If a thousand years is as a day, how long is one hour?
Let’s move to exhibit “B” of presenting the evidence of our case. Episode #1 we spoke of a change the bishop of Rome wanted to implement, but Polycarp and some others stood against this change. Many years later Rome would get its way. As we went down that fork of the road things began to accelerate, as Constantine became the Emperor and gave favor to Christians. Suddenly we were no longer hunted, and we were being “given” large buildings to gather in! What had been a church of home tables and family atmosphere began changing to large cold buildings with stone altars. The Catholic church came into domination and we headed towards the dark ages!
However, the acceleration did not take place until the resistance to that first fork in the road began fading! And what was that fork? It appears the early church Christians were still doing a Christian form of the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, and I’m not talking this short-form thing we do today. Your very own New Testament Bible has it writing! Did you even know that? And this change Rome wanted to make, in effect, went crossways to this Passover and meal the Apostles had continued! They eventually managed to disrupt this sacred meal and we then accelerated towards the dark ages. And when we finally rebelled and came out of that, we never went back to what was before! Not even to this day! And we need to look at this so very closely, because the evidence is so strong!
Acts 2 and starting in verse 42 gives us a detailed description of the church Jesus started. These verses give us a list of what was happening in the early church. We need to take note of how many times certain things are “repeated”, as in “emphasized”. And also the order in which they come, possibly suggesting “priorities”!
First it says all the believers devoted themselves to the “Apostle’s teaching”. This is the first item. So item #1 would include what the Apostle Paul teaches in 1st Corinthians 11 which we will also mention a little later. Be sure to remember item #1 when you read 1st Corinthians 11. Be sure to remember. (Please.)
Now note what items 2,3, and 4 are… “fellowship”, “sharing in meals”, the “Lord’s Supper”! Finally number 5 comes > “prayer”. Now realize that fellowship and meals and the Lord’s Supper are all forms of “FELLOWSHIP”! FAMILY! PERSONAL! INTIMATE! It is fellowship practiced in three ways! Emphasized three times! (And will be emphasized more before this is over.)
#6 > Believers shared all things common. (But were also allowed to maintain ownership if they desired.)
#7 > They worshiped together each day. (Worship is a form of fellowship also, but perhaps a little different.)
NOTE items 8 and 9! More repeat! They met in homes for the Lord’s Supper and shared their meals! FELLOWSHIP and the Lord’s Supper emphasized again! Some form of meals and fellowship is emphasized more than anything else in this list! This was the early church just before being scattered from the Temple in Jerusalem. At which point it all became small groups meeting in homes, discipling, multiplying, spreading, until they turned the world upside down! All this without the help of Constantine!
The early church seems to have realized that fellowship and family atmosphere is meant to be a priority in the House of God! We’re not talking sharing a meal at McDonalds, even though that can be part of it, but we’re talking intimate sharing of our homes and lives as real brothers and sisters! Most Christians today experience “congregation” for church, not close family.
More evidence under exhibit “B” would be the Apostle Paul himself instructing and correcting the Corinthian Church in the proper way of having the Lord’s Supper, and it included a meal! Close study of that meal Paul instructs of, is very revealing! If you consider what he is telling them to do in its fullest meaning! It’s all in 1st Corinthians 11. (starting in verse 20). We do not have to go to other books to find proof of these things. Our Bible still says it! In detail! The Apostles taught it! Item #1! Remember?
The Apostle Paul does not tell them to cease doing it, or that it has ceased, but to do it, and do it in the proper way! The Church is the family of God, but we function as congregations, not family. We have lost that family atmosphere, but we have all kinds of other bells and whistles! We have lots of shish-boom-bah, but can’t even do a proper Easter weekend! Which is actually the Christian New Year! We don’t even start our year right! We celebrate the world’s New Year, but not our own? What have we become? An old and corrupt wine skin ready to burst! But the modern church thinks they have need of nothing. Spirit of Laodicea!
So…these are descriptions of the original Church still recorded in our Bibles, and for how long now have we ignored these things? Going all the way back to Constantine and the Catholic Church? Is God pleased in this? Does the new wine skin continue in this? Or is God bringing us back to what he started! I believe the last hour of the last days will see a return to the radical early church that had true fellowship and turned the world upside down. A last days version of the original wine skin! A Return! (As Jonathon Cahn would say.)
Polycarp fought this battle of the change that crippled a proper Passover meal and was the first step down a different fork of the road. This bishop whose Church got such a high score from the Lord refused to accept the decree coming down from Rome! Over a period of years this battle was fought and many were excommunicated because of it! I suspect this decree was the early form of “Lent”, a man made tradition having to do with Jesus temptation in the wilderness which had nothing to do with his three days in the grave! And yet, giving up meat, and fasting, runs crossways to having a proper Passover meal, which IS a God-made sacred event the Apostles taught to continue!
What modern church today does for the Resurrection weekend, Easter, is so watered down from what the early church fathers and Apostles did, they probably would not even recognize it. I’m not sure God even recognizes it. And will we remain this way? Or has God prepared a new wine skin for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear? Even as we enter the last hour of the last days?
More evidence to come are actual quotes from early church fathers and early church historians who recorded accounts of these events, verifying the veracity of what we have so far presented, but before we present these historical records not in your Bible, our next episode will take a moment to consider how hard it is for people to leave the “groove” of what they already have, to enter a new “groove” that has greater blessing! There is always God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will. And good is always the enemy of the best!
Lester Sumrall once preached that very few people go from blessing to blessing, but most stay in the blessing they already have even when a new move has taken over. I believe the old wine skin has become terribly corrupted. Those still hanging on in it, if they are genuine, they feel the lack of anointing and they thirst for fresh waters but so little can be found. They are suffering needlessly! God’s rain has not run dry! It has simply moved like God’s cloud always does. There is no surprise here. God has not changed! This is how it has always been for those called of God. And it’s time we get back to it!
The ten virgins are waking up! They are trimming their wicks! But some have no oil! They want it the easy way! They want oil from the wise and faithful! But there is a division, like Judah and the ten tribes of Israel separated! The wise say NO! They refuse to share! Which would normally seem contrary to scripture, but not so this time! Go buy your own! Go sell all you have to buy this field with the great treasure! The Bridegroom is coming and time is short! As we enter the last hour! Let all the prodigals hurry back to our Father’s House!
If a day is as a thousand years, how long is an hour?