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bkgrnd

01-First Century Church


Before we study the harlot church, I think it would be of benefit to briefly understand some simple history of the institutional church. First, the word church means, "a called out assembly of people." Sometimes we get the impression that a particular denomination or a building is the church. In a way that´s true. They are the institutional church, the visible organizational church in which the true church is located. Those souls who have truly heard the call of the Master are the "called out ones," if they follow His voice.

The Christian church began on the day of Pentecost, when the followers of Jesus Christ were filled with the Holy Spirit. The first called out assembly of believers in Jerusalem was the result of Peter´s anointed preaching. His message, "Ye have crucified the Christ, therefore repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit," was so Spirit inspired, that 3,000 souls were saved and added by the Lord. At that moment in time the institutional church and the spiritual church were one. Both were pure in God´s eyes. This is true only because all of the people assembled together were true believers who had repented of sin. They weren´t perfect, but they were pure.

The early Christians were so moved and transformed by the Holy Spirit that material possessions, which before had been their god, were shared with people in need. No one felt they owned anything. They were concerned more about others than themselves.

Acts 2:44-45,

44)"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45)And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need."

Acts 4:32-35,

32)"And the multitude of those that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33)And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all. 34)Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35)And laid them down at the apostles feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

Can you see the oneness of the visible and spiritual church in these verses? Everyone was together and from free hearts were sharing and giving what they had. No one was forced to partake. They all were desirous of obeying the Lord´s commands, because of God´s love now in them. The people were touched with love and compassion for others. Their old selfish natures were purged and cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of the Lamb. They know what true repentance produced. They lived it.

As the body of believers grew in power and grace, so did the persecution from the Pharisees, the religious phonies of the day. The persecution became so intense, the believers fled to all parts of the countryside, spreading the Gospel of grace and love as they went. The apostles started assemblies all over the area due to their inspirational preaching.

As the years passed, the true followers continued to grow also in numbers, with purity, because of the uncompromised preaching of the Gospel. That kept the body pure and the world kept rejecting them. But then Satan´s tactics changed. Jude illustrates what happened, while Paul exposes the demonic forces behind it.

Jude 4,

"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord god, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

I Timothy 4:1,

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that, in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons…"

Unconverted converts began infiltrating the assembly of believers. They were people who had not committed their hearts to Jesus Christ. They wanted to go to Heaven, while still loving and lusting after the world. They used and abused the meaning of the grace of God in Christ, and turned it into a license to keep sinning. Sin produced no shame in these people who claimed to know Jesus. They said they knew Jesus, but were liars or antichrists. (I John 2:4-22). The organized church in America abounds with people in such spiritual darkness. We must warn them of their error if we say that we love them.

The pure assemblies were now becoming impure or mixed. A blending of the world and God´s word began. Sin began to take root again in the lives of some of the believers, except in those assemblies that tested and tried the doctrinal spirits. These remained pure. The heretics who attempted to infiltrate the churches left under the heat of God´s word from the mouth of God´s men. Upon hearing the Word, the heretics would either repent or run. If they ran, they would start assemblies of their own which were totally the church of antichrist, who continued to use the name of "Jesus."

But the visible church, as a whole, which was called out of the world, was losing that identity. Counterfeits remained among the believers. The false teachers were allowed to roam among the sheep like wolves. These teachers could creep in unaware because the believers were falling asleep spiritually. They stopped reading the word of God diligently. The persecution was taking its toll. Compromise was slipping into the hearts of the people. Much of the writings of the New Testament address these issues head on.

These unconverted converts among the slumbering believers is what made the visible church impure. The overall spiritual makeup of the people is mixed, thus making the organized church a blend of harlots and brides. There were three types of people in the house of God: (1) The counterfeits. (2) The compromised. (3) The consecrated. To which of these groups do you belong?

bkgrnd