Fourth
Century Christians  -  Constantine:  Friend or Foe?

    In the fourth century something happens that changes the course of church history forever.  Christians seem to find a friend in the least likely of quarters. 
  
    Legend has it, that before the decisive battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine had a vision in which a flaming cross appeared in the sky with an inscription over it reading in Latin, "In Hoc Signo Vinces" - In This Sign Conquer! 
    He dedicated