THE CHURCH THAT JESUS BUILT 6


6. The Future of the Church

Looking through the prophetic eye in apostolic days, the future of our Lord’s church would be one of joy mingled with sorrows. There is the joy of promulgating the gospel to the ends of the earth, despite the sorrows of tribulations and persecutions to be encountered. Our Lord forewarned His people of the bitter crises they must face, John 16:1, 2: “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

But despite such disturbing factors, the Lord assured His church of perpetual existence in this world throughout the centuries until He shall come again. This assurance is founded upon certain facts:

  1. Christ, who defeated Satan in the temptations, will not allow Satan to overcome His church, John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”

  2. Christ assured His church that the “gates of hell” shall not prevail against it, Matt. 16:18: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” that is, “against her,’ as the original word is in the feminine gender.

  3. The immovable foundation of the church, which is Christ himself, is a guarantee of the perpetual existence of the church in all Christian centuries, Matt. 7:24-27. The house built on a rock stood amidst terrific beatings of storms and floods because of its foundation.

  4. The apostle Paul declares Christ to be the “saviour,” that is, preserver “of the body,” here used abstractly of the church (Eph. 5:23). He has preserved not only the principles of the church, but the church itself – the “body” plus its principles.

  5. Our Lord’s promise to be with His church to the end of the world, that is, the age, is a comforting assurance to us, Matt. 28:20: “…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

  6. God has ordained to receive glory through His church in all ages, Eph. 3:21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” If the church has not existed in all ages since Christ’s day on earth, this assurance has failed. But God’s promises are sure.

The world crises through which Christ has preserved His church across the centuries include:

  1. The crisis of scorn, ridicule and misrepresentation. As Christ faced it, so His disciples must also face it. Our Master endured this crisis in His life and on the cross. The name Christian was first applied to His disciples at Antioch in derision, and not until the second century did they accept and use it with any degree of pride (Acts 11:26). During the centuries after Christ, His people have been dubbed by various epithets in scorn and ridicule. The types of scorn and misrepresentation which Christians endured especially in the first three centuries may be summed up thusly:

    1. They were called a “sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5).

    2. Their teaching was labeled a “contagious superstition” by the Roman governor of Bithynia, whose name was Pliny. This was in the second century.

    3. They were charged with sedition and high treason, because they refused to render worship to the Emperor by burning incense on the altar before his statue.

    4. They were charged with atheism, because they refused to acknowledge the pagan gods. Theism denotes belief in God’s existence, but “theism” is negated, or denied, when the Greek letter “a” is placed before it – “a-theism.”

    5. They were charged with cannibalism, because they claimed to partake of the body and blood of Christ in a symbolic way in the observance of the Lord’s Supper, which had to be done in secret assemblies. The pagan spies twisted the truth by saying the Christians secluded themselves to eat literal flesh and blood of human beings. The bread and the fruit of the vine are only symbols of the body and blood of Christ, not His real body and blood.

    6. They were charged with arson at Rome, Nero had this charge placed against them to take the spotlight off himself, as he had come under suspicion of setting fire to the city. He said the Christians did this in order to prove their doctrine that the world would be destroyed by fire. But they proved themselves innocent of all such charges, and marched forward in a pagan world with the banner of truth unfurled. And the old Ship of Zion sailed on.

  2. The crisis of compromise. In every century since Christ’s day, the opponents of Baptists have proposed compromise – to spare their life, if they would give up their faith. Many a Baptist has been led to the stake to be burned, or put to death in some in some horrible manner with the crucifix held before their faces in a plea for them to surrender their faith and live. But great numbers of them went to their death praising God that they were counted worthy to suffer for Him. When the martyr Hooper was led away to his death, his persecutors said to him” “Mr. Hooper, why don’t you give up your faith, for life is sweet.” “Yes, life is sweet,” answered Mr. Hooper, “but eternal life is sweeter.” He left the earth for heaven amidst the flames of martyrdom. The Old Ship of Zion sails on!

  3. The crisis of heresy, or false teaching.Commencing with the efforts of the Judaizers at Jerusalem to conjoin works of the law with grace in order for the Gentiles to be saved (Acts 15:1-35), true Christianity has had to battle its way against the darkness of heresy to maintain its purity. Paul said in his day that the “mystery of iniquity doth already work” (II Thess. 2:7). and the main purpose of Peter’s writing his second epistle was to confirm the Jewish Christians in the faith against the onslaught of “damnable heresies” introduced by false prophets and false teachers (II Peter 2:1).

    The theory of baptismal regeneration arose by the end of the second century, and along with it came infant baptism. These twin heresies have proved all along as disturbing factors in Christendom. And in the first part of the third century episcopacy arose with its bold effort to break down the independence and self-governing aspect of the churches which the loyal ones claimed was inherited from the apostolic pattern. By prophecy Paul forewarned the followers of Christ that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith” (I Tim. 4:1) as a system of doctrine (Jude 3).

