Church History & The MAZE II

20171117_161702 Solving the MAZE.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, I think it’s best to give you an over view of where we’re going. Let me give you some of the BIG PICTURE. So to the best of “my” understanding and research, here we go. Please correct me if you find any serious mistakes.

For the first 10-20 years Christians continued worshipping in Jewish synagogues as they could, and in private homes. Eventually they were no longer allowed in the synagogues and the private homes became their churches. It will remain basically this way until the Roman Emperor Constantine rises, (who had a Christian mother), and he passes a law of religious tolerance, and begins giving great favor to the Christian church, even though he himself lived as a pagan until close to death, whereupon he (hopefully) got saved. He did get baptized.

So the “Home Setting” was very much the “norm” for the first almost 300 years of the church. It was very personable, AND… so was the Lord’s Table. The celebration of the Lord’s Table was very connected to the Jewish Passover. After all, the Jewish Passover is a vivid symbolic picture of everything Christ was going to do, in paying the price for our sins, and setting the slaves to sin, free! (Pictured by the Children of Israel being set free from slavery to Egypt after the death angel took out the first born son of the unbelieving families.) Blood on the doorposts. When the death angel sees the blood, he will PASSOVER you.

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with his disciples in that upper room. He was and is the Passover! He is the fulfillment of that very promise and prophecy. The Passover is the Easter story! The two are completely connected. The early church fathers knew this and evidently the Apostle John instructed his student, Polycarp, who becomes Bishop of House Church Smyrna, to continue in the way the Jews celebrate Passover, as far as when you end the fast, and how you have the meal. (These are very important details that will be shared later.)

Now we have to ask ourself why that would be? I can actually understand why the Bishops of Rome started thinking some changes had to be made. After all, for the Christian, the story of Passover no longer ended with a death angel and a hurried escape from slavery out of Egypt! But now… three days later there is a Resurrection! Seems logical to me.

However, knowing there would have to be a very good reason for Polycarp to risk causing “division” over a matter, that set me to a deep study. And much to my surprise, I found some very rich answers! But first…our OVERVIEW is not finished.

I may need more than 1000 words today. So the word “Church” actually means someone’s “Home” for the first almost 300 years. AND…by the very fact that Polycarp and the Asia Minor House Churches refuse to agree with Rome concerning the Passover, is proof positive there was not a monarchial system established “yet”. This big Easter controversy begins around 140 A.D., towards end of Polycarp’s long life. He lives like 85 or so before martyred.

The House Church in Rome held a position of honor because of recognition and RESPECT of people like Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul, who were both martyred in Rome. A lot of people were taken to Rome to be martyred, including Polycarp. They took this poor eighty-something year old guy on a long trip, (like Paul), just so he could be burned at the stake in Rome. He died bravely, not defending himself, but just like Christ, a lamb to the slaughter. And this is how many died. Bravely declaring their faith in Christ. Knowing that meant certain death. Again, a picture of THE CROSS! (Whether a burning stake, hungry lions, or crucifixion.)

This is why the Bishop of Rome held a certain position of RESPECT, not that they had any actual authority over any of the other House Churches. Each House Church had their own Bishop, whom they probably chose themselves, because they knew the character of the person before they ever elected them. And once that person was elected to that position, then submission to the authority was expected, in order to maintain order, and PEACE, in the House representing the Prince of Peace.

But we will see as Bishops come and go, some Bishops of Rome begin to try using their “advantage” to exercise more power. And the first real indication of this I found with the 6th Bishop from Peter. Again I point out, very odd to see this begin to rear its ugly head with the number 6! This Bishop, (still not Pope!), but this Bishop announces 3 new rules. I’ll give you the one most obvious of what I’m saying. This is Bishop Sixtus of Rome. He was Bishop of House Church Rome from 115 – 125 A.D.. He decreed this>

“Bishops who have been summoned to the Holy See shall, upon their return, not be received by their diocese except on presenting Apostolic letters.”

So this came somewhere in 115 – 125 A.D.. And as far as I can tell, it was honored, BUT…when the Easter controversy begins arising around 140 A.D., Polycarp, possibly the only Bishop left at that time who could still claim direct training from the Apostles, declares he does not agree and will not change! He declares the Apostles specifically taught him to do it this way. WOW!

So… at that time…Rome and the Asia Minor House Churches agree to disagree and basically do it the way they each want. However, this controversy continues to boil, and the waters will grow hotter and hotter. It is interesting to me, that it is the Lord’s Supper, of all things, that becomes the most vivid “KEY” and answer to all this.

