Christ in the New Testament that precedes what we call Church
History proper; that is, the history that begins to deal with the
history of the Christians following the completion of the Book of
I believe you all know that the writings of John take place
after the completion of the Book of Acts, and many of the Pauline
epistles are written at a later date. But the actual history
itself of New Testament Christianity, history as such, written in
both times, discussing what took place, ends in Acts chapter 28.
And our purpose in this series of studies will be to find out
what happened between Acts 28 and, say, 1991. And, as we said on
the first volume–this is very important to learn–because the
new Christian who is born again is immediately led astray from
his belief in the authority of the word of God and the power of
the word of God, almost as soon as he gets saved, because it will
not line up with what he sees around him. Consequently the
Christian leaders, and scholars in particular, have been trying
to make the Bible adjust itself to the contemporary situation.
This is what we call apostasy.
Now, I realize the Scofield notes have led people to believe
that apostasy is only possible among unsaved people. And the
peculiar teachings of C.I. Scofield and his board, that apostasy
is a falling away from the faith by men who never really were in
the faith, is interesting–but certainly not Scriptural. Apostasy
can be applied to any number of things. And a “falling away from”
something–apohitamie, the Greek reading on it–occurs very often
among saved people along many lines. Many Christians apostasize
from their duties. Many Christians apostasize from their belief
in the word of God. Many Christians apostasize from their love
for Christ. The term is a very broad term, and by no means can be
limited to unsaved people who profess something.
Now, Scofield and his board got into this jam by rejecting
the King James Bible in such passages as Hebrews and James and 1
and 2 Peter. And in order to explain the apparent contradictions
there that dealt with a Christian losing his salvation, as some
people believe–and that contradicting with the Pauline epistles-
-he applied this term “apostasy” to professors of Christianity,
rather than possessors. This has done untold damage to the body
of Christ, and a deathly amount of destruction, in that it has
led the modern Christian to believe two things that are not true.
It has led him to believe that if a man believes the fundamentals
and lives a godly life, you can trust him in matters of Bible
revision–which you can’t. And it has led him to believe that
demon possession is entirely limited to unsaved people–which it
is not. And so, because of this, it is very essential that the
child of God, if he inclines to readings and educator and
literature and culture, be acquainted with Church History before
he’s acquainted with any other discipline of the literary arts.
I’d say that outside of the Bible itself, a knowledge of
church history is the most valuable asset that the educated
Christian can have. We realize, of course, that many people are
not able to comprehend these things and get into them and dig
into them and work with them. And, of course, the Lord has His
way of protecting them. As a matter of fact, they’re much better
protected than the reading and educated type of Christian. You
will quickly find in the mountains of North and South Carolina
and Virginia and Tennessee much greater fidelity to the word of
God than you will with the faculty members of Arlington and
Springfield and Fort Worth and Pensacola Christian College. The
ignorant of the wrong material always have more faith in the
right material, than those who are acquainted with the wrong
Now, here we begin our study of Church History. Church
History being a study of the events that took place in regards to
the Christians from the Book of Acts onward. As we said before,
there are three lines that can be clearly discerned in Church
History from the Book of Acts to the present time:
A Biblical line. Now, this Biblical line may not always have
their Bible interpretation right. But they believe it.
We then have an anti-Biblical line, a line that is set in
opposition and opposed to the word of God, and fights the word of
God, and opposes the word of God with a desperate hatred.
Then we have in between these two lines a compromising line.
And the compromising line is always a line that professes to
believe in what we call “the fundamentals of the faith,” although
belief in the fundamentals of the faith will vary from time to
Now, to show you how confused the issue is, for example,
take the present day. George Dollar wrote a book called The
History of Fundamentalism. When he wrote that history of
fundamentalism, he included in it many people who were
amillennial and postmillennial. There is no man who was ever
connected with the ministry of W.B. Riley or J. Frank Norris who
ever believed that a fundamentalist could deny the premillennial
coming of Christ. But, again, it only goes to show the Christian
how screwed up things are, and how he needs to study history.
Bob Jones University was founded by a Methodist. Bob Jones
Sr. got his creed from a lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, Sam Small,
who was a good friend of Sam Jones, who was converted under his
ministry–who was not a premillennialist. Hence the doctrines of
eternal security, baptism by immersion, and premillennialism were
never considered to be fundamentals by any of that group.
Recently, Bob Jones University has been hard up for students
from amillennial and postmillennial churches. So they’ve been
courting the premillennialists, and making doctors out of them to
get their kids.
It’s wise that you understand what’s going on. And, without
a knowledge of church history, without a knowledge of what
Christians profess to believe, you don’t know where you’re at.
