An Introduction To The Church Ages
Christ has been actively revealing himself for the past 2000 years. Follow us on this amazing journey as we track Christ through the ages from his ascension until today! He promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and truly He has kept that promise!
Ephesus (53 A.D. – 170 A.D.)
Revelation 2:1-7 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, Which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
The Ephesian Church Age - Read More
The messenger (angel) to the church of Ephesus was the apostle Paul. That he was the messenger to the first age of the Gentile era cannot be denied. Though to Peter was granted the authority to open the doors to the Gentiles, it was given to Paul to be their apostle and prophet. He was the Prophet-Messenger to the Gentiles. His prophetic office, by which he received the full revelation of the Word for the Gentiles, authenticated him as their apostolic messenger. To this agreed the other apostles at Jerusalem. Galatians 1:12-19, “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” Galatians 2:2, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Galatians 2:6-9, “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the Gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter: (For He That wrought effectually in Peter to the apostle-ship of the circumcision, the Same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Romans 11:13, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.”
His manner of ministering set the pattern that all future messengers were to aspire to, and actually sets the pattern for every true minister of God, though he would not attain to such heights in the prophetic realm as did Paul.
Paul founded the church at Ephesus about the middle of the first century. This enables us to set the date of the beginning of the Ephesian Church Age; about 53 A.D.
His manner of ministering set the pattern that all future messengers were to aspire to, and actually sets the pattern for every true minister of God, though he would not attain to such heights in the prophetic realm as did Paul. Paul’s ministry had a threefold quality and was as follows:
First of all, Paul was absolutely true to the Word. He never deviated from it no matter what the cost. Galatians 1:8-9, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 2:11,14, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
I Corinthians 14:36-37, “What? came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”
Notice that Paul was unorganized, but Spirit led, as when God moved upon Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. Jerusalem’s council never sent Paul out, nor did it have any power or jurisdiction over him. God, and God alone, did the sending and the leading. Paul was not of men, but of God. Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead:)” Galatians 2:3-5, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you.”
Secondly, his ministry was in the power of the Spirit, thereby demonstrating the spoken and written Word. I Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Acts 14:8-10, “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.” Acts 20:9-12, “And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.” Acts 28:7-9, “In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed.” II Corinthians 12:12, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
Thirdly, he had the evident fruit of his God-given ministry. II Corinthians 12:11, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” I Corinthians 9:2, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostle-ship are ye in the Lord.” II Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul had been the means of bringing in multitudes of the Gentile sheep; he fed them, and cared for them, until they brought forth righteous fruit and were prepared to meet the Lord as a part of the Gentile bride.”
At the time of the giving of the Revelation, according to tradition, Paul had already died a martyr, but John was carrying on in his stead exactly as Paul had done in the days of his ministry. The death of Paul, before the Revelation was given, does not at all annul the fact that he was the messenger to the Ephesian Church Age, for the messenger to every age, regardless of when he appears or goes, is the one who influences that age for God by means of a Word-manifested ministry. Paul was that man.
Smyrna (170 A.D. – 312 A.D.)
Revelation 2:8-11 “And unto the angel of the church of Smyrna write; These things saith the First and the Last, Which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
The Smyrnaean Church Age - Read More
Using our God given rule of choosing the messenger for each age, we unhesitatingly declare that Irenaeus was exalted by the Lord to that position. He was the disciple of that great saint and warrior of faith, Polycarp. And it is no doubt as he sat at the feet of that great man he learned the Christian graces that flowed from his consecrated life, for Polycarp was one of the truly illustrious saints of all ages when viewed in the light of a blameless life. You will remember from your own reading that Polycarp was martyred. Too old to flee, and too sincere a man to allow another to hide him and then suffer a penalty for doing so, he gave himself up to death. But before he did, he asked for and was granted permission to pray two hours for his brethren in the Lord, for the governor, for his enemies and his captors. Like the great saints of all ages, and desiring a better resurrection, he stood firm, refusing to deny the Lord, and died with a free conscience. He was placed at the stake (untied at his own request) and the fire was lit. The fire bent away from his body, refusing to touch him. He was then pierced through with a sword. As this was done, water gushed from his side drowning the flames. His spirit was actually seen to depart in the form of a white dove released from his bosom. Yet for all this great testimony, this student of John the Revelator was not militant against the Nicolaitane system, for he himself leaned toward organization, not realizing that the desire for fellowship and what appeared like a good plan to foster the work of God was really a trick of the enemy.
