The church that Jesus founded grew remarkably over the next several centuries. That is not to say the church was free of persecution. Quite the opposite. Christians were slaughtered like cattle. Usually, the Roman Emperor instigated or ordered attacks on the followers of Christ. Amazingly, Christianity increased. Pagan temples were forsaken while Christian churches were thronged.
About that same time, many errors crept into the church. Christians turned against each other. Self-interests divided those that should have been united. Pride became associated with certain factions. Human reason was placed in competition with Revelation. Those persecuted were nobles, ministers of the gospel, many well appreciated women, and soldiers that were converted to Christianity. All of these things being true, Christianity continued to grow. It is definitely true and proven by history that the persecuted church is the healthiest church.
Even as masses lost their lives in the name of Christ, there was working in the annals of history still yet what cursed the church. Some professing Christians were persuaded by the threat of death to abandon the faith. Let us not forget the thousand years now called the dark ages. Copies of scriptures were rare since they had to be done by hand. Even the clergy at times were without the exact knowledge of God’s Word. Ignorance was rampant, indulgences to sin were sold like coupons. Duly appointed church leaders displayed their most sinful lusts.
Then the Days of Enlightenment brought more debate than understanding. Such questions as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin were taken seriously. Philosophy such as Gnosticism rose up out of its hidden quarters from the times of the New Testament. It became a fanciful pastime to discuss the nature of Christ whether he be fully human, fully God, or human who became a God. The concepts of Karl Marx drew its history from ancient philosophers who taught only the wisest and best among humanity were the ones to rule humanity. Science was awarded a new place among public thinkers. Instead of the Bible being the basis of ethics and morality, philosophy gave birth to a new way of thinking such as situational ethics.
Then for the matter of religion, organization was its own curse. The Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the universal religion of the Empire. This caused many non-Christians to declare themselves Christian not by salvation through the blood of Christ but for political and personal enhancement reasons. Rivalry between the most prominent church leaders occasioned questions among congregations. Christianity became so organized that it created its own hierarchy and wealth. Popes and Kings challenged each other for the leadership of the church where the Bible frankly says that Christ is the head of the church.
Other religions such as Islam came alongside to garner the world’s attention. Even within Christendom the weaknesses provided from human thought instead of biblical authority caused declarations of the true knowledge of Scripture. Denominations were created and then split to become new denominations which endured other splits that themselves were split. Questions arose as to who was right or who was wrong. Then the understanding of Bible verses became a matter of opinion. People granted themselves choices as to which versus and doctrines of the Bible to recognize or not to recognize. When I preached one Sunday about hell, a comment card was turned in after the service that the writer said he could not believe that we still considered hell a reality.
So now on many platforms of Christian doctrine everything seems to be a matter of choice what to believe instead of the Bible teachings that we all are sinners and come short of the glory of God needing Christ to be our Savior who was resurrected to defeat death for believers. Unfortunately, the zeal and fervor of the first century Christians has been diluted. What a person believes is no longer based on the Bible but on dreamed up concepts that if carried to the nth degree would make no sense. The idea of personal goodness standing before a righteous God even though wrong is popular.
It seems that all of these things mentioned are concerted efforts to curse the church and its strength and fervor. Today’s church has very little to have identity with the church that Jesus founded. Man’s thinking cannot and should not ever replace God’s thinking. In a preferred fix to the problems of today’s church must begin with prayer and repentance before asking that God gives his blessing.