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A Problem with Churches

God’s people have always needed teachers.  In the early years of the Roman Empire, the teachers were the Apostles and their helpers.  These were far too few to teach every Lord’s Day in all the Christian communities they formed.  These communities of Christian families were on their own most of the time.  There were elders in each community that studied Scripture and taught on the formal Lord’s Day meetings.  These men were also available to answer questions and discuss the sermons during the week. 

The teacher-listener relationship was far less formal than it is today.  Questions raised by the Sunday sermons would be addressed during the week and all would benefit thereby. The sermons may well have stretched out to become week-long informal discussions. 

This was clearly a very different environment from what we see today.  God’s people did not rely on professional pastors; they taught themselves from Scripture and from the Apostle’s letters.  Each community grew in their knowledge of God’s word and in number as others were influenced and new communities were formed.

This is the only good explanation for the tremendous growth of the Christian faith in those early years.  In 320 AD, the Emperor Constantine had no choice but to declare Rome to be a Christian Empire.  Indeed, Christ had conquered the world of that day! 

The situation in those days was very different from what we see in today’s churches.  They fall far short of stimulating the kind of interactive Bible study that took place in those early communities.  The typical church-going Christian today does very little Bible study at home.  It is typically limited to listening to the Sunday sermon.  The growth rate of biblical knowledge was far greater then than it is today. 

The presence of and easy access to the inferior churches of today has resulted in the abysmal biblical ignorance that characterizes the current Christian population.  The quality of so-called teaching in most of today’s churches is often nothing more than entertainment.    

So what can be done to correct the present deficiency?  How do we dig out of the mess we’re now immersed in?  Very simply, God’s people must obey God’s instructions.  We must stop relying on our churches as the sole source of God’s truth.  To the extent we can, we must form ourselves into the kind of communities that were responsible for that early explosion of the faith. 

The impetus then was oppression from the pagan Roman Empire.  Its leaders persecuted God’s people, even fed them to hungry lions in public display.  These believers, knowing what was coming after death, sang hymns as the lions were released.  What would today’s Christians do in such circumstances?  Do they lie in our future?  What can we do to check and reverse the current antichristian trend?

As we begin to do so, more and more true believers will find each other and form godly communities in obedience to God.  As they grow in number and influence, they will gradually conquer this present evil world.  It will become the world to which Jesus will return in triumph as King of kings and Lord of Lords.

It may not happen overnight but it could take far less time than one might think.  When new converts become teachers of others, growth is exponential and the entire world can be covered rapidly.  It was done before in far worse circumstances and can be repeated today.  It will enjoy God’s blessing but it must begin with His people, His true followers.  Are you His follower?  It can begin with you. 

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