And you’re liable to get very upset and in a rage by statements
like what I just made because of your love for falsehood, and
your lack of love for the truth.
The Bible said when the Holy Spirit was going to come, He
was going to guide the Christians, the apostles, into all truth,
and show them things to come. Jesus Christ said, “Thy word is
truth.” And the Holy Spirit would teach you all things.
That is, what we’re saying is, the constant deception of the
modern-day Christian, his constant preoccupation with lies, his
bigotry and prejudice and unbelief of the truth, his hatred for
the King James Bible, is due to pure, sheer, unadulterated
ignorance. And this ignorance is found mainly in the educated
class of Christians, who have been brainwashed by a Christian
education. You should know church history.
The compromisers believe in fundamentals, or profess to
believe in a certain number of things taken from the Bible. They
do not believe the Bible.
So we have these three lines coming through.
Now, next, we have–and, of course, you can easily see this
from a study of the word of God–we have, of course, through
church history the movement of the Holy Spirit, taking the church
on through to the Rapture–through over 19 centuries of church
Then we have, of course, the movement of the devil. The
devil did not go out of business in Acts 28–not by any means.
The devil is still very active. He’s still an accuser, as Job 1.
He’s still a deceiver, as Revelation 12. He is still a hinderer,
as 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. And he is also still a slanderer,
and a tempter, as in Luke chapter 4 and Genesis chapter 3. He did
not go out of business with the new bibles. He’s still at work.
So we’re going to trace the work of the unclean spirit, the
satanic spirit, throughout 19 centuries. And we’re not going to
ignore his work. We’re not going to pretend, for example, that
the devil doesn’t have an active interest in Bibles. That would
be very foolish. We’re not going to pretend for a minute that the
devil isn’t actively involved in the lives of every godly man who
ever lived. We’re not going to be that foolish. We’re not going
to suppose that because a man is godly, like Jeremiah or Moses or
David or Daniel or Peter, that he is above reproach. We’re not
going to imagine that for a minute. Simply because a man like
Benjamin Warfield or J. Gresham Machen or A.T. Robertson or John
R. Rice has taken a stand against the liberal, we’re not going to
take this as proof of their infallibility, or proof of their
common sense. We’re going to say, “Thank God they did at least
part what they should have done, and did it correctly within a
We’re not ignorant of the devil’s devices nor ignorant of
his wiles. We’re going to keep our eyes open, and our hearts and
ears tuned to the word of God as the infallible authority in all
matters of faith and practice. And it is not merely our
profession, but it is going to be our operating basis.
Now, starting our study of church history, still speaking
broadly, we cannot help but be impressed by the change in first
century Christianity as compared with twentieth century
Christianity. It is obvious that the Christians have apostasized.
That’s perfectly clear. And, in dealing with Scofield’s
definition of apostasy, we do best just to simply ignore it and
compare our modern-day Christianity with the New Testament.
And let us make ourselves very clear on this. We’re not
going to be so wild and so foolish as to say that all of these
monstrous big works that are running 8,000 and 10,000 in Sunday
school are of the devil. I wouldn’t think such a thing.
Furthermore, I wouldn’t question the motives of those who set
them up. I know several of these men personally. I know them
personally. And personally, they’re sincere and have as fine a
motive as any Christian you ever met in your life. I’m not going
to question what they do; to their own Master they stand or fall.
That’s God’s business.
And we’re not going to say that simply because what you see
does not check with the New Testament, that it’s all of the
devil. That is, our approach is going to be level-headed
conservative always, no matter how radical some punks think we
We all recognize the fact that in the Book of Acts somebody
has to wait on the tables, and there was no stipulation made for
it from Genesis to Malachi. Therefore, a new practice had to be
initiated after prayer over the matter–which one could not find
a Scriptural basis for in the Old Testament. We understand that.
We understand that, when you have a thousand people meeting,
you can’t meet in somebody’s living room, you see. We’re not as
crackpot as some people think we are or say we are. We recognize
that, simply because you can’t find a verse to match everything
going on today, that everything going on today is unscriptural.
We’re not saying that. The Campbellites said, “You have no
Scripture for pianos or organs in your church.” I told them, “You
have no Scripture for light bulbs.”
A very zealous premillennial, independent, fundamental,
etc., brother said to me one time, “You have no business having a
prayer altar in your church. The Bible doesn’t speak about a
I asked him what he was doing driving a car. I don’t find
where the Scripture authorizes automobiles anywhere, do you?
But aside from this, there is something about the character
and tone of Peter, James, John, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timotheus,
and the early Christian martyrs that doesn’t match the character
and tone of what you see in the city where you live. And you know
it, and I know it. There has been apostasy in the body of Christ.
