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Untitled Document
Church History Intro
Saga of the Pilgrims
Calvary Chapel Revival
Methodist Revival
Worldwide Church of God
Sabbatarian Revivals
Early Church History
Messianic Jewish Believers
America's Godly Heritage
Baptist History
Churches of Christ Revelation 2 & 3
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Unity in Christ
Introduction
About the Author
Does God Exist?
Gospels
Epistles
Prayer
Faith
the Prophets & Prophecy

Psalms

OT History
Early Church History
Church History
Sabbatarian Heritage

The Worldwide Church Of God
Messianic Believers
Evangelism


America-Modern Romans


Latin-American Poverty

Topical Studies
Guest Book
Utility Pages
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Three Types of Churches

 

1.A liberal church says you are welcome here and you do not have to clean up your life.  (most of the older Christian denominations have become liberal.) 

This group of churches tend to be made up of the older Christian revivals-turned-denominations, ones that are from 200 to 300 years old, Lutheran, Episcopal (Church of England), Congregational, Methodist, and many of the Baptist churches, although some of these fall into the next category.  Many of these revivals-turned-denominations started out alive and spiritually healthy, and as Charles Stanley said, “the churches became more filled with born-into the church, rather than born-again members of the church.”  This is the normal life-death cycle of most large Christian revivals-turned-denominations, they turn liberal and thus licentious. 

 

A friend of mine pointed out the he’s met some real Christians working at a downtown Christian rescue mission, and also a homeless shelter run by one of these denominations from some of these older revival-turned-denominations.  What would Jesus recommend?  What Jesus said in his letter to the church of Ephesus would apply here, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:4-5a)  So for those who are still really with-it spiritually and are attending one of these older revivals that has become liberal by the above definition, who have fallen from their first works, how would you follow Jesus’ advice in Revelation 2:4-5a?  You would seek out and start attending a church/denomination that is a young revival-turned-denomination, one that is spiritually vibrant, yet balanced and teaching the Word of God.  See category 3.  

 

2.A legalistic church says you are not welcome here until you clean up your life.  The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God tend to be legalistic, and won’t baptize people until they’re obeying to their satisfaction the laws of God, and adhering to their own doctrinal understandings (many of which may be correct, it’s just they’re placing the “obedience cart” before the horse).  There are many other legalistic churches out there as well.Some Torah Observant Messianic Jewish congregations fall into this category, while other’s don’t.  As the Book of Acts brings out, baptism and the laying on of hands, which for the early Church brought the Holy Spirit into one’s life, was instant, once a person accepted Christ as their Saviour.  Delaying baptism until a high degree of obedience is evident in the person’s life is spiritually counter-productive to the life and growth of these churches as well as for the individual, for it is the Holy Spirit that enables real deep, from the heart obedience (cf.Romans 7 verses Romans 8).  These churches tend to be run by ministers that crack the whip and demand obedience from the pulpit, instead of leading people to Christ, who then through the Holy Spirit enables obedience.  In that sense, these ministers tend to usurp the job of the Holy Spirit through their demands for obedience externally, instead of guiding their flocks to seek the Holy Spirit that enables internal obedience, from the heart.  Thus, they tend to be cattle-drivers and not shepherds over God’s flock which has been entrusted to their care.  Many of the fundamentist churches are legalistic, although some of them are not.  Now don’t come to a wrong conclusion about legalistic churches, especially the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, as many within their congregations have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God do have a very good understanding of God’s Word, the Bible, and many Bible doctrines.  It’s just they have the cart before the horse in their understanding of law & grace, and their concepts about ministry are a bit off (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm). Amazingly enough, the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are the very descendants of the original Judeo-Christian churches of God in both Judea and Asia Minor up to around 300AD, before being persecuted and driven underground by the proto-Catholic church under Constantine, so don’t be too hard on them.  These Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, historically speaking, have endured and survived great persecution over the past 1700 years, and are to be admired for staying the course (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm).  The persecution over the centuries forced these churches to turn inward, becoming exclusive, seldom becoming powerfully evangelical as the early churches of God were during the period of the Book of Acts.  Jesus’ advice for them would be similar to that which he gave the church at Ephesus, “remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…”  What were those first works?  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  Pastors, stop usurping the job of the Holy Spirit, baptize immediately, let the Holy Spirit do its job, and gently teach and shepherd the flock of God Jesus has entrusted to your care. You have a rich heritage of survival against all odds.  Move forward in these areas.          