Thus with his strict adherence to the Word, his wonderful understanding of Scripture, and the attendance of the power of God upon that ministry, he is the right choice for the age.
With Irenaeus this was not so. He was militant against any form of organization. Also, his life history, wherein he served the Lord, was one of much manifestation in the Holy Spirit; and the Word was taught with unusual clarity and conformity to its original precepts. His churches in France were known to have the gifts of the Spirit among them, for the saints spoke in tongues, prophesied, raised the dead, and healed the sick by the prayer of faith. He saw the danger of any kind of organized brotherhood among the elders, pastors, etc. He stood solidly for a unified, Spirit-filled, gift-manifesting local church. And God honored him for the power of God manifested among the saints.
He was also clear on his understanding of the Godhead. And since he was the disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was the disciple of Saint John, we can know for sure he had as perfect teaching as is possible on this subject. In Volume 1, page 412 of the Ante Nicene Fathers we have this statement by him on the Godhead. “All the other expressions, likewise, bring out the title of one, and the same being, the Lord of Power, the Lord, the Father of All, God Almighty, Most High, Creator, Maker, and such like, these are not the names and the titles of a succession of different beings, but of one and the same.” He pointed out clearly that these are but titles as is Rose of Sharon, Bright and Morning Star, Fairest of Ten Thousand, etc. Neither is there but ONE God. His Name is Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus with his strict adherence to the Word, his wonderful understanding of Scripture, and the attendance of the power of God upon that ministry, he is the right choice for the age. It is altogether unfortunate that the other ages did not have in their messengers such a balance of fruit, power, and leadership in the Holy Spirit and the Word.
Pergamos (312 A.D. – 606 A.D.)
Revelation 2:12-17 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He Which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against
The Pergamean Church Age - Read More
Using our God-given rule for choosing the messenger to each age, that is, we choose the one whose ministry most closely approximates that of the first messenger, Paul, we unhesitatingly declare the Pergamean messenger to be Martin. Martin was born in 315 in Hungary. However, his life work was in France where he labored in and around Tours as a bishop. He died in 399. This great saint was the uncle of another wonderful Christian, St. Patrick of Ireland.
Surely this was a great man, a true messenger to that age. Never desirous of aught but to please God he lived a most consecrated life.
Martin was converted to Christ while he was following a career as a professional soldier. It was while he was still engaged in this occupation that a most remarkable miracle occurred. It is recorded that a beggar lay sick in the streets of the town where Martin was posted. The winter cold was more than he could bear for he was poorly clad. No one paid any attention to his needs until Martin came by. Seeing this poor man’s plight, but not having an extra garment, he took off his outer cloak, cut it in two with his sword, and wrapped the cloth around the freezing man. He attended him the best he could and went on his way. That night the Lord Jesus appeared unto him in a vision. There He stood, like a beggar, wrapped in the half of Martin’s garment. He spoke to him and said, “Martin, though he is only a catechumen has clothed Me with this garment.” From that time on Martin sought to serve the Lord with all his heart. His life became a series of miracles manifesting the power of God.
After having left the army and having become a leader in the church, he took a very militant stand against idolatry. He cut down the groves, broke up the images and pulled down the altars. When confronted by the pagans for his deeds he challenged them in much the same manner that Elijah did the prophets of Baal. He offered to be tied to a tree on its underside so that when it was cut down it would crush him unless God intervened and turned the tree around while it fell. The wiley heathen tied him to a tree that was growing on the side of a hill, assured that the natural pull of gravity would cause the tree to so fall as to crush him. Just as the tree began to fall, God swung it around and uphill, contrary to all natural laws. The fleeing heathen were crushed as the tree fell on several of them.
Historians acknowledged that on at least three occasions he raised the dead by faith in Jesus’ Name. In one instance he prayed for a dead baby. Like Elisha, he stretched himself upon the babe and prayed. It came back to life and health. On another occasion he was called to help deliver a brother who was being carried away to his death in a time of great persecution. By the time he arrived the poor man was already dead. They had hanged him upon a tree. His body was lifeless and his eyes protruded from the sockets. But Martin took him down, and when he had prayed the man was restored to life and to his rejoicing family.