You say, “Well, this was all done by modernists.” I don’t
believe it for a minute! John R. Rice and these people who take
these bold, brave stands against an enemy who never shows up, to
deal with them–they’re operating in another circle altogether,
and don’t even run into them any more–to take this “bold and
brave stand,” they’re trying to kid you into thinking that
apostasy in the body of Christ is all due to the work of unsaved
people. That isn’t even New Testament doctrine.
You get over there in those Pauline epistles, and you’ll
find there’s many a man in there, like Demas, and Diotrephes, who
loved to have the preeminence, and others, and Ananias and
Sapphira, who were saved people, who were raising Cain in the
body of Christ! Somebody said, “They were professors and not
possessors.” You don’t know that! And the testimony of Scripture
would indicate otherwise.
You see, this is the attempt of the Pharisee, the modern
Pharisee, to say that if a man doesn’t live like he thinks he
should live, or the Scriptures say he should live, the man is
unsaved. That is not the testimony of the New Testament. There is
a born again, saved, Bible-believing Christian in the New
Testament who is going to bed with his father’s wife. And there
are two teachers in the New Testament, Bible teachers, who are
teaching was J. Gresham Machen and Benjamin Warfield and A.T.
Robertson taught, and for teaching what these three gentlemen
taught, these teachers are turned over to the devil for the
destruction of the flesh. Now you see what we mean when we talk
about a gap between what’s going on now and what that Bible says.
There has been apostasy among the born again believers
themselves, a continual falling away from the faith for 19
Now what were the causes of this apostasy? We’re going to
study them in detail, as we get into the study of the matter of
Church History. Generally, they fall under five headings:
1. First of all, the first danger we’ll learn about when we
begin to study church history, which you should know, is,
Christians lean towards apostasy when they begin to use heathen
vocabulary that comes from heathen universities. Now, it’s very
important that you understand what I just said. That’s one of the
causes for apostasy in the body of Christ, according to the
testimony of church history. And we’ll document that statement in
this volume and the next one.
A good example is Ignatius, a great, godly, good, dedicated,
humble, Spirit-filled, soul-winning martyr–who, once upon a
time, when he made a remark about the Christian faith, made the
blunder of not using the Bible term but said “Catholic”–a term
borrowed from the Greek literary cultures of 300 b.c.
Somebody said, “You mean to tell me you’re going to hang a
man for that?” No! I’m saying there’s a danger in using terms
from heathen vocabulary out of heathen universities to defend the
If you want to know where that term “Catholic” came from,
the answer is it didn’t come from any Bible that was ever
printed. It came from Plato and Aristotle and Socrates, and that
bunch. And Ignatius, in trying to speak about the faith being
spread abroad through the Roman Empire, made the mistake of
saying “Catholic” faith instead of “Biblical.” That cost
40,000,000 people something, didn’t it? Or, to be more accurate,
maybe 400,000,000 people?
2. Apostasy is always just around the corner when the born
again, saved, soul-winning, premillennial, fundamental, etc.,
alters the word in order to defend it. A good example is Origen,
who spent his life changing the Bible so he could impress heathen
philosophers with how true the Bible was. That’s a bad mistake.
That’s the habitual practice of Wilbur Smith and Archer Weniger
and Gleason Archer and E. Schuyler English and Reuben Olson and
Custer and Neal, and, in particular, A.T. Robertson, who changes
more than 2,000 words in the New Testament.
Once you begin to alter that word in order to defend it, you
have told the heathen that you are the judge, and the Book is
under your judgment, and you control the Book and are able to sit
in judgment on the Book. That is how to convince the heathen that
the Book is not the authority. That’s how you do it. And that’s
how he loses his respect for the Book.
3. The third cause of apostasy is refusal to accept the Old
Testament literally. A good example is a man named Augustine,
whom we’ll study later. Don’t be in a hurry about these; we’ll
give you their names, addresses, and dates in a while, what they
did and what they didn’t do, in our study. Right now, we’re
talking about the general trends throughout church history from
the first century.
Where there’s a refusal to accept the Old Testament
literally–that is, when God told Eve not to eat of it, He meant,
“Don’t eat of it!”–when the Old Testament is refused to be
accepted literally; for example, where Christ said, “If you
believe not Moses and his writings, how shall you believe my
words?” when you don’t accept the Old Testament literally; for
example, Christ said, “O fools and slow of heart, not to believe
all that the prophets have spoken,”–when any born again,
dedicated, premillennial, fundamental, soul-winning etc., who has
a godly, dedicated, consecrated, spiritual life, doesn’t accept
the Old Testament literally; for example, Paul said he believed
all things written in the law and the prophets–where that takes
place, apostasy immediately sets in. Because three quarters of
the Old Testament deals with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
And if you don’t get your doctrine straight on that, you
don’t get your doctrine straight on the most often mentioned
subject in the entire Bible.
