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Brief History of Christianity: God's Epic Truth & Love

Brief History of Christianity & Gods Unstoppable Grace
Christianity is an epic driven by God's Truth and Love. It is dramatic, fascinating battle between good and evil stretching over 2000 years.

Christianity is an epic driven by God's Truth and Love. It is dramatic, fascinating battle between good and evil stretching over 2000 years.

Here I have told the long narrative in 14 brief episodes. Read on and be blessed!

5 BC to 28 AD: The Life, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ*

Our brief history of Christianity starts with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. He was simply Jesus of Nazareth until John the Baptist proclaimed Him “the Lamb of God” and baptized Him in the Jordan River. Then, something supernatural took place:

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17.

Both Jesus’ life and ministry on earth were short. After just 3 years of proclaiming the Gospel, calling 12 disciples, and affirming His power with miracles, He was crucified at Calvary, shedding His blood to take away the sins of the world.

3 days later God raised Him from the dead and appeared to His disciples and commissioned them to go into all the world to preach the Gospel.

40 days after His Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. Just before He parted from them, He commanded His people to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

* means that person has a short biography in SPIRITUAL LIVES.

28 AD: The Beginning of the Church

10 days after Jesus’ Ascension, the Holy Ghost fell on His disciples and others who had been waiting in prayer as Jesus had instructed. These 120 men and women spoke in “other tongues” or languages to the many Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. This was their message:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

3,000 heard this word and were baptized. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ had had its first miraculous outpouring of amazing grace and unstoppable growth.

28 AD to 70 AD The Church of Jerusalem

This surge of converts was spurred by the preaching of Peter and John, who had been Jesus’ disciples, but they were soon joined by James, the brother of Jesus who became the leader of the church at Jerusalem.

At first, all the converts were Jewish, but God gave Peter a vision that he should go to the Gentiles too. He traveled to Caesarea and ministered to Cornelius, a centurion who had seen an angel telling him to send for Peter. While Peter was still speaking to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Ghost fell on them all, and Peter saw that God is not a “respecter of persons,” but has people in every nation. Praise God!

As the Church grew, persecutions intensified driven by the Jewish authorities and King Herod. Stephen became the first martyr, being stoned by the Jews. James the brother of John was killed with the sword, Peter was imprisoned and James the brother of Jesus killed in 62 AD, effectively ending the Church of Jerusalem

35 to 68 AD Saul of Tarsus/St. Paul*

But the real pioneer in reaching out to the Gentiles was St. Paul who began his preaching and missionary work soon after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Paul become known as “the Apostle to the Gentiles,” and through his ministry and epistles, dozens of churches were established in Asia Minor and Greece, while Peter was instrumental in building the church in Rome. Both were executed by Nero in 68 AD.

Peter and Paul’s missionary trips and letters are all part of the New Testament so the work of others in Africa and Asia is sometimes overlooked.

Philip the evangelist ministered to the treasurer of Ethiopia, which later claimed to be the first Christian nation. Around the same time, the Coptic church of Egypt also claimed that the apostle Thomas and the evangelist Mark played important roles in forming the Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

According to traditional accounts of the Saint Thomas Christians of modern-day India, Thomas is believed to have traveled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, traveling as far as South India.

44 to 400 AD: The completion of the New Testament

James, the brother of the Lord, wrote his general epistle in 44, and Paul* wrote his letter to the Galatians in 49, with a dozen more to follow through 62, when Peter wrote 2 general epistles and Mark his Gospel. Matthew wrote his Gospel in 50, Luke his sometime before 67, and John* his Gospel and 3 epistles in 85. John’s Book of Revelation completed the New Testament in 96.

All these NEW TESTAMENT WORKS were in circulation among the churches for years, and they shared them with one another.

Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.– St. Paul in Colossians 4:16

Some of these writings have been lost, and others were disputed. The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is found in a letter written by Athanasius dated 367 AD. The 27-book New Testament was first formally canonized during the councils of Hippo and Carthage (397) in North Africa.

300 to 450: Constantine*, State Religion, and the Bible in Latin

Rome was officially pagan up until this time, and the refusal of Christians to sacrifice to the Roman gods was often used as a reason for persecution. But in 312, Emperor Constantine* was converted and shortly after, Christianity became the state religion.

Christians could now hold office and became prominent in many areas. Jerome* translated the Bible into Latin, beginning a trend of putting the scriptures into the language of the people that continues to this day. MIGHTY MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD arose, like Helen, the Emperor’s mother, Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, and his mother Monica.

But the Roman army and government were unable to withstand the ongoing attacks of barbarians, and Rome was sacked, and Roman authority was destroyed. Christianity continued uninterrupted in the East, but its institutions suffered a breakdown in the West.

451-800: The Dark Ages

Christians were now at the mercy of the invading tribes and peoples. Wars were widespred and ongoing. One positive event was the introduction of the Christian calendar in 525 and the gathering of believers in churches and monasteries. From these, missionaries preached to the pagan barbarians and set up Christian communities in Britain and Ireland.

