| When did the church lose it's way? (part 2)|
THE CONSTANTINE CONTAGION
Let us look at what kind of Kingdom Constantine built. You decide if he initiated and contaminated Christendom with a contagion that lasts until this day, that created the Catholic church and also the reformed church. In 313 Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. This granted freedom of religion to all men, including Christians. I know that this may come as a shock to many American Christians, but yes, there was freedom of religion prior to some settlements in the colonies. Constantine went on and decreed that the properties stolen from Christians during the persecution would be returned. He also decreed that the houses of prayer that were burned would be rebuilt and paid for by the state. And even with that , Constantine was not finished. He decided in his earthly wisdom and undoubted friendliness towards those of the Christian faith that they should have very fine buildings in which to worship, very much larger structures since it was now the favored religion of the state. The previous modest houses of prayer would be too small to hold the large crowds that would now come, so he built them " churches," that were more ornate than the pagan temples of the day.
So we went from a faith that met in very modest houses of prayer to highly ornate temples of worship. We went from a faith that was persecuted by the state to a faith that was made an amalgam of the state. Constantine further recognized that most bishops and deacons lived on or near the poverty line. Now think about that saints-saints on or near the poverty line. Now this was often by choice, men gladly giving up their estates, but nevertheless that is how most bishops and deacons lived prior to the great persecution of Diocletian. Now Constantine thought this most improper that men of the status of a bishop or a deacon should live in such a manner. So Constantine decided that the state would pay them a handsome salary. Think about it saints. Just a few years before Christendom had faced the most sever persecution and now here was Constantine, building extravagant buildings called churches and paying bishops and deacons handsome salaries. Brilliant strategy of the Devil? Good cop bad cop syndrome with Diocletian and Constantine? I would argue that it could only have happened against the backdrop of such a great persecution. Prior to this men of God would not even take governmental roles never mind have the state pay for ornate buildings and receive a wage from them. One more thing, Constantine decreed that these churches did not have to pay property tax, which was one of the main ways Rome raised revenue.
Now how would the saints react to all of this? Well we soon see a split. And the split was basically along the lines of who stood firm during the persecution and those who did not. This would come to a head in a city in North Africa called Carthage. In that city, two groups developed. And much like the Novationists form 100 years prior, the Donatists did not care for not want to include in the Church those who had denied their faith during the great persecution. So we had two groups of " leaders ' vying for control in Carthage. There were two bishops and two sets of deacons. On the one side were the so-called Donatists, and on the other side the Catholics. So, two groups but only one state- built fancy church and only one set of salaries. Bercot writes " In the past, this controversy would have been purely an internal church matter. But Constantine's " blessings ' to the church created a whole new issue. Which Bishop would receive the handsome salary offered by the State? Which Bishop and which group of presbyters would receive tax exemption? Which Bishop would have charge of the magnificent new church building that had been rebuilt at state expense." ( The Kingdom That Turned The World Upside Down , page 166)
It was eventually appealed to Constantine and he found in favor of the Catholics. The Catholics were established. Constantine even gifted the Lateran palace to them, which became the residence of the Popes for the next one thousand years. And of course from that point on every persecution that came against the true kingdom saints would come from , what Bercot calls a hybrid. The church which had formerly refused to take positions within the government , and had lived a humble and modest life, had been persecuted, now took roles within the state. They lived very well at the expense of the state and then became the persecutors of those Kingdom saints who are and have and always will be identified by their obedience to Jesus and their willingness to die rather than deny their faith. Rome and the church that had mostly denied their faith during the great persecution merged. And of course when Rome fell, the established church did not, it only became more powerful. This goes beyond anything that you would read in Lewis's " Screwtape Letters." This was quite simply, a brilliant plan by the deadliest foe of genuine Christianity, Satan.
WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES.........ARE WE?
Now where does that leave the remnant saint today ? How will the established church once again become so immersed in the state that they become one and then become the enemy of the Kingdom saints? When the world infiltrates and dominates the church then their concerns become one and the same. What threatens the world threatens the church and so they stand together to deal with the threat. What was born in the Constantine period has not changed, whether it was the Catholic church or the schisms of the Reformation that would create state churches like the church of England or the Lutheran church. We can see that the very same pattern has developed here in the United States, where the Evangelical church has become a very powerful political force. This is a vital part of any unholy alliance where the interests of the state merge and contaminate and overcome the church. This is the Constantine contagion.
Every institution that's root can be found and traced back to the Constantine period will not stand in that day. And what I mean by that is this. When the great evil that is soon to come upon us unfolds, many of those of the contagion will fall away, will be be swept away, they will fall in line with the world. And many who now call us brothers, will soon be our persecutors. And why? Because neither the people nor their churches have built their lives or their organizations upon the Rock which is Jesus. Jesus plainly says that those who hear His Word and do not do it will fall and great will be the ruin of them. A structure or a life built on anything less than the Word of God and the carrying out of that word just simply cannot remain standing. It may take a month or several years, decades or even centuries but the Words of Jesus cannot be broken. Now just as the Kingdom saints all down through the ages have separated themselves from the evils of contaminated institutions and refused to be a part of them, so we see this happening again in our day. The time of peace is coming to an end for Christendom in the west. The great valley of decision lies ahead for those who call themselves after the name of Jesus. In that valley lies persecution and blasphemy and men who do not heed the words of Jesus. Who will stand?
