“I will build My church!”

When Jesus left earth, the apostles seemed to have everything together. For the next couple of centuries, the church grew at an amazing pace. Then things began to fall apart until a millennium later, you would not even recognize the church of Jesus Christ. However, Jesus had said, “I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it” (Matthew 16:18, Good News Bible).

While on the big scene things were messy, behind the scenes thousands of true believers continued to follow the faith of the apostles all through time. Every century witnesses to the existence of those who baptized in Jesus Name, spoke in tongues, and believed in the One True God.

Renaissance and Reformation 1250-1650

Some headline groups such as the Waldenses and Albigenses broke with the mother church and began worshiping God according to the Pentecost experience recorded in the book of Acts. John Wycliffe broke tradition (and law) when he translated the Bible into English. John Huss spoke against Catholicism and died for it. Gutenburg began printing the Bible in the people’s language with his invention the printing press.

Return toward Truth
As time went on, many broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in large numbers. Martin Luther wrote against many of the practices of the RCC and nearly lost his life for it. His followers were called Lutherans. Another group, in the sixteenth century, saw the need to be immersed with water as the apostles did and not just have pouring or sprinkling as the Catholics were doing. These re-baptizers got the name Anabaptists. Some were Spirit-filled and some baptized in Jesus Name. From them came offshoot groups such as the Baptists and Mennonites. The Church of England emerged when King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife and marry another woman. The pope would not allow this the second time, so Henry started his own church. In England, this church is called Anglican and on foreign soil it is called Episcopal.

Reform Gains Momentum
John Calvin influenced much modern Evangelical doctrine. He took over the reformation where Luther left off. A man named Michael Servetus in Spain (Miguel Serveto) refused to accept Calvin’s use of the Catholic Trinity. He argued Jesus to be God in flesh, not the eternal Son. Calvin eventually turned Servetus over to the Inquisition and let him be burned at the stake for rejecting the Trinity. Calvin’s theology continues to dominate much Baptist and other evangelical thinking.
In Scotland, John Knox led the nation in prayer and conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism. Knox established presbyters in Scotland and built the foundation for the later Presbyterian church.

Influence in America
Thomas Cartwright influenced many who became Pilgrims (first called Puritans and later Separatists). William Penn wrote the document “Sandy Foundation Shaken” speaking against the Trinity and proving there to only be One True God. He founded Pennsylvania and influenced the Quakers. Menno Simmons lead a group of Anabaptists (Mennonites) who received the Spirit and spoke with tongues.

Return to Prayer
A group of people called the Moravians promoted the first major missionary events. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield led the English nations back to heartfelt worship with the “Great Awakening.” John Wesley taught a heartfelt method of living holy and began the Methodists.

Returning to the Word
Great preachers such as Spurgeon, Finney, and Moody stirred the people to the Word in prayer and study. During the same era, false prophets arose to found such groups as the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witness), the Seventh-Day Adventists, and many others.

The 20th Century
In Topeka, KS, Charles Parham and his study group sought the Spirit. They experienced the Holy Spirit baptism speaking with tongues, as the early believers did (recorded in the Book of Acts). This message and experience traveled to Houston and out to Los Angeles. There on Azusa Street a one-eyed black man, called “Daddy” Seymor, a six-year revival began to spread the power of the Spirit around the world.

In a camp meeting in Arroyo Seco, CA, a discussion broke out about why the apostles baptized in Jesus’ Name in spite of the words of Jesus saying “baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” At 2:00 AM, John G. Scheppe burst out of his tent shouting, “I see it! Jesus is the Father! Jesus is the Son! Jesus is the Holy Ghost!” Thousands began to baptize and re-baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.

Recent History
Men like Andrew Urshan and C. P. Kilgore came to a revelation of true baptism and the full plan of entering the new covenant. Others, like T. W. Barnes, worked mightily as a prophet of God seeing the Lord do great miracles through his life. To this day a modern Paul named Lee Stoneking continues to minister in the Spirit throughout the world. Like the apostles of old, David Bernard leads the body of Christ in proclaiming truth and spreading the true gospel throughout the world. The true church thrives stronger today than ever, as more people enter the kingdom each month than were saved in the enter book of Acts.

Next time…

How do you know which church is the right church?