You know, I was thinking the other day that the title to this series of blog posts was really not appropriate. It was titled “The Better Way.” However, nothing has really changed with the way that the Apostles met, so I felt that the title should reflect the early beginnings of the how the believers met in the homes.
With that said, let’s head on down the road.
Thinking about this deep hole that the body of believers have gotten themselves into, where do we begin to look for answers? I believe that when we look at the situation during and towards the end of the apostolic period we will begin to shed light on where things went haywire. I feel, and after much research over the years, that the crux of the problem comes from the misdirection of the leadership as well as believers abdicating their responsibility to be like the Bereans in examining the scriptures.
An early example of how leadership could have gone awry is what “Diotrophes”did to the apostles, other believers, and believers that he was fellow shipping with. The scripture points to what could possibly be the early beginnings of the development of the clergy/laity division.
Many times in our day, it is not politically correct to judge other Christians. However, we must remember that judgment begins with the household of God. So, Is there some unwritten rule somewhere that Christians are not to question other Christian’s beliefs about the Institutional Churches traditional practices? No way! We are to “test” the spirits in the search for truth, but with “gentleness and respect”. From my research, it is absolutely imperative to speak the truth in love.
John writes, “I wrote to the church, but “Diotrophes” who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So, when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so (that is believers welcoming other believers) and puts them out of the church. WHAT!
False Teachings ofThe Early Church Fathers and Others Influence:The Major Fatal Flaw:
So, “who caused the deception?” False teachers and false teachings were abundant during the time of the Apostles. The Post-Apostolic, false teachings of the Early Church Fathers heavily influenced the beliefs of the Christian’s around them. If they would have stuck to what Jesus taught the apostles, and the apostles passed on to other believers they would have been on the right path. However, the Early Church Fathers went astray when they themselves developed (I think it was partially out of ignorance and partially intentional) their own organizational system. From this point, the Early Church Fathers started straying from what Jesus taught, and believed that what should be taught was Jesus teachings plus their teachings. In fact, they went beyond and believed that their teachings super-ceded those of Jesus.
With this belief came the development of a division caused by the Early Church Fathers. From the quotes below, it is not hard to see that this foundational error of the Early Church Fathers developed into a system. Their “organizational system” was completely spread throughout the body of believers by the end of the fourth century. From this “biblical error,” all other areas of the body of believer’s practice were and continue to be affected and in error. These are the areas that were affected: The pastor, sermon, order of worship, church buildings, Lord’s Supper, baptism, tithes, clergy salaries, music ministers, choirs, Sunday morning dress, etc., etc., etc.
Examining The Early Church Father’s Quotes:
Clement of Rome, in his epistle to the Corinthian Church in AD 95, wrote:
“The high priest has been given his own special services, the priests have been assigned their own place, and the Levites have their special ministrations enjoined on them. The layman is bound by the ordinances of the laity.”WHAT?!!!!
Where did the Apostles write about ordinances for the laity and being bound by them? They didn’t!
Where did the Apostles ever speak of their Christian brothers and sisters as layman in their writings? You won’t find it!
Ignatius – Bishop of Antioch AD 110
To the Ephesians:
“Your REVEREND presbytery is tuned to the Bishop as strings to a lyre…Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our submission to the Bishop we may belong to God…We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself…”WHAT?!!!
Where is the humility of a servant? There is None!
Where did the Apostles ever demonstrate this type of thinking in their actions? They didn’t.
Paul was not high-minded like this. In fact, He said, “I am the worst of sinners.”
To the Smyrneans:
*”Let no-one do anything that pertains to the church apart from the Bishop…it is not permitted to baptize or hold a love-feast independently of the Bishop. But whatever he approves, that is also well pleasing to God.” WHAT?!!!
“He that does anything without the knowledge of the Bishop serves the Devil.” WHAT?!!!!
Where did the Apostles ever write this type of requirement in the New Testament scriptures and said these things?
To the Magnesians:
*”I advise you to always act in godly concord with the Bishop, presiding as the counterpart of God, and the presbyters as the counterpart of the council of the Apostles…As the Lord did nothing without the Father, either by Himself or by means of the Apostles, so you must do nothing without the Bishop and the presbyters.” WHAT?!!!
Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t!
To the Trallians:
“…respect the Bishop as the counterpart of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and the college of the Apostles: without those no church is recognized.” WHAT?!!!!
“It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the Bishop you should do nothing, but should also be subject to the Presbytery (Elders), as to the Apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, if we live, we shall be found.” WHAT?!!!
Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t!
Tertullian – AD 200
- This is a very interesting quote “Custom or (Tradition, my word) without truth is error grown old.” Tertullian. (Pay close attention here.)
This comes from the man who helped develop the priesthood/clergy leadership structure.
“The supreme priest (that is the Bishop) has the right of conferring baptism: after him the presbyters and deacons, but only with the Bishop’s authority.
Otherwise the laity also have the right…how much more is the discipline of reverence and humility incumbent upon laymen (since it also befits their superiors) “It would be idle for us to suppose that what is forbidden to PRIESTS is allowed to the laity. WHAT?!!!The distinction between the order of clergy and the people has been established by the authority of the Church.”
Where did any of the Apostles write anything like this? They didn’t! There was no separate authority or class.
Cyprian – Bishop of Carthage AD 250.
“If Christ Jesus our Lord and God is Himself the High Priest of God the Father, and first offered Himself as a sacrifice to the Father, and commanded this to be done in remembrance of Himself, then assuredly the priest acts truly in Christ’s place when he reproduces what Christ did, and he then offers a true and complete sacrifice to God the Father, if he begins to offer as he sees Christ Himself has offered.”
Where did the Apostles speak of priests as the mediators of and for the people? They didn’t! The only thing Peter stated was that we are “a priesthood of all believers”.
Scriptures Concerning Believers as Responsible Users of the Word
I myself am convinced my brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness, “complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” Interesting! Where do you find the need for a priestly/pastor mediator for man before God? You Don’t!
2nd Timothy 3:6
All Scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that “the man of God” may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Where is the need for one man to guide the flock? There isn’t!
When they say the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were “unschooled, ordinary” men (take special note and mark this in your Bible), they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Interesting, Peter and John were “unschooled and ordinary”. Hmmmmmmm.
2nd Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; (accurate) 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being “ineffective and unproductive” in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1st John 2:27
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
To Be Continued….