Those who will stand are those who love the Lord Jesus more than they love their country, more than they love their culture, more than they love their friends, more than they love even their own families. They love Jesus more than a comfortable life and more than what this world has to offer. Those who will stand are the pilgrim saints, the sojourners, the Kingdom saints, the remnant. They will stand because they are already dead to this world and alive to the Kingdom of God in which they already walk. Twice- born saints, now born into a Kingdom that was and is and is to come. They serve the King of this Kingdom with all of their hearts. They always have, they do now and they always will. This is the eternal Kingdom of God and no amount of persecution can change that, all it can do is reveal who is the Kingdom saint and who is not.
| 2013/11/6 16:08|
| Re: When did the church lose it's way? (part 2)|
Frank wrote:Those who will stand are those who love the Lord Jesus more than they love their country, more than they love their culture, more than they love their friends, more than they love even their own families. They love Jesus more than a comfortable life and more than what this world has to offer. Those who will stand are the pilgrim saints, the sojourners, the Kingdom saints, the remnant. They will stand because they are already dead to this world and alive to the Kingdom of God in which they already walk. Twice- born saints, now born into a Kingdom that was and is and is to come. They serve the King of this Kingdom with all of their hearts. They always have, they do now and they always will. This is the eternal Kingdom of God and no amount of persecution can change that, all it can do is reveal who is the Kingdom saint and who is not.
Wonderful! really appreciated what you shared here. A very direct question asked "Who will stand?" but one I think very soon we will all be considering and asking ourselves. Another good reminder, "Am I already dead to the things of this world or am I allowing something to hold onto my heart?" I think upon this often, where are my treasures, men can only take things from me that I treasure, the things that matter most are the things buried in HIM and men can not touch them!
Thank you so much for sharing this here with us.
| 2013/11/6 17:10||Profile|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
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Great insights and challenges, may we learn from history and the choice is ours today to stand alone with Jesus Christ or religion in His Name or even worse State in His Name.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2013/11/6 18:25||Profile|
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I believe after the Apostles died, the Church began losing it's way. Some of it started before they died.
Act_20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
| 2013/11/7 1:42|
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"I believe after the Apostles died, the Church began losing it's way. Some of it started before they died."
There always comes a point where one has to make a decision, make a stand. In various times in your Christian life the enemy will come in like a flood, and sometimes the period just after a great battle can be the most dangerous. We can see that with the prophet on the mountain who ends up on the run from Jezebel.
And so, while there was undoubtedly problems, many problems within the Christendom prior to Constantine, and I mentioned the Novationists, the Constantine period was really unique in that they were truly enticed and swallowed up by the world. Persecution failed to destroy the church, but it seems that the enemy thought that if he could not beat them then he must buy them. That is why I believe it has application today in the affluent west.
What we in the west consider " blessings," from God could in fact be one of many Trojan horses designed to infiltrate and weaken, dilute and compromise Christendom. Ultimately those who identify with Christ's sufferings will not fall for the notion of these " blessings," and will see it for what it is...........bro Frank
| 2013/11/7 10:14|
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Frank, your response reminds me of something David Wilkerson said in the 70s or 80s when asked what he thought the manifestation of Satan's attack on the church in America will look like in the future. What kind of persecution would it be like.
Surprisingly (to the questioner who was expecting hard times and persecution), David said that "the enemy will give the Church everything that it wants". He was speaking in reference to earthly possessions, honor, esteem, accolades, power, money, etc, etc. David was indicting the Church for their gross worldliness and indicated that Satan was very happy about the direction of their hearts and will give them more and more of what they wanted.
That prophetic word has proven to be so true.
The Church loses it's way in every generation, yet there is always a Remnant of Believers that will not bow the knee to Baal.
| 2013/11/7 14:32|
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Hi just-in. I have been sharing for a several months now with a few brothers that I believe America is on the verge of a boom, not a financial collapse. They will be stronger and richer than they have ever been before, now I know that flies in the face of what most prophetic statements that have come forward. The collapse of 2008 was just enough to almost snatch away the American dream from so many, when it comes back it will be deeper and more strongly held onto than ever before, just at the very time we need to be holding all things very loosely............bro Frank
| 2013/11/7 14:57|
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" I believe America is on the verge of a boom, not a financial collapse."
You really got enough of that American spirit now to call yourself an American
are you in Kansas on visa, or greencard?
| 2013/11/7 21:04||Profile|
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A-servant your remark is totally out of line and in violation of SI guidelines.
I know Frank personally. He is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in this country for over 20 years. He holds a real estate licence and sells houses in Kansas City.
Brother I feel you owe this brother an apology as he works and pays taxes as you and I do.
| 2013/11/7 21:28|
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Hi a-servant. I am really not sure what your comment is alluding to, perhaps you can be more clear maybe in the form of a question? .........bro Frank
ps. While I love this land the Lord brought me too, I am a citizen of another Kingdom. God bless you a-servant.
| 2013/11/7 23:01|