1. The First 4000 Years From Creation
  2. From AD 1 To 1300
  3. From 1300 To 1800
  4. From 1800 To The Present
  5. A New Heavens And A New Earth
  6. The Climax Of The Ages
  7. What Is Biblical Christianity?
  8. Do Not Be Deceived, Unless You Repent

Tour Of The Ages Section

Take the Tour of the Ages by following the menu above, page by page.

Read (1) The First 4000 Years From Creation and examine a brief history of the Old Testament time period.

Read (2), (3), and (4) to see some of the things that have shaped and affected Christendom (everything that claims to be Christian even though it may or may not be a part of true Christianity) during each respective time period.

Read (5) New Heavens And A New Earth to examine what God’s Word has to say about this reconstruction.

Read (6) The Climax Of The Ages to examine what God’s Word has to say about the end of the ages and the beginning of eternity.

Read (7) What Is Biblical Christianity so you will know what is true, and avoid that which is false.

Read (8) Do Not Be Deceived, Unless You Repent to see the importance God places on repentance.

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From AD 1 To 1300

The New Testament, A Light In A Dark World

The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Acts, also written by Luke, gives us a brief history of the spread of Christianity over a period of about thirty years following the ascension of Christ. Peter and Paul were the primary apostles and evangelists in the book of Acts, their death is not recorded in Acts, but tradition has it that they were both killed by the Romans about AD 67. The Apostle John lived almost to the end of the first century, and wrote his Gospel, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the book of Revelation late in life. James and Jude were half brothers of our Lord (Mark 6:3), and wrote the letters or books bearing their names. The author of the book Hebrews is not known, but many believe that Paul wrote it without signing his name to it because he was not very popular with the Jews.

The writings of the Apostles and those close to them were gradually gathered together to form the canon or collection of divinely inspired books or letters that we now call the New Testament. The prophecies proclaimed in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament relate and combine the two into one glorious whole, of which about one quarter is prophecy.

Our Lord warned the Apostles and the Church that they would face difficulties, hardships, and tribulation in this world (Jn. 15:18-21; 16:33; Acts 9:15-16). The letters that were written by the Apostles and those close to them, were written to instruct them in the correct way of handling these difficulties. In order for these problems to be correctly solved, the people needed guidance from the Lord, which the inspired writers gave. Therefore, the letters were of tremendous value, and were saved and shared with all the local churches, and eventually grouped together into what became known as the New Testament. Leaders in the Church would have to become thoroughly knowledgeable of the content of these letters in order to make the decisions that would enable them to properly guide the Church in the difficult days and years ahead.

Leaders would need special spiritual ability if they were to effectively protect and guide God’s people (1 Cor. 2:12-16; 11:17-19; Gal. 6:1), and merely to possess spiritual gifts or abilities did not necessarily qualify a person for leadership (1 Cor. 1:4-7; 3:1-4). The two doctrines that Paul believed essential and the Church struggled with for the first four hundred years were in regards to the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and the Gospel (2 Cor. 11:1-15; Gal. 1:6-12). For Paul to consign to hell anyone who would proclaim a different Jesus, Spirit or Gospel shows how important he believed these issues to be.

From this New Testament record we know that the early Church suffered physically from those who retained the Jewish religion (Judaizers), and from the Roman Empire (Jn. 18:1-19:30; Acts 8:1-3; 12:1-4). The message of the Gospel was opposed and perverted by the teachings of the Judaizers and the gnostics (Acts 15:1-29; Gal. 1:6-9; Col. 2:1-23; 1 Jn. 2:18-29; 2 Jn. 1:7-11; Jude 1:3-19). These were the three principle antagonists that the first century Church struggled with and suffered from.

This brief historical summary of people and events covers the period from God’s creation to AD 100. During this period God revealed Himself and His Truth, and prepared men to take this information to all the peoples of the world. The Truth that God has given us is a mighty sword that is quite capable of conquering all foes when properly used. "And He said to them, go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]" (Mark 16:15).

From AD 100 to 381

In researching the development of the Church it should be kept in mind that traditional Church history has usually concentrated upon the large and prominent churches that eventually became a part of the official religion of the Roman Empire. Little attention is given to the fact that many independent assemblies throughout the empire remained separate from the official church, true to the Biblical church pattern, and free from the destructive beliefs and practices of the official church. Many Christians left that institution and gathered together with like minded believers and formed independent churches, but many stayed with the official church in an attempt to reform it. As early as the third century the Novatianists built up a network of small congregations and considered the Catholic churches polluted as a result of their lenient attitude toward sinners. At some point and time this official or Catholic church became so corrupt that it ceased to be a part of the true Church and became the apostate cult that is now known as the Roman Catholic Church.

