Christian Church HistoryQUESTION: Christian church history - What are the basics?ANSWER:
Christian church history begins in the Bible book of Acts. Verifiably, it provides an accurate historical record of the early church. Luke is credited with being the author of this book and perhaps no other book in the Bible provides so many tests bearing out the legitimacy of the epistles. The book is named The Acts of the Apostles
since it covers the disciples' dispersion to preach the Gospel of Jesus and the establishment of the first Christian church in Antioch and beyond.
Luke writes about the rise and growth of the church at Jerusalem after Christ's Ascension, theological lessons, Peter's sermon (chapter 2), and living examples of the work of the Holy Spirit beginning with the day of Pentecost (also in chapter 2). This evangelism, inspired by the Spirit, spread from Jerusalem to Rome and throughout the Roman Empire.
The earliest missionaries in Christian church history included Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon, Mathias (who replaced Judas) Barnabas, and Mark. These men were newly filled with the Holy Spirit and there was a new sense of commitment carried out with boldness. Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas, and others were soon added. All but John were brutally persecuted and faced torturous deaths for spreading the message of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But it was perhaps Paul that was most instrumental in evangelizing and establishing the early Christian churches.
Through the centuries, God sent disciples, apostles and missionaries to spread the gospel and establish new churches where they had never heard of Jesus before. Without the anointed efforts over the centuries of people such as Patrick, John Wyclif, Martin Luther, and Billy Graham, the magnitudes would not have been brought into the knowledge of Christ.
Countless Christians throughout history have been persecuted and died as martyrs for standing on their faith in Christ and telling His story. Included are names like Steven, Ignatius, Polycarp, Joan of Arc and thousands of others. Christian persecutions still exist today in countries such as China, Zaire, and Sudan. Yet Christianity thrives because of the unwavering faith of God's servants and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ did not come to earth to start a religion, but to provide the way for a personal relationship with God. He came to atone for the sins of mankind (John 3:16-17) and to teach His disciples to go out into the world to share this message of salvation (Matthew 28:18-20). Through the obedience of the disciples' teaching through Judea to the Samaritans and then to the Gentiles, the good news of Jesus rapidly spread to Jews and Gentiles alike. It continues to all peoples throughout the world today because it is an unchanging truth.