 

3.Jesus says you are welcome here and I will change your life from the inside out (cf.John 8:11-12; Romans 8:1-16; John 14:15-17,21; John 16:13-14)  (this category is filled with the Grace oriented churches, they understand the proper balance between law & grace.)  Calvary Chapels, are a denominational group that is most definitely grace oriented, having a proper understanding of law and grace, although their doctrinal explanation about “law & grace” can be somewhat lacking, as they show an aversion to mentioning the word law in their explanations about law & grace.  They are keeping the Laws of God, 9 out of the 10 Commandments, to the level that can only be accomplished by the indwelling Holy Spirit, thus Spirit-level obedience.  There may be a good number of properly grace oriented churches and congregations out there.The Calvary Chapels are the only denomination that comes to mind as a whole denomination in my own personal experience, so I am using them as an example (to learn more about them and when this Christian revival started, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm).  Many Messianic Jewish congregations are properly grace oriented, and fall into this category as well (I attend one). One Messianic Jewish pastor/rabbi, Marty Cohen, who claims his congregation is Torah Observant, but in reality is very grace oriented said this, “Keeping to Torah is not a prerequisite for being saved, but it’s the evidence that you are!”  The Calvary Chapels have been called legalistic by the liberal churches, because they adhere to and live by the Word of God, including 9 out of the 10 Commandments.  They are not legalistic though.  They quietly keep the laws of God as they are enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, while reaching lovingly out to the sinners in the world through their good works.  This is and should be the evangelistic approach of all grace oriented churches and denominations.  Oh, by the way, the Messianic Jewish revival which started to go full-steam around 1970 onward, has seen about one-million Jews come to Christ, by some estimates.  Jesus has truly restored the Jewish branch of the Body of Christ, which originally was under the apostle Peter in Judea (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm).  

 

related links:

 

1. Why would I say the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God are descended from the Judeo-Christian churches of God in Judea and Asia Minor?  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htmand then follow the trail, make the comparison historically, and to do that, see, 

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm

 

2. How should God’s pastors shepherd God’s sheep?  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/AShepherdLooksAt%20Psalm23-short.htm

 

3. Both the Calvary Chapel Christian revival and the explosive revival of the Messianic Jewish movement started around the same time, 1969-1970.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/messianicmovement.htm

 

4. If you’re a believer or a new believer, and trying to decide where you should attend, you’re in the process of choosing a church/denomination, and asking ‘Where would it be best for me to attend, what church/denomination would do the best job of nurturing and establishing me and my family spiritually?’ you need to make a wise choice and consider some spiritual factors.  To help you do this, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/choosingachurch.htm

 

5.  You may find this hard to believe, considering the divided and fractured state of the Body of Christ, but Jesus Christ (as the pre-Incarnate Yahweh) has directly and emphatically called for unity within the Body of Christ.  See,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm

(and scroll to the section on Zephaniah 2:1-3)

 

Introduction to the Church History

To preface this introduction, I feel very uneasy about what I have to say in this introduction, but Pastor Jim Cymbala’s words in his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire compel me to write this.  Here is what he had to say about the current present-day body of Christ in the USA.  “Meanwhile, Christian researcher George Barna reports that 64 percent of “born-again” Americans and 40 percent of “evangelical” Americans say there is no such thing as absolute truth.  In other words, the Ten Commandments may or may not be valid, Jesus Christ isn’t necessarily the only way to God, and so forth.  With this kind of sloppy thinking, what does “born-again” even mean anymore?  In the rush for “success” and “growth” we have revised and distorted the very essence of the gospel…Yet everyone agrees that the culture is becoming more promiscuous, more violent, and more hateful by the day.  So what has happened to the church as light and salt in the earth?  What do the spin doctors in the body of Christ make of these things? (p.90, par. 3&5)”  “Whenever the Body of Christ gets into trouble--whether through its own negligence, as in Loadocea, or through some special attack of Satan--strong action is required.  We cannot merely sit by and hope the problem will resolve itself.” (p. 92, par. 2, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.)  And God doesn’t just sit idly by hoping the problem will resolve itself.    Here we will see historically that the Holy Spirit often stepped in to shake things up, by creating a new revival.

There are three defining points, reasons, that major revivals start or have started within the body of Christ.  Each revival, which can lead to the formation of a new denomination, has one or more of the following reasons for it’s beginning and existence.  God is behind each and every of these categories, empowering, leading and inspiring key individuals and groups to step out in faith.  I will list these three reasons or points, and list along with them some of the major revivals and/or denominations that sprang up as a result of this defining reason or point.  As you will see, some revivals have come from a blend of the stated reasons below.