The deteriorating process of the early church can be traced to an increasing tendency and practice to depart from the clear teaching in the Word of God and to rely upon desire, hearsay, and tradition. The natural inclination to take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God is a temptation hard to resist in trying situations. Although everyone is subject to these tendencies, not everyone gave in.

Gnosticism, Heresy and Fanaticism

The struggles that the Church had with the gnostics and the heretics played a large part in increasing the power and authority of the bishops, the formation of the New Testament or Biblical canon, and the development of a systematic theology.

Gnosticism had and still has a variety of forms and beliefs; it placed its emphasis upon knowledge instead of faith, and felt free to use or do away with any portion of the apostles verbal teachings or writings to build its own distorted system. To combat the destructive distortion of the gnostics and the heretics, simple creeds or statements of faith were drawn up. Also, there was a concerted effort on the part of Christian apologists and scholars to gather all the writings recognized as being inspired by the Holy Spirit into an acceptable canon, and to formulate a system of theology based upon this group of apostolic writings. This effort produced some fruit in the latter part of the second century, both for the canon and theology.

Apologists, Scholars, and Theologians

The Bible is first of all a book that God inspired or moved men to write and preserve. In it is recorded God’s revelation to men and the history of the interaction of God with man. There is no systematic theology clearly laid out and taught in it; God left it up to us to become thoroughly aware of its contents so that we would correctly understand His truth and how we ought to live.

For the first 300 to 400 years the Church was forced, by the activities of the gnostics and heretics, to work together to formulate essential Biblical doctrine and theology in an effort to effectively prepare Christians to combat error with God’s truth. During this same period the canon or list of books that determined the content of the New Testament was gradually agreed upon and accepted.

Although there were many highly intelligent men among the early Church fathers, still, there was much difficulty and disagreement before they were able to arrive at a common understanding of some of the basics of Christianity. This accounts for the long time period involved, and reveals the complexity of the task.

What came to be recognized as orthodox belief is contained in the Apostles’ Creed (not a creation of the apostles, but a brief summation of what they taught), the Nicene Creed (the articles agreed upon at the Nicene Church council in 325), the Athanasian Creed (named after Athanasius (293-373), but not written by him); and the Chalcedonian Creed (451). These four documents explain in some detail the doctrines of: the Godhead or Trinity, one God of three persons and of the same essence, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the deity of all three Persons; the creation; the incarnation of Jesus and His virgin birth, His death, burial and resurrection for our salvation; His two fully functioning natures God and man; and His coming again. The canon of the NT, as commonly received at present, was ratified by the third Council of Carthage (397).

The superior anointing of the Holy Spirit that enabled the apostles to evangelize the whole Roman Empire in less than 70 years is very evident when we consider that it took another 300 years for their successors to agree upon a simplified version of what it was they had taught. There is no way that we can over value or amply appreciate the help and ability of the indwelling Holy Spirit!

Once orthodox doctrine and belief had been established, anyone who believed or taught differently was reproved and disciplined by the new State Church. This new church was instituted in AD 381 by Emperor Theodosius I who enacted the necessary legislation to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

It has been said by many that when the Church joined up with the Roman Empire, the world entered into the church, and who can doubt that when the world entered Jesus left. Listen to what Jesus said to the Ephesian church in the book of Revelation, "To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: these are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]: . . . Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent" (Rev. 2:1-5). This church was evidently threatened with being removed from its position and status as a church, one that Jesus would no longer recognize as one of His. This will be the fate of any Christian group that lives and exists for itself instead of Christ, and that is what eventually happened to all the churches that made an alliance with the Roman Empire.

The Bible gives no indication that God intended the Church, or believers down through the ages, to ever become an organization or institution. An apostolic church was a local assembly of believers that had its own leaders and was independent of all other church groups. When we speak of the Church with a capital ‘C’ we are not referring to individual churches, but to the spiritual Body of Christ; the one Jesus was speaking of when He said "and on this rock I will build My church" (Matt. 16:18b). This Church only Jesus can build, and only He can organize and empower it. It is completely foreign to this Biblical concept that the Body of Christ can or should be organized and controlled by any man or group of men, and especially not by the evil governments of this world. There will be no churches or organizations taken to heaven, only individuals!

