11 June, 2006

Church: Which 1st Century Church

I offer you 2 visions of the early church. Which do you think is closer to the truth?

Small beginnings
In this view, the apostles planted the first few, primitive churches as seeds from which the kingdom of God could grow. Those churches were just like a seed. In them was the miracle of life, and all the stuff of the full grown tree, but they didn't look like the tree at all.

Expect huge changes between the early church, and the church in our age. God planned it that way.

Highest expression
In this view, the apostles were given third-heaven visions of the core pattern of the church, and they replicated it on earth. They brought to earth an eternal pattern, and implemented the body of Christ in a way that could never before have been imagined. Furthermore, they implemented it in a way that has been lost. All the things the apostles built into the church were lost over the next 200 years by the men who followed after them. Those were good men, but they lacked the vision of the church that men like Paul received from directly from God. The next 20 centuries have been spent trying to regain the beauty and glory of those first few decades.

Expect to see the church experience a big decline over the first couple centuries after the deaths of the apostles, then a slow climb back up to the original glory.

What do you think?
Is the church growing and expanding from a seed, or attempting to restore itself to the heights of 60 AD?

13 comments:

Milly said...

Quickly before work I’d say the first one if you believe in predestination and the second if you believe in predestination and God is teaching us how to be a great church. I'll think more on this.

Danny Kaye said...

Loaded question! And I only have about 10 minutes to answer it. Without studying it out, I'll give ya' what I got.

I guess my view is a combination of the two. We knew that the chuch was going to start small and then branch out because that was what Jesus told the apostles before his ascention.
Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."


But we also knew that the church had reached some pretty awesome heights. In Col. 1:23, Paul used such an unbelievable hyperbole that the only thing he could possibly have been trying to communicate was that the church had spread like wildfire and was at its peak.
Col. 1:23b
This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.


The problem, IMO, is that the church was probably supposed to remain at that pinacle height. But it did not.
And we have been trying to get back to what we read in the Bible ever since.

HOWEVER, I don't believe any of this is outside of God's foreknowledge or plan.

That's all I got time for now.

DugALug said...

CP,

Dang that DK can write in 10 minutes. And great stuff too.

I think I fall pretty much in line with him.

The church's state has been accounted for. The seed of it predates Adam, not the the first century.

None of the church fathers expected Jesus to tarry this long, yet they knew that God's timing will be perfect. The seed was planted and it was solid.

What happened in the book of Acts is awesome, and possibly the great example of church unity, that level of Spirituality should be a goal for the entire body.

God Bless
Doug

Milly said...

I wasn’t trying to be curt in my answer but I think it sounded that way, I was in a hurry and don’t write as fast as Danny.

I think that God in giving us free will has given way to who we are now as a whole. It has given way to the charismatic as well the ordinary preacher. It has left it open to men like Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagen who seem to build empires on the money of those huddled around the televisions. Is this the plan? I don’t know. I do know that those people who buy into what those men say are good people who love God, they give in good faith. God will reward them. Those men if they are only in it for money will pay with a big price.

What is the plan? I think that God has set us on a path and He and only He can really answer.

Kansas Bob said...

Hmmm ... "God planned it that way." ...

I tend to go a bit more with the second vision. I think that God planned church to be simple ... receive the Spirit, love God and love each other ... the message is a simple one. Over time man made it complex because he put the wrong kind of organ in the church ... he replaced the heart organ with the brain organ. I think that people yearn for a simpler church experience ... small wonder why so many alternate forms of church are popping up.

Danny Kaye said...

"Over time man made it complex because he put the wrong kind of organ in the church ... he replaced the heart organ with the brain organ."

GREAT SETUP LINE, K.B.!!!

I'm gonna use that one.

codepoke said...

Great thoughts, everyone. Thinking about your thoughts allows me to ask the question again, another way.

Is the twentieth century church
A) advanced / evolved / grown / matured from a simple, humble beginning, or
B)Fallen from the heights to which the original apostles lifted it in the beginning.

I really didn't mean to make it sound like I was questioning what God's plan was. I don't think predestination helps with this discussion. God either did or didn't predestine things to be exactly the way they are, but is the way things are an improvement or a disaster?

For example, we think the American government is a big step up from the European monarchies, which were better than feudalism, which were better than tribalism. So we probably all kind of believe that government has evolved in a good way. Has the church evolved in a good way? Or has it devolved?

DugALug said...

CP,

Lol, I'd have to say that the church has adapted. We are the same species as the first century church, we have just acclimated more to our environment.

Still, we I would say we are obviously stronger in number, but not necesarily is resolve. First century Christians were blamed for Rome's burning, and as they were being fed to the lions, they were singing. I don't think we are there anymore.

God Bless
-Doug

Danny Kaye said...

Ahhh...now I get it.

I think we have devolved in heart, but evolved in knowledge.

There is a lot more understanding of how God brought the church into existance now that we have so much history, archiology, biblical study...etc. We know more and are able to better understand things in a perspective in which I am not sure the 1st Century church understood. (I could be wrong about that. It's just a hunch.)

But the "newness" of the church is seriously lacking. It seems to have lost that "new car smell." I think the 1st Century Christians had a lot more zeal and courage than we do today. But then again, they kind of had to. They were the ones who underwent such hateful persecution that, if they were not on fire for the Lord, would not have been able to withstand it.

I guess I would have to say we have "lost our first love", and spiritual fervor, as compared to the early years of the church. And I would much rather have that back than all the learned stuff today's "smart people" can dig up.

I like the smart stuff.
I love the heart stuff!

Milly said...

This is a bit hard to answer for me because if you look at church as a whole you’re trying to lump every church heart into one. Without a doubt when you start something new your enthusiasm is at a high then as it progresses you encounter problems, persecution, financial difficulties, personality, and creative issues as the church has throughout the years. I do feel that the church as a whole is on the move. People are meeting where they can instead of building big spaces. We are trying to let go of the church being a building and making it more of the church is in us.

codepoke said...

I like the smart stuff.
I love the heart stuff!


DK with the second big setup line in this comment thread! Very cool.

I like a WHOLE lot of these thoughts. I am going to kind of follow Milly where she's going for a minute.

It seems to me that a relationship is kind of like this. (And I have no trouble lumping all of the church together into one answer for this - she is one bride, whether we see it or not.) You meet the girl, and slowly/suddenly you see it all. You see a lifetime of ever-closer union (unless you recognize that phrase, then smile and ignore it. ;-), and excitement fills every corner of your life. You marry her. Along comes the 7 year itch, and the midlife crisis, and empty nest syndrome, and grandkids, and illness, etc.

You look back, and find that from an insight of infatuation, grew a deep, steady love after a liberal dose of real life.

I think the church is like that. I think history is like that. When the church first came to earth, she was perfect and beautiful, but it was still infatuation. (Not those believers' love for the Lord, but the bride's first flush of love for Him.) And infatuation is a gift from God to get a relationship past those first couple years, so I'm all for it.

After some pain in our middle-ages as the bride, I think the day will come when we see that we really, deeply, truly learned to love the Lord with that different but hotter trust that you see on the faces of the older couples that grace every church. I believe the church is moving toward loving the Lord deeper and better than she ever has before.

So, I go for option 2.

Danny Kaye said...

Ok...I seriously need some glasses.

I read the following line 3 times:
"we really, deeply, truly learned to love the Lord with that different but hotter trust that you see on the faces of the older couples..."

It took the fourth reading for me to stop wondering why the older people have HOT BUTTER on their faces!

My coworkers think I am crazy over here, all laughin' to myself and stuff!

Milly said...

Danny Kaye,
To go with the lobster.