Friday, January 26, 2024

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: Lesson 2 - Founding and Corruption

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail:
Lesson 2 - Founding and Corruption

The Founding of the Church

The first use of the work ecclesia in the New Testament is found in Matthew 16:18, however this is not the founding of the church.  The founding of the church took place much earlier in Mark 3:13, Luke 6:13 and Matthew 5:1

 Though the word is not used, the action Jesus is taking fits the definition of an ecclesia, a local called out assembly.

Mark 3:13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth [unto him] whom he would: and they came unto him.  14  And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

Jesus called and they came, these first twelve were a called-out assembly.

Not only can we see this forming of the church in Mark 3:13 and Luke 6:13, but we also have the Lord's word that he would build his church during his ministry in Matthew 16:18

Matthew 16:18 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.

Jesus personally would build His church during his earthly ministry according to this verse.  To wait until after His ascension would be to leave the founding of the church to another.

The First Church Was a Fully Functioning Church

We also can see that this assembly, though perhaps an infant church was nevertheless, a complete, functioning church.

The church, founded by Jesus during his ministry on earth, had preachers.

Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach 

The first church had a commission.

Mark 3:15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

The first church had offices.

Joh 13:29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

The first church had the ordinances.

John 4:1-2 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

Matthew 26:26-27 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.   And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

The first church had the Holy Spirit.

John 20:21-22 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.  And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

The first church had missions.

John 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 

Matthew 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, [so] be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Mark 7:26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

First Corruptions (100 -325)

Early Growth and Attraction

The post-apostolic churches, though persecuted, were often admired by some for their faithfulness. Even being willing to die for their beliefs and their way of life. Many became Christians and then met secretly for fear of their lives, first from the Jews and then the pagan Romans.

“It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life. They have found a joy and wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians. . . and I am one of them.” - Cyprian

Early Corruption of Lifestyle

Unfortunately, as more of the world become Christian, more of the Christians become worldly. The pursuit of gaiety, entertainment and recreation were viewed as improper in the life of the early "sober" saints. But before too long there was more emphasis on the trappings and symbolism of Christianity than on the truths and simplicity of Christianity.

Early Corruption of Salvation

Before too long a sharp division arouse between those who understood that salvation was purely of grace through faith and those who believed that some external rite, like baptism, was also necessary. These first divisions were over what is called Baptismal Regeneration.

This deadly heresy teaches that you must be baptized in order to be saved.

What the Bible teaches about Salvation

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Early Corruption of Baptism as a Memorial

What the Bible teaches about Baptism

Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

The Corruption of Believers Baptism

The doctrinal error of baptismal regeneration opens the door to more corruption making works a necessary part of salvation. Forms and rituals, many which were found in paganism were now being incorporated into a hybrid Christianity. Faith and repentance were being replaced or augmented with a physical rite or a work of faith. 

The Baptismal regenerationalist believed that since baptism was necessary for salvation then of course infants, who might die before they were old enough to understand faith, must be baptized. This heresy in turn led to the conclusion that anyone who would deny baptism to infants had to be stopped in order to assure infants would be saved by baptism.

Many of the so-called “Church Fathers” (really Catholic church fathers) taught error upon error and then began to call for harsh punishment on the “heretics” who didn’t agree with them.

Irenaeus (125-202 AD) promoted the office of a bishop as a ruler over many churches. He also taught that church traditions had authority equal to Scripture. (David Cloud, pg.69 History of the Churches)

Clement of Alexandria (150-230 AD) mixed Greek philosophy with Christianity and taught that there was a purgatory, a place of purging sin, and that most men would eventually be saved.

Tertullian (155-255 AD) taught church authority was greater than scriptural authority and that the bread of the Lord’s supper actually was the body of Christ. He believed that baptism was necessary for the forgiveness of sin. Sins were in three categories and that they should be confessed to a bishop. (David Cloud, pg.70 History of the Churches)

Cyprian (258 AD) taught infant baptism, the power of bishops over local churches and that it was not necessary for converts to show repentance and faith as long as they conformed to the rites of the church.

Jerome (340-420 AD) believed in the veneration of holy relics and the bones of dead Christians. Taught that Mary was the counterpart of Eve as Christ was the counterpart of Adam and Mary instrumental in helping to redeem the human race. Taught that she was perpetual virgin. He justified the death penalty for heretics.