Now leaving our Rome Bishop for a moment; for some reason, which I have yet to find explanation for, but very early 3rd century (205 AD?), letters floating around and terminology being used begins to call any church Bishop a Pope! This title which by the end of the century somehow becomes the title of just the Bishop of Rome, first comes onto the scene in early 3rd century as applicable to ALL the Bishops! Now this really disturbs me, because simple minded as I am, I have read explanations that just because Jesus very specifically said to call no man father, but your heavenly Father, certain experts say that doesn’t necessarily mean he was forbidding the use of the word “Father” as a title in the Church. He was merely coming against pride and self-exaltation.

Well…as I said…I’m pretty simple minded…and as a simple minded person…maybe I can’t see so deep…but when Jesus said something so plainly…it worries me to in any way seem to go against that…even to take a chance of such a thing…but already we begin to see as early as aprox. 205 A.D….at least some Churches are daring to do such things. You can decide for yourself if you think the use of the term “Father” is an issue or not. And they do spell it with a capitol “F”! (Hhmmm.) Maybe I’ve said enough on this. May the Holy Spirit guide you on what you think pertaining to this, but I know what I’m thinking.

Next BIG PICTURE item, Bishops of Rome continue reaching for more power and by end of 3rd century, somehow they are the only one with the title Pope, (pope is a Greek word meaning “Papa”, if I remember that right. Again, calling a man, Father), and now the Roman Emperor Constantine is coming on the scene, and because he gives such favor and benefits to Christians, everyone starts wanting to be a Christian, (at least on paper), so they can get the benefits! Congregations are growing like crazy. Constantine begins giving the Home Churches very nice buildings to move into. The Lord’s Table changes from a very plain wood table in a home, to a cold stone altar in a very large cold stone building! And as far as I can see, church was never the same again!

The Bishop of Rome continues pressing his power to change Easter, and eventually forces his way. One of the worse points happened with Bishop Victor I. There had been other debates with other Bishops of Rome, but until Victor I, they always ended in compromise in favor of UNITY. But during 189-199 A.D., the reign of this Bishop, and with church still in Homes, this Bishop tried to really put his foot down! And when the Asia Minor churches still refused, (Polycarp long gone), Victor I actually cut off communications with them!

Fortunately, a man by name of Polycrates of Ephesus manages to write a letter bringing some grace back to things, and some unity is restored. But Rome will continue pushing this until they get their way, never mind that the Apostles themselves, had said OTHERWISE!

My conclusion has been that the Church managed to hold onto a pretty pure form, at least some of them, like Asia Minor, until around 250 A.D., but when the pagan Emperor Constantine begins to be allowed to have great influence in the church, this pagan influence seals the deal. We’ve never been the same since. We have very well-meaning and sincere Pastors doing the best they can with what we know. We also have Pastors who are no better than the ones who linked arms with a pagan emperor and allowed a pagan to influence the House of God!

Now…the impact on the changes made to the Lord’s Supper and Easter, are much deeper than simply when the fast should end. As a sincere Christian, you are being hurt by this change without even knowing it. The whole Church has been. The Apostle John and Polycarp and others back then, knew this. It will take a whole article in itself to reveal how insidious this move actually was, and is! This has been an overview, and next article we work on the nitty-gritty. I hope this has given you enough to think about for now.

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Church History & The MAZE

1694 I have been on such a journey. If you don’t understand the title of “Church History & The MAZE”, please read previous article. If you read several previous articles you will find a growing vision of “The Cross”, as I have read these early church fathers, of which I just downloaded today another 2,000 pages! This last week, Billy Graham himself, gave us another reminder of the Cross. And oddly enough, even a movie “Maze Runner 3” left us hanging as to what would “you” do if your blood could save the world? Do you give yourself to it so others can live, but your life becomes a continual sacrifice?

A lot of odd things going on for those who have eyes to see. I asked my wife the other day, (after reading some “David Platt”); I asked her, “Why is it if a Muslim decides to receive Christ as his Lord, he has to pay such a high price, whereas, we have had to pay so little, such a low price?” And then I asked, “Have we REALLY been asked to pay a low price, or have we been asked the same price, but just have not paid it?”

Now I know what you are saying, “Salvation is free, you idiot! Don’t you know that!” Ahem…well yes I do. BUT…maybe I should have said “to live out the salvation we have freely received.” (Better?)

After all, if we do not live it out…does it do us any good to have it? Are we not one of the bad grounds in which the seed never lived? And as I have read these early church fathers, and stories of Christians in countries where they cut out your tongue for speaking the name of Jesus, I realize what a low price I have paid. Did I just happen to hit a “SALE”, a Blue Light special on Jesus? Did I find him at the Goodwill store. (Well, in a way you could say that, it was a place of good will and good news.)

But…our conversation continued:  “I personally pay nothing for salvation and yet it is supposed to cost me everything, per Romans 12:1-2 and many many many other scriptures. The early church fathers knew this…and Polycarp knew this when he took a stand about how the Bishop of Rome was wanting to change Easter, or Passover. We have not gotten into this yet, but we will…and it is very very very rich!

