I wanted to start this new thread to bring out a discussion on a topic that could be profitable to go through and discuss.
Brother Julius said,
Religious Flesh has been persecuting people of the Spirit from Genesis to Revelation.
Cain Persecuted Abel
Joseph persecuted by his brothers
Saul Persecuted David
Jezebel persecuted the prophets
Isaiah sawn asunder most probably by King Manasseh
Greg, I think you are thinking about religious organizations only at the start of 300AD such as the Catholic church, but I am referring to the religious flesh persecuting the children of the spirit from Genesis through Revelation, up until today. Satan has been carrying on this activity through men long before the RCC came into being.
We had the Pharisees persecute Jesus.
Saul persecute the Church.
We have the Judaizers in Acts.
We have Diotrephes in 1 John.
3Jn 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
3Jn 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
We have the religious Pharisees persecute and kill Jesus by handing him over to the political (Pontius Pilate) who handed him over to the military.
All the prophets of God were killed by religious flesh in the OT.
The Prophet Zechariah was killed in the Temple itself and Jesus himself makes reference to it.
"so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. (Matthew 23:35)
Ahab and Jezebel killed a boatload of prophets. Obadiah the steward hid a hundred of them in a cave to try to keep them safe, but Elijah says in several places that all the prophets of Israel got killed except him.
Act 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: AS YOUR FATHERS DID, SO DO YE.
Act 7:52 WHICH OF THE PROPHETS HAVE NOT YOUR FATHERS PERSECUTED? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Luke_13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Gal_4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
In Genesis, Cain who was very religious and took pride in the works of his own hands offering up his works to God. Cain was very jealous of Abel who offered up to God a lamb.
All Apostles persecuted and killed by men that served other gods (except John, who died of old age).
There are many more stories of religious flesh in the OT persecuting the children of faith.
I am sure other brothers and sisters can add to my short list.
I do not disagree that religious persecutes believers because all "are" religious, ie all worship either the true God or are idol worshippers, atheists are worshippers of self. So the entire world is full of religious people, it is what religion is right is the question.
I believe and agree with your sharing of Cain and Abel for both were offering sacrifices and Abel becomes the first martyr of the people of God.
I do not disagree that there were false prophets, heretics, those full of self, those who were not circumsized in their heart and of course these ones opposed the truth and those of the truth. The reason I wanted highlight this is that many believe certain things in this vien that I find over simplifications of the matter and not right.
1. AD 300 - many believe in this time the entire church went apostate, some even claim it happened much earlier during the times of the apostles. Since then till now the majority therefore has always been wrong and persecuted the right ones who were always in the minority. They will use examples as you have shown above to show the minority or very few individuals that were right.
2. Establishment and Systems - The view also carries that anything formally established with traditions, rules, structures, practices that are religious are wrong. The word religious has a negative connection in these peoples minds that all these things are wrong and those of the spirit are the only right ones, free from any practices that seem religious.
3. Catholicism - This type of thinking also show that the Catholic church is the originator of every error and it began right after the death of the apostles, slowly growing. This view of the Catholic church by some today forces them to repudiate all that is known as the Church in our day even going against protestant churches as daughters of the harlot (roman church). They have no respect for anything such as one pastor churches, church protestant structures, etc. Some go as far to say that it is all pagan and in the end christianity has been lost and is only being found now in the 20th century.
My simple thinking on the matter is:
1. The church never fully went apostate but had people that would veer from the truth. Going from the writings of the Apostles through to the Early Church Fathers you do not see a great apostasy and change but a continuity. In A.D. 303 started the greatest time of persecution for the early Church, known as the Great Persecution. It was not until A.D. 313 when Constantine issued the edict that made Christianity legal in the Roman Empire ending a great time of suffering. In either way the church had its troubles to deal with, either suffering or prosperity but have pit falls. AD 313 was not the apostatizing of the church.
2. Paul the Apostle and other Apostles mention traditions, practices and the word religion was never a bad thing in the eyes of the Apostles they had the continuation of the true religion and belief. God has setup the apostles and prophets as a foundation for His Church (Ephesians 2:20). The Lord’s Supper and Head-covering were symbolic practices in the Churches (1 Corinthians 11). Leaders are appointed by other leaders in the Church (Titus 1:5). Church Overseers and Deacons are given special requirements and roles (1 Timothy 3). The Churches were connected and had a mutual faith (Colossians 4:16). Apostles and other leaders had authority to judge matters in local Churches (2 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 5). Just as levites before, apostles and leaders had a right to be provided for financially (1 Timothy 5:17-18, 1 Corinthians 9:14). Scripture readings were an apostolic practice (1 Timothy 4:13). Some Church leaders function was to preach and teach to the people (1 Timothy 5:17). When we look at the entire New Testament on a larger scale we see a cohesive movement of Churches working together, unified, accepting leadership of Apostles and particularly, James and Peter in Jerusalem and for the gentile Churches, Paul the Apostle.
God has always worked through systems that he has established. In the days of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David etc God has patterns and things perscribed. Alot of more false leadership crept in especially during the 400 years before Jesus was born where the synagogue system was established without God's presecription, I do not find any bible verses or prophetic direction of God for the establishment of synagogues. Though the temple worship was ordained by him. So to me though prophets were martyred, the majority was not always wrong, but at times the wrong leaders got in place and caused persecution for God's people.
3. I do not see Catholicism fully becoming apostate or apart from the truth till the council of Trent in AD 1400 this is when God acted and the reformation began where God called his people out of the Church to continue the Church. Most practices of protestant, evangelical churches are from the church traditions and practices we have carried on for many years many since the the early days of Christianity. So doing the opposite of everything catholic will not correct the church but in the end you would lose vital practices and ways the church operates.
RC Sproul takes this view of the communion of the Roman Church was lost in the council of trent in the 1400's. Just like God worked through Saul but ended on moving to David because of his sins and failings so God has preserved his Church in different traditions.
I trust that helps you understand more my thinking and perhaps we can learn from each other on this brother.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon