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Discussion Forum : Revivals And Church History : Separation from the World - early church history

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 Separation from the World - early church history


[b]Separation from the World[/b]

No one can serve two masters, declared Jesus to his disciples (Matt. 6:24). However, Christians have spent the greater portion of the past two millenniums apparently trying to prove Jesus wrong. We have told ourselves that we can indeed have boththe things of God and the things of this world. Many of us live our lives no differently than do conservative non-Christians, except for the fact that we attend church regularly each week. We watch the same entertainment. We share the same concerns about the problems of this world. And we are frequently just as involved in the worlds commercial and materialistic pursuits. Often, our being not of this world exists in theory more than in practice.

But the church was not originally like that. The first Christians lived under a completely different set of principles and values than the rest of mankind. They rejected the worlds entertainment, honors, and riches. They were already citizens of another kingdom, and they listened to the voice of a different Master. This was as true of the second century church as it was of the first.

The Letter to Diognetus, the work of an unknown author, written in about 130, describes Christians to the Romans as follows: They dwell in their own countries simply as sojourners.... They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time, they surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned. They are put to death, but [will be] restored to life. They are poor, yet they make many rich. They possess few things; yet, they abound in all. They are dishonored, but in their very dishonor are glorified.... And those who hate them are unable to give any reason for their hatred.1

Because the earth wasnt their home, the early Christians could say without reservation, like Paul, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). Justin Martyr explained to the Romans, Since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men put us to death. Death is a debt we must all pay anyway.2

A second-century elder exhorted his congregation, Brothers, let us willingly leave our sojourn in this present world so we can do the will of Him who called us. And let us not fear to depart out of this world,... deeming the things of this world as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires upon them.... The Lord declares, No servant can serve two masters. If we desire, then, to serve both God and Money, it will be unprofitable for us. For what will it profit if a man gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? This world and the next are two enemies.... We cannot therefore be the friends of both.3

Cyprian, the respected overseer of the church in Carthage, stressed a similar theme in a letter he wrote to a Christian friend: The one peaceful and trustworthy tranquility, the one security that is solid, firm, and never changing, is this: for a man to withdraw from the distractions of this world, anchor himself to the firm ground of salvation, and lift his eyes from earth to heaven.... He who is actually greater than the world can crave nothing, can desire nothing, from this world. How stable, how unshakable is that safeguard, how heavenly is the protection in its never-ending blessingsto be free from the snares of this entangling world, to be purged from the dregs of earth, and fitted for the light of eternal immortality.4

The same themes run throughout all the writings of the early Christians, from Europe to North Africa: we cant have both Christ and the world.

Lest we think that the early Christians were describing a lifestyle they didnt really practice, we have the testimony of the Romans themselves. One pagan antagonist of the Christians remarked:

They despise the temples as houses of the dead. They reject the gods. They laugh at sacred things. Wretched, they pity our priests. Half-naked themselves, they despise honors and purple robes. What incredible audacity and foolishness! They are not afraid of present torments, but they fear those that are uncertain and future. While they do not fear to die for the present, they fear to die after death....

At least learn from your present situation, you wretched people, what actually awaits you after death. See, many of youin fact, by your own admission, the majority of youare in want, are cold, are hungry, and are laboring in hard work. Yet, your god allows it. He is either unwilling or unable to assist his people. So he is either weak or unjust.... Take notice! For you there are threats, punishments, tortures, and crosses.... Where is the god who is supposed to help you when you come back from the dead? He cannot even help you in this life! Do not the Romans, without any help from your god, govern, rule over, and have the enjoyment of the whole world, including dominion over you yourselves?

In the meantime, living in suspense and anxiety, you abstain from respectable pleasures. You do not attend sporting events. You have no interest in public amusements. You reject the public banquets, and abhor the sacred games.... Thus, wretched as you are, you will neither rise from the dead, nor enjoy life in the meanwhile. So, if you have any wisdom or sense, stop prying into the heavens and the destinies and secrets of the world.... Persons who are unable to understand civil matters are certainly unable to discuss divine ones.5

When I first read the criticisms that the Romans leveled against the Christians, I painfully realized that no one would accuse Christians today of those same charges. We arent criticized for being totally absorbed in the interests of a heavenly kingdom, ignoring the things the world has to offer. In fact, Christians today are accused of just the oppositeof being money hungry and hypocritical in our devotion to God.

more info: http://www.earlychurch.com/


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2006/1/1 18:19Profile
CyberCarbon
Member



Joined: 2005/12/16
Posts: 122


 Re: Separation from the World - early church history

Another point you suggest but I think is worthy of a highlight is this:
The early Christians eagerly sought the martyrs crown. The wanted to die for the faith.


