Dramatic Transition

How did so many move so far so quickly This is the question that simply leaps out at us as we examine the history of the early Church. At the time of the Apostle John's death near the dawn of the second century ad, the Christian movement, though obviously beset by many problems and false teachers, bore at least a recognizable resemblance to the Church of God of the book of Acts. But, by the beginning of the third century ad, most of those same congregations, though still calling themselves...

Taking Root in a New World

What happened to the Church that Jesus built It endured and it survived against incredible odds The men and women who were the spiritual ancestors of God's people today exemplified faith and courage. Time after time through the centuries they had to relocate in order to remove themselves from either outside persecution or internal apostasy and compromise. At those times, when it seemed that the flame of God's Truth flickered most dimly, Christ always raised up another faithful leader to rally...

Compromising Once More

There was, however, a serious problem that affected most of the Waldensian groups through the latter Middle Ages just as it had troubled the Paulicians. This was the tendency of many to allow Catholic priests to christen their children, as well as their willingness to participate in Catholic worship ceremonies. Knowing that such ceremonies were useless in gaining salvation, many felt that outward conformity with Rome would avoid persecution and allow them to privately practice the Truth. This...

The Church Flees to the Wilderness

During the first three centuries of its existence, the Church of God faced intermittent periods of harsh persecution. However, during those times, they were not singled out, but were generally lumped in with the Jews and a wide range of Christ-professing sects. Those persecutions were of limited duration and local in scope. The Roman Emperor Diocletian, from 303 to 313ad, unleashed the worst of these pre-Council of Nicea persecutions. These are the ten days referred to in Revelation 2 10. When...

Truth Abandoned in Favor of Unity and Tradition

There were two fundamental errors that separated professing Christians from those who truly represented the continuation of the Church that Jesus built. These errors involved whether or not God's law was still obligatory for Christians, and who and what God is. Errors on these two points led to an ever-widening divergence between the professing Christian church and the true Church of God. The importance of the law was the major area of controversy from about 50ad until 200ad. It was not finally...

Schisms Splits and a New Start

The twentieth century was clearly the time of the most rapid change in human history. The century opened with the horse and buggy as the primary means of transportation, yet within the first 70 years men had traveled to the moon and back This century saw two great world wars and the introduction of weapons of mass destruction. For the first time in human history, it was possible to annihilate all life from this planet, just as Jesus Christ foretold (Matthew 24 22). Another prophecy that...

Another Gospel

Christ spent His ministry preaching the Good News of a coming divine government that would replace the oppressive human governments Jesus' listeners knew all too well. The disciples asked Him for signs showing when that time would be near (Matthew 24 3). The last question they asked, as He was preparing to ascend into heaven, concerned whether it was yet time for the Kingdom to be established (Acts 1 6). In the last stage of Paul's ministry of which we have any record, we find that Paul was...

The Story of the Anabaptists

Among them were remarkable men such as Oswald Glaidt, Andreas Fischer and Andreas Eossi. Their area of ministry was primarily in Germany, Poland, Hungary and parts of what later became known as Czechoslovakia and Romania. These men taught obedience to the Sabbath and Holy Days as well as a rejection of infant baptism and the Trinity. God used them to strengthen the faithful remnant and to provide a witness of the Truth as the turbulent Protestant Reformation was sweeping the same area. Oswald...

Open Doors and Dramatic Growth

In 1946, God started positioning the Radio Church of God, and the Work being done through Mr. Armstrong, for dramatic growth. Faced with the pressures of daily radio broadcasting (for which Hollywood was well-equipped to provide technical support), and recognizing the need for a college to train an educated and faithful ministry, Mr. Armstrong looked into moving to Southern California. He located an appropriate property in Pasadena, and entered into negotiations to purchase it. At this time,...

Theology of New Truth

Many of the Christian writings that have been preserved, from the second century onward, put forward a totally different theology from that of the Apostle John, who wrote just 10 or 20 years earlier. As Bacchiocchi asserts Ignatius, Barnabus, and Justin, whose writings constitute our major source of information for the first half of the second century, witnessed and participated in the process of separation from Judaism which led the majority of the Christians to abandon the Sabbath and adopt...

The Adventist Movement

In the 1830s a movement arose among Protestant churches in western New York that focused on the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, and the establishment of a literal Kingdom. This message, which first began to be forcefully proclaimed by William Miller, was totally different from accepted Protestant doctrine. His teachings on prophecy attracted much interest and stirred increasing attention as his predicted 1844 date for the return of Christ drew near. After what was termed the great...

The Immortal Soul

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, virtually universal in paganism, is not taught in either the Old or the New Testaments. Notice the admission of the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible in this regard In the KJV of the OT the clue is partly obliterated in modern translations 'soul' represents almost exclusively the Hebrew nephesh. The word 'soul' in English. frequently carries with it overtones, ultimately coming from philosophical Greek (Platonism) and from Orphism and Gnosticism,...

