Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Great Apostasy

After Christ's ascension into heaven, the Apostles were left to establish and maintain the Church.  They had been given authority and power by Christ to teach and baptize everyone who would believe.  They went forth and met with the saints and established congregations of saints throughout the known world.

But there were soon problems and divisions.  False doctrines were taught and spread.  The Apostles did their best to keep the doctrine pure and unified, but eventually the people rejected the Apostles as they had rejected Christ.  Those who believed and followed the Apostles were persecuted and many killed.  The Apostles themselves were killed or exiled.  The widespread wickedness and the rejection of these ordained servants of God led to the withdrawal of God's priesthood authority.  There was no longer the authority or power to baptize or to preside over the church.

There were still honorable people who searched for truth, but because of wickedness, pride and corruption, the fullness of Christ's Gospel was lost.  Honest seekers of truth did the best they could to follow the truth that they could find.  Uninspired men made unauthorized changes to the scriptures and the ordinances of the church.  Conspiring men purposefully mislead people, often to their own profit and gain.  Many churches were established, but none had the authority of God or the fullness of His truth.

The scriptures foretold that these things would occur.  Amos 8:11-12 speaks of this loss of truth as a famine.  It tells that men will seek truth but not be able to find it.  Christ's Apostles foretold this falling away.  Paul wrote to Timothy of a time when men "will not endure sound doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:3-4; see also 1 Timothy 4:1-3, Acts 20:28-30)

The Apostles also knew that a time would come when the Gospel would be restored.  Peter spoke of "times of refreshing" and "the times of restitution of all things." (Acts 3:19-21)  God loves all His children, so when the time had come that men would again listen to His prophets He would establish His church.