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