Summary: The Study Of The History Of The Church
The Study Of The History Of The Church
Acts 8:1 (KJV)
1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
In Acts 2, we find the establishment, or beginning of the Lord's church, or kingdom. The apostles are in Jerusalem. The Spirit is poured out upon them. Many nations are represented. They are gathered for Pentecost. Peter and the apostles proclaim that this is the fulfillment of that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Christ has died. The last days have begun. Repentance and remission of sins are preached. About 3000 souls believe the preaching of the Gospel and are baptized. The Lord adds them to His church. Then from Jerusalem, the Gospel goes throughout Judea, then to Samaria, and finally, unto all parts of the earth until every person under heaven had heard it (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:23).
The church grew fast in the days of the apostles. It spread rapidly. After the conversion of Paul, he made three missionary journeys. He preached the Gospel to the Jews and to the Gentiles as well. As a result, there were many converts. Many congregations of the Lord's church were established throughout Asia and Europe. But this was not easy. There was much persecution. First the church began to be persecuted in Jerusalem. Because of this, the disciples were scattered and went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:1-4). As time went by, the Romans blamed the Christians for many of their problems. They punished them in their arenas in Rome and throughout the Roman world. Paul was finally imprisoned. He was taken to Rome for trial. History tells us that all the apostles except John were martyred for the cause of Christ. Hundreds, and thousands, and perhaps millions, of Christians also lost their lives for Christ.
In spite of the persecution, the church only grew and spread. It was not persecution that gave the most trouble to the church. It was what took place within the church itself. The apostle Paul told of the day in which there would be a falling away. In other words, he was saying that the day would come in which many of the members of the Lord's church would go into error. But let us notice what he says: "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Notice Paul said that this evil was already beginning to work among them even at that time. He continues, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3). In speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus, Paul said, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears" (Acts 20:28-31).