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Our purpose in the next few weeks, will be to trace the church and her history, as given to John by the Spirit of God, through all Seven Church Ages, beginning with the Ephesian Age.
We've already discovered that much of the Revelation is totally misunderstood, because we did not formerly know, that the 'church' spoken of, and spoken to in this Book, does not refer to the pure 'ekklesia': the 'elect', the 'Body of Christ', or 'bride'. But it speaks to the entire body of people who are called Christians - whether they be true, or merely nominal.
As all Israel is not Israel, so all Christians are not Christians. Thus we learned that the church is made up of two vines, the true and the false. These two vines are motivated by two kinds of spirits; one has the Holy Spirit while the other is endued with the spirit of antichrist. Both claim to know, and be known of God. both purport to speak for God. Both believe certain very basic truths, and differ on others. But since both bear the name of the Lord, being called CHRIST-ians, and by such name-bearing obviously claim a relationship to Him (God calls it marriage), God now holds them both responsible to Him and therefore speaks to each.
The Message to each of the seven men God sent to His Church in each age ends with the admonition, 'He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches' (PLURAL). To the elect, It was Life and peace through the new birth; to the nominal church, condemnation and judgment.
What is this? but the fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy of John 5:24: 'Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears My Word, and believes (by faith or understanding), on Him that Sent Me, hath eternal Life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death to Life'. And John 3:18, 'He that believes not is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God'.
We further learned that these two vines, would grow side by side, until the end of the ages, when both would come to maturity, and both be harvested. The false vine would not overcome and destroy the true vine, but then, neither would the true vine be able to bring the false vine into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
We learned the most amazing truth, that the Holy Spirit could, and would fall upon the un-regenerate false vine Christians, and manifest powerfully in various signs and wonders, even as Judas had a definite ministry in the Holy Ghost, though he himself was pronounced to be a devil.
We see the same phenomena today, wherein multitudes are exercising the Gifts of the Spirit and denying the Word, proving they are unregenerated and without the Spirit. The so-called Toronto blessing is a perfect example of this. Happy people, dancing, and singing, and speaking in tongues, yet denying what God's Word promised for this day. Yes, the Holy Spirit falls on the just, and the unjust.
With these principles in mind, we shall trace the church through the various seven ages.
The birth of the Church was at Pentecost. As the first Adam was given a bride, fresh from the hand of God, and was undefiled for a brief span, so was Christ, the last Adam, given a bride, pure and fresh at Pentecost; and she remained separate and undefiled for some time. Acts 5:13, 'And of the rest durst no man join himself to them'. And Acts 2:47, 'The Lord added daily such as should be saved'. How long this continued we don't know, but one day, even as EVE was tempted and seduced by Satan, so the church was contaminated by the entrance of an antichrist spirit. "And this is that spirit of antichrist whereof you have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world" (I John 4:3).
Jesus said concerning His bride in that first age, "I have somewhat against you, because you've left your first love - the Word! Remember therefore from whence you have fallen, and repent" (Revelation 2:4-5). The church in that first age, was already a 'fallen woman'. As Satan got to Eve before Adam, even now had he seduced the church, the bride of Christ, before the marriage supper of the Lamb. And what specifically was in her midst that caused the fall?
What but Revelation 2:6, "The deeds of the nicolaitanes." Already that first age had turned from following the pure Word of God. They turned from God's demand of a church absolutely dependent upon Him, (depending entirely upon God to fulfill His Word from start to finish, apart from human government), to nicolaitanism, which is organizing a human government within the church, which, as all governments do, legislates for the people. They did exactly what Israel did. They took the expediency of human government, instead of the word and the Spirit.
Death had entered. How do we know? Do we not hear the Voice of the Spirit, raised in that first age, for all who will hear? "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life in the paradise of God." The church had already imbibed too deeply of the tree of death (or the denominational false vine), whose end is the lake of Fire. But there are NO cherubim with flaming swords to guard the Tree of Life now. God does not now depart from the midst of the church, as He departed from Eden. Oh, no, He will ever be in the midst of His church, until the final age. And until that time, He calls to all to come.
Now please, let's be careful here. This Message, to the angel of the church which is at Ephesus, is not a Message to the actual local Ephesian church. It's a Message to the age. And that age had in it the seed of truth and the seed of error, exactly as set forth in the parable of the wheat and the tares. The Church Ages are the field, and in it are wheat and tares. The false church organized, humanized the government and the Word, and fought the true Christian.