1.                  An individual Christian or group of Christians felt compelled to come out of an existing church or denomination because this church or denomination “allowed practicing sinners”--unrepentant sinners--to become “baptized members” of the church and it’s congregations.  Examples:

a.         The early Separatists in England during the 1600s felt they had to “separate” themselves out of the Church of England.  Merging with the Puritans, they became the Congregationalist churches now in America.

b.        John Wesley’s Methodists came out of the Church of England during the 1800s, becoming the Methodist denomination.  In the early 1900s a new group felt they must separate out of the Methodist denomination, the Church of the Nazarene, in order to maintain the original principles laid down by John Wesley.

c.         Martin Luther came out of the Catholic Church, and became one of the major translators of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek, translating it into the German language. He assisted William Tyndale with his famous English translation of the Bible.

2.                  A move of the Holy Spirit to bring the gospel of salvation into another ethnic/racial group, thus helping to bring to pass Jesus Christ’s imperative command found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:6-8.  Examples:

a.     The gospel being brought to the Gentiles  via Paul in the early church age, first to Asia Minor where it was in a Judeo-Christian form, or the Quartodeciman churches.

b.     The gospel being brought to the Gentiles in the Greco-Roman areas of the world, adapting to their specific cultures (by Paul again, in the beginning).

c.      The gospel being brought to the various parts of the Gentile world and their differing ethnic groups by missionary organizations, both past and present.  Some major modern-day examples:

The JESUS Film Project; Gospel for Asia; Samaritans Purse; Roger Doriot’s missionary family to the Irian Jaya’s (UFM).

d.     And finally, the gospel of salvation re-adapting itself and going back into the Jewish ethnic/cultural group from which it originally came out of in 31-32AD, now going back into the Israeli nation and to all Jews worldwide.  This is the Messianic Jewish-Christian movement.   One key missionary group in this sub-section is The Jews for Jesus organization, and another is MESSIAH FOR ISRAEL MINISTRIES.

3.                  A move of the Holy Spirit to create a church or denomination which adheres more closely to the Word of God as the sole authority to set Christian living standards and practices of belief.  Examples:

a.Martin Luther, one of the major Bible translators from the original Hebrew and Greek into the German language. (see "Bible Translators")

 

b. The Baptists, starting out in the 1200s France: see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/BaptistHistory.htm

 

c. The Separatists in England, under Elder Brewster, starting the Congregational revival in the late 1500s onward: see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm

 

d. John Wesley, starting the Methodists, 1700-1800s: see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/wesley.htm

 

e. Chuck Smith, and the Calvary Chapel revival, starting in the early 1970s to present:  see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

 

4.                  There is a fourth category of the body of Christ which has survived down through the ages in tiny groups, basically going through a number of tiny “revivals” of its own, while maintaining its peculiar belief system--the Sabbatarians.  Among both early 1st century and present day Messianic Jewish Christians this category also exists as well.  They are called “Torah-observant (non-derogatorily) Messianic Jews”.  But this 4th category also exists amongst the Gentile part of the body of Christ as the Sabbatarian branch of Christianity--and they’re called (derogatorily) “legalists”. 

“During the first century the early Messianic Jewish Christians, labeled by the Jews as “the sect of the Nazarenes”, migrated during the various persecutions (Roman-Jewish wars, and Roman persecutions) into Asia Minor (under first John, then Polycarp and then Policrates).  The Sabbataians believe their various revivals may have originated from these early Messianic Jews, each revival bringing these Sabbatarians into a different region of the world---from the land of Israel to Asia Minor, then from Asia Minor to the Balkans, then from the Balkans to Europe, then from Europe to England, and then from England to the United States.  (This is a Sabbatarian interpretation of the historic facts not shared by many other Christian historians.  To read a Sabbatarian view of their revival history titled “Sabbatarian Revivals from Jerusalem to Oregon, click on http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals.htm .)”

Also as Paul brought the gospel to Asia Minor he preached first in all the synagogues.  Many of the churches that arose in Asia Minor were Judeo-Christian in nature and practice--called historically Quartodeciman churches.  These churches kept the Sabbath, Holy Day observances, and kept the Quartodeciman Passover (Christian Passover) observance on the 13th/14th Nisan (once a year with a foot-washing ceremony and partaking of the bread and wine, mirroring the last Passover Jesus observed with his disciples just prior to his crucifixion)(the primary example of this is that of the apostle John and his disciple Polycarp, and Polycarp’s disciple, Policrates--who set the pace or doctrinal tone for these Quartodeciman churches in Asia Minor).  (To get a good picture of these Quartodeciman churches in early church history log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history2/index3.htm .)

