We now come to the latter part of the first century churches where seeds of problems were being planted and some even reaped. One area of concern was that of "Second Generation" Christians. There was a lukewarmness about them that made our Lord sick (Rev. 2 &3). False doctrine was being allowed in and considered by churches. This did not go unnoticed as Paul wrote about these things in 2 Timothy; Peter wrote an epistle on the matter in 2 Peter; John wrote about the problems in 1 John; and Jude addressed it as well in the book of Jude.
It is a trait unfortunately seen today in second generation Christians. A complacency mixed with a lack of Truth will always equal corruption. Our churches are becoming vacant as 'second generation' Christians seek something "New, better, more exciting, refreshing"....a.k.a. doctrine contrary to the Word of God/Flesh Pleasing.
When Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70 there was a great change in the complexion of Christianity. There was prior to this a great Jewish influence upon churches (some not good), which was severed with the fall of Jerusalem.
We do mark some important traits of these first century churches. They were independent churches, they were led by pastors, they kept the ordinances, and they were remaining pure in the faith. Unfortunately this did not go unnoticed by its enemies as seeds were being planted to attack these Biblical traits.
The seeds of 'big church domination/mega church/empire church' were being planted (Acts 15:1,2) though the church at Jerusalem was careful to 'trouble not' the church at Antioch (vs. 19). In A Concise History of the Baptists by G.H. Orchard, he writes:
During the first three centuries, Christian congregations, all over the East, subsisted in separate independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently without any secular power over one another."
These seeds are being reaped today and seen in the church Hierarchy of Catholicism and such and amongst Baptist as well in the Big church influencing the 'little church' to do it there way (ie "Pastor's School/Baptist Friends etc). Nothing wrong with a large Scriptural church, but there aren't just many good examples around to point to these days. It seems like many of the 'large churches' have pushed aside the KJV, standards, closed communion, alien baptism, etc in order to stay a 'large church.' They keep their pews full with their colleges and their pulpits "hot" with IAN PAISLEY, RICK WARREN-ITES, and such....I must go on, but you get the picture.
Though pastors were still leading churches by example and instruction, the seeds of 'priestly' offices and 'duties' were being sown as seen in 2 John 9, "those abiding not in the doctrine of Christ." There has always only been one way to God, there is only way to God, and there will only be one way to God for all mankind-through Jesus Christ our Lord alone!
Though churches were keeping the ordinances as they should, the seeds of sacramentalism were being planted as evidenced in Acts 15:1: "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." This of course was heresy taught by a sect of Pharisees; still, seeds for a works salvation were being planted.
Though churches were still pure in the faith, seeds of idolatry and heresy and paganism were being sown as evidenced in Revelation 2 & 3.
I just finished preaching through the books of 1 and 2 Peter. In 1 Peter, Peter taught and comforted the church in dealing with outside persecutions by Nero and such. In 2 Peter, Peter warned against Satan's other attack by corruption from within. The persecution had begun earlier as even Saul (Paul) was doing such; but as Satan soon found out, the more the churches were persecuted the quicker they grew. So, the tool of corruption was exercised and is still being used today. That is why our churches must know Truth-the Word of God! We have accepted for too long an 'entertaining style of preaching' that teaches only issues and pet peeves that has left our churches without a knowledge of the Word of God, weak, impotent, and susceptible to heresy.
Some of that heresy began to creep into the church amongst a 'second generation' membership that was luke warm and apathetic. We shall study those heresies and how they moved in next week.
OH, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!