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A History of the New Testament Church

Written by: Lecture from Pensacola Bible Institute    Posted on: 03/18/2003

Category: Biographies

Source: CCN


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 on.

    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 understand them.

    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 Christianity.

    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 town?

    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 that?

    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 anybody's books.

    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 anything.

    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 take.

    The people of Martin Luther's day said, "The whole world's against you."

    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,

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