The basic cornerstone of the belief system of this 4th category (both for the Torah-observant Messianic Jewish Christians and the Sabbatarian Gentile part of the body of Christ) is their literal interpretation of Matthew 5:17-19, which leads to their subsequent belief that the whole 10 Commandment Law of God is still in force for Christians--including and especially the 4th Commandment or the Sabbath Commandment.  This includes for some Sabbatarian branches the Holy Day observances as well (seeing that the Sabbath command is the first commanded Holy Day listed in Leviticus 23 {vs. 1-3}, where all the Holy Day commands are found {Leviticus 23:1-44}.)  New covenant Christians (Gentile) believe that as a part of being in the new covenant, the whole Old Testament Law, or Torah, has been superceded by the new covenant, and that the Sabbath Commands and Holy Days have been transformed to their higher spiritual intent with this spiritual intent being lived in us by the Holy Spirit, as brought out in Hebrews 4 and 8 by Paul (for an explanation of this log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/lamb/markintro_5.htm and http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/lamb/holyday.htm ) so that their physical observance was deemed no longer necessary.  But to many of those in this 4th category, the Sabbath and Holy Day commands are inseparable, and deemed very necessary as an integral part of observing God’s 10 Commandment Law.  These churches, both Torah-observant Messianic and Sabbatarian--unless they do not believe in Jesus as being God in the flesh, and very God even before his human birth--are bonafide Christian in whom the Holy Spirit indwells.  Their peculiar secondary (often labeled “legalistic”) belief structure is totally permissible and allowed for, legislated into the terms of the new covenant by God directly through the apostle Paul in Romans 14.  Let me explain, because this is important.  [Incredibly, the Law of Christ that the new covenant Gentile Christian observes and the 10 Commandment Law of God the Sabbatarian and Torah observant Messianic Jewish believer observe differ in only one way, literal observance of Sabbath (and for some Holy Days), verses keeping of the spiritual intent of 9 out of those 10 Commandments.  And Paul says both groups are covered by the blood of Christ in Romans 14!]

The apostle Paul was faced with a unique situation in the early Roman congregation, one in which the congregation was divided into two major discernable groups (along with sub-groups of each of these two groups).  And these two groups were chaffing and battling each other over secondary religious practices.  The two major groups were the Greco-Roman Gentile Christians (who felt they were under no constraints to keep “Jewish” Sabbath and Holy Days or dietary practices), and the other group was that of the Torah-observant Jewish Christians (who thought it mandatory for them to observe Sabbath/Holy Days and dietary laws as prescribed in the Torah).  A thorough reading of Romans 14 will prove this, but Paul basically cut this legislation which allows each group to believe and practice the customs which their Christian conscience dictates to them as important.  This legislation is spelled out in Romans 14:5-6, 22-23, which states, “One man esteemeth one day above another [as a worship day]; another esteemeth every day alike.  Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.  He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks…Hast thou faith?  Have it to thyself before God.  Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat [i.e. a Jewish believer eating pork], because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  A key point to observe in this legislation is this: If your Christian conscience dictates that you should follow the Old Testament Ten Commandment Law of God strictly and literally in the observance of Sabbath/Holy Days and dietary laws--you’d better do soOne other point Paul makes, probably the most important point, is that each group--Torah-observant Jewish (and by extension Sabbatarians) and Greco-Roman Gentiles alike--both groups are covered by the blood of Christ (vs. 15).  Both groups are filled with the Holy Spirit.  And yes, for you Christians who like to throw doctrinal stones at Sabbatarians, calling them “legalists” and legalistic, back off.  You’re on really shaky ground spiritually, condemning your Christian brother groups within this 4th category.  Paul is mainly addressing the Gentile Greco-Roman Christians commanding them to show greater love and give leeway to the Jewish-Christians whose Christian conscience wouldn’t allow them to eat certain things according to Old Testament dietary law or felt compelled to maintain Sabbath and Holy Days.