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David Michael Paul

 2006/1/2 2:51Profile
tacklebox
Member



Joined: 2005/10/8
Posts: 196
Roanoke Rapids, NC

 Re:

Most American Christians can seperate themselves from the world just fine....for a season, but like a dog returning to his vomit, so many Christians live a life of defeat and there is so little teaching on being baptized in the Spirit (a deeper, closer, full relationship with God, regardless of what title you place on it.)

-Chris


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Christopher Wright

 2006/1/2 10:28Profile
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 6647
Mississippi

 Re: Separation from the World - early church history

David Bercot's writings are very stimulating. Presently I am reading: "The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down". His tapes discussing early church history are informative as well....I have listened to several of them. While they teach us a lot they also tell us human nature has not changed any in the years since the time of the early church.

Just my thoughts...

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2006/1/4 20:20Profile
saved_matt
Member



Joined: 2005/7/3
Posts: 233
Lancashire, England

 Re: Separation from the World - early church history

Just wanted to bump this article up again it's brilliant and the website too:

[url=http://www.earlychurch.com/]www.earlychurch.com[/url]

matt


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matt

 2006/1/5 17:31Profile
apostlepaul
Member



Joined: 2005/11/28
Posts: 8
NEVADA, TEXAS

 Re: Separation from the World - early church history

I WOULD LIKE TO REPLY TO SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD AND THE EARLY CHURCH. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT THEY PARTICIPATED IN EVERYTHING THE WORLD DID. THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, THEY BELONGED TO ANOTHER CITY, ANOTHER STATE, ONE NOT OF THIS WORLD. I THINK IF WE THOUGHT AS THEY DID, WE WOULD BE BETTER WITNESSES FOR THE LORD. THEY WERE HATED BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T RUN TO EVERYTHING. THE MOVIES, THE SPORTS, ALL THE PAGAN EVENTS THAT THE WORLD ENJOYED. THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU MIGHTLY! APOSTLEPAUL.


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DAVID PACE

 2006/1/6 20:02Profile
pottershands
Member



Joined: 2006/1/1
Posts: 36
North Carolina, USA

 Re:

What is it going to take to get the "world" (ie. humanism) out of the church?
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
[Heb 4:12 KJVR]"
I studied this last night and learned some deep (at least deep for me) things. Our soul is our "self". Our spirit is the innermost part of us that "contacts, receives, contains, and experiences God" (commentary from my Bible). So I deduce the Word of God is sufficient to separate man's soul (or humanism?) from his spirit, (the church?). Am I applying this verse too broadly, or do you think it's appliccable?

foud this site today of a family who is trying to separate from the world. It has some great stuff on it:
[url=http://pgburrell.home.mindspring.com/index.html]Shepherd's Hill[/url]


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Melissa

 2006/1/31 17:35Profile
roadsign
Member



Joined: 2005/5/2
Posts: 3663


 Re: Bercot

Quote:
David Bercot's writings are very stimulating. Presently I am reading: "The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down".


I too have been listening to some of David Bercot's messages. The one, "Two Kingdoms" was amazing. I burned several CD's and passed them around.
Bercot makes it very clear what the Early Fathers meant by livng for God's kingdom, as opposed to the world's kingdom. They even refrained from goverment affairs and did not participate in the military: "So that they may reserve themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the Church of God for the salvation of men." DB

I had to really think about that. Really, if we are doing the kingdom work of God, we have no time or interest in supporting the kingdoms of the world.
Diane


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Diane

 2006/1/31 22:17Profile
PreachParsly
Member



Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re:

Quote:
The early Christians eagerly sought the martyrs crown. The wanted to die for the faith.



Do you think they 'wanted' to die? When you want something you do all you can to obtain it. I don't see them doing all they can to be killed. They merely did what Christ commanded and were persecuted for Christ's sake.

What do you guys think?


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Josh Parsley

 2006/2/2 9:53Profile
KingJimmy
Member



Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4401
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Quote:

Do you think they 'wanted' to die?



There were early Christians who actively sought after a martyr's death. There were also early Christians who thought this practice was abhorant and an abomination.

Most of those who actively sought the death of a martyr mostly did so out of bad theology. It was taught by various individuals in the early church that martydom was the way one actually obtained salvation/justification. I believe some also taught that martydom was a means of dealing with post-baptismal sin, as you would be baptized in blood instead of water. And if you lacked a water baptism and died the death of a martyr, the baptism of blood would be a legitimate substitute for water baptism.

As much as there is to admire about the early church, the scripturality of their doctrines isn't one of them. I think as profitable as studying the early church is, lets be careful that some of their fanciful ideas and doctrines aren't taught as valid as Biblical truth.

It is my conviction in the Lord that actively seeking martydom actually blasphemes the blood of those who were geniune martyrs. Some in the early church felt this way to, and there was a strong attempt by people to keep individuals from essentially commiting suicide in the name of being a martyr.


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Jimmy Humphrey

 2006/2/2 13:47Profile





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