4. We’ll find in our study of church history that one of the
causes of the apostasy is emphasis on ritual and organization. A
good example is Cyprian, whom we’ll discuss later–Cyprian’s
attitude toward the bishop in the local church. Where there is an
undue emphasis on organization and ritual, apostasy sets in. You
say, “Among who?” Among the Christians! Not the liberals. We’re
not discussing the liberals. We’re talking about apostate, born
again people. We’re talking about born again people who cling to
the profession of faith in the fundamentals, while they
apostasize from the orders and commandments of God Almighty.
All right, emphasis on ritual and organization can cause
apostasy. When we get to studying the early foundations of the
Roman Church, for example, we’ll run into this matter over and
5. Fifthly and finally, and perhaps most important, the
desire to sit as an authority on the word of God is perhaps the
prime cause and source of apostasy in the body of Christ. And,
unfortunately, this particular gimmick is true of conservative
scholarship in every age of the church history–just about. The
only exception that is given is the Reformation, the Philadelphia
church, that “kept his word,” Revelation 3, verse 8.
Somehow or another, when a Christian gets educated, he
cannot resist the temptation to set himself up as God, when he is
dealing with the Bible. A good example is John R. Rice playing
God in Revelation 22:14, or John R. Rice playing God on Acts
chapter 8, verse 37–or any other passage, or any other scholar.
Rice, of course, was deceived and led astray by Dr. A.T.
Robertson, Benjamin Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and the rest of
the “good, godly, dedicated people” who sat in judgment on the
word of God. R.A. Torrey has been guilty of it at times. As a
matter of fact, Dr. DeHaan, Charles Fuller, and Theodore Epp have
been guilty of it at times.
Now, strangely enough, the attitude of the modern
conservative toward this is this–and a more peculiar attitude
you couldn’t get if you went to Zen Buddhism and went there on
cocaine. When these men sit in judgment on the word of God and
correct, do you know what their alibi is? You’d never guess. I
mean, just as surely as they change that word of God and alter
it, do you know what they give you as an alibi for doing it? They
give the alibi that every unsaved man in your town gives for
rejecting Jesus Christ. You know what they say? They say, “Well,
So-and-So, and he’s godly.” That’s what they say!
Now, I’ve dealt with these men all across this country, in
every type of imaginable situation. And, when you pin them right
down, you know what their alibi is for sitting in judgment on the
word of God? That other godly, dedicated men did it, so that’s
proof that they can do it, because they’re godly and dedicated,
too! You know what they call that in psychiatric pathology? They
call that a psychosis! That’s madness!
There isn’t a man listening to my voice who doesn’t know, no
matter how godly and dedicated a man is, he has two natures. When
God wanted to pick a man after his own heart, he picked David.
And he let David write more of the Old Testament than any man
outside of Moses. David and Moses were both murderers. Does that
prove you should murder?
You see, like I said before, the gap between what that Book
says and what you’re dealing with is so great that unless you
know the progress of apostasy from Acts 28 to now, you don’t know
what’s going on. As a matter of fact, you Christian people can’t
even think straight any longer, many of you. The processes are in
line with the age. They’re not in line with the word of God.
Now you say, “What made these men sit in authority on the
word of God and judge it and correct it?” Well, that’s easy.
Their old nature! The old nature is a rebel. The devil said to
Eve, “I’ll tell you what you do. You just pretend God didn’t say
that, and go ahead and eat it, and you’ll be like a god, knowing
good and evil.” KNOWLEDGE! The tree of the knowledge of good and
So she bit. You reckon that was a manifestation of her
godliness or humility? That was a manifestation of the fact that
she was able to sin. So, when these godly, dedicated–I use that
term over and over again because that’s the term they use in
describing themselves; they’re very humble; or describing the
other people who correct the word of God, so people will think
they’re all the same bunch; they think that’s a manifestion of
their godliness. That’s a manifestion of their wickedness!
But don’t you see, the modern Christian leader or Christian
celebrity or educator is a Pharisee, and he’s gotten the idea
that if the man he’s talking about was never caught drunk or
shacking up with somebody’s wife or spitting tobacco juice, that
he’s sinless when he corrects the word of God! Why it should
never occur to the modern educator that that might be a
manifestation of his old nature, is a mystery to me. After all,
the basic roots of the old nature don’t hinge primarily in such
things as fornication and adultery and drunkenness. They hinge in
pride. Why, pride and envy were working in this universe in
Isaiah 14 and Genesis 1:1 before Adam and Eve even showed up!