One thing I wish to point out.  Most Sabbatarians believe their historic roots go back to the Torah-observant Messianic Jewish Christians.  Other Christian historians disagree because insufficient connective history exists (which is true).  One thing is for sure, the ideological connection between these tiny revivals is there for sure, indicating perhaps a definite expunging of the historic records (by the major Greco-Roman church).  The Sabbatarians which make up this 4th category, are a very small part of the overall body of Christ.  But they are a distinct group or category and deserve mentioning, and in my opinion, their version of their historic roots deserve a platform (which I give it in “Sabbatarian Christian Revivals”).

Now to clarify some of the points I have made.  These points have been painted with a broad brush to help simplify a very complex history down to a few basic important points.

In the first point, although John Wesley and Martin Luther never willingly left either the Church of England or the Catholic Church (Luther was kicked out, excommunicated), neither personally renounced their membership in those churches--but the movement the Holy Spirit started through each man did indeed come out of and became totally separate from the Church of England and the Catholic Church.  Most, if not all of John Wesley’s pastors and ministers were entirely Methodist, and held no rank or membership within the Church of England when the movement really got going during Wesley’s life.

The history articles in this section are all about a  movement’s beginnings--when they’re hot and on fire spiritually--filled with the Holy Spirit.  The purpose of these histories is to cause you to think and make an evaluation about the spiritual road you’re going down and perhaps make personal changes so you end up where you really want to end up (for Christians that would be in that Holy city Abraham longed for, spoken of in Hebrews 11:8-10 and Revelation 21:1-17).  When I show in this first point that the Separatist’s came out of the Church of England, and the movement of the Holy Spirit through Martin Luther came out of the Catholic Church, and ditto for the movement of the Holy Spirit through John Wesley, and that yet a smaller group within the Methodists later (1900s) came out of the Methodist church (the Church of the Nazarenes), don’t think I am trying to say that if you’re dissatisfied with your church you should immediately go out and start a new one.  First and foremost, understand it is God who really starts new churches or denominations by a direct move of the Holy Spirit.  He does it through a man or men he chooses, usually well-trained, Holy Spirit filled and led persons who are used to serving unselfishly.  History does show that the revivals of the Holy Spirit that turn into churches and denominations go through a sort of life-cycle.  They start out hot and on fire spiritually.  Then as time goes by their spiritual fervor cools, and the fire often grows dim or even out.  Such life-cycles are listed in Revelation chapters 1 through 3.  An excellent passage in Revelation 3:1-3,6, makes this very clear when held up against what some denominations have become.  “Jesus is saying today, as he said to the church at Sardis, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God…But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief….He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:1-3, 6).” [p. 139, par. 4, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.]  There are those who theologically believe each of these seven churches of Revelation 2-3 represent the major church eras.  The Philadelphia and Laodocia churches would be the two era’s that are existent near the 2nd coming, if that is so.  But Sardis could very well be referring to the by-gone era of the church who’s remnants are hanging around as the present day denominations, which had their beginnings in real revivals of the Holy Spirit one hundred, two hundred, and three hundred years ago.  That’s quite a serious thought to ponder.  More like, if the shoe fits, then wear it.  As we see from these histories, some denominations let in sin or the standards of this evil world.  When this happens within a denomination the Holy Spirit may actually inspire a man or people within that denomination to start an offshoot branch of that group to maintain the high Spirit-led standards the movement originally started with.  Other holy men are inspired by the Holy Spirit to actually start a new movement.  Luther, the Separatists of England, Wesley are strong examples of this. One other important thing about the life-cycle of a denomination is that the original members early on in a movement of the Holy Spirit are actually called-out-ones, actual born-again Christians, filled with and actively being led by the Holy Spirit.  As the denomination ages their churches fill with people who instead of being born-again, are ones who have been ‘born into’ the denomination.  Charles Stanley found this out early on in his ministry when he made a tour of some of his first assigned congregations to meet all the members.  They were good Baptists, as the saying goes, but his estimation upon meeting them all in person was that most of them were no more converted or born-again than a jack-rabbit.  This isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of real born-again Christians in the Baptist denomination, because there are.  I’m just using Charles Stanley’s experience to illustrate my point.

