Scripture states very clearly how God ordained the foundation and structure of his church according to his will and purpose. For three hundred years from its birth in Jerusalem, the church remained in its original state, continuing as God had commanded, as follows.
Acts Chapter 4.v.32-35. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of those things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common.V.33. And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.V.34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
First. They were of one heart, and one soul. They walked in obedience to the word of God, which says. "Be ye of one mind." Second. They had all things in common, and because of this. Neither was there any among them that lacked. They shared all things with one another. Rich or poor all were equal. Paul himself emphasised this important part of the churches structure many years later in the following scripture.
2: Cor.8.13-15. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened, But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.
There can be absolutely no doubt that this was Gods will and command for his true Church, with both the scriptures, and history bearing it out.
Note in verse 33 of Acts, that there was an anointing of great power among them. And because of the powerful presence of God in their midst their faith was strong. Why? Because they were following God in Spirit and in truth, as the surrounding scriptures state. This was the Church triumphant and although they suffered persecution, the brethren daily experienced the working of the gifts of the spirit, and great power was given them by God to overcome the adversary. These were not people built in some special mould. They were ordinary and often ignorant people full of the knowledge and love of God. I ask, where is the Church that measures up to this today? What happened to change it all?
After three hundred years of a Church walking in the way described in Acts something occurred that was to change it completely. Suddenly, instead of being rejected by the pagan world, it was accepted. This occurred a little under seventeen hundred years ago, in the year 312AD, when the Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the state religion, for which he was lauded as a champion of the faith.
Contrary to the opinions of many. I believe that his motives were suspect for a number of reasons. Firstly. He was not a Christian; therefore he would only seek the things of the flesh, and not the spirit. Secondly. He never discontinued the practice of following the Roman gods, remaining superstitious; he created Sunday as a public holiday in reverence to the sun god. Thirdly and most importantly, being in the flesh a great statesman. He saw this move as being beneficial to the Roman Empire, which was his larger interest, having fought to obtain it. He knew at this point that Rome was disintegrating, and under threat of complete collapse. This then for Emperor Constantine was a strategy to save Rome, and it did indeed extend the life of the Empire.
This marriage of the Church and the state appeared to have benefits to the Church. Financially it gained greatly when it was bought in line with the pagan priests of Rome, and exempted from payment of Tax. In the main Persecution for the Church ceased, and it's power and wealth increased with its acceptance by the pagan society. Sunday was declared a public holiday, reserved as a day of worship. What a turnabout this was for the humble persecuted Church that was, but there was a price to pay for all these benefits.
The Church on accepting this elevation gradually became spiritually barren. Why did this happen? The Church had broken the command of God and become unequally yoked together with unbelievers, which thing God forbids, and so the scriptures state.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."2.Cor:6.14-18.
This blending together of the Church and paganism, which have no part with one another, corrupted the truth that was from the beginning concerning the foundation and building of it. No longer would it be separated from the world, but would move from its heavenly course to an earthly one. In the process it gained worldly wealth, power and acclaim, but at what cost. The Church, taken over by Rome from this point of time became completely out of joint from its original state. It was no longer a free agent in fact it was bought into bondage, its leaders doing the bidding of the Emperor Constantine, who demanded obedience from them even if it interfered with church affairs, they would have to compromise.
Because the Church was now unequally yoked, instead of a body of committed believers it had those who were not even religious in its midst, but being half pagan were self-centered rather than giving, and so in the centuries that followed the true paths to dwell in were obliterated by the continual corruption of the truth. And consequently the foundational directives such as described in Acts. 2 and 4, and 2 Corinthians, are no longer adhered to. The Church lost its spiritual power and witness in exchange for temporal power and privilege.
It started as we have seen on being taken over by the temporal power of Rome, and although many sects have since that time splintered away from it, none left it completely. Why? When it came to relinquishing any temporal power and advantage, such as tax exemption, and going back to the basics of the original Church where the money was distributed to all in the Body who had need, so that there was equality, and not wealth to the organisation, without exception all have held back from performing these things, and for that the Church has and still is paying the price.
That the Church is unequally yoked it is obvious. It needs to get back the spiritual power and faith that it had, and stand once more as a witness to the world. The road to this is to cast off the temporal powers bestowed on it, and give back to Caesar that which is Caesars. To come out of this world, and stop running the Church like a corporate body, and in the process making merchandise of Gods people, just as Jesus prophesied. The true Church has need of none of these things. Just as it spread through the world, and gained strength without all of these props in the beginning, and will do so again, because God is greater than man and never did need any favours from him, and will owe no man anything." Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah.4: 7.
The Lord is returning for his Church without spot or blemish. It is time to awaken from our slumber, and to get out of the world and back to the word, commencing by building the old waste places, raising up the foundations of many generations. Repairing the breach, and restoring the paths to dwell in. (Source: http://www.big.net.au./~leon)