Whatever Happened to Christ’s Christianity?

 2Timothy 3:1-5


Aug 31, 2014 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland



I.       Introduction (Galatians 6:10; 2Timothy 3:1-5)


A.    We have been learning this month about the household of faith – the church!


1.      We have learned that Christ loves His church like a groom loves his new bride!

2.      We have learned that believers must love other believers in the same way as Christ loves them


B.     Do you ever wonder what happened to Christ’s Christianity? Are we living up to our design?


1.      I see and meet loads of people who claim to be Christians

2.      I hear of churches, and of prophets and preachers

3.      But I wonder if any of it is what it should be?


C.     According to the Apostle Paul in 2Timothy 3:1-5, God says things will go downhill, not uphill.

D.    All the things listed have always been going on in the world – they are what ungodly men and women do, by nature.

E.     But Paul is warning believers, that people CLAIMING to be believers, will turn out this way!

F.      Let’s learn this morning HOW such a thing happens in Christianity!


II.    Background


A.    Once, There was a “Primitive Church” (Matthew 16:16-18). That is what so many modern theologians refer to it as – priests and Bishops, and even modern pastors and teachers refer to the New Testament Church as “Primitive”.


1.      Started by Jesus Christ


a.       Not started by the apostles, but by the Son of God!

b.      He came as a missionary to a foreign world

c.       Gathered believers together

d.      Taught them

e.       Baptized them

f.       Loved them

g.      Protected them

h.      Gave Himself for each and every one of them

i.        It is CHRIST’S Church – NOT YOURS, or MINE! It is HIS!


2.      Empowered by the Holy Spirit since Pentecost in Acts 2 (Acts 1:8)

3.      Constrained by the Bible Alone (Acts 20:32)


a.       Everything we do, everything we believe, comes out of what we read and learn from this ONE Book of books, the Bible

b.      That is ALL Christians have ever had – a Book


1)      Jesus said, It is written…

2)      Paul said, As the Scripture saith…

3)      Peter said, It is written…

4)      James said, As it is according to the Scriptures…

5)      Luke said, For it is written…

6)      John said, It was written…

7)      That is ALL they kept saying, over and over and over!

8)      Because it was all they, and us, have ever needed (Acts 20:32)!


4.      They were called Christians – Christ’s people – people who lived just like Jesus Christ had lived (Acts 11:26)

5.      This Primitive Church turned the whole world completely upside down in just ONE generation (Acts 17:6) – the whole world was evangelised by 65 AD at the death of the Apostle Paul (Col 1:16; Rom 1:8)! Not everyone got born again, but everyone HEARD how to be born again, and how important it was to get born again!


B.     How did it do it? How did that “Primitive Church”, of poor, ignorant and unlearned people turn the world upside down?


1.      The world already was FULL of religions that were completely pagan and with no interest in the things of the God of the Bible

2.      It was racked with constant wars and rumours of wars

3.      Famines raged across continents

4.      Plagues and diseases devoured entire populations of nations

5.      Slavery gripped the lives of almost every poor man, woman and child

6.      And yet, into THIS very world, this small band of Bible believers gladly marched!

7.      And everywhere they went, the culture was affected, and changed, and given LIGHT and truth and something to live for and something to even die for!


C.    Oh, They had their Marching Orders (Matthew 28:19,20)


1.      GO!


a.       Not stay and hang around and enjoy the blessings of God, but GO into a lost and hell-bound world that was without God and without hope!

b.      No matter how far away, or how harsh was the culture!

c.       Go! Find people, to the very edge of the world – which there isn’t, so Christians just keep going!


2.      WIN souls!


a.       Don’t make money off of them

b.      Don’t bring them into religious bondage

c.       Don’t make them better humans

d.      Don’t seek to please them or make them happy

e.       Wrestle with them about their sin, and their trouble that they are in with the God who made them!

f.       And convince them to repent of their sinful lifestyles, and believe on Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and eternal life!


3.      Disciple Them


a.       Teach them how to follow the Lord

b.      Not the latest trends, or the most popular causes

c.       Teach them how to read their Bible, and pray and get answers to pray, and how to cast all their cares upon the Saviour, day after day, and hour after hour

d.      Teach them how to live godly and pure in an ungodly and dark world


4.      Baptize Them


a.       Get baptized, not as a baby – never any babies baptized in the Bible – ever!

b.      Get them publically immersed in water!

c.       Get them to stand up and stand out from the world

d.      NOT TO get saved and clean from their sin, but get baptized BECAUSE they have been saved and washed from their sins already!

e.       Publically testifying that they belong now to a NEW Master, and will live as HE lived, and if need be, die as HE died!