The bishop of Rome gained power and became the Papacy under Gregory the Great who made a concerted effort to convert pagan Europe. This continued slowly but surely, usually focusing on the conversion of the king and then the populace.

The end of THE DARK AGES can be seen in the crowning of Charlemagne* as Roman Empire in 800 by Pope Leo iii. He ruled from Aachen over what became known as the Holy Roman Empire which lasted almost exactly 1000 years.

801- 1300: The Middle Ages

During this period, the Catholic Church was the universal church for all of the old Roman Empire until the Great Schism in 1054. The divide was neatly between believers using Greek and those using Latin in their worship.

The issue sparking it was the authority of the Pope, which the West accepted, and the East did not. This division between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches continues to this day.

Scholasticism and Gothic architecture flourished during what is often called the “high Middle ages.” The great cathedrals were built and MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD, among them Olga of Kyiv*, Anselm of Canterbury*, Francis of Assisi*, and Thomas Aquinas* lived their lives for Jesus.

1301-1600: The Renaissance and the Reformation

What we call the Renaissance, literally “rebirth,” was the rediscovery of the classical culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans in Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries. Dante’s* Divine Comedy kicked it off in literature and the great artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael in painting.

Another signature work of this time was the publication of the New Testament in Greek by Erasmus in 1514. From this point on, people looked to the Bible as the final authority on spiritual matters and not the Pope.

Martin Luther* is officially recognized as the man who sparked the Reformation in Germany, but it soon spread across the continent of Europe and into Great Britain where the Church of England became Protestant.

1492 to 1792: Christianity in the New World

Christopher Columbus* brought his faith with him to the New World, and Portuguese and Spanish conquerors introduced Christianity to north, central, and South America in the early 1500s.

In North America, Catholics, Puritans, and Quakers staked out territories where they could worship according to their convictions. The “Ivy League” colleges were founded to educate ministers of the Gospel, and Christian faith and visibility grew during the Great Awakening of the 18th century ignited by the preaching of George Whitefield.

1700 – 1900: Protestant Evangelism and Missionary movement

Count Zinzindorf and the Wesley brothers energized our faith by preaching the Gospel to ordinary people and ministering to their everyday needs as well.

John Newton was saved from his sins and slave trading and encouraged others to abolish slavery in the name of the Gospel.

William Carey* sparked the modern missionary movement with this translation of the Bible into the languages of India, while others, like David Livingstone, Mary Slessor*, and Oswald Chambers* went to Africa to spread the Gospel and Hudson Taylor* gave his life to building the China Inland Mission.

Charles Spurgeon* became the “prince of preachers” with his eloquent sermons, defense of the Bible, and stand against Darwinism and higher criticism.

Growth in the United States was fueled by evangelists like Charles Finney* and the songs of Fanny Crosby*.

1850 to 2021: Modernism and Evangelical Christianity

Along with Darwinism came the higher criticism of Julius Wellhausen* that attacked Christianity via theories denying the truth of the Bible and the existence of the Creator.

Wonderfully, stout and energetic defenders of the faith arose, people like Soren Kierkegaard*, William Jennings Bryan*, Aimee Semple McPherson*, and J. Gresham Machen*.

Amidst all of this came the greatest outpouring of the Holy Ghost since Pentecost led by Charles Parham and William Seymour*. What began as a little group on Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906 grew to 600 million Pentecostal believers in 2019.

Standing firmly on the inerrancy of the Bible, PENTECOSTALS believe the gifts of the Spirit are active today and practice speaking in tongues, divine healing and prophecy.

Evangelists like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday*, Aimee Semple McPherson* and Billy Graham* led millions to Jesus in the 20th century preaching the Gospel of the Bible.

Throughout the world today, CHRISTIANITY IS GROWING, everywhere except in those countries where its adherents have stepped away from the Bible and its truth. But this decrease in more than made up for in Africa, Asia and South America, where belief in the Bible is strong and its standards are upheld.

Brief History of Christianity: What’s going on now

In North America and Europe, what is called the “mainline churches” are in decline. Why? Because they have adopted the teachings of the world and abandoned those of the Bible. Many attribute this abandoning of the Gospel truth to what they call “science,” of which St. Paul says to Timothy”:

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge St. Paul in 1 Timothy 6:20

It is sad to me, to see these historic churches taken over by those who have not been born-again. But it rejoices my heart to see that even in this “wicked and adulterous generation,” God has called and chosen young people who are “all for Jesus” and are standing up for Him. As always, I am encouraged by the words of John:

Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith..– 1 John 5:4-5

Continuing Growth Worldwide

Not surprisingly, CHRISTIANITY’S GROWTH in Africa and Asia is explosive. On average, using data from THE STATUS OF GLOBAL CHRISTIANITY, between 2000 to 2020, (7,300 days):

  • Africa had 37,825 new Christ Followers every day over the last 20 years

  • Latin America had 16,988

  • Asia had 13,443

  • North America had 1,999

  • Oceania had 473

  • Europe had 8

God is still on the throne, And He will remember His own; Though trials may press us, and burdens distress us, He never will leave us alone; God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His own; His promise is true, He will not forget you, God is still on the throne.
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