Now, what should you do about this information?  If upon personal examination, you find or come to the conclusion that the denomination you’re in has indeed cooled spiritually, then it is up to you and no one else to decide what you should do.  One of the central re-occurring themes found in Proverbs is that to be wise you must hang around wise men.  Inversely to be a fool, hang around with fools.  The point is, you will end up being like the company you keep or hang around with.  If you associate with an on-fire Christian group or church, it will rub off (if you are actually a born-again Christian, and if you’re not, it may lead you to call on the name of Jesus and receive salvation--and that’s not a bad thing either!).  Christians, especially in the United States, have the ability to directly apply Solomon’s words and principle, and chose to dwell and associate with the spiritually wise and on fire, or to chose to associate with the spiritually slumbering.  Jesus warns us in Matthew 25 that the end-time church is likened to 10 bridesmaids waiting for a wedding, they all slumbered.  But five made sure they had plenty of oil for their lamps.  The oil in this parable of Jesus is symbolic of having and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The group you fellowship with can either have a lot of people who have the Holy Spirit, or it can have very little of His presence left, very few left in it that are truly born-again, Holy Spirit filled Christians.  In a sense, Christians have a unique opportunity in the United States to vote with their feet by whether they choose to remain within the  denomination they’re in (and try to light spiritual fires there), or go to a more spiritually active and alive segment of that denomination, or even to another entirely different denomination where the spiritual fires burn more brightly.  In the past, making such a decision could cost you your life (doubt this?--read “Foxes Book of Martyrs”).  The overall effect of such “voting” will strengthen the whole body of Christ by further enlivening the hotter parts while allowing the dead or dying parts to sleep on (Revelation 3:14-20).  The effects of such “voting” may also sufficiently “wake up” a denomination’s leadership, forcing them to face tough spiritual issues where they’ve been letting this evil world dictate their agenda’s, such as allowing “political correctness” and the A.C.L.U. to govern instead of the standards of God’s Word (read 1 Corinthians and Romans 1).  In each case where holy men of God were inspired to come out of another group (Luther, Wesley, the Separatists), it was to come out of a denomination that was letting the sinful standards of the world into the church.

So to recap, what should we learn from the histories in this history section of this website?  1. How they started out, hot and on fire spiritually.  2. What happened to cool them down.  a. letting in the standards of the world. b. born-again members replaced by ‘born-into’ the church members. (There is a “c.” level of development that usually contributes to the fire going dim or out in a denomination as well.  It is the establishment of a bureaucratic governmental structure within a denomination.)  By reviewing the early history of the denomination you’re a part of you can apply the instructions of Paul to you and yes also to the group you spiritually associate with.  All too often we apply this to ourselves but not to the Christian group we associate with. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.”  Solomon’s words combined with these would indicate that if you want to be spiritually alive, associate, hang around with the spiritually alive, not the spiritually slumbering or dead.  Also ask yourself these questions:  1. Am I in the part of the body of Christ that will spiritually benefit me and my family the most?  2. Am I in the part of the body of Christ that will benefit the overall goals of Jesus for the body found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:6-8.  These questions can only be properly answered by each and every individual.  God should be included in this examination process as well, for he sees the spiritual things that we are so often blind to.  Ask yourself: “Is your life, your presence where you are, are your tithes and offerings, benefiting the whole body of Christ and the goals of Jesus to its fullest?”  As you read these histories, keep these questions in mind.  They’re not just nice stories about how your denomination got started.  History has a purpose, a God given purpose and reason.  Both history and prophecy are intended as a warning to the individual.  Sir Winston Churchill, mindful of German history, prepared himself and England to endure the worst.  The poor Jews in Europe ignored these lessons, and weren’t able to heed in time to escape.  We are in the end-times, since August of 1945 we’ve been in the end times.  Matthew 10:17-23 is being fulfilled by Messianic believers in Yeshua at this very moment.  That prophecy of Jesus shows they will not have gone to every city in Israel when the Messiah comes (Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming!).  It’s tine to fill your lamp chambers with the oil of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 25).  What group you fellowship with can have a direct bearing on how successfully you are able to do that.   [You don’t think we’re in the end times?  Log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/prophecies/2ndcoming_1.htm and do some serious study of end-time prophecy and see just where we’re at in time-sequence, and then get back to this section.  It’ll mean more to you then.]

Please understand, I am not favoring any one denomination over another on this website.  The purpose of this site is to encourage spiritual growth within the body of Christ as a whole, thus bringing about a spiritual unity within the body--at it’s most fundamental level.  Secondarily this site has the purpose of trying to muster support for three or four of the most effective non-denominational Christian international evangelistic organizations. I hope this short introduction helps bring some focus and understanding into the following articles in this church history section. 

