This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #151, titled, “John Chrysostom [CRYS-OZ-TOM] (Part 4): A Voice From the Wilderness.”
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 Scripture for today is Romans 12:1-2 which reads: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Ignatius [IG-NAY-SHUS]. He said: “The beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two, being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are needed for a holy life follow after them. No man making a profession of faith continues sinning, nor does he that possesses love hate anyone. The tree is made manifest by its fruit, and so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognized by their conduct. For the work of profession is not needed now, but that one be found continuing in the power of faith to the end.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “John Chrysostom [CRYS-OZ-TOM] (Part 4): A Voice From the Wilderness” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
The new bishop of Constantinople [KAAN-STAN-TUH-NOH-PUHL] was not completely aware of all of this. From what we know of his character, it is probable that, had he been aware, he would have acted just as he did. The former monk was still a monk, and could not tolerate the manner in which the rich inhabitants of Constantinople [KAAN-STAN-TUH-NOH-PUHL] sought to wed the gospel with their own luxuries and comforts.
His first task was to reform the life of the clergy. Some priests who claimed to be celibate had in their homes what they called “spiritual sisters,” and this was an occasion of scandal for many. Other clergymen had become rich, and lived with as much luxury as the potentates of the great city. The finances of the church were in a shambles, and the care of the flock was largely unattended. John took all of those issues head on. He ordered that the “spiritual sisters” move out of the priests’ homes, and that the latter lead an austere life. Church finances were placed under a system of detailed scrutiny. The luxury items that adorned the bishop’s palace were sold in order to feed the hungry; and the clergy received orders to open the churches at such times as were convenient not only for the wealthy, but also for those who had to work. Obviously, all these measures gained him both the respect of many and the hatred of others.
But such a reformation could not be limited to the clergy. It was necessary that the laity also be called to lead lives more in accordance with gospel mandates. Therefore, the golden-mouthed preacher thundered from the pulpit:
The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, “How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?” Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers.”
Next time, we will begin looking at “John Chrysostom [CRYS-OZ-TOM], Part 5: Return to the Wilderness.”
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom 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.