Ambrose 33 to 3097 AD taught that Christians should be devoted to Mary, believed in praying to Saints, only the church could forgive sins. He taught the Lord's supper as a sacrifice of Christ he offered prayers for the dead.

Augustine 354 to 430 AD Augustine persecuted and believed in persecution for heretics. He taught that the sacraments on the means of saving grace. He was one of the fathers of infant baptism. And called on any who rejected him to the baptism to be killed. Believed in purgatory. Taught that Mary was sinless,  that she should be worshipped, the doctrine of celibacy for priests taught, that only the church could interpret scripture and that God had preordained some for salvation and others for damnation and that the grace of God is irresistible for the elect.

The elevation of Baptism from an ordinance to a sacrament meant that any who denied this error had to be stopped. Ultimately, this led to the so called heretics being persecuted, tortured in order to force them to recant and finally if they would not then death, often by burning in order to prevent the body from being resurrected.

These lies and errors became so widespread that Charlemagne, the king who ruled all of Europe during his lifetime, gave an edict in 789 AD that all in Europe would be baptized along with their children. - Christian pg. 33 A History Of The Baptists

The Corruption of Baptism by Immersion

Again, due to the lie that baptism was necessary to salvation it also became imperative to be able to administer it to any that were sick and might die before receiving the sacrament by immersion.

Those too sick to be moved to a place of "much water" were allowed to have water poured upon them.  This was called affusion.

The first such recorded case was Novatian in 250 AD. (see page 37 in AHOTB)

Later affusion gave way to sprinkling for infants as it was more convenient. Though in the Greek Orthodox Catholic church infants are still immersed.

Early Corruption of Polity (Authority)

A slow steady erosion of local church authority.

Individual pastors (bishops) assumed rights and authority not granted to them by Scripture over other churches. We see this starting even before the New Testament closes.

John and Diotrephes,

3 John 1:9-11 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

The Nicolaitans

Revelation 2:6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, (ruling over) which I also hate.

Revelation 2:15-16 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Smaller struggling churches sought help and protection from larger churches and gave up their autonomy in exchange.

There was now a constant tendency toward centralization, until Rome, the political center of the world, becomes the religious center as well.


Constantine is called the first “Christian” emperor. He by imperial command wedded the Christian church to the Roman government and made the growing Christian sect legal and powerful.    

Constantine I or Constantine the Great, 288?–337 (r.310–337), was born at Naissus (now Niš, Yugoslavia), the son of Constantius I and Helena. When Constantius died at York in 306, his soldiers proclaimed Constantine emperor, but much rivalry for the vacated office ensued. Before the battle at the Milvian or Mulvian Bridge near Rome in 312, Constantine, who was already sympathetic toward Christianity, is said to have seen in the sky a flaming cross as the sign by which he would conquer. He adopted the cross and was victorious. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia)

Constantine in 312 AD claims to have seen a vision in the sky of a luminous cross bearing the words In hoc signo vinces (By this sign thou shalt conquer). He will adopt the words as a motto. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright)

It would now be a crime against the state to dissent with the "Christian religion." A.T. Christian says the first blood of heretics shed by a Christian ruler was by Maximus in 385 AD.  This murder was approved by the “bishops” in Rome.  The real Christian churches would never condone any murder, much less fellow Christians.  (AHOTB pg. 41)

Gregory the Great 590-604 AD.  He is considered the first of the proper popes.

There were others who claimed the title of Pope before him, but Gregory begins the line of absolute Mediaeval popes. All churches now must swear allegiance and submit to the head of the Church at Rome or face persecution, torture and death.


It was only a matter of a few decades before Satan began to corrupt the early church. His greatest tools then and now were those who claimed to be Christians but disregarded the plain teaching of scripture, especially the doctrines of salvation by grace and baptism of believers by immersion only.

These two essential beliefs would form the battle ground for the true church and ultimately would cost millions and millions of true disciples of Christ their lives, families and peace. This persecution would be carried out in the name of a Christ who was not the Christ at all, but actually Satan, in the guise of an Angel of Light, deceiving the weak, greedy and ambitious religious leader of the Roman Empire.

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