And I almost forgot, we should not be ignorant of the start of the whole Christian church, the Church of God in Jerusalem (and this was a Messianic Jewish Christian church, believe it or not).  I have a whole section titled “early Church history” with three sub-sections in it:

1.     The Church’s Birth

2.     Early Church History

3.     Choosing a Church

All the studies in this church history section are meant to give you spiritual perspective of where the denominations came from.  The very word “revival” means to stir up, make something come back to life that was dying out.  A denomination can be--but not always--the corpse of a dead or dying revival.  How a revival first starts out, full of spiritual fire and proper understanding of God’s Word, and what it is 150, 200 or 300 years later can be two entirely different things.  Again, let me use Pastor Cymbala’s words to make a point about what some churches in our modern times can be like now, what they’ve devolved to.  “Imagine a basketball court with hoops five feet off the ground.  The free-throw line is three feet away.  I’ve just made 884 free throws in a row.  My wife walks out to watch and says, ‘What are you doing?’  ‘I’m playing basketball.  See, here’s the ball, and there’s the hoop on a backboard.  The lines are all marked and everything.’  Carol would say, ‘No, the hoop is supposed to be ten feet high, and the line is supposed to be fifteen feet away.  That is basketball.  What you’re doing is nothing more than a charade.’ 

          [In many of the different denominations] We have a lot of markings that look like Christianity these days, but we have drastically revised the parameters.  People have lowered the standards in a vain attempt to make churches look more successful than they really are.  Sermons have to be uniformly positive, and the services can’t go longer than 60 minutes…The message of the cross will always be foolishness to some, a stumbling block to others.  But if our attention is on the market reaction, we move away from the power of the gospel…(Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, p131, par. 5, p. 132, par. 1-3.)  “The apostles realized that without a bold, aggressive attitude in proclaiming God’s Word, they would not build the church Jesus intended…The apostles weren’t trying to finesse people.  Their communication wasn’t supposed to be “cool” or soothing.  They aimed for a piercing of the heart, for conviction of sin.  They had not the faintest intention of asking, “What do people want to hear?  How can we draw more people to church on Sunday?”  That was the last thing in their minds.  Such an approach would have been foreign to the whole New Testament…The Bible does not say we should aim at numbers but rather urges us faithfully to proclaim God’s message in the boldness of the Holy Spirit.  This will build God’s church God’s way.”  (Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire p. 124, par. 2-4.)  That last sentence is just exactly what each holy person God used to start a revival did, he proclaimed God’s message, the gospel, in the boldness of the Holy Spirit.

We shouldn’t neglect a good look at how it all got started.  So you might want to start your study at http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history2/index4.htm .    And after reading the various histories in this section, if you feel led to look around to find a more Spirit-filled church or denomination, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history2/choosingachurch.htm , it may give you some ideas of where to look and what to look for.  Remember, most of the major denominations were started by a person on fire for God, who was directly inspired by the Holy Spirit to lead a people to worship God according to a better understanding of God’s Word, which at the time of this founding person had fallen from proper understanding and application by those calling themselves Christians.  To search out a more recent and on-fire revival of Christianity is definitely not wrong, in light of the times we live in.  It’s your spiritual future we’re talking about here, in the final analysis.  And God gives you total freedom of choice in where and with whom to fellowship within the body of Christ, where to seek out your spiritual nourishment.  What these studies show, is what the revivals were like when they first started, when the participants were close to God, understood and lived by His Word, and understood what His Word was teaching.  In these end times, these dangerous times, it is spiritually dangerous not to be worshipping in a group such as they did.  So let us all take a good look at what “they” and “their churches” were like.  Let’s take a journey back in time.

 