What salvation actually cost me is “my surrender”. How much have I surrendered? How much is a Blue Light special surrender worth? They say you get what you pay for. Scripture says he who gives little will receive little, and he who gives much will receive much. My Blue Light special Jesus?

Our surrender is a call to crucify the monster we were born and embrace real love. This can only happen by the power of God as we care enough to SEEK HIM and show we really want it, followed by OBEDIENCE. Our surrender looks strangely enough like a cross.

You see, the CROSS is not only a picture of God’s love for us, but also a picture of our love for him. How’s your picture looking these days?

In my searching I have been almost blinded by the light of a revelation of Jesus shifting everything from cold hard Temples, to a relationship developed at warm and loving Tables. From there, the “Dove”, the “Cross”, and “Love” have become a template by which I can measure every action I still choose to commit and every path I choose to walk.

I have reached a point where I am convinced the Lord’s Supper is the “KEY” to everything. I am convinced that Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, probably even the Bishop in charge when Jesus gave them a report card in Revelation, he probably knew it was the Key too, and also the Apostle John, whom he learned under. But evidently some Bishops of Rome did not agree on this, and in this I see a fork in the road revealing all. I have been amazed at the mystery of history unfolding in the evidence I have examined.

So…let me start here. The first “Christian Mystic” we looked at was Origen, and we did an article on him that is dated as Feb. 15, 2018, if you want to examine it. He will be spoken of more as time goes by, as well as other Christian Mystics. But for today it is time we introduce what are considered some of the early church father “SUPERSTARS”. At this point I would group them as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. All three these guys became Bishops appointed by Apostles. (Some say Bishop Linus was the first Bishop of Rome, who was oddly enough connected to Paul, more than Peter. The order of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bishops of Rome are a little foggy, but no serious problem.)

I call these guys “Superstars” because their testimonies are above reproach, which makes them very valuable as far as whether to trust their leadership on “issues” that arise. These men not only were discipled directly by Apostles, but proved themselves so faithful, and able to fulfill the role of Bishop, that Apostles appointed them as Bishops over churches. They went on to fulfill those roles even unto a martyrs death! You can examine these three as much as you want, but they were all highly regarded even by those who would follow them, of whom more of their writings have survived.

I’ve read and examined Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians and find it awe inspiring, scripture confirming in every way, enlightening in unexpected ways, and just what I would expect from a disciple of the Apostle John. One of his biggest and dearest points was maintaining UNITY in the church!

So…when I show you that Polycarp got into a big contention with the Bishops of Rome, concerning the Passover, believe me this is no small thing! It is weird the way I actually begin to see something that seems a little different, a little odd, starting with the 6th Bishop of Rome! (6, as in the number of man/flesh/sin/etc.) Very odd, I know. But anyway, be that as it may…Polycarp would not have taken this stand unless he felt very strong about this.

He lived to be very old before being martyred. A lot of these early guys did not. Perhaps God kept him around for this very reason. Perhaps he got something from the Apostle John. Whatever the case, if you examine him, you will find nothing but a very humble Superstar for God and the church. He ran his race and served faithfully through all kinds of circumstances most of us will never see. (I hope.)

The Table is now set for us to get into the meat of this in the next article. I hope you realize how important these early church decisions are. After all, compare it to trying to send a rocket to the moon. You may be off by only a teeny tiny bit from the earth on your trajectory course, but by the time you get to the moon, you’re going to be LOST IN SPACE! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

So in the meantime, ponder the Cross, our cross, our price. Pray for our fellow believers in hostile countries. Remember the Dove, the Cross, and Love. Think about how the Lord’s Supper and the Passover relates to all this. Don’t forget Billy Graham’s funeral this last week and his reminder of the Cross. And I might add, I had no vision of all this when I painted the Cross big, bold, and bright upon my Teepee. (More coming soon.)

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Church History / Maze Runner!

20171117_161659 I’ve been away for a few days, lost in running a maze. Hence, new title. And a very meaningful one. We are still in pursuit of unraveling the mystery of our early church fathers compared to our modern American church, because frankly folks, something is rotten in Denmark. And after several intense days in the maze, I’m beginning to have proof.

What has taken me many hours/days/weeks of research, and many many pages of reading, I will hopefully be able to condense for you in the articles to follow. My search is finally starting to pay off. I thought I was going crazy at one point. My mind was literally in a swirl. I wake up every morning with God speaking, helping me finally organize what I learned the day before, giving me some sanity before I come out from under those covers. So before we get into too much, I want to talk about this MAZE.

The devil has done a good job of trying to hide his tracks, but not good enough! The diligent can still find a true path. The discerning can still see Satan’s footprints where he has trod, and beware. But it’s not easy. This maze will eat you alive if it gets the chance! It will crush you in its walls! You may think I’m being too dramatic, exaggerating, but I’ve spent days there trying to survive and find my way. I now have a marked path you can take advantage of and research for yourself. It will unfold here slowly, but it can greatly speed your own research if you so desire.

