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Doctrinal Discussions:

History Of The Church Of Christ

July 21, 2006

This is a revision of my 2002 article titled, "History Of  The Church Of Christ". I noticed that most people never make it to the end of that article. I have decided to reverse the chronology, working backwards through the history, rather than forward.  I hope that this encourages more people to examine the true history of the Church of Christ, as well as to see where we need to go from here. Bernie Parsons

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History Of The Church Of Christ

By Bernie Parsons - May 30, 2002   Revised July 21, 2006

Part 6

The Church Was Not Hidden

Although I have not had ample opportunity to thoroughly study writings of some of the other ancient writers, upon a hasty review, a few of them seem to parallel the teachings of the Holy Bible. This makes me believe that while some individuals and entire congregations (churches) were apostate, there were still those who struggled to understand and keep the teachings of the Holy Scriptures throughout the ages. This is the true church of Christ, that world-wide body consisting of all diligent and dedicated believers, who followed the truth of the scriptures, not binding their own opinions and conjecture.

Some Protestants have conjectured that "the true church" went into hiding while the Catholic Church was in existence. They pervert the Revelation to John, a document about the impending wrath of God about to be unleashed upon the Jews first in Judaea, then later, the Gentile world, as a basis for this claim. They call the church "the woman in hiding" in Revelation 12:6 "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." By description, this woman would rather seem to be Judah giving birth to Jesus, and His Church.

Regardless, it is possible for Christians to exist, and survive, within local bodies--or congregations--of the church, even when the majority of its members are in error. This is scriptural, although it is not what the Catholics, or their offspring, the Protestants, teach. This fact Jesus illustrated in the parable of the tares among the wheat.

Matthew 13:24-30 "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

Matthew 13:36-42  "Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

This parable lets us know that there will be good and bad in the kingdom while we are in this world. It is not our job to weed God's garden--that is the job of His angels. Our job is to plant and water.

1 Corinthians 3:6-8 "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour."

The Revelation to John also reveals that the righteous can exist among unrighteous church-goers.

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; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

We see Sardis, whom the Lord describes as a dead church, and whom He warns to repent. He goes on to establish that, even so, there are individual Christians within that dead body who are themselves alive, never having abandoned His righteous ways.

There is, therefore, no need to suppose a "hidden church". The church of Christ existed whenever and wherever righteous people existed. It is the Catholic concept of "the Church", modified by Protestants during the "Reformation", that drives our doctrine of a "hidden church". We need to abandon this unscriptural doctrine altogether--it merely serves to cloud our understanding of church history.

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