The first century Church was persecuted by the Roman Empire primarily because they would not sacrifice to the emperor as a god. They were looked upon as enemies and threats to the security of the empire because they seemed not to support it when they refused to show allegiance in this manner. In fact, they were considered heretics because they refused to worship the gods of the empire.

The union of religion with the empire was intended and designed by the emperors for the protection of the whole population, both physically and spiritually. Any difference of opinion was considered heresy or treason, and punishable by either the state or church. This is why free churches were looked upon as undermining the authority of the empire and were many times liquidated when they refused to comply. They were seen as rebels against, what was believed to be, God’s order of the combined rulership of secular and religious leaders over all the people.

From AD 325 to the end of the 30 Years War (1618-1648, over 1300 years) the dominate thinking of the Western world would be that church and state together were to rule the world for Christ. Reasoning from this false premise lead to the atrocities and pitiful condition of people and the world during the time that many have called the Dark Ages. Kings and popes, and later priests, would alternately strive for superiority over one another causing many religious groups to migrate to the new world in North America to escape what many had come to recognize as terribly wrong and foolish. Even today, the Roman Catholic Church believes and strives to establish this kind of control, which they claim as a mandate they have inherited from and in the place of the nation of Israel to rule over all the world with and for Christ.

One of the reasons for the early Church’s difficulties was a lack of Bibles, for the Scriptures were not available to the common or average citizen for hundreds of years. All Bibles were handwritten copies, and for the most part only leading citizens had them. The first printing press in England was not in operation until 1476, and books were probably not available to the average person for a hundred years after that; so we can understand the importance of correctly informed and motivated preachers.

These are some of the difficulties that the early church faced, and why they were almost forced to rely upon religious leaders who had gained prominence for their knowledge and interpretation of God’s truth. This is also one of the reasons that tradition came to be held in such high regard during the Medieval Ages, more than Scripture in some cases as it is today by the Roman Catholic Church.

Thus we see the importance of knowing God’s Word for ourselves, of recognizing it as God speaking His truth to us to live by, and the importance of keeping our eyes upon Jesus the author and finisher of our faith and not on highly esteemed men (Heb. 12:1-2). If we neglect the Word of God and fail to live by it, we may fall back into another dark age of bondage!

From AD 381 to 1300

When Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosius I, in the year 381, the light flickered out in that part of the Church and the world entered a period of darkness that lasted about a thousand years. The words of James can be well applied to that segment of the church: "You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world] and breaking your marriage vow to God! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God" (James 4:4). This does not mean that there were no Christian people still in the churches that compromised. God will be calling His people to come out of that wicked system until the end of this age: "I then heard another voice from heaven saying, come out from her, my people, so that you may not share in her sins, neither participate in her plagues. For her iniquities are piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her wickedness and crimes [and calls them up for settlement]" (Rev. 18:4-5).

The persecution by this world religious system, aimed at Christian churches that refused to align themselves with this unbiblical union of Church and State, was responsible for thousands of God’s people being killed. The Roman Catholic Church, from medieval times until the present, has been a prominent part of this system, and has taken the lead in bringing many more into that fold through the Ecumenical Movement.

The fall of the Roman Empire

The fall of the Western Roman Empire eventuated the gradual rise, in authority and power, of the state church and the papacy. The empire had been fighting against the tribes from the north, originally in or near Scandinavia, for many years, and was finally taken over in the year 476 mainly by the German mercenaries, who were themselves a part of the Roman army. With the absence of an organized secular ruler, the state church was almost forced to step in to fill the need for law and order, and whatever protection it could give.

Asceticism and Monasticism

Monasticism, like the Crusades, was an extreme and misguided effort of men to know and do the will of God. The medieval period was a period of darkness that was not enlightened as it should have been by the Word of God, "Your testimonies are wonderful [far exceeding anything conceived by man]; therefore my [penitent] self keeps them. The entrance and unfolding of your words give light; their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple" (Ps.119:129-130).

Christians of all ages have struggled with the difficulty of warding off the attractive influences of this world and life that distract us from a pure devotion to Christ. How to be in this world and still not be a part of it, as Jesus said we should be (Jn. 17:14-20), is still much misunderstood and debated. Failing to heed the warning, "Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character" (1 Cor. 15:33), the church engaged in illegitimate associations with the world and became corrupt in doctrine and practice. As a result, many pious persons withdrew from fellowship with the church and began to practice ascetic rituals in an attempt to purify their relationship with God. As their numbers increased they began to gather together in places of exclusion or monasteries, but even here they found they could not escape distractive influences; for as Paul wrote to the Colossians:

COLOSSIANS 2:20-23.... If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations? — such as] Do not handle [this], do not taste [that], do not even touch [them], referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines. Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh (the lower nature). [Instead, they do not honor God but serve only to indulge the flesh].

