REVELATION OF GOD Meditations No.10 of 10
1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.
As we are still very much aware today, the ongoing history of the Church is an ongoing battle. Those who do not want to submit to a sovereign God speak out and do all in their power to destroy Christianity. In the early centuries of the life of the Church there was tremendous persecution that went on against the Church, which went on for the first three hundred years of its life. In some measure or other that persecution has carried on throughout the whole period of Church History and in some parts of the world is just as terrible as ever. The skeptic would do well to consider why such a pointless religion (as they see it) should evoke such terrible violence and horror against it.
There was also a battle against heresies throughout those early centuries, those teachings that sought to distort the historical truths of Christianity. In the beginning of the 21st century we see a resurgence of many of those heresies. What those who refuse to study these things fail to see, is that the traditional Christian beliefs are clear cut and free from the ‘weird and wonderful’. The New Testament accounts and teaching is free from mystical or weird teaching. It is very simple and straight forward and can be understood by anyone coming to God through Jesus Christ. There is no ‘special’ or ‘mystical’ knowledge required as the variety of heresies have demanded. The testimony of John in his letter that we have above, is that this was all about the eternal Son of God who had come, and who they had seen, heard and touched. This was as down to earth as is possible to get!
Possibly the biggest struggle that the church has had is within itself, with what the Bible calls ‘sin’, that tendency to self-centredness and godlessness. Thus the further history moved on from the life of Jesus and the early apostles, the greater the distortions and variations and mishandling by men involved in leadership in the Church. Thus we had one part of the Church growing up with a central focus at Rome while the eastern part grew under the focus at Constantinople. Eventually came what was referred to as the Great Schism where the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church split apart to go their separate ways.
Through the Dark Ages, abuses eventually so upset Martin Luther that we had the Protestant Reformation, the start of a return, away from tradition and abuses, back to Biblical Christianity. At various times in Church History in various places around the world, different areas experienced ‘revival’ where the sovereign working of God brought many people to know Him, often accompanied by signs and wonders.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, while much of the Church was suffering the ravages of liberal theologians, God came by His Spirit in California with the start of the Pentecostal wing of the church, emphasising the use of the gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Cor 12), now a strong worldwide movement. In the latter part of the twentieth century came a fresh emphasis on the teaching that the Church is the body of Christ. With this came charismatic renewal and the so-called restoration movement. In each of these movements can be seen, by those with eyes to see, the ongoing revelation of God to and through His church, confirming and affirming all that is found in the New Testament.
The history of the Church has included:
a) a struggle to arrive at the truth of what happened two thousand years ago
- in and through the life of Jesus Christ,
- and its effects for us as human beings,
by the early Church,
b) a diluting of that truth by the formation of human institutions and ideas of men, over the centuries,
c) a recovering of the biblical truths through the protestant reformation,
d) a recovering of the biblical life of the Spirit, by a variety of moves of God over the past hundred years.
In these notes we observed the gradual revelation of God through the first two books of the Bible which is echoed throughout the Old Testament. We briefly considered the greater revelation of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the effects of that on mankind. The ongoing battle is to hold onto the truth of the revelation of God through the Bible, and to counter the many distortions that we, the sinful human race, seem to manage to come up with about God, that are contrary to the Biblical revelation.