“Based on these scriptural passages, we believe that the New Testament church, as defined by the apostles’ doctrine and experience, has existed in every age since the Day of Pentecost. In this chapter we will examine the historical record to see what evidence exists to support this conclusion.”
By Word Aflame Publications
God’s truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100:5). God has always had a people; even in times of great apostasy, He has had a remnant who believed and obeyed Him.
In Romans 11, the apostle Paul derived an important principle from the story of Elijah the principle of preservation. That is, God always has a remnant. Even when His people as a whole reject Him, some still serve Him according to the truth.
When Jesus Christ told the apostles of His plan to establish the New Testament church, He assured them that the gates of hell would not stand against that church (Matthew 16:18). This statement indicates that the Lord will always have disciples who are victorious over the forces of evil and that Satan will never be able to wipe the church out of existence. In other words, Jesus gave His church the promise of preservation.
In Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord sent letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. They were actual churches in the first century, but their circumstances and conditions are relevant in every age, including today. Jesus praised two of them, rebuked one, and both praised and rebuked the other four. Significantly, in each letter He promised a reward to the over-comer, indicating that in every case some people would be victorious over sin. Regarding one of the weakest churches, He stated, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments” (Revelation 3:4).
Based on these scriptural passages, we believe that the New Testament church, as defined by the apostles’ doctrine and experience, has existed in every age since the Day of Pentecost. In this chapter we will examine the historical record to see what evidence exists to support this conclusion.
The Record of Preservation
At the outset of our survey, we must note several difficulties in attempting such a study of history.
Adequate records are not always available. Religious leaders often destroyed writings they judged unorthodox and suppressed views they considered false, dangerous, or unimportant. Other historical information may have been lost or overlooked by historians. Even today, it is often difficult to find information about Oneness Pentecostalism in libraries, despite the size of this movement and the lack of suppression of publications in the western world.
Records that do exist are often slanted in favor of majority doctrinal views. This occurs either intentionally or unintentionally, for history is written by the victors.
Many ancient writings contain changes or additions made by copyists over the centuries. This happened often for doctrinal reasons.