The Corruption of Apostolic Christianity

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The Corruption of Apostolic Christianity

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Then, following the deaths of Paul and John, that prejudice led to the first great “falling away” from the New Covenant teachings as explained by Christ’s apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:3 2 Thessalonians 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
American King James Version×
).

Before that destructive event, the predominantly gentile congregations raised up by Paul were “imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea ” (1 Thessalonians 2:14 1 Thessalonians 2:14For you, brothers, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
American King James Version×
). They followed the same spiritual way of life the Jewish Christians practiced.

After the fall of Jerusalem, however, living that way of life became much more difficult. A higher level of faith and courage was needed that many converts did not have. As a result, worldly prejudices against all things Jewish began to enter gentile Christianity. Distorted views of Paul’s writings from “untaught and unstable” leaders began to undermine the way of life and pattern of worship that former gentile Christians had copied from their Jewish brethren (2 Peter 3:16 2 Peter 3:16As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
American King James Version×
).

From the last part of the first century though the fourth century, the part of the Christian religion given attention by historians accepted dramatic changes. A new concept of “progressive revelation” allowed church leaders to revise doctrine to suit their perceptions of church needs—instead of adhering strictly to teachings handed down by the apostles. The entire way of life taught by the apostles was steadily abandoned until what most considered the Christian religion bore little resemblance to the original apostolic teachings.

Jesus knew that this distorted, law-rejecting form of Christianity would emerge. He warned: “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name…and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23 Matthew 7:22-23 [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×
).

Those who remain faithful to the teaching of the apostles consistently use the Scriptures as the foundation for how they live. Thus, the Church that Jesus built has remained a “little flock,” as He labeled His followers (Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
American King James Version×
). (For more information about how that “little flock” has survived until today, request or download our free booklet The Church Jesus Built.)

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