It is important to understand history, not only to understand our past but also why some things are the way they are or some people act in a particular way, what drives their underlying thought patterns /philosophy or their denominations etc. Information wars are real – he who shapes your mind or thinking shapes your life. As a man thinketh so is he – you become what you think, what you value and what you worship. For example the Internet – the Google results first pages are full of articles or blogs written by cessationists [those who believe miracles, tongues, gifts of the Spirit have ceased and are not for our time] and ‘theologians’ but fewer by practicing Christians that live like you want to. Just like I got to know about me, my country, my continent through lens of the British the same is happening to many Christians today who want to be informed – as they read and learn Christianity through the lens of ‘experts’. Yes you and your people may have actually have been labelled fake [and accepted it] without knowing it just as the Galatians were drawn away from genuine walk with the Holy Spirit to religion by religious professionals/establishment. Gal 3: O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? …Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
The information war is real even within Christianity today. You probably have googled some Christian topics and may could not tell the differences on the information presented by each website and their lens/approaches. In the secular, have you ever been duped by a journalist or news media? Have you have read a misleading article or headline? Sometimes they completely distort someone’s message by quoting them of context. And yes you can twist any Bible message by picking verses from here and there, many do. In short you have been a victim of whether you are aware of it or not.
One good way of learning hot to ‘peel the banana’ is to take a news article from usual newspapers (not an analysis feature like this one but a normal news story) and take out everything said by the author and remain with the direct quotes by the person or entity quoted which is usually in quotes (“ …”) and see if b reading quotes alone you make the same conclusion the author wants you to. Try it. And that’s why you should read the Bible for yourself, entire chapters, book not just pick and choose verses.
Now let’s turn to the Church, how it came about.
In Matthew 16 which was around 30 AD (today is 2017 AD), Jesus said “… upon this rock I will build my Church”. Peter had, through inner revelation confessed that Jesus is the Messiah and many people believe it is this rock ie the revelation /confession of Jesus is Christ (the Messiah) the Son of the Living God is the foundation of His Church membership. That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.. Romans 10v9.
So it is His church and no pastor or leader can technically claim ‘my church’ because all are temporary stewards, shepherds but Jesus owns the herd and the kraal.
The first time the word Church is explicitly mentioned in the Bible is Matthew 16 – Church is HIS idea and here his language was future ‘I will’ and so its is believed that the multitudes that gathered around Jesus and his disciples are were not a church or model therefore, some actually say they were not born again until after resurrection, which is technically correct because it’s the blood shed at the cross and the resurrection that makes it possible for us to be born again. So the Church was born months later after that futuristic declaration. The very first clear or ‘official’ church gathering is in Acts 2 where 120 were gathered when the Holy Spirit was filled/baptised with the Holy Spirit.
Church is not a place or building but BORN AGAIN PEOPLE, a community of believers with Jesus Christ as the Head.
Common words referring to church in the New Testament include Family of God the Father, The Flock of Jesus Christ, The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, The Body of Christ. There are many denominations but [or who make up] one Church. It’s also called a fellowship – interdependent and the enemies are self dependence and independence. Vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationship with the other believers. “By this they will know your are mine – when you love another”.
I wrote a series Understanding Christianity based on the book of Acts which covers the period 30 AD to about 60 AD, check Worship Addicts Facebook page May June 2016 or study the book of Acts.
The summary is that After Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Spirit becomes central to the church’s activities, if not Christianity – He coordinates, He commissions, He sends, He directs, He can be grieved/offended, lied to, He moulds characters, His fruit and gifts are to be desired etc. He was leading so much that being full of the Holy Spirit became a basic qualification for servant leadership (Acts 6v3) He was (and still is) literally God on earth just as Jesus said He will represent Him (John 16v13).
From year AD 30 to around AD 100 beginning with a handful of fisherman Christianity spread throughout into all the then known world and triumphed over every religion on its path.
They were official missionaries (apostles) and ordinary people hardly an important person in the congregation, ‘nobodies’ (1 Cor 1v26) often lowest class in the society (uneducated – Acts 4) yet won the battles with all the might and power of the Roman empire against them.
They did it without much resources or influential people, without owning buildings, musical instruments or public address (PA) systems, no external donors/funding and no denominational organisations. They only had local assemblies or communities called churches which were led by elders (bishops) and deacons while missionaries like Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists etc freely ministered across local assemblies.
…to be continued
This is part 2 of #ThisGospel a Church history series to bridge the knowledge gap by Talent Mbedzi Whatsapp +27624740015