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When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our Scripture verse today is 1 John 4:16 which reads: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Our quote today is from John Chrysostom. He said: “A comprehended God is no God.”
Today, we are looking at “The Teachers of the Church” (Part 10) from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
Origen of Alexandria (Part 1)
Clement’s greatest disciple, and the last of the four Christian teachers to be considered in this series, was Origen. In contrast with Clement, Origen was the son of Christian parents. His father suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Septimius Severus – the same persecution that forced Clement to leave the city. Origen, who was still a young lad, wished to offer himself for martyrdom. But his mother hid his clothes and he was forced to remain at home, where he wrote a treatise on martyrdom addressed to his imprisoned father.
Shortly thereafter, when Origen was still in his late teens, the bishop of Alexandria, Demetrius, entrusted him with the task of training catechumens – that is, candidates for baptism. This was a very serious responsibility, and young Origen, whose genius was exceptional, soon became famous. After teaching catechumens for a number of years, he left that task to some of his best disciples, and devoted himself entirely to running a school of Christian philosophy that was very similar to those founded by the great classical philosophers. There he lectured, not only to Christians who came from afar to listen to him, but also to enlightened pagans drawn by his fame, such as the mother of the emperor and the governor of Arabia.
For a number of reasons, including jealousy, conflict arose between Demetrius and Origen. The final result was that the latter had to leave his native city and settle at Caesarea, where he continued writing and teaching for another twenty years.
Finally, during the persecution of Decius, Origen had the opportunity to show the strength of his faith. Given the nature of that persecution, Origen was not put to death, but was tortured to such a point that he died shortly after having been released. He died in Tyre, when he was about seventy years old.
Origen’s literary output was enormous. Since he was aware of the manner in which diverse versions of scripture differed, he compiled the Hexapla. This was an edition of the Old Testament in six columns: The Hebrew text, a Greek transliteration from the Hebrew – so that a reader who did not know that ancient language could at least have some idea of its pronunciation – and four different Greek translations. To this was added an entire system of symbols indicating variants, omissions, and additions. Besides this great scholarly work, Origen wrote commentaries on many books of the Bible, the already cited apology Against Celsius, and a great systematic theology called De principiis – (“On First Principles”). Part of this great literary production was achieved through dictation, and it is even said that at time he would simultaneously dictate seven different works to as many secretaries.
Next time, we will continue looking at The Teachers of the Church: Origen of Alexandria.
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Who this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.