As I began writing this article there is so much to say, so I've broken it up into two parts. This is an amazing story and I know you will enjoy it.
It's no accident that the spread of Christianity was in full bloom at the time the temple in
was destroyed in 70 A.D. It doesn't take a master's degree in theology to see the connection to the end of an age and the beginning of a new age. Jesus was the promised Passover lamb, the final sacrifice for the sins of the people of earth. Jerusalem
The primary use of the temple was to worship the Lord (Deuteronomy 12:11-12). The second purpose of the temple was to bring the sacrifices prescribed by God under the Law of Moses. The sacrifices represented first, cover for sin, which was an abomination in His sight. Sin cost life (Leviticus 17:11, Romans 6:23). Other sacrifices they were friendship offerings of bread and wine. The temple was a place where those who didn't know God could come see Him at work and obtain mercy.
After Jesus surrendered His life as a sacrifice for sin, the animal sacrifices became useless. Jesus had broken down the barrier that separated God from people, which opened the door for everyone to receive salvation. The new temple was not at a place built by human hands, but a temple of flesh and blood, which housed a new spirit [creation] which those who have been born again can worship God in spirit and in truth.(John 4:23-24)
Jesus prophetic words came to pass when Peter proclaimed, “You are the Christ [Savior] Son of the living God. Jesus replied, “No human told you that, but my Father in heaven. Now I say you are Peter [rock] and upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:19 paraphrased).
The church became the new representatives, revealing truth of who Christ is – the foundation stone. The Grace Age or the “Time of God's favor” is the final piece of God's plan for the redemption of all people. Until that time, the sacrifices kept the Lord satisfied, but is was not what He wanted. The Lord wanted people’s heart to obey Him. No amount of animal sacrifices could cause that.(1 Samuel 15:22)
The church was born on the day of Pentecost, a Jewish celebration of the wheat harvest. A significant point to mention is that Christ called those seeking salvation as “great wheat harvest” (John 12:24, Matthew 9:37). Jesus also used the phrase “wheat and weeds” (Matthew 13:24-29) in a parable about the kingdom.
It has been approximately 1978 years since the birth of the church, using the accepted date of 33 A.D. The church has gone through many changes, yet it still has survived. In the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the Apostle John, describing those things that were yet to come. John was the last living Apostle who knew Jesus. In the year 95 A.D. Jesus clearly laid out Church history through the messages to the seven churches. (Revelation 2:1-3:22).
Church of Ephesus and the represents the persecuted church (33-313 A.D.) First the Christians were persecuted by the Jews and then the Romans. Everything Jesus warned the disciples about was happening. False doctrine was emerging; some were turning back to Judaism. The followers of Jesus were kicked out of the synagogues, driven off their land, and their businesses we confiscated. They were losing everything, remaining faithful to Jesus; they grew at an unprecedented rate. The epistles of Paul, Peter and John along with the book of Acts clearly state this period. Church of Smyrna
The Church of
Pergamum and the represents the period of compromise (313- 1453 A.D.) This period could have destroyed the Church. For over one thousand years, the church was growing, even under persecution. The Gospel was reaching the world. When Church of Thyatira became emperor, he issued a rule of law authorizing Christianity as the only recognized religion of his empire. Thus, all people under his territories were Christians, without any profession of faith. Paganism infiltrated Christianity as a way of accepting everyone's beliefs and making it a unified body. The universal church was born, thus all people were under the authority of the Church. Constantine
The Church of
Sardis and represents the period of Reformation (1453- 1658 A.D.) The church was all but dead under the centuries of poor leadership and Antichrist behavior. False doctrines were being taught. The Word of God was kept from the people. The Holy Spirit began working in those who knew some truth, which began a spiritual awakening throughout Philadelphia Europe. The reformation ignited the industrial revolution. The Word of God spoke blessing into the lives of people, they in turn began walking in the promises of God.
To be continued…….
Copyright©2011 tathorpe-All Rights Reserved-
* dates for church periods are from “The story of the Christian Church” by Jesse Lyman Hurlbur-Zondervan Publishing 1970