Martin never did fear the enemy regardless of who it was. Thus he went to personally face a wicked emperor who was responsible for the death of many Spirit-filled saints. The emperor would not grant an audience, so Martin went to see a friend of the emperor, one Damasus, a cruel bishop of Rome. But the bishop, being a nominal Christian of the false vine would not intercede. Martin went back to the palace, but by now the gates had been locked and they would not allow him to enter. He lay down on his face before the Lord and prayed that he be able to get into the palace. He heard a voice bidding him arise. When he did so, he saw the gates open of their own accord. He walked into the court. But the arrogant ruler would not turn his head and speak to him. Martin again prayed. Suddenly a fire came spontaneously from the seat of the throne and the unhappy emperor vacated speedily. Surely the Lord humbles the proud and exalts the lowly.
Such was his ardour in serving the Lord that the devil was mightily aroused. The enemies of truth hired assassins to kill Martin. They came by stealth to his home and as they were about to kill him, he stood erect and bared his throat to the sword. As they leaped forward, the power of God suddenly hurled them back across the room. So overcome were they in that holy and fearful atmosphere that they crawled upon their hands and knees and begged forgiveness for the attempt upon his life.
Too often when men are signally used of the Lord they become lifted up with pride. But not so with Martin. He ever remained the humble servant of God. One night as he was preparing himself to enter the pulpit, a beggar came to his study and asked for some clothing. Martin referred the beggar to his head deacon. The haughty deacon commanded him to leave. Thereupon he went back to see Martin. Martin arose and gave the beggar his own fine robe, and bade the deacon bring him another robe which was of lesser quality. That night as Martin preached the Word, the flock of God saw a soft white glow of light around his person.
Surely this was a great man, a true messenger to that age. Never desirous of aught but to please God he lived a most consecrated life. Never could he be induced to preach until he had first prayed and was in such spiritual frame as to know and deliver the full counsel of God by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Often he would keep the people waiting while he prayed for full assurance.
Just to know about Martin and his mighty ministry might make one think that the persecution of the saints had abated. Not so. They were still being destroyed by the devil through the instrumentality of the wicked. They were burned at the stake. They were nailed to logs face down and wild dogs were turned loose upon them, so that the dogs would tear away the flesh and bowels, leaving the victims to die in terrible torture. Babes were ripped from expectant mothers and thrown to the hogs. Women’s breasts were cut away, and they were forced to stand erect while each heart throb poured out the blood until they crumpled in death. And the tragedy was even greater to think about when one realizes that this was not solely the work of the heathen, but many times it was caused by so-called Christians who felt that they did God a favor in exterminating these loyal soldiers of the cross who stood for the Word and obedience to the Holy Spirit. John 16:2, “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service.” Matthew 24:9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”
By signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit, Martin was truly vindicated as the messenger to that age. But not only was he gifted by a great ministry, he himself was forever true to the Word of God. He fought organization. He withstood sin in high places. He championed the truth in word and deed and lived out a full life of Christian victory.
A biographer wrote of him on this wise. “No one ever saw him angry, or disturbed, or grieving, or laughing. He was always one and the same, and seemed something beyond mortal, wearing on his countenance a sort of celestial joy. Never was anything on his lips but Christ, never anything in his heart but piety, peace and pity. Often did he weep for the sins even of those his detractors, who when he was quiet and absent attacked him with viperous lips and poisoned tongues. Many hated him for virtues they themselves did not possess and could not imitate; and alas! his bitterest assailants were bishops.”
Thyatira (606 A.D. – 1520 A.D.)
Revelation 2:18-29 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 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. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He Which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The Thyatirean Church Age - Read More
The church had long been split into two groups, Western and Eastern. Every now and then a reformer would arise in either or both divisions and for awhile lead some segment of the church into a deeper relationship with God. Such a man in the West was Francis of Assisi. Truly successful for a time, his work was finally put under by the hierarchy of Rome. Peter Waldo of Lyons, a merchant who renounced his secular life, became very active in serving the Lord and drew many unto Him; but he was thwarted in his work and excommunicated by the pope. Neither the Western or the Eastern groups had within them a man who could possibly be the messenger to this age when examined in the light of Scripture. However, there were two men in the British Isles, whose ministry in Word and deed could stand the test of truth. They were Saint Patrick and Saint Columba. It was to Saint Columba that the lot of being the messenger fell.