    Those were the forerunners of a horde of heresies that have been introduced into Christendom since then, including the bodily assumption of Mary and prayers offered to her; the adoration of images in worship; the seven sacraments as means of divine grace for salvation; transubstantiation and the sale of indulgences for the remission of sins. But the old Ship of Zion sails on in the sea of the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints!

  4. The crisis of persecution. The church of our Lord Jesus Christ has survived in the purity of the original faith despite persecutions from the following sources:

    1. Worldliness in high official ranks. The first Baptist preacher suffered decapitation for denouncing the adultery of a king and his wife (Matt. 14:3-11). And in some way or other ever since then preachers have had rough sailing when they undertook to draw the line against the impurity of marriage.

    2. Jewish. Not long after the resurrection of Christ, Christians were imprisoned and whipped for preaching the doctrine of His resurrection (Acts 4:1-3; 5:18, 40). This was done by authority of the Jewish high court.

      Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the doctrine held by Baptists (Acts 7:57-60).

      With the exception of John, all the apostles suffered martyrdom, and John himself was sent into exile by Emperor Domitian. They all taught doctrines now held by Baptists.

    3. Pagan. At first the pagan rulers at Rome paid little attention to Christianity, considering it to be another sect of the Jews; but when its pattern was seen clearly and definitely divorced from Judaism, persecution by the pagans began to be waged against its devotees. Then followed ten major pagan persecutions, from Nero in A.D. 67 to Diocletian in A.D. 303. During this time some two million Christians suffered death for their faith.

    4. Catholic. Constantine the Great, claiming conversion to Christianity, and uniting his version of the church with the state in A.D. 313, set the pattern of persecution of his opponents by slaughtering many of the Donatists in North Africa. His successor in the latter part of the fourth century, Theodosius the Great, made it punishable by death for anyone found worshiping contrary to his decrees.

      Gregory the Great, who became a Romish bishop in 590, dispatched Austin to the British Isles to convert those people to the Catholic faith. He succeeded with many of them, especially the Saxons of England, but when he failed to convert the Welsh Baptists, he turned upon them with organized savagery and slew about twelve hundred of them. From these Welsh Baptists, who sprang up as early as A.D. 63, and many of whom sealed their testimony with their blood under the Austin persecution, came Baptists and even a whole church in organized capacity in the colonial days to America.

      After Gregory papal power was increased until it reached its zenith under Pope Innocent III, whose pontificate extended from 1198 to 1216.It was during his time when our forefathers in the faith, called Albigenses and Waldenses, were so severely persecuted. After Innocent papal power began to wane under the impact of moral corruption in the Catholic Church all the way from the priests to the popes, and soon the morning stars of the Reformation began to shine forth. During the time of the papal rule, from Constantine the Great to the Reformation, historians have estimated not less than FIFTY MILLION people were killed for their faith.

      Still the old Ship of Zion sails on!

    5. Prostestant. The Lutheran Reformation, known as the Protestant Reformation, was officially born on October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in stout denunciation of the sale of indulgences, that is, the forgiveness of sins from the pope, by john Tetzel, one of the hierarchy’s emissaries sent out to collect money for the Catholic Church under the fraudulent claim of granting remission of sins according to the amount of money expended in this manner.

Had it not been for John Wycliffe of England, John Huss of Bohemia, the Anabaptists, and others, all of whom labored before the rise of Luther, the Lutheran Reformation would never have materialized.

But no sooner had the Reformation gotten well under way, like a steam roller, it crushed under its impact many who had aided Luther in his efforts. Among these were Anabaptists whose lineage runs back to apostolic days and from whom came many Baptists to America in the seventeenth century.

Therefore the true Baptist in America have lineal descent from the church founded by Christ Himself during His personal ministry on earth. This is the true church line across the centuries back to Christ. Any believer in Christ, whether or not he is in this church line, may be saved, but without one’s identifying himself with this line he cannot receive Scriptural baptism, for the authority to baptize was invested in the church line beginning with the one in existence in Christ’s day (Matt. 28:19,20), and has been perpetuated in this line across the centuries. The disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus, who had been baptized without Scriptural authority, were baptized again after he had taught them the truth about salvation and baptism (Acts 19:1-5). You may have been baptized by someone, but unless you have been baptized by divine authority vested in a church whose lineage goes back to the days of Christ, you do not have Scriptural baptism. In this event, then, you should, if you are saved, submit yourself for Scriptural baptism.

So the old Ship of Zion sail on forever, despite fire, dungeon and the sword! Even the wholesale slaughter of the faithful witnesses of Christ failed to shove them into the “gates of hell.”

“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18).

This is the last of the out of date pamphlet I have. I will post the complete pamphlet for those that would want to copy for their files.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “THE CHURCH THAT JESUS BUILT 6

  1. Ken Gibson

    Great post and so desperately needed for today

    Like

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