5.      And then Organise them into local assembled bodies of believers called CHURCHES – not fellowships, kingdom halls, assemblies, temples, centres, tabernacles, ministries, etc! But CHURCHES!

6.      THOSE are OUR marching orders too! They have NEVER changed! No need to add Catechism, Confirmation, Confession, Crusades… just Go, Win, Teach, Baptize and Organise!


D.    What Price Did the “Primitive Church” Pay?


1.      Intense Persecution


a.       Mat 24:9,10  Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

b.      Joh 15:18,19  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

c.       And so began the persecution of that Primitive Church


1)      Nero (64 A.D.)

2)      Domitian (c.90-96)

3)      Trajan (98-117)

4)      Hadrian (117-138)

5)      Marcus Aurelius (161-181)

6)      Septimus Severus (202-211)

7)      Maximus the Thracian (235-251)

8)      Decius (249-251)

9)      Valerian (257-260)

10)  Diocletian / Galerius (303-311)


d.      50 million simple followers of Jesus Christ were stoned, tortured, crucified, hacked in two, beheaded, buried alive, thrown to wolves, fed to the lions, forced out of their homes, and murdered in the first 1000 years of Christianity!

e.       The History of the Baptists, by Thomas Armitage, The Christians never revolted; they obeyed all other laws, they paid for the support of government, and proved their political allegiance at every point; while the laws on religion were enforced against them by special imperial acts and under military power. Yet the Roman authorities suspected their love-feasts of being secret unions for political mischief, and they were criminalised for having an ‘illegal superstition,’ Wherever a handful of Christians met for worship, brother after brother was taken from his home to death, and the few who escaped always drew a little nearer to each other, not knowing who would ascend in the fiery chariot before the little Church should meet again. They were burned with hot irons, tossed into nets with wild bulls, thrown to ravenous beasts in the arena, and their bones were denied burial. Delicate and weak women passed through tortures unheard of, yet without complaint. A public iron chair was invented, made red hot with a burning fire beneath, and the martyrs were fastened in it for the delight of the crowds in every amphitheater.

f.       I encourage all of you to purchase the little booklet THE TRAIL OF BLOOD on the back table TODAY as you leave, putting the 2 euros in the green offering box, and then read it this afternoon! It will be an introduction to just what New testament Christianity has cost us to be here today!


2.      Battles from without AND within (Acts 20:29)


a.       False teachers

b.      False believers

c.       False prophets

d.      False visions and miracles

e.       Constantly attacking and devouring the sheep

f.       Not to mention constant battles with our own carnality amongst both the people and the leadership

g.      Pastors today are facing a constant barrage of stupid theology in YouTube Videos, and Internet Blogs – stirring up strifes and arguments – so many battles going on – no wonder we can’t reach our generation!


3.      Long periods of darkness and disasters


a.       Ours is NOT a series of success and victories in the eyes of the world

b.      No, we look pretty pitiful at times

c.       But ours is a red line, drawn throughout history, through the streets of Jerusalem at first, then then up into the Coliseum in Rome, and then throughout the whole world through the Dark Ages


4.      Resisting Constant Pressure to Compromise


a.       Life would have been so much easier if the Christians just went along with everyone else – bowed and worshipped Caesar, offered up some incense to the sun god, etc

b.      If they would have just gave up their Bibles, and their preaching, and evangelism, and just kept their religion to themselves!


5.      Some great times of revival and reformation


a.       Bright spots in history when simple Bible believers lived and died for the Biblical principles that form all the freedoms we enjoy today

b.      Freedom of conscience – to believe what you want to believe without fear

c.       Freedom of religion

d.      Freedom from abuse by the government

e.       Promotion of education and learning by ALL people and all ages – not just the wealthy and elite

f.       The RIGHT to read and know the words of Scripture in every language

g.      The empowerment of just ONE person’s vote – the power to hold our government accountable to OUR morality, not its own!

h.      Folks, you owe ALL of those to Bible believing BAPTISTS and Anabaptists, and Waldensians, and Paulicians who lived and DIED so that we could enjoy such freedoms and powers!