The pure Gospel that was preached by Columba and his fellow workers spread over the whole of Scotland, turning it to God.
Though the messenger to the Thyatirean Age was Saint Columba, I want to dwell a little on the life of Saint Patrick as an example to us and also to give the lie to Rome’s claim that Saint Patrick was any more one of her than was Joan of Arc. Patrick was born to the sister of Saint Martin in the little town of Bonavern on the banks of the river Clyde. One day while playing on the shoreline with his two sisters, pirates approached and kidnapped all three. Where the sisters went, no one knows, but Patrick (his name was Succat) was sold to a chieftain in Northern Ireland. His duty was to tend to the swine. To do this he trained dogs. So well trained were his dogs that many people came from far and near to buy them. In his loneliness he turned to God and was saved. Then came the urgent desire to escape and return home to his parents. He formed a plan that put his ability as a trainer to great use. He taught the dogs to lie on him and cover his body carefully and not move until commanded. Thus one day when his owner sold several dogs, Patrick commanded the dogs, except the leader of the pack, to get into the boat. The leader of the pack to which he then gave a secret signal ran off and refused to come aboard. While the master and the buyer attempted to get the dog, Patrick got into the boat and signaled the dogs to cover him. Then with a whistle he brought the leader of the pack into the boat and on top of him. Since Patrick was nowhere to be seen the buyer put up sail and moved out to sea. After making sure that the captain was too far out to turn back, Patrick gave another signal to the dogs which caused them to riot. Then he came forth and told the captain that unless he would put him ashore at his home he would command the dogs to keep rioting, and he would take over the ship. However, the captain was a Christian, and when he heard the boy’s story he gladly put him ashore at his home. There Patrick went to Bible school and returned to Ireland where by the Word and power of God in many signs and wonders he won thousands to the Lord. At no time did he ever go to Rome nor at any time was he commissioned by Rome. The truth of the matter is that when Rome finally gained a foothold on the island and when they saw the time was opportune, they killed over 100,000 Christians who had over the years grown out of the original group that had come to the Lord under Saint Patrick.
About 60 years after the death of Saint Patrick, Columba was born in County Donegal, North Ireland, to the royal family of Fergus. He became a brilliant, consecrated scholar, committing to memory most of the Scripture. God called him in an audible voice to be a missionary. After he had heard the voice of God, nothing could stop him, and his miraculous ministry has caused many historians to acclaim him next to the apostles. So great was his ministry with the supernatural signs following that some (especially students in Rome) have thought the accounts were exaggerated.
In one of his missionary journeys, as he approached a walled city, he found the gates barred against him. He lifted his voice in prayer that God might intervene and allow him access to the people in order to preach. But as he prayed the court magicians began to harass him with loud noises. He then began to sing a psalm. As he sang, God so increased the volume of his voice that he drowned out the cries of the heathen. Suddenly the gates burst open of their own accord. He entered in and preached the Gospel, winning many to the Lord.
On another occasion when he was also shut out from a village, as he turned away to depart, the son of the chief suddenly became violently ill, even unto death. Saint Columba was quickly sought after and recalled. When he prayed the prayer of faith the boy was instantly healed. The village was then opened to evangelization by the Gospel.
The pure Gospel that was preached by Columba and his fellow workers spread over the whole of Scotland, turning it to God. It also overflowed into Ireland and over Northern Europe. His means of spreading the Gospel was one wherein perhaps twelve men under a leader would go into a new area and literally build a
Saint Columba was the founder of a great Bible school on the island of Hy (off the S.W. coast of Scotland). When he went there the island was so barren and rocky that it could not bear enough food for them all. But Columba planted
When I read the history of this great servant of God and the wonderful work he did, it saddened my heart to find that the papal power, lusting to bring all men into its grasp, came and eventually defiled these mission fields and destroyed the truth as it was taught by Columba.
Sardis (1520 A.D. – 1750 A.D.)
