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When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our History of Christianity Scripture verse today is 1 Timothy 5:3 which reads: “Honour widows that are widows indeed.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Ignatius of Antioch. He said: “But it is fitting for both men and women who marry to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Christian Life” (Part 9) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
The Organization of the Church (Part 2)
When speaking of women in the early church, mention should be made of the particular role of widows. The book of Acts says that the primitive church helped support the widows in its midst. This was in part an act of obedience to the repeated Old Testament injunction to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the sojourner. But it was also a matter of practical necessity, for a widow deprived of means of support either had to remarry or to seek refuge with her children. In either case, if the new husband or the child was not a Christian, the widow would be severely limited in her Christian life. Therefore, it soon became customary for the church to support its widows, and to give them particular responsibilities. In an earlier broadcast, the story was told of a widow whose ministry was such that she enraged the pagans, and therefore became a martyr. Other widows devoted themselves to the instruction of catechumens. Eventually, the meaning of the word “widow” within the church changed and came to refer not just to a woman whose husband had died but also to any unmarried woman who was supported by the community and who in turn performed some particular functions within it. Some were women who chose to remain unmarried in order to perform their ministry. It is then that one begins to find such strange phrases as “the virgins who are called widows.” Eventually, this would give rise to feminine monasticism, which developed earlier than its masculine counterpart.
The church also began celebrating marriages at least by the beginning of the second century – when Ignatius of Antioch wrote to Polycarp that all marriages should take place with the knowledge of the bishop. It is understandable that devout couples would wish to consecrate their union. But apparently marriages in the church also had another function: to acknowledge unions that were not strictly legal. According to the law of the time, the social status – and the accompanying rights – of a couple was determined by the status of a husband. In the early church women tended to be of higher social standing than men, and therefore official, legal marriages among believers could have serious civil consequences, depriving the wife of some of her rights and standing.The solution was to perform church marriages that had no official or civil sanction.
Next time, we will look at Missionary Methods in Christian Life.
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Who this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.