Now, you see what we mean? You see what we mean when we say
that the modern Christian is not Biblically oriented? The mind
and the thinking processes and the reasoning processes are in
tune with the age. And that’s exactly what Paul warned against
when he said, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind.” So we say for the fifth or sixth
time, and say justifiably, a knowledge of church history is
almost indispensable to the Christian, and it is to the educated
Now, two other general trends are found throughout church
history, which we’ll run into again and again as we study. And
these trends have to do with three warnings in the New Testament.
Before church history proper begins, and before we begin to study
the actual working out of history following the completion of the
New Testament in Acts 28, we find a couple of well-placed
warnings right in the New Testament for us, so we don’t lose our
footing. The first of these is in Colossians chapter 2, verse 8,
which warns against tradition and philosophy. The second warning
is 1 Timothy 6:20, which warns against science.
You will be careful to note that every new translation on
the market has changed both of these verses, and both of these
verses were changed by born again, saved people. Because the body
of Christ is the leader in the apostasy. Now, you need to get
that. When Paul wrote that thing, he warned against philosophy,
tradition, and science. The King James translators in 1611 were
perfectly aware of that, and perfectly aware of the fact that the
magicians and astrologers of Chaldea, Daniel 1 and 2, were
acquainted with science. They were perfectly aware of the fact
that the word was “science,” according to the Greek gnostics and
agnostics, and that Plato and Aristotle used that term. And they
gave a clearcut warning about those three things.
The modern Christian whose mind is in tune with the world
and who worships science and education must change that word to
go to sleep at night with a clear conscience. So the word has
been changed in all the new translations. You know what you call
that? That’s a falling away from the faith. That is apostasy. By
who? By saved, born again, premillennial, fundamental, soul-
winning people, who object to the Bible.
So, when we say “apostasize,” we know exactly what we’re
talking about. It can be proved with no trouble. If you’re
talking about a “falling away from,” apohistomie, that’s what the
word means, it goes on all the time among Christians–not unsaved
people. As a matter of fact, in our discussion so far, we’re not
even discussing unsaved people. We’re talking about saved people.
Two principles are observed throughout church history that
lead to apostasy in the body of Christ and cause the Christians
to accept philosophy, tradition and science in place of the word
of God. The first of these movements is what we call an
“ecumenical” movement. It is a movement of unsaved people to get
into the body of Christ–that is, at least where they meet,
worship, teach, and pray, and sing–especially the schools and
the faculty. And get in there under the pretense of being the
same crowd. These ecumenical principles are found in the Book of
Nehemiah and Ezra. And, if you want to learn how they work, you
study the Book of Ezra and Nehemiah. And, when you get in there,
you find that the enemies of the Lord show up, and when they come
up there, the first thing they want to do is join. And when they
come up there, they say, “Why, we’re of God, and we’re building
too, and we’re just like you are!”
Do you remember what happened to the young prophet in 1
Kings 13 who was told that by an older prophet? Well, if you
don’t, you have no business talking about bibles or revisions,
and you ought to get out of the pulpit for about 35 years. You
say, “Ruckman, you’re overstating!” No, I’m not overstating in
the least! What are you doing taking the advice of “godly,
dedicated” men who perverted the word of God, when you were told
in 1 Kings chapter 13 that when God said something, He said it,
and no matter who tells you it wasn’t that way, you’re to ignore
them! Or get killed by a lion (1 Kings 13)!
Do you remember when the ambassadors came to Joshua and
pretended to be from a far country. And Joshua, all he did was
check their bread and their clothes and looked at the dirt on
them and figured they were telling the truth, when they weren’t?
That’s the ecumenical principle.
Folks say, “We believe the Bible is the sole authority in
all matters of faith and practice.” No! I don’t know 15 faculty
members at Bob Jones who believe that. As a matter of fact, I
don’t know five who do. When I went to Bob Jones University, they
had an advertisement that said, “We believe in the absolute
authority of the Bible.” I hadn’t been there three months before
I found out that no faculty had a Bible. All they had was what
they called “reliable translations” that they sat in judgment on,
and changed when they felt like changing it. They believe in the
absolute authority of Christian education. Their god was their
belly. They were their own god. They weren’t in subjection to any
authority. The authority of God was in subjection to them.
You better learn the ecumenical principle of Ezra, Nehemiah,
and 1 Kings 13, where the enemy, sometimes saved (1 Kings 13,
speaking by the Holy Spirit), sometimes lost (Ezra and Nehemiah),
moves in and professes to be a Bible believer when they’re not.