Revelation 3:1-6 “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments
The Sardisean Church Age - Read More
The messenger to this age is the best known messenger of all the ages. He was Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a brilliant scholar of gentle disposition. He was studying to be a lawyer when the lingering illness and death of a near friend caused him to become serious concerning the spiritual condition of his life. He entered the Augustinian convent at Erfurt in 1505. There he studied philosophy and also the Word of God. He lived the life of severest penance but all the outward acts could not banish his sense of sin. He said, “I tormented myself to death to make peace with God, but I was in darkness and found it not.” The vicar-general of his order, Staupitz, helped him to gain the insight that his salvation would have to be the experience of an inner work rather than a ritual. With this encouragement, he further sought God. Later he became a priest. As yet he was not saved. He became an avid and deep student of the Word and of the great theological works extant. He was sought out as a teacher and preacher for his depth of knowledge and great sincerity. To fulfill a vow he had made to himself he went to Rome. There he saw the futility of the church’s imposed works that were to bring salvation, and the Word of God struck home to his heart, “The just shall live by faith.” On his return home the evangelical truth of this Scripture flooded his mind and he was set free from sin and born into the kingdom of God. Soon after this he was elevated to Doctor of Divinity and commissioned, “to devote his whole life to study and faithfully expound and defend the holy Scripture.” This he did, and with such effect that his heart and the hearts of those around him were deeply fixed upon the truth of the Word. The Word soon came into open conflict with the abuses of church creeds and doctrines.
Thus when Leo X become pope, and John Tetzel came to sell indulgences for sin, Luther had no choice but to rise up against this anti-Scriptural teaching. First, he thundered from the pulpit against it and then wrote his famous 95 theses which on October 31, 1517 he nailed to the door of Castle Church.
In a short time Germany was ablaze and the reformation was on. Now let it be remembered that Martin Luther was not the only one who had protested the Roman Catholic Church. He was but one of many. Others had denied the popes their self-granted temporal and spiritual power, and even amongst the popes there were minor temporary reforms. Yes, there were many others who raised issues, but in the case of Luther, God’s time was ripe for a definite move that would be the beginning of the restoration of the church to an outpouring of the Holy Ghost at a much later date.
Now Martin Luther, himself, was a sensitive Spirit-filled Christian. He was definitely a man of the Word for he not only had a profound passion to study it but to make it available to all in order that all might live by it. He translated the New Testament and gave it to the people. This laborious work he did himself, correcting a passage as much as twenty times. He gathered around him a group of Hebrew scholars amongst whom were Jews and translated the Old Testament.
This monumental work of Luther is still the work upon which all successive works of the Scripture in Germany have rested.
He was a mighty preacher and teacher of the Word, and insisted especially in his first years of public eminence, that the Word was the sole criterion. Thus he was against works as a means of salvation and baptism as a means of regeneration. He taught the mediation of Christ apart from man as was the original and Pentecostal concept. He was a man given to much prayer and had learned that the more work he had to do, and the more sorely he was pressed for time, the more of his time he gave to God in prayer in order to ensure satisfactory results. He knew what it was to battle with the devil and it is said that Satan one day visibly appeared to him, and he flung the ink well at him, bidding him go. Another time two fanatics came to him to induce him to join with them in banishing all priests and Bibles. He discerned the spirit within them and sent them off.
It is recorded of Dr. Martin Luther in Sauer’s History Vol. 3, page 406 that he was, “a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues, interpreter, in one person, endowed with all nine gifts of the Spirit.”
What stirred his heart by the Holy Ghost, and which was the little green shoot that signified that truth was coming back to the church as it was known at Pentecost, was the doctrine of justification: salvation by grace, apart from works. I recognize that Dr. Luther did not believe only, and preach only, justification, but that was his major theme as indeed it had to be for that is the basic doctrine of the truth of the Word. He will be forever known as the instrument in the hand of God who revived this truth. He was the fifth messenger and his message was, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Surely we admit that he knew and did teach that we are to go from faith to faith. His marvelous understanding of sovereignty, election, predestination and other truths show him to be a great man in the Word, yet I say again, as do historians, God used him to bring to the people God’s standard against works – “The just shall live by faith.”
Now as I mentioned already, this age has been called by the historians, the Period of Reformation. That is exactly right. That is what it was. It had to be that for Martin Luther was a reformer, not a prophet. Now I know the history book calls him a prophet, but it doesn’t mean that the history book is right, for there is no record of Martin Luther qualifying as a true prophet of God in the grand Scriptural sense of that word. He was a fine teacher with some of the manifestations of the Spirit in his life and we praise God for that. So he was not able to lead the church back to the whole truth as would a man like the apostle Paul who was both apostle and prophet.
