What About "The Church Fathers?"
Church History is a definite controversial subject indeed. But Just how important is it for us to know it? There are those that strive to defend their belief system based primarily upon knowing just what the "church" history provides. But is that way accurate? And how can anyone be sure who actually said what or exactly what their beliefs were? Interestingly, I've had some that challenge my belief system because I could not name three people that had the same beliefs as I do, from the 1st century. Yet, all I have is Scripture. To this I do have peace, knowing the Bible's promises to God's children. Especially well liked are verses like John 8:31+32 which tell me: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Notice that Jesus was speaking to those "which believed on him?"
The doubters, however, claim the same thing and are more than willing to back their claims with quotes of church fathers as well as their patented historical answers. But do these answers bother you? They shouldn't. The Bible tells us (in Galatians 1:8-9), "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Not only does the Bible tell us not to listen to those people, but it also gives us a clear warning that there would be those that would attempt to deceive you in the later times, just as there were those trying to do so back then. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" (1 Timothy 4:1) and, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:13)
Of course, the "deceptions" do not come with warning signs pasted upon the outside of the wrapper. And it is truly much harder to discern which interpretation is correct when someone is trying to learn about the Bible. The best suggestion that I can make is to have you learn the Bible for yourself. Study it to see what it says for there are many, many places in which we are promised, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) The New Testament continues with this promise saying, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
To the "rationalization" that your church is nothing because it hasn't been around as long as the mainstream church, we do have Jesus' promise about His church not failing. Perhaps you cannot give a family tree story about how your church started, but if you are saved, you're in His church. The numbers of your church aren't important for two reasons. The Bible tells us (in Matthew 7:13+14) that "... broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat ... and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." And furthermore, just as we saw that Elias was mistaken thinking that "and I am left alone." God on the other hand, had a remnant of 7000 others that Elijah wasn't aware of. Although that is a different dispensation, it does provide an example of how God could be preserving His church from death, even when we don't understand everything that is taking place.
In closing, Gospel Light Ministries simply states that all of the Churches in the Bible were not perfect, but rather they were made up of humans that needed ministering too. Sure they were made up of many believers, but the spiritual battle continued then as it does now, to get it right. Christianity is not built on "Thus saith the Fathers." Christianity is founded on "Thus saith the Lord!" Yet we believe for no reason other than that it is written and taught in the Holy Scriptures, the pure and infallible Word of God. And as Jesus said in John 8:31, "... If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."