E.     This “Primitive Church” that Christ started, well, is THE only PATTERN to follow!

F.     Yet, if we compared modern churches today, with the Church that Jesus Christ designed and started, what would you notice?

G.    Are WE even slightly the same as the very pattern by which we are to judge ourselves?


III. Message – So, What HAS Happened to the Church that Jesus Started?


A.    It has Cooled Off (Rev 3:14-16)


1.      Used to be hot, passionate, energetic about what we believe and what WE do (Acts 8:1-4). Nothing stopped Christians from speaking up and preaching, and persuading, and compelling people to repent

2.      Now modern “christians” are more excited about what the WORLD is doing than what GOD is doing


a.       Consumed with sports, entertainment, education, making money

b.      An earthquake couldn’t get most christians out soul-winning on a Saturday afternoon

c.       Do you realise that first century Christians gathered together Sunday mornings AND Sunday evenings?

d.      Yet it would take a miracle to get most christians back out to church on a Sunday night or a Wednesday evening for prayer meeting!


3.      Christ’s kind of Christians have always cared about each other – cared for each other – loved each other more than life itself

4.      People now are indifferent to souls headed for a devil’s hell


a.       People don't care that their cities and nations are back to the days of Lot and Noah, and Sodom, just before God’s righteous judgment fell on each!

b.      Supposed Christian people, don’t care about how they live, what they do, how much sin they get involved in


5.      Christianity has definitely cooled off from the way it was at its start!


B.     It has Left its First Love (Rev 2:1-4)


1.      It has left its love of God (Mark 12:30)

2.      Its passion to spend TIME with the God who loved them and gave Himself for them.


a.       How many of YOU have actually spent as much time reading through your Bible as you have reading through your FACEBOOK???

b.      How many of you have spent as much time PRAYING for the very people you have talked about behind their back all week?

c.       How many of you have actually told the Lord Jesus that you love Him, and can’t wait to see Him one day when you come home to heaven?

d.      Huh? ANY OF YOU?


3.      Like an adulteress, Christians have replaced their FIRST love, with loves for:


a.       Sports – absolute fanatical passion for their team

b.      Music – how much money have you spent on your “collection”?

c.       Themselves – how much time and money do you spend on YOURSELF?

d.      Money

e.       Career

f.       Pets ???   Hobbies ???


C.     It has Turned Away from Absolute Truths – BIBLE Doctrine (2Tim 4:1-4)


1.      Christianity is in a time of falling away (1Tim 4:1-3)

2.      The general attitude today amongst Christians is not more and more like the Bible commands us (Heb 10:25)

3.      But rather less and less commitment


a.       What do people who name the name of Christ do when they are together in this modern age?

b.      Oh we have more and more nit-picking, a constant attack at every tiniest flaw that someone may see in others – never committing themselves because they always find a fault


4.      Christianity today is filled with a bunch of people who basically do almost NOTHING except complain about:


a.       Archaic language in their Bible that they want updated

b.      Old style hymns and songs that are not popular and very “effective” in today’s world

c.       Long winded preachers who yell at them and rebuke them for living wickedly instead of preaching positive and uplifting things

d.      All the hypocrites in a church – constantly nit-picking!


5.      Does any of that describe YOU? I hope not!


D.    It has Neglected Salvation (Heb 2:3)


1.      Instead, it has promoted Success, and Personal Happiness, and Prosperity, and Positive Thinking…

2.      And NEGLECTED to tell people they are depraved, and wicked, and sinful, and selfish, and ungodly, and already condemned by a holy God!

3.      I met a young man yesterday out door to door soul-winning (you should try it, it is great fun). He was college age, and was standing in his front garden with a few other college students, and I walked up to the front guy and asked if any of them lived there, and he answered they all did. I went on and handed him the Gospel tract that I had in his hand and introduced myself as a born again Christian and that I wanted them to read the tract and tell me where they believed they were going when they died. The young man said, I am gay. So that makes me headed for hell huh? Well, I instantly replied, Nope! You were headed for hell long before you became “gay”! To which he turned away from us, and we left!