Now as time went on we find a great change in the way he conducted the affairs in which he was involved. At first he had been so gentle, so fearless, so patient and constantly waiting on God to work out the problems. But then vast numbers began to come to his banner. Their purpose was not a truly spiritual one. Rather they had political motivations. They wanted to break the yoke of the pope. They disliked sending money to Rome. Fanatics rose up. Soon he was dragged into political affairs and decisions that actually lay outside the realm of the church except that the church through prayer, preaching and conduct might set up a standard to be heeded. These problems of politics mounted until he was forced into an untenable position of mediating between lords and peasants. His decisions were so wrong that an uprising took place and thousands were killed. He meant well, but once he had let himself be entangled again in a Church-State Gospel he had to reap the whirlwind.
But for all that, God used Martin Luther. Let it not be said that his intentions were wrong. Let it only be said that his judgment failed. Truly if the Lutherans could get back to his teaching and serve God as this gracious brother served Him, then that people would surely be a credit and praise to the great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Philadelphia (1750 A.D. – 1906 A.D.)
Revelation 3:7-13 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He That is holy, He that is true, He That hath the key of David, He That openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth; I know thy works: Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name. Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the Name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God; and I will write upon him My new Name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
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The messenger to this age was without doubt John Wesley. John Wesley was born at Epworth, June 17, 1703 and was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley. His father was a chaplain in the Church of England; but it is more than likely that the religious turn of John’s mind was based more upon his mother’s exemplary life than upon his father’s theology. John was a brilliant scholar. It was while he was at Orford that he and Charles became part of a group who were spiritually exercised to worship on the basis of experientially living the truth rather than making doctrine their standard. They drew up a spiritual guide of works, such as giving to the poor, visiting the sick and the imprisoned. For this they were called Methodists, and other derisive titles. Now John was sufficiently imbued by his vision of the need of religion for the peoples of the world that he went to America (Georgia) as a missionary amongst the Indians. On his way there he found that many of the ship’s passengers were Moravians. He was deeply impressed by their meekness, peace, and courage in all circumstances. His labors in Georgia in spite of self denials and hard work was a failure. He returned to England crying, “I went to America to convert the Indians but oh! who shall convert me?”
Back in London he again met the Moravians. It was Peter Boehler who showed him the way of salvation. He was truly born again much to the dismay and evident anger of his brother, Charles, who could not understand how such a spiritual man as John should say he was not formerly right with God. It was, however, not long after that Charles, too, was saved by grace.
Wesley now began to preach the Gospel in those pulpits in London to which he formerly had access; but soon they turned him out. It was at this time that his old friend, George Whitefield, stood him in good stead for he invited John to come and help him preach in the fields where thousands were listening to the Word. Wesley at first was incredulous that he should preach in the open instead of a building, but when he saw the throngs and saw the working of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit he turned wholeheartedly to such preaching.
The work soon took on such proportions that he began sending out numerous laymen to preach the Word. This seemed like a parallel to Pentecost where the Spirit raised up men with power to preach and teach the Word almost overnight.
There was violent opposition to his work but God was with him. The workings of the Spirit were mightily manifested and often such a spirit of conviction took hold of the people as to take away their strength and they would fall to the ground crying in great distress over their sins.
Wesley was a remarkably strong man. He says of himself that he could not remember to have felt lowness of spirits for even a quarter hour since he was born. He slept no more than six hours a day; arose in time to start preaching at five practically every day of his ministry; preached up to four times on a single day so that in a year he would average over 800 sermons.
He traveled multiple thousands of miles as did his circuit riders who carried the Gospel near and far. In fact Wesley traveled 4500 miles per year by horse.
He was a believer in the power of God and he prayed for the sick with great faith and wonderful results.
Many of his meetings saw the manifestation of Spiritual gifts.
Wesley was not in favor of organization. His associates did have a “United Society” who were, “a company of men having the form, and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the Word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation.” The only condition of those entering was they should be of those, “who had a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins.” As time went on they worked out a strict set of rules to be used in self discipline for the good of their souls. Wesley recognized that after his death the movement could be organized and the Spirit of God leave them to dead form. He once remarked that he did not fear that the name of Methodist would leave the earth but that the Spirit might take His flight.