Or, when they are, perverts it to test you to see if you believe
You see where we’re going, don’t you? We’re dealing with the
satanic principles and the work of the god of this world in the
field of authority. And, when we’re in here, we’re on ground that
98 percent of the Christians can no longer follow. Because, on
these grounds, when it comes to being in subjection to authority,
the average Christian is an apostate, as we have defined the
word. He has fallen away from complete obedience and surrender to
All right, the ecumenical principle will be found throughout
church history. And then, what we call the “revision” principle,
which is found in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah, this matter is outlined
and outlined very thoroughly where you couldn’t possibly miss it,
in Jeremiah 36. And, if you’re not thoroughly familiar with the
material in Jeremiah 36, you may have some business pastoring a
church or teaching a class, you may have some business as an
evangelist or a soul-winner or a missionary or rescue mission
superintendent. But you have no business talking about the
authority of the word of God in regards to inspiration. You
better leave that alone. Because in Jeremiah 37 you were told
that when a certain class of people get hold of the original,
inspired words, they cut it up and burn it. And where they do,
God does a double act of inspiration that inspires a new set that
are different from the originals! And you’d better get that
before you go writing books on inspiration, like these poor
superstitious people like Dr. Rice and Dr. Custer and Gaussen,
where they’re spending the whole book trying to prove the
inspiration of the Greek manuscript by quoting King James. You
There isn’t a way on God’s earth you’re going to be a real
Bible-believing Christian unless, number one, you’re so ignorant
and stupid you just believe it from cover to cover, and the Holy
Spirit guides you, or unless, if you’re educated, you understand
how the word of God interprets church history. And, of course,
when it comes to church history, we accept the Bible as the final
interpreter and teacher.
All right, now we’re ready for a beginning of the actual
study of church history itself. And, in the actual study of
church history, we begin with the Roman Empire. When the Lord
Jesus Christ shows up on this earth and is born in Bethlehem in
the days of Herod the king and Augustus Caesar, when He is born
there, the world is under the domination of the iron legs of
Daniel 2, Rome. The Caesars, the Roman emperors, are considered
to be offspring of the gods–the Roman always having confused the
political with the religious, as they do at Xavier University and
Loyola today and Dartmouth. And the Caesar was looked upon as
There are endless lists of the Caesars. The material on
their lives is legend and just about infinite. Anybody who reads
the classic work on the fall of Rome by Gibbon can get the
material. So we’re not going to waste a great deal of time
studying the lives of the Caesars. The term is also “Kaiser” and
“Tsar” in other languages. It indicates a divinely chosen ruler.
And these Caesars are in charge of things; their lives are
corrupt beyond belief. And, when you get to reading the material
published by Josephus and other writers and Gibbons, and study
the private life of the Caesars, their lives are just as corrupt
as the lives of the Popes. And, in this study, of course, we’ll
find Popes who were women parading as men, Popes who were caught
in the act of adultery and killed, and Popes who had as many as
40 illegitimate children running around Rome. Rome doesn’t change
very much. One thing you can say about it; “The Eternal City”
abides forever as the fount and sink of corruption, and probably
won’t change in the next 450,000 years–at least not until the
new heavens and new earth.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ comes in. Rome is in power. The
Roman Empire has spread a vast network of highways and roads all
over the northern part of Africa and the northwestern part of
Europe. They’ve been able to get up to the Rhine and get across
the Rhine and not much further. And, when they to the Toortenberg
Forest, Shaman gives them a fit and kills them out, Septimus
Severus, and he lies up there frozen up in the snow. And they get
up there in the north end of England and have terrible trouble
with the Scots. So they build a wall across between Scotland and
England, which is still there today. And, to this day, they have
the worst trouble in dealing with people from central Germany and
If you want to know what’s going on in North Ireland, it’s
Scotch Presbyterians in Ulster, who have been there for years and
years, who are Bible believers. And, if you want to know what’s
wrong there, it’s very simple. The Pope will never intervene to
stop a war, if there’s a possibility it will come out in his
And so we have the Roman Empire trying to take over Europe
and having taken a great deal of it at the time that Christ
comes. And when Christ comes, He comes into a Greek-speaking
world in the main. Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew, of course, are
still spoken, and when the Lord Jesus Christ is on there, you
have Biblical Hebrew spoken in the synagogues. Which is apparent
by the fact that Paul reads it when he travels around Asia Minor,
and teaches and preaches in it to Jews in the synagogues.
The fickle fancy that only Aramaic is spoken, of course, is
Graff-Wellhausen nonsense. We don’t have time to talk about Graff
and Wellhausen right now; we’ll talk about them later.