Elder William Brewster’s Advice to Christians
Living in the United States

If Elder Brewster were alive right now, what advice would he have for Christians today, living in this country his Plymouth Plantation was a foundation of? This article titled Saga of the Pilgrims will answer that question by showing you how the Separatist Christians reacted to very similar circumstances they were living through. First, William Brewster, upon taking stock of the condition of the Christian churches in the United States, would realize that many of these churches have become what the Church of England was like in the late 1500s to early 1600s. The very reason these Pilgrims were called Separatists was because they believed one had to separate himself or herself out from the Church of England in order to more ensure one’s salvation. Why did they feel so strongly about this issue? It was because the Church of England was baptizing and allowing known sinners to become members of the Church of England. The Bible, as they could plainly read in 1 Corinthians, commands believers to have no fellowship with sinners that are in the church, and to put them out of the church. Well these Separatists couldn’t very well remove the “sinners” the Church of England was admitting into their fellowship out of that church, so they felt compelled to break off from that church, even though that put their lives in peril of the monarchy of England, the government. William Brewster would take one good look at what is going on within the Christian churches here in the United States, and judging by the same biblical standards they had lived by, advise all Christians living in this land of ours to separate out from any Christian church which baptized and/or admitted known sinners to their membership rolls. Now that sounds pretty reactionary. But understand, Mr. Brewster was a very pronounced reactionary of his day. King James I of England had a price on Mr. Brewster’s head because he had actually dared to publish a book that went against the kings wishes.
The other thing the Separatists and Mr. Brewster were known for whilst living in the midlands of England was this. They would search diligently for those parishes and churches that had a real preacher that preached the Word of God powerfully and in a way that would spiritually nourish the congregation. He and they would search out for Holy Spirit led and inspired preachers, and go to their services. They set the prime example of going out in search of churches that were alive spiritually, and leaving ones that weren’t. Now that may ruffle a few pastoral feathers, but these people were willing to risk their lives and die so that we in this land of ours could have that freedom without risk to life and limb.
So If Elder Brewster were alive today he would be just as reactionary in his advice to Christians as he was back in 1620. He would advise all Christians living in this land he loved so much to separate themselves out from any church they might be attending if that church or denomination was now in the habit of baptizing or admitting to its membership rolls known sinners. He would go on to advise these same Christians to find for themselves doctrinally sound, solid churches who have preachers in them that expound the whole Word of God without distortion, in a spiritually nourishing manner.
Now let’s define sin. The Bible says sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Which law? Christians follow the law of Christ (which is based on, but not quite the same as the Law of Moses). The law of Christ is defined by Jesus in Matthew 5:17-48, and by Paul in Romans 1. Churches that admit as members people who are knowingly and willingly living by lifestyles defined in these two passages are what Mr. Brewster would advise we “separate” ourselves out from and cease attending.
As a direct descendant of William Brewster, and in a tiny way following in his footsteps in gospel publishing using the most modern media (the Internet), just as he did in the 1600s (the printing press), I feel compelled to tell you what advice my ancestor would desire have me pass on to you. Do you think this advice is too reactionary? Then read about the man who would give you this same advice if he were alive today--read about the man who lived the very advice he would give you in Saga of the Pilgrims.

 

The editor.

Post Script: Church history also shows us that when a major revival of the Holy Spirit takes place, take the Great Awakening for example, Satan always likes to create counterfeit or false revivals alongside or in close proximity to the real one that is taking place.  This is done to bring public discredit to the real revival of God’s Holy Spirit which is taking place.  On the outskirts of the Great Awakening, Pentecostal groups that were going to extremes in manifestations of the “spirit”--such as “slaying in the spirit”, “Holy Spirit glue”, “extreme drunkenness in the spirit”, barking like dogs, holy laughter.

          In his book Counterfeit Revival author and Christian apologist Hank Hanegraaff documents those individuals and their counterfeit revivals that are currently taking place, as well as giving them their proper historic context in church history.  The real danger these groups bring into the Christian church is that they spawn what appear to be very real Christian churches and congregations, and these churches teach doctrines that are very close to being Christian--but all they teach are in some way perversions of the truth of the Bible, God’s Word.  They promote doctrines such as “Health and Wealth”, which are taught by taking Scripture passages on healing and wealth out of Biblical context.  They tend to overemphasize what God has to say about healing, health and prosperity to the exclusion of the very gospel of salvation itself.  Often the clear expository teaching of God’s Word is abandoned in preference to teaching their “pet” doctrines.  The real danger is when “watered down” variations of these doctrinal “understandings” slip into genuine Christian churches as a result of interchurch fellowship, and now even more so via the television programs and revival films of those in this counterfeit revival impacting individual Christians sitting in their own living rooms watching their televisions.  Also, because these groups are Pentecostal in nature other genuine Pentecostal Christian churches can innocently buy into the “Christian resources” and literature of these counterfeit groups, totally unaware of what they’re buying into.  Mr. Hanegraaff mentions Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, The Toronto Blessing and groups associated with it, the Orlando Christian Center, just to name a few, as being a major part of this counterfeit revival movement.  If you have sincere doubts or questions about this, be sure to order a copy of Hank Hanegraaff’s book Counterfeit Revival and read for yourself what he has carefully documented about this subject.  Log onto either http://www.amazon.com or http://www.christianbook.com to order this book online.  I believe the soft-cover goes for about  $10.00. 

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