The 1930s and 1940sA New Beginning

The late twenties and early thirties saw the Church of God become virtually paralyzed by political infighting and doctrinal strife. The Church's Conference in 1929 was marked by considerable confusion and dissension. Issues of controversy revolved around born again, clean and unclean meats, the use of tobacco, the date of the Passover (Nisan 14 or 15), and the work of the Holy Spirit (Pentecostalism). The number of conversions dwindled and the Work of the Church was virtually at a standstill....

The Church in Transition

An event of far-reaching implications for the New Testament Church had occurred about 25 years prior to John's writing. This event was the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman legions under Titus in 70ad. The Jerusalem Church of God, under the leadership of James' successor, Simeon (first cousin of James and Christ), fled Jerusalem shortly before 70ad and went to Pella, a remote desert community. Following Simeon's death, the Jerusalem Church of God experienced great instability, having 13...

The Trinity

There was not simply one heresy regarding the nature of God, but many different contradictory ones. There seem to have been almost as many different ideas as there were philosophical schools and teachers. Mainstream Catholic thought, from which orthodox Protestant teaching on the subject sprang, merely represents the particular brand of heresy that won out over its competitors. Since it is this teaching that has survived, with some modification, until our time, it is the one that we will...

The Imperial Church

After almost three centuries of on-again, off-again persecution by the Roman government, the Edict of Toleration was issued at Milan in 313AD. Soon after, Christianity went from simply being officially tolerated by the Roman Empire, to actually becoming the official state religion of the empire. Did this represent a success story for the Church that Jesus Christ built Had true, biblical Christianity triumphed in the Roman Empire Far from it What we have seen is a Gentile-influenced religion...

Religious Art In Worship

One of the most drastic changes to affect the church after the first century was the introduction of religious art into worship. This innovation so obviously smacked of the idolatry prohibited by the second commandment that it was slow to catch on. Notice Both Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria regarded this prohibition as absolute and binding on Christians. Images and cultic statues belonged to the demonic world of paganism. In fact, the only second-century Christians known to have had...

The Final Phase of Church History

In Revelation 3, we read of the two final phases of the history of the Church of God. The Church of Philadelphia is characterized by a zeal to do the Work. God promised to set before them an open door to preach the Gospel (v. 8) as well as to protect them from the future Great Tribulation (v. 10). However, there is a final, seventh stage of the Church described, the Church at Laodicea. This Church is characterized by spiritual lukewarmness and lethargy (vv. 15-17). Though Mr. Armstrong put the...

Simon and Another Gospel

In Acts 8, we are introduced to a man who was used by Satan to infiltrate and subvert God's Church. This man was Simon, the sorcerer from Samaria, better known in secular history as Simon Magus. Simon was considered by the Samaritans to be God's divinely chosen representative (Acts 8 9-10). Eduard Lohse, writing in The New Testament Environment, states that the expression, the great power of God, represents Simon's claim to be the bearer of divine revelation (p. 269). Simon was baptized and...

The Church in Early America

Upon arriving in Rhode Island, the only American colony founded upon the principle of religious liberty, the Mumfords began to fellowship with Baptists in Newport. They were not quiet, however, about their belief in the Sabbath. In 1665, within the first year of the Mumfords' arrival, Tacy Hubbard started keeping the Sabbath with them, becoming the first convert in America. Shortly afterward, her husband Samuel joined her. In 1671 the first Sabbath-keeping church in America officially began...

Rise of the Bogomils

In the eighth and ninth centuries, many Armenian Paulicians were forcibly resettled in the Balkans by Byzantine emperors. They were placed there as a bulwark against the invading Bulgar tribes. Relocated to the Balkans, the Paulicians came to be called Bogomils. What did these Bogomils teach Baptism was only to be practiced on grown men and women. images and crosses were idols Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., Bogomils . They also taught that prayer should be done at home, not in separate...

The Paulicians Appear in Armenia

In the fifth century, the Church appeared in remote areas of eastern Asia Minor near the Euphrates River and in the mountains of Armenia. These people were labeled by their contemporaries as Paulicians. Who were they According to Armenian scholar Nina Garsoian in The Paulician Heresy It would, then, appear that the Paulicians are to be taken as the survival of the earlier form of Christianity in Armenia p. 227 . The author also states that the Paulicians were accused of being worse than other...

Where Was the Church That Jesus Built

What had happened to the Church that was established through an outpouring of God's Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in 31ad Where was Christ and what was He doing during this time In the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, we find messages that Jesus Christ recorded for the seven churches of Asia Minor. In chapter one, the Apostle John saw a vision of the glorified Christ standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands. These seven lampstands represent the Church of God in...