|Vol. 13 No. 11 November 2011||
Donald R. Fox
It is a historical fact that man departed from the original plan and structure of the church that we read about in the New Testament. To deny this fact is to deny verifiable evidence. The apostles, by inspiration, clearly foretold of the falling away.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1- 3)
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
As we ponder the foretelling of this departure from the faith, the apostasy of the church of Christ, we ask: Is it possible to locate or identify a major factor that brought on this falling away? I believe we can! We know that congregations of the Lord’s people that were fully organized had a plurality of elders or bishops. Notice please:
“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:21-23)
Further note the apostle Paul’s charge to the elders at Ephesus, Acts 20:17-38.
A Short Excursion into Church History
The New Testament knows no spiritual aristocracy or nobility, but calls all believers “saints,” though many fell far short of their vocation. Nor does it recognize a special priesthood in distinction from the people, as mediating between God and the laity.”… “The apostles themselves never claim or exercise a special priesthood. The sacrifice which all Christians are exhorted to offer is the sacrifice of their person and property to the Lord, and the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. (Schaff 124-125)
See Romans 12:1; Philippians 2:17; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 13:16.
Toward the close of the apostles life the Church was still without bishops in the modern sense, for St. Paul addressed an epistle to the faithful at Philippi “with the bishops and the deacons.” Here the plural number and the fact that no allusion is made to the presbyters as distinct from the “bishops” are said to prove that in that age episcopos or “bishop” meant presbyter. (Lambert 119)
“The clergy claim for themselves the prerogatives, relations and authority of the Jewish priesthood. Such claims, advanced in the third century by Cyprian, were a great departure from the original spirit and model of the Church derived from Christ and the apostles” (Shepherd 55).
When we place man in a lofty state, we will be terribly disappointed. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). With this brief study from a scriptural and historical standpoint, we are faced with a challenge. The challenge is to deny or accept provable history and Scriptures. It should be obvious that in the passing of time man desired spiritual exaltation and the power that came with it. This unauthorized, manmade and anti-scriptural grasping for spiritual authority was the seed of the great apostasy.
Lambert, O. C. Catholicism Against Itself. Vol. I. Winfield: Fair Haven Publishers, 1963.
Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. Vol. II. New York: Charles Scibner, 1910.
Shepherd, J.W. The Church, The Falling Away and the Restoration. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1958.
D. Gene West
The Constitution of the United States is the greatest uninspired document that has ever been written by mere human beings. For two and a half centuries it has guided the American people very well and has been amended fewer than thirty times. This document has made us the most unique nation on the face of the earth, with our people enjoying more freedoms than the people of any other nation on God’s footstool. Every political officer of any import at all, swears to uphold the Constitution of the US. That is one reason why in 2003, many Americans were shocked to hear one of the justices of the United States Supreme Court, the court whose duty it is to interpret the Constitution as well as to uphold it, make the statement that the Court had begun to look to international law to guide their decisions. Speaking of the court, as well as most other liberal politicians in America, she said, “Our island or one-ranger mentality is beginning to change,” then added that justices “are becoming more open to comparative and international law perspectives.” Again, we emphasize that this came from a woman who has sworn before Almighty God to uphold the Constitution of the United States! Where does that great document give these justices permission to make decisions on behalf of the American people based on international law perspectives? The reason we are seeing so many out and out crazy decisions come out of Federal courts at every level is because they have long since stopped consulting the Constitution and have begun looking to international law, which has no business in the running of this nation.
Like so many religious deconstructionists who are looking outside the Bible for what they call theology, these deconstructionist justices have begun looking outside the document that guides our nation to laws that have nothing to do with our nation. We doubt not the founding fathers are spinning in their graves. This means that the Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land, but the laws of France, Britain or some other country, or collection of countries have become the supreme laws of America. This portends great danger for our future, and unless it is reversed it will destroy our nation. Why are Americans so timid about being Americans and the role we play in the world? We support more than half the world; we are the most generous and liberal nation on earth. Hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in a fortnight if the US dropped its support of them. Yet, we have allowed other nations, the United Nations and now our own Supreme Court to abuse us by deciding what is best for us based, not on our own masterful and envied law, but on the weak laws of the international community.
Other nations in the world have abortion rights and since 1973, so have we. These rights did not come from the 14th Amendment to the Constitution as Justice Harry Blackmun announced to the nation. Why do we say that? Because you can read that amendment a thousand times and there is no “right to privacy” in it! Blackmun made his decision, not based on what the Constitution says, but on the basis of what his wife and daughter thought, as Sally Blackmun revealed to Women=s eNews. She also revealed that her advice to her father was based on the fact that she had become pregnant out of wedlock while a sophomore at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Friends, laws of other nations allow for euthanasia, same gender marriage and a host of other things. We need to interpret the Constitution the same way we need to interpret the Bible, that is, according to what it says, not according to what someone says it says, or wants it to say. Postmodern deconstructionism is a great enemy to God, the Bible, common sense, yes, and the Constitution of the United States. Everything worth anything to our way of life will become fair game to the deconstructionists until and unless we say, “enough is enough” to both the “clergy” and the politicians!
[Looking to other nations religiously in Old Testament times led to the rejection of God and the installation of kings who ultimately led God’s people into idolatry and every wickedness (1 Samuel 8:5-9). Likewise, when God’s people today look to denominations around them to emulate them, we are not far from similar departures from God than Old Testament Israel demonstrated in the days of the prophet and judge Samuel. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]