When Christ comes in, there are some political parties
active in Palestine. These parties, of course, are the Sadducees
and Pharisees spoken of in your New Testament. The Sadducees are
spoken of in the Book of Acts, where Paul is making his defense
before the Council. And when Paul tears up this Council, he tears
them up by pointing out the fact that the Pharisee believes in a
resurrection, and the Sadducee doesn’t (Acts 23). In Acts 23 you
will find the Sadducee; in Matthew 23, you will find the
Pharisee. If you study all the verses of the New Testament that
deal with the Sadducee and the Pharisee, you will come up with
the logical conclusion that the Sadducee represents the modern-
day liberal in the National Council of Christian Churches, and
the Pharisee, beyond any shadow of a doubt, represents the Roman
The points by comparison and similitude are too many to
ignore. For one thing, the Pharisee wanted to be called “Father,”
as the Catholic priest; he wore long robes, as the Catholic
priest; he compassed land and sea to make one, Catholic, whole,
universal proselyte, as the Catholic priest; his converts were
unconverted, as the Catholic people’s converts are unconverted.
And, if you will study rabbinical literal, especially in the
literature by Eerdmans and Josephus and the Talmud, you’ll find
the doctrines of limbo and purgatory come from rabbinical
tradition. And the greatest rabbinical traditionists in the world
were the Pharisees. See Matthew 20, 21, 22, and 23.
In addition to the active work of the Sadducees and the
Pharisees in the time of Christ was the work of the Essene group.
This group has received much undue publicity and overdue
publicity by the people who talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls. This
was a Communist group of Bible-rejecting Jews who lived out near
the Dead Sea, and their rules and regulations are contrary to the
Old Testament. They reject the sacrifice God told them to offer,
and the interest in the Essenes is very apparent by the fact that
such writers as Burrows and Allbright and the rest of them work
at it day and night to try to convince you that Christ borrowed
His religion from them–or at least that John the Baptist
borrowed his religion from them–which of course he didn’t.
What you’re up against in church history is always these
archaeologists and paleontologists and ethnologists always
digging around and trying to find some human, natural explanation
to explain why this stuff pops up in the New Testament. And hell
will freeze over, I guess, before they will stop looking for a
natural explanation so they can kick God the Holy Spirit out of
their lives and out of history. So the best thing to do is
classify them “4F.”
Then we have the Zealots. The Zealots were a group of
minutemen, right-wing extremists. And these right-wing extremists
were largely responsible for the terrible debacle that took place
in 70 a.d. at the destruction of Jerusalem. The Zealots were
extremely anti-Roman; they were extremely pro-Jewish; they were
Bible literalists who believed in the coming of the Messiah.
However, since they did not believe the Old Testament literally
where it spoke of Christ’s first coming, but only believed the
Old Testament literally where it spoke of His Second Coming, they
were responsible for His death on the cross and, as a
consequence, they were crucified at the rate of 500 a day outside
the city walls of Jerusalem during the siege by Titus in 70 a.d.
Now 70 a.d. is one of the dates we should first learn in our
study of Christian church history. We should learn 33 a.d. (for
the death of Christ), often given as 30 with the adjustment in
the calendar time, which we’ll ignore. We’ll make it 33 a.d. for
the death of Christ, and 70 a.d. for the destruction of
Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem is mentioned in all the
ancient writing, with a detailed description by Josephus and many
others. And in the destruction of Jerusalem, the Zealots stood
the people up to resist the Roman army on the grounds that the
Messiah was about to appear. And, of course, they just had
crucified Him; in the Book of John they said, “We have no king
but Caesar,” and in 70 a.d. the Lord graciously answered their
prayer for damnation and transferred their authority from their
King, the Lord Jesus Christ, to a drunken, depraved sadist–Nero
The Jew had said, “We have no king but Caesar.” He gave them
Now the Zealots were not saying, “We have no king but
Caesar.” That was the chief priest, scribes, and Pharisees, and
the Herodians. But the Zealots, on the grounds of expecting the
Messiah to come after rejecting the first One, kept all this
bunch in line until they were slaughtered to where there were
bodies in the ground so thick, you couldn’t walk from the bottom
of Zion to the top of the Temple without stepping on a body. At
one time the blood was falling so fast it put out portions of the
fire that were kindled in the Temple.
These were the minutemen, the Zealots. Simon Zealotes, one
of the disciples, was from this group.