During his lifetime he could have acquired vast wealth; but he did not. His favorite saying on the subject of money was, “Get all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” How strange it would be for Wesley to come back and see the denomination that bears the name of Methodist today. They are rich–vastly rich. But the life and power of John Wesley is missing.
It should also be mentioned that Wesley never did desire to build a work upon a denominational or sectarian basis. Though he was an Arminian in his beliefs, he did not want to separate himself from brethren on the grounds of doctrine. He was a good candidate for James: He based his eternal life on faith and works, or the living of the life, rather than simply accepting a creed or a doctrinal statement.
John Wesley died at the age of 88 having served God as few men would dare to even think they might.
Laodicea (1906 A.D. – Rapture)
Revelation 3:14-22 messenger – “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God; I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
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William Branham was born April 6,
From an early
In May of 1946, he set himself aside to seek God for the meaning of his strange life. As he prayed alone late one night, an angel of light appeared, saying, “Do not fear. I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar birth and misunderstood life has been to indicate that you are to take a gift of Divine healing to the peoples of the world. If you will be sincere when you pray and can get the people to believe you, nothing shall stand before your prayer, not even cancer. You will go into many parts of the earth and will pray for kings and rulers and potentates. You will preach to multitudes the world over and thousands will come to you for counsel.”
For half an hour, this angel explained to Brother Branham about the past and told him of his future. He explained why the ministers couldn’t recognize a gift of God in William’s life, yet the devil could. It was the same in Jesus’ day: the religious leaders said Jesus had a devil, yet the devils at Gadara recognized Him (Mark 3:22; John 7:20).
The angel also told Brother Branham that, even as Moses was given two signs to prove he was sent from God (Exodus 4:1-8), so he would be given two signs also. First, he would be able to diagnose diseases by their vibrations, which would cause his hand to swell. If the swelling went down after he prayed upon the person, he could say, “Thus saith the Lord, you are healed.” The angel said that time would come when Brother Branham would be able to discern the very secrets of men’s hearts (Heb 4:12; John 2:24-25).
From accounts by William Branham’s family, it is evident that he had been conducting healing campaigns at least as early as 1941 when he conducted a two-week revival in
In June 1947, the Evening Sun newspaper of Jonesboro, Arkansas reported that “Residents of at least 25 States and Mexico have visited Jonesboro since Rev. Branham opened the camp meeting, June 1. The total attendance for the services is likely
Testimonies of miraculous healings continued to abound. One striking example published in the “Voice of Healing” publication in 1950 was of a boy being raised from the dead in Finland after being struck by a car.
Over the next ten
U.S. Congressman William Upshaw, crippled for sixty-six years, publicly proclaimed his miraculous healing in a Branham meeting in a leaflet called “I’m Standing on
the Promises”. Moreover declaring William Branham to be
In its February 1961 issue, the Full Gospel Men’s Voice (now the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Voice) wrote: “In Bible Days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the Sacred Records, none of these had a greater ministry than that of William Branham … Branham has been used by God, in the Name of Jesus, to raise the dead!” Branham’s teachings and notoriety had a profound influence on the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Though Branham has been dead since 1965, there are hundreds of thousands around the world who regard him as a prophet, and the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5–6.
The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements contains these comments: “The person universally acknowledged as the [WWII] revival’s `father’ and `pacesetter’ was William Branham. The sudden appearance of his miraculous healing campaigns in 1946 set off a spiritual explosion in the Pentecostal movement which was to move to Main Street, U.S.A., by the 1950s and give birth to the broader charismatic movement in the 1960s, which currently affects almost every denomination in the country”
This photograph was taken on February 28, 1963, and was identified by William Branham as the constellation of seven Angels in the form of a pyramid that he later met according to the vision he had seen in December 1962 and had publically foretold of Their appearance in this area of Arizona.
A few days before his arrival there on a hunting trip, photographers in the surrounding states took this photograph of God declaring in the heavens what He would soon reveal on the earth. Shortly after his arrival, the seven Angels personally met him and administered a Divine commission for him to return to his tabernacle in Indiana for the opening of the Seven Seals.
Brother Branham returned to Jeffersonville, Indiana wherein for seven days, as he waited on God, the voice of God spoke out the Pillar of Fire, revealing the exact Truth of the Mysteries sealed up in Revelations 5 through 8; which revelation was contrary to what everyone (including Brother Branham) had
On December 18,