Spirituality and Mysticism

The Bible speaks favorably of spirituality, and unfavorably of mysticism. While there is a degree of mysticism in Christian spirituality, it is not of the same kind that the Bible speaks unfavorably of. Mysticism is the vehicle of Gnosticism or gnosis (deep and mysterious knowledge unavailable to the average person), the method used to gain forbidden information from or about the spiritual realm. Women are more susceptible to this duo because they are more prone to evaluate emotionally and subjectively, while men tend to evaluate objectively with the knowledge they presently possess. I am not suggesting curtailment of spiritual gifts, but rather Biblical moderation and discernment. Many use the two words interchangeably, but I believe that it would be best not to use the word mysticism in any connection with Biblical Christianity, and use it only in connection with man’s attempt to explore the spiritual realm.

There is only one authoritative source of information by which spiritual or mystic experiences can be judged or evaluated – The Bible! Psychology in trying to evaluate the so called subconscious scientifically has only resulted in occult involvement and a great deal of deception. There is nothing in the realm of the physical, nor anything else that man possesses, that is capable of properly evaluating spiritual experiences. Paul says that the spiritual man tests all things by examination and investigation, in order to properly understand life’s experiences (1 Cor. 2:15). This is made possible because of the indwelling Holy Spirit who reveals the mind of Christ to those who qualify (1 Cor. 2:16). That all Christians do not qualify can be seen from chapter three of first Corinthians. The first hindrance to spirituality that Paul mentions is being under the control of ordinary physical and emotional impulses: envy, jealousy, wrangling and fractions (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would take of the things that belonged to Him and would reveal it to us (John 16:14-15). Those who have been taught and trained by the Holy Spirit according to God’s Word will come to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, that is, the same interest to honor and glory God that motivated Jesus; instead of what these Corinthians were seeking, the honor and glory of men (1 Cor. 3:3). We have to learn, from the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit, that the attitude and actions mentioned dishonor God and have to be brought into control, and that we are to be lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit instead. This is the only kind of spirituality that is acceptable to God and that He honors.

Mysticism, for the most part, can be regarded as an attempt to buy or force ones way into the spiritual realm to gain an understanding of things that God has not sanctioned him to know (see Acts 8:9-24). God restricts us for our own good and the welfare of His kingdom, it is not wise to try to break down doors and barriers that God has erected for our protection. Two of the primary characteristics of mysticism are excess and abnormal behavior; emotion, enthusiasm, and zeal out of control and into fanaticism. This type of behavior gives Satan an opportunity to deceive us with his demonic counterfeit gifts, and many are duped into using the techniques and practices that God has strictly forbidden in His Word (Deut. 18:9-12).

True spirituality will be marked by having the same mind, attitude, and control that Jesus possessed, and will use these faculties with the Word of God in the evaluating and discerning process. Jesus was totally committed to the will of God, not His own. He was lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and was not influenced by the tactics of the enemy. He believed and lived according to the Word of God. Jesus was always in control of His emotions and never did anything outlandish or excessive. Nobody will ever be able to speak disparagingly of or have a reason to be ashamed of Jesus, He never acted unbecomingly, nor shall He ever!

The rise and role of Scholasticism

The cathedral or church schools of the eighth century were used to train parish priests, but were later opened up to the public. Few text books were available, the subjects taught were: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. In these schools an attempt was made to reconcile Christian doctrine (as it was then understood) with human reason, and to arrange the teachings of the church in an orderly manner. The reconciliation of doctrine with human reason, under the watchful eye of the pope, established the formation of church and civil law known as canon law. By the fourteenth century these had become a part of the official Body of Canon Law for the Roman Catholic Church, an authoritative body of laws to control and direct the lives of men; it was revised once in 1918. This systematic arrangement of teachings has become a part of Roman theology.

The possession of this body of scholarship, whether right or wrong, was much more impressive than anything the civil authorities had, and was used by the pope to uplift his prestige and authority.



© 2018 - My ASP.NET Application

Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified Bible , an English version of the Bible which claims to Capture the Full Meaning Behind the Original Greek and Hebrew.