Last of all, we have the Herodians, who sided with the Roman
government. And some of the Pharisees were Herodians, in that
they were very concerned and upset when Christ began to teach,
and went around to Herod accusing Him, and went around to Pilate
and accused Him, and accused Him of sedition, and not paying His
taxes. The Herodians were a pro-government, pro-Roman group. As
such, of course, they were fascists, as Rome has always been a
fascist state. The fashish is the symbol of the Roman government;
the bound rods to whip the man with, and the axe in the middle to
cut off his head with. It is a fascist state, and of course,
Hitler, being a good Roman, and Goebbels and Himmler and Eichmann
and Heidrich, being good Romans, adopted this symbol too after
Mussolini taught them how to use it.
Then we have some odd groups that show up in the first
couple of centuries, which we’ll talk about in detail later. And
among these are the Ebionites, people who believe in salvation by
faith and works by misquoting the New Testament; and Montanists,
a sort of “holiness” group which we’ll talk about later; and the
Gnostics, the great learners from Alexandria who professed to
have a higher knowledge than anybody because they thought they
were smarter than anybody else. And we’ll deal with these three
In church history, we have also what we call “Councils,” and
these Councils begin, of course, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John. You should heed the warnings of Jesus Christ about Councils
in Matthew 10. You will notice that Jesus Christ is brought
before a Council; you will notice in the Book of Acts, the word
“Council” never refers to any group but a bunch of Bible-
rejecting people who are trying to stop the proclamation of the
Gospel. It is very important that you understand this, because
there are many, many Councils in church history. And you must
understand at the very start that God isn’t the Author or
Convener of a single one of them. You better look out for that
word “Council.” That word “Council” occurs only one time in the
Book of Matthew in a good sense. And that “Council” is a
reference to a council that will be set up at the Second Advent
of Jesus Christ. Everywhere else the term occurs in the New
Testament, it is always a reference to a bunch of Bible-rejecting
people who are out to stop the word of God. There are many
Councils in church history, but in the Book of Acts at the very
start we’re warned about these matters.
So, when we find the Council of Nicea in 325, the Council in
Arles in 314, the Council, say, of Chalcedon in 451, the Council
of Constantine in 381, the Council of Elvira in 313, the Council
of Ephesus in 431, or the Councils of Clement, Constance, Lyons,
Piza, Toledo, Trent, or Veyeney, we know what to think of them–
nothing! They’re not productive and conducive of good works or
good fruit, and so when we study them we shall study them in view
of mind of watching the progress of Satan through church history.
All right, now we’re ready for a study of church history
proper. And, to begin with, we begin with a bunch of people
called “fathers.” These people are called the “church fathers.”
And these are the main characters in the history of the Christian
church after the demise, the decease, of Paul, Peter, James,
John, Matthew, and the rest of them in the New Testament.
The lives of some of these church fathers overlap apostolic
times. That is, some of these church fathers live or are alive at
the same time that Paul and John are alive. So, because of this,
we call the first set in church history, Apostolic Fathers.
They’re called “apostolic” because their lives overlap the lives
of the apostles. Church fathers come in three sizes: Apostolic,
Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene. They are called Ante-Nicene and
Post-Nicene because some of them lived before the Council of
Nicea, 325 a.d. Some of them approximately after the Council of
Nicea, 325 a.d. The word “Nicea” is spelled variably N-I-C-A-E-A
(the ancient spelling) or N-I-C-E-A (the modern spelling). You
say, “Why the difference in spelling?” Oh, it’s confusion, to
make you pay for the education. I think you understand that.
So we have Apostolic Fathers, and we have Ante-Nicene
Fathers, and Post (After)-Nicene Fathers.
And, in the study of church history, we begin, of course,
with the lives of these men. These men are the Apostolic Fathers.
The Apostolic Church Fathers, are, first of all, a certain–
–Clement, called Clement of Rome. Clement’s dates are
approximately 30 a.d. to 100 a.d. There are some variations in
some sources of church history.
–Ignatius, who is 50 a.d. to 115 a.d. Some variations in
some church histories. They’re not all nailed right down.
–Papius (60 a.d. to 130 a.d.).
–Polycarp (69-155 a.d.).
–And, sometimes included, Tatian, sometimes not.
–Sometimes included, Justin Martyr, 100-165 a.d. And again,
there are variations.
These are the Apostolic Fathers whose lives overlap the
lives of the Apostles. And we’ll study these lives in detail more
in our next lecture, which deals with the Apostolic Fathers and
the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
This concludes Volume 2 in our study of church history. In
volume 3, we’ll take up the study of the church fathers, and in
particular the lives of the Apostolic Fathers, the saints or
leaders in the church whose lives overlap the lives of the
Apostles, and the lives of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. And
throughout we’ll trace the course of the Christian’s apostasy to
philosophy, science, and tradition–the work of the devil; and
the soul-winning and propagation of the word of God, and the
martyrdom of Christians for the cause of Christ, following the
progress and line of the Holy Spirit.