The church, ‘ekklesia’ in Greek, basically denotes ‘the called out assembly’. When talking about the church, we are referring to the church as presented in the New Testament. She plays a very vital role in Christianity and in the kingdom of God. She acts as the pillar and ground of truth and through it, the manifold wisdom of God is revealed, (Ephesians 3;10).
The idea or concept of the church in the New Testament began by a promise from our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 16; 18,19, ‘And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’. Upon the Lord giving his life for the church, it became a reality in Jerusalem in the first century, as prophesied in Isaiah 2;2,3.
Acts of the Apostles gives us a record of the first thirty years of not only the church history but also its progress and challenges. In a very short period, the church had grown by leaps and bounds. Jerusalem already had thousands of members and lots of local churches were established in many cities, (Acts 4;4, 5;14, 6;1, 14;1, 21;20).
Apostasy hit the church, just as the scriptures prophesied that people will deviate from the truth and the true church. (2 Thessalonians 2;1-12, 1 Timothy 4;1-3). It is unfortunate that the very elders who had been entrusted with the leadership of the church, (Acts 20;28), had a hand in its falling away. There is no doubt that the original apostasy was realized in Catholicism. As a result, there existed lots of confusion and historic obscurity of the church from AD 600 until AD 1800s.
From AD 1517 through 1784, folks such as Martin Luther arose and attempted to reform the corrupt Catholic Church. This period in church history is normally referred to as The Reformation. Saints of old were however not satisfied with just the reformation of the Catholic Church since they deemed it as a misplaced goal. They then turned their attention to restoring the First Century church. The emphasis was placed in the Bible and people like Thomas Campbell instructed everyone to speak only what is in the Bible, (1Peter 4;11, ‘If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’) This period in church history is normally referred to as The Restoration, and it starts from about AD 1809 onward.
The Restoration Movement brought about the re-introduction of the historical early church on a noticeable scale. It is now possible to locate a local church that is in alignment with scripture in designation, work and worship. Cycles of both fidelity and apostasy have been witnessed since then to-date, (1 Corinthians 11;19, ‘For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you’).
BY KENNEDY O. BARUKH.