A brief word at the beginning of each post will help keep the purpose of these posts in mind as this blog goes forward. If you haven’t read the introductory post, I suggest that you take the time to do it before reading on. I am keeping the posts short so that they can be quickly read and digested. It is my hope that you will reflect on these articles and put them to the test. When you encounter something that seems contrary to everything you have been taught or know to be true…remember the assignment….smile…be a Berean. This is the most important thing to do; test it and see if what I am saying is true by scripture in context.
In the last post we looked at sola scriptura as it relates to the apostolic doctrine and apostolic succession. Paul made it clear that there was a specific teaching that the apostle’s had that was passed on orally 2Thess 2:15. In Acts 2:42 it says that “they continued in the apostles teaching.” This demonstrates that there was a specific apostolic teaching and that it was an oral tradition that was passed on.
Finally, along this line it is necessary to look carefully at 2Thess 2:11. What was the strong delusion that was prophesied by Paul? In subsequent posts, later on in the blog we will deal with the imminence in the New Testament writings. It is very clear in context that Paul was not postponing the strong delusion passage out two thousand years later. He told the Thessalonians that it would happen in their time 2Thess 1:6-10. He said that God would afflict those who afflicted the Thessalonians and he meant at that time.
There is more evidence toward a first century falling away and strong delusion. Paul’s comments in Acts 20 are a prophecy of the falling away.
Act 20:26-31 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. (27) For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (28) Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (29) For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (31) Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
The wolves were on the way in Paul’s day. This prophecy was directly to the elders and overseers of the Church at Ephesus. If, the falling away and the strong delusion came in the first century and, of course I think it did and, (I will spend future blog posts proving it)…but for right now I will still use …if...it came in the first century then, this circumstance would go a long way toward explaining why the church was so deeply in error by the time of the reformation.
It comes down to the question of whether or not there should have been apostolic succession or not. Protestant theologians of course answer that it is not necessary however, I believe that the New Testament evidence is that the apostles taught a specific doctrine that demanded apostolic succession. It is more likely that the apostles had given a teaching to be passed on and, early on, they fell away from the teaching.
I believe that the original apostles doctrine was the pure, simple gospel of peace and grace. I think that the early church fathers incorporated the leaven of the Pharisees for the sake of control. These individuals wanted people following them and, did not care what the Spirit was doing. Also, it is obvious that the Spirit had a remnant of believers that believed enough of the pure gospel to keep it alive throughout the centuries. That gospel is preserved in the reading and interpretation of the scripture that Jesus taught his followers. To be certain that we keep it in the forefront; it was a solely redemptive view of scripture.