God has also timed all this perfectly. You are not going to believe what I have found concerning Easter, and a big confrontation in the early churches concerning this! And I’m talking church fathers who sat under the Apostle John! And other Apostles. This has become one of my greatest finds, so far, and is a strong piece of evidence in this church court and trial we have begun to set up! And wouldn’t you know it, here we are in the time of Lent, well on our way to Easter! You would think I set this up, but not I! Grandpa White Feather is not that powerful. Believe me. I can’t even do a rain dance! (LOL).

There is a table I must set in order to properly present the spiritual food I have found. For as you know, this blog site is all about the “Table”, more than the “Temple”. (Please read earlier blogs to understand.) For the appetizer, I need to talk about this MAZE. First of all, I’d like to say it is EVIL! I’m not exaggerating when I say people have tried to use it to confuse the honest seeker, and lead them on paths that are dead ends! The end result being they never find their way out! They finally become so exhausted, they give up and simply yield to whatever strongest stream seems to be pulling them.

I am also amazed that I gave this site the name: “Path Without End”. The one path you are trying to find in a maze is the one without end! All the others dead end! The only path leading out of the prison of the maze is the path that does not end! I remember when I felt God gave me that title for the blog. I now shake my head in wonder.

So… if you have not already been thinking it, yes…this mission I have been on reminded me of the movie: “The Maze Runner”, which I saw a couple years ago, and the final episode of the trilogy is playing at theaters right now. Subtitle to final episode just happens to be: “The Death Cure”. (Wow.) (This is almost too much.)

So I stuck the first movie in my player and rewatched it, to refresh my mind on the details. (I wasn’t too big on episode 2, but looking very forward to #3, and will likely see tomorrow.) As I read the backside of the DVD, consider the plot description it gave >

Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive, ever-changing maze with a group of boys who have no memory of the outside world. Facing dangerous obstacles at every turn, especially the deadly Grievers that roam the concrete corridors at night, Thomas and the others must race to piece together clues in order to discover their true purpose, and find a way out before it’s too late!

I feel like in a spiritual way I have been living that movie! Notice a few coincidental details. His name is “Thomas”, doubting Thomas? – This maze is full of false paths and much opportunity for doubting. 2nd: “Wakes up?” God is calling his people to wake up! And when we do, we discover we are #3> “Trapped”… in a “Box”! And if we try to find our way out > #4 It is a “deadly maze” with changing walls and creatures that want to kill you! #5 And they have no “memory of their past”! (Early church fathers?) Or the world outside their four walls. They can barely remember their name! The deadly maze is between them and the vital answers they need! #6 A message is sent saying their will be no more food or supplies sent to this box, signaling “time is running out”! (Billy Graham passes and if you have not read the previous article “Billy Graham/ Methuselah”, I highly recommend you do!) #7 So they must piece together “clues”! #8 In order to discover their “true purpose”! #9 And find their way out before it is “too late”!

Wow…that even amazes me as I look at it, and I already knew of this comparison.

I try to keep my articles to approximately 1000 words. My recent days in the cave have been very rewarding and I have much to share, but do not want to choke you. Also, a peaceful meal is always best. He is the Prince of Peace. So my plan over the next few days is to keep it short, but write often and soon. So realize this is a very real and deadly maze. I invite you to explore it with me, there is much more to come, but I would like to end with a final note on Billy Graham.

Reverend Graham is being buried today, as a matter of fact, as I write these words, his services just started 10 minutes ago. It causes me to pause to consider that, but I want to point out his services are being held in a large tent, at the foot of a 40 foot glass cross in the side of what looks like a remodeled barn. The photo I saw even showed other farm buildings around. Reminds me of where my Teepee is, and the barn I worked on there just this week. The Internet said this barn is the “Billy Graham Library”. The part I especially want to point out is the CROSS. And here is the reason why>

Reading the early church fathers has greatly affected me. We have our popular modern day writers, and some of them excite us to the point of recommending to others. But because they are not canon scripture, Pastors do not generally preach from them in church. However, when it comes to someone who actually sat under the teachings of the Apostles, and were appointed church bishops by the Apostles, and proved themselves faithfully even unto death, just like the Apostles; I think I would like to know more of things they wrote and taught. I don’t know why our churches have not taught us more of these things? I think they are intentionally hiding certain things. And so far, what I have found, lends to confirming such an accusation. And our Lord’s CROSS has a big part in what I’m finding, even as Reverend Graham is reminding everyone of, this very day, probably this very moment. (Please read the below article, if you want to know more of Billy Graham and Methuselah). When we return we will begin revealing why I’m pointing out, once again, that CROSS. And so it seems is Billy Graham. More coming very soon.