SHEPHERD TO SHEEP
(Rev 1:19) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
Church history is a fascinating study. In it you will understand where the church did good and also where she has failed. There’s a lot of embarrassing information to process but Jesus said that His church would prevail! (Mat 16:18) There are many fine books on church history but I believe Jesus’ words to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 speak of the entire church age in succession:
EPHESUS - APOSTOLIC AGE (Before AD 100): The Loveless Church. The Church was laboring for Christ but evidenced a gradual cooling of love. Clergy/laity distinctions were beginning to develop.
SMYRNA - AGE OF PERSECUTION (100 A.D. to 313 A.D.) The Persecuted Church. This was the age of martyrdom, when pagan Roman emperors attempted to destroy Christianity.
PERGAMOS - IMPERIAL CHURCH AGE (313 A.D. to 590 A.D.): The Compromising Church. Here was the development of the church-state system that began with Constantine. This was the church possessing earthly power but decreasing in spirituality.
THYATIRA - AGE OF PAPACY (590 A.D. to 1517 A.D.): The Corrupt Church. This was the debased, political church of the Middle Ages. The Church introduced an idolatrous paganism that became a religious system that bore little resemblance to the New Testament church.
SARDIS - REFORMATION AGE (1517 A.D. to 1730 A.D.): The Dead Church. This time period saw the Protestant Reformation and the return to sound biblical doctrine. But the churches that were formed lacked spiritual vitality as many became institutionalized state churches.
PHILADELPHIA - MISSIONARY AGE (1730 A.D. to 1900 A.D.): The Faithful Church. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the modern evangelical movement, revivalism, worldwide mission movements, and a renewed expectation of Jesus' return.
LAODICEA - AGE OF APOSTASY (1900 A.D. to present): The Lukewarm Church. This is the apostate church of the last days and of which we are currently in. It’s the feel good church…high on entertainment and low on sound biblical teaching…a church anyone can come to…the word “sin” is not in…Christianity “lite” where it’s more about the cool than the cross!
From this overview we see that church history is really HIS-story of grace in saved sinners lives!