4.      Folks, modern Christianity is wrongfully wrapped up in… (addicted to)


a.       Worrying about Ecological problems in the world – the diminishing whales, climate change, global warming, rising oceans, shrinking ice caps

b.      Economic imbalances between the rich and the poor

c.       Political instabilities in Africa

d.      Ecumenical merging with every kind of mongrel denomination, no matter what they believe in

e.       NONE of that holds a match to the reality of the fires of hell, and the need of all mankind to know God and believe on His Son!


5.      Churches are worried about everything EXCEPT the sinful and lost and damned condition of the world! Christians have neglected preaching the greatest news ever!


E.     It is about to disappear – the Rapture of what is left! (1Thes 4:15-17; 2Thes 2:1-4)


1.      We are pretty near the end! How do I know?


a.       Chip Implants – not forced on people, but now being demanded by people for their own supposed protection and safety!


1)      Rev 13:15  And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

2)      Rev 13:16  And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

3)      Rev 13:17  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

4)      Rev 13:18  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.


b.      One world government is on its way – new world order

c.       One world religion – being battled out between Muslims and Catholics right now. I will give you only one guess which one will survive!

d.      One world currency – not the dollar, not the euro – but a cashless society, with all transactions done electronically!


2.      And just before all hell breaks loose, and that man of sin appears, we will be gathered up to the clouds in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye


IV. Conclusion


A.    Do you ever wonder what happened to Christ’s Christianity? Are we living up to our design?

B.     Once, There was a “Primitive Church”


1.      It was Started by Jesus Christ. It is CHRIST’S Church – not yours, or mine! It is HIS!

2.      Empowered by the Holy Spirit since Pentecost in Acts 2

3.      Constrained by the Bible Alone

4.      Full of people called Christians – Don’t ever be ashamed of that title!

5.      This Primitive Church turned the whole world completely upside down in just ONE generation

6.      Where did it go?

7.      Are we determined to reach OUR world in OUR generation?


C.    If we compared modern churches today, with the Church that Jesus Christ designed and started, what would you notice? Are WE even slightly the same?

D.    Only as long as we Obey the Same Marching Orders


1.      GO!

2.      WIN souls!

3.      Disciple Them

4.      Baptize Them

5.      And then Organise them into local assembled bodies of believers called CHURCHES – not fellowships, kingdom halls, assemblies, temples, centres, tabernacles, ministries, etc! But CHURCHES!


E.     Are WE willing to pay the Price that the “Primitive Church” Paid?


1.      Intense Persecution

2.      Battles from without AND within – are you always going to be a wimp and always crumble under temptations and pressures, or are you going to battle with your own carnality, and battle against false teachings on YouTubes and Internet blogs!

3.      Long periods of darkness and disasters. Does it disappoint you when things don’t go your way? Do you think a defeat proves there is no God? You had better settle the reality and power of God BEFORE you face failures and defeat because He often wills His people to go through much trouble here before being greatly rewarded in heaven!

4.      Resisting Constant Pressure to Compromise

5.      Thankfully there will be Some great times of revival and reformation! Bright spots when loads of people get saved and live for God. Bright spots when backslidden believers get right with God and back on fire! Those times may be rare, but they still happen!


F.     But we need to do an inventory on the body of Christ


1.      Has it (us) Cooled Off?

2.      Has it Left its First Love?

3.      Has it Turned Away its ears from Absolute Truths – BIBLE Doctrine?

4.      Has it Neglected so GREAT Salvation?


G.    Believers are about to disappear – are any of us ready?


1.      Ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ – not Peter, not Mary, not Gabriel the arch-angel!

2.      Ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and receive the rewards for living all out for Him, and lose out on rewards for living only for self!

3.      Ready to cope with the sorrow and tears of an eternity in heaven without some of your family members, and to live with the memories of how little we lived for our Saviour!

4.      Are you ready for that? I’m not!


V.    Invitation (Hebrews 10:24,25)


A.    To get saved from the wrath to come

B.     To get serious about living like Christ showed us how to live


1.      And let us consider one another – think about other believers this morning, instead of only about yourself all the time!

2.      To provoke one another unto love and to good works – to motivate each other for good

3.      Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together – make this group of believers your priority

4.      but exhorting one another - encouraging

5.      and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching – we all need to be MORE and MORE passionate as we grow, and not less and less, because the DAY of the Lord is drawing very near!


C.     We owe it to Christ to live HIS way, and we owe it to this world, to live so that they may see what Christians are capable of doing, if only we would!