Vertical and Imperfect

If you are going to properly understand church history, it is very important to understand what a Church is and how God deals with His Churches.

The vast majority and I mean the vast majority, of people who associate with the name of Jesus in some way get Church History all messed up because they do not understand the truth we are quickly going over in this short lesson.

I Corinthians 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus

Did the Corinthians have trouble in their midst?   Did they have sin?  O’ yes! But what does the Word of God call them?   The church of God which is at Corinth.  Problems yes.  They had serious problems!  But they were still a church of God, and still one of His churches.  They were very much in need of correction, but still a church.

Can a church that has problems get right?  Can they still be used of God?

2 Corinthians 1:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us,

The Word of God declares that the Corinthians were helping.  They were being used of God.  They were making a difference.  How?  Ye also helping together by prayer for us.   They were praying and the Word of God says their prayers were helping.  They were being answered.

We see much improvement in them from 1st Corinthians, but there are indications in 2nd Corinthians that they still had things to work on.  But they were being used.  Some might say, I don’t think they should be used at all.  Be careful now.  How much God decides to use or not use another is none of our business.

Remember when Peter basically said but what about John.  What is he going to do.  And Jesus rebuked Peter and basically said none of your business.

A Christians’ look is to be vertical (Looking up to Jesus) and not horizontal. Looking on your fellow man.   

It has been well said that “God cannot change history, but historians do.”  When looking at church history we should not ignore someone that God clearly used for something just because we do not like them or think that they were not good enough.

Here is the first principal that you must understand.  God can and does use imperfect people and imperfect churches.   And even a church that is very messed up can get right, and do things for God.  (God can even use lost people for some reason or other)

In Revelation we see 7 unique individual letters written to 7 distinct individual churches.

Please notice the flaws in theses churches.

Rev 2:1 says  the church of Ephesus write;    Look at verse 4.  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; Verse 9.  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty.  Verse 10 says the devil shall cast some of you into prison and be faithful unto death.   No real problems mentioned.  Not like Ephesus or Pergamos.

Rev 2:12 of the church in Pergamos write;  Verse 14.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

Rev 2:18 the church in Thyatira write; verse 20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Rev 3:1 the church in Sardis write; … I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Rev 3:7 the church in Philadelphia write;  And he writes a bunch of good things about them.

Rev 3:14 the church of the Laodiceans write; verse 16 I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Each church is different.  They all are in different spiritual states.  Some of those churches were worse than others.  Some were really bad, and some were really good.  And God calls each one of them a church.  Even with all of their flaws.

There is something not here that needs to be noticed.  Not once here.  And not once in the entire New Testament does God tell one church to go fix another. 

Since Philadelphia is doing so good why doesn’t God tell them to go fix Thyatira, or Sardis, or Laodicia?  Why?

Because just like the Christians view should be vertical and not horizontal, the church in both view and in authority is to be vertical and not horizontal. Each local church is to be self-governing.   The only authority that is to be over them is God.

The second principal that you must know is that God never setup a corporate church headquarters on earth.  When it comes to church history, the vast majority use a corporate headquarters for their markers.  That is not biblical.  They are looking at the wrong thing.

The Bible is very clear.  The Authority structure that God setup is: Jesus – and under him is a called man of God (an under shepherd) that’s it.  Vertical authority is God’s way.  Any other structure is not of God.  Just to be clear God in His sovereignty can use someone who is involved in a Horizontal authority structure, but the Horizontal structure is not what God designed.

In Revelation we see Jesus dealing with each church individually and we see that each church was responsible to respond to His Authority and no one else’s.  Never a preacher then a district person over him and then a regional over him and then a headquarters miles away somewhere.  Anytime you see an authoritative church headquarters it is not of God  Eph_1:22  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,  Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church:

The Biblical structure is God, then a called man of God and that is it.  So when you see someone’s writing on Church History and they are ignoring or denying that truth, then you know that the filter that they are using to view Church History is off.

Let’s be honest, everyone has a filter that they use to look at the evidence.  We are no exception.  Since everyone will have a filter it is extremely important, if you want to know the truth, to use the right filter.  The only correct filter to use is the principals we get from the Word of God.

Filter #1 – God’s churches are vertical in view and in authority, and God’s churches are imperfect.

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