Tares always flourish mightier than wheat, or any other cultivated plant. The tare church grew rapidly in this first age. But the wheat church was flourishing also. By the end of the first age the deeds of the Nicolaitanes were flourishing in the local false vine churches, with increasing attempts to spread their influence further than their own local body. The influence of nicolaitanism was felt upon the true church, for men like the venerable Polycarp, were calling themselves bishops, with a reference to that title which was not inherent in it according to the Word. Also in that age, the true Church had lost its first love. That love was typified as the love of a bride and groom at their marriage and early years of wedded life. There was a cooling of that complete love and abandonment to God.
But notice. Revelation 2:1 describes the Lord Jesus as in the midst of His church and holding the messengers in His right hand. because this bride has fallen, because the church corporate is now an admixture of true and false, He does not leave it. It is His. And according to Romans 14:7-9 that's exactly right. "For NONE of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord, both of the dead and living." On the cross He bought the whole world of people. They are His. He is the Lord of the living and dead. (As pertaining to ownership, NOT relationship.) And He walks in the midst of that body that has within it Life and death.
What was planted in the first age, will develop in the second age, and in all other ages, until it comes to maturity and harvest.
In a moment, we'll examine just what nicolaitanism is....
In reviewing the Ephesian Age we encountered the word NICOLAITANE. It comes from two Greek words: NIKAO which means 'to conquer', and LAO which means 'the laity'. NICOLAITANE means, 'to conquer the laity'.
Now, why is this such a terrible thing? It's terrible, because God has never placed His Church in the hands of an elected leadership which moves with political mindedness. He's placed His Church in the care of God-ordained, Spirit-filled, Word-living men who lead the people, through FEEDING them the Word. He has not separated the people into classes, so that the masses are led by a holy priesthood. It is true that the leadership must be holy, but then so must the whole congregation.
Further, there's NO place in the Word, where priests or ministers MEDIATE between God and the people, nor is there a place where they're separated in their worship of the Lord. God wants ALL to love and serve Him together. Nicolaitanism destroys those precepts, and instead separates the ministers from the people, and makes the leaders overlords, instead of servants.
Now this doctrine actually started as a DEED in the first age. It appears that the problem lay in two words: 'ELDERS' (presbyters), and 'OVERSEERS' (bishops). Though Scripture shows that there are SEVERAL elders in EACH church, some began (Ignatius among them) to teach that a bishop was one with pre-eminence or authority and control over the elders. Now the truth of the matter is that the word 'elder' signifies who the person is, while the word 'bishop' signifies the office of the same man. The elder is the MAN. Bishop is the OFFICE of the man. 'Elder' always has and always will refer simply to a man's CHRONOLOGICAL age in the Lord. He is an elder, NOT because he's elected or ordained, but because he is older. He is more seasoned, trained, not a novice, reliable because of his experience, and long standing proof of his Christian experience.
But no, the bishops did not stick to the epistles of Paul, instead they went to Paul's account of the time he called the elders from Ephesus to Miletus, in Acts 20. In verse 17, the record states, "elders were called"; then in verse 28 they're called overseers or bishops. These bishops, no doubt politically minded and anxious for power, insisted that Paul had meant that 'overseers' were more than the local elder, with official capacity only in his own church. To them a bishop was now one with extended authority over many local leaders. Such a concept was neither scriptural nor historical, yet even a man of the stature of Polycarp leaned toward such organization.
Thus, that which started as a DEED in the first age was made a literal DOCTRINE, and so it is today. Bishops still claim power to control men, and deal with them as they desire, placing them where they so will in the ministry. This denies the leadership of the Holy Ghost, Who said, "Separate Me Paul and Barnabas, for the work where-unto I have called them". This is anti-Word and anti-Christ.
Matthew 20:25-28, "But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 23:8-9, "But don't be called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and you are all brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, Which is in heaven."
Did you know, that a bishop is actually a layman, who is an elder with an ability to teach? He's only permitted to teach what his pastor's already taught and is under his authority. Whereas the five-fold ministry is set in the Church by God, bishops and deacons are chosen by men. A bishop must be a married man with children, not in polygamy, and whose family is subject to his authority and in the faith. Read Titus chapter one and II Timothy chapter three.
You'll recall that in Revelation 13:3 it says, "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death: and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." We know that the wounded head was the pagan Roman Empire, that great political world power. This head rose again as the "Roman Catholic spiritual empire". Now watch this carefully. What did political pagan Rome do that was the basis of her success? She "divided and conquered." That was the seed of Rome - divide and conquer. Her iron teeth tore and devoured. Who she tore and devoured could not rise again, as when she destroyed Carthage and sowed her to salt. The same iron seed remained IN her when she arose as the false church, and her policy has remained the same - divide and conquer. That is nicolaitanism, and god hates it.
The Roman Catholic church calls herself, the 'mother church'. She calls herself the first or original church. That is absolutely correct. She was the original First Church of Rome, that backslid and went into sin. She was the first that organized. In her was found the DEEDS and then the DOCTRINE of Nicolaitanism.
No one will deny that she IS a mother. She is a mother and has produced daughters. Now a daughter comes out of a woman. A woman robed in scarlet is sitting on the seven hills of Rome. She is a harlot and has borne daughters. Those daughters are the Protestant churches that came out of her and then went right back into organization and nicolaitanism.
Anyone on the 'Net, can call Bible Believers', 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. Teaching sermons, freeware Bibles, Concordances, Books, Bible games and much, much more is available for download. Users may participate in Conferences with other believers across Australia and throughout the world, for the cost of a local call.
Let's review a few comments from Bible Believers BBS.
By Faith! Faith is Spiritual understanding of the Word and comes by HEARING, and PROVING that what was preached is CONSISTENT with God's Word, from Genesis to Revelation.
Find a pastor believes the WHOLE Word, understands and preaches the promises for this hour WITHOUT compromise, and you'll receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost sitting in the pew (Ga.3:2).
Jesus said, 'He that receives whomsoever I send receives the Word; and he that receives the WORD receives the SPIRIT, for the Word IS the Spirit in ANOTHER Form.
No man has SEEN God at any time so we can only ever know Him as we RECEIVE and by Faith UNDERSTAND the Word. The Word of God comes ONLY to a prophet - the pastor, apostle, teacher, evangelist and laymen receive It second hand. So we MUST receive God's vindicated prophets (IIPe. 1:21; Mt. 10:41).
We are to walk in the LIGHT or Revelation of the Word AS He is IN It. To RECEIVE and become written epistles of the "present Truth" IS to receive the Holy Spirit.
Applying SCRIPTURE to past history, we see how the church became a fallen woman like Eve. We learn who were the seven angels or major apostles God sent in the Church Ages, and the Light He shone for THEIR dispensations.
God promised to RESTORE, so we must find the prophet-apostle sent to this LAST age, whose Message RESTORES the elect of God BACK to the Faith of the FIRST prophet-apostle, Saint Paul, which is the NEW birth or Holy Spirit today.
Don't be like Israel who knew Messiah was promised but received their own theologians instead of God's prophet with the Word. God said history would REPEAT and promised APOSTASY not revival in the churches! Look unto Jesus Who always makes a way of escape - He's now without the DENOMINATIONAL camp (Mt. 24:9-14; IIThes. 2:1-12; Rev. 3:14-22; 10:1-7; 18:1-4; Am. 3:7; Mal. 4:5-6; Ac. 3:21).
According to Jesus and Saint Peter, Christians don't baptize babies and infants. Carefully read Mk. 16:16, Ac. 2:38-39 and IPe. 3:21.
Peter said water baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God: Faith or UNDERSTANDING of WHO Jesus is, WHAT He has done, and how through REPENTANCE and faith, the BENEFITS of Calvary can be applied to our life.
Babies and infants CANNOT have faith, they have NO sin of their own, and cannot repent for the SIN of Eve or the INIQUITY of Adam.
Jesus DEDICATED little ones to God, admonishing their parents to raise them in His knowledge and love (Mt. 19:13-15; Prov. 22:6).
The Atonement covers ALL of Adam's race up to the age of accountability, THEREAFTER we are responsible to God and our fellows to repent of our mistakes and sins, receiving Grace and the free Gift of Eternal Life through justification, sanctification, and the new birth.
Jesus died for the sins of the world. Those of Adam's fallen race whose names were on the Book of Life from the foundation of the world and die BEFORE the age of accountability were BORN "saved", and will be granted into Eternal Life at the White Throne Judgment. (Mt. 18:10; Jn.1:29; IJn. 2:2; Col. 1:20). radio021.html
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