The Lingering Shadows of the Dark Ages
During its two thousand year history, the church has known times of persecution at the hands of the state, as well as times of prosperity under the state’s favor. Those times under the favor of the state have proved to be both a curse and a blessing.
During the Dark Ages, a thousand year period when the state not only sanctioned the church, but was for all practical purposes supplanted by the church, the world was plunged into such religious superstition that the flickering light of the Gospel was almost extinguished upon the earth. Had it not been for the Protestant Reformation, the flickering light of the Gospel under the bushel of Roman Catholicism may have never been fanned back into an illuminating white-hot flame.
Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to most modern-day Christians, the church has never fully escaped the shadows of the Dark Ages. Its shadows still loom somewhat imperceptibility over all of Christendom. Being subtle and little seen, these lasting and looming shadows are quite pervasive and problematic to our present-day churches, even to the point of posing an onerous obstacle to our preparation for end-time persecution. Permit me to explain.
The New Testament blueprint for Christ’s church was for Christians to assemble together in their houses. In addition, the Master’s plan of evangelism was to reach people one by one, as well as one household at a time, with each converted household becoming a house church. The phenomenal growth of the early church, in a world antagonistic to it, can be attributed, in no small part, to its faithful following of the New Testament pattern and the Master’s plan. However, its initial and incredible growth, which not only turned the world upside down, but also resulted in the toppling of the Roman Empire and the conversion of a third of the earth’s population, was thwarted when the Roman Emperor Constantine transplanted the church from Christian homes to church cathedrals. Not long afterward, the church got in bed with the state and the world was plunged into the Dark Ages. Although the Reformation brought the world out of the religious superstitions of Roman Catholicism and back to the sound doctrines of the Scripture, it left the church in cathedrals and failed to return it to the New Testament blueprint.
To prepare for Biblically predicted and unprecedented persecution in these perilous times of the last days, the church in America must go back to the future. We must return to the New Testament blueprint for the church and the Master’s plan of evangelism. We must move the church out of church buildings and back into Christian homes. We must forget about mass evangelism and get back to personal evangelism. Personal ministry, church purity, and Christian perseverance will be paramount in the upcoming days of unparalleled persecution. Gone will be the days of large public worship services, multimillion dollar church edifices, and church growth marketers, with all of their Madison Avenue marketing techniques. To survive in an antichrist world, devoted to its destruction, the church in this country, as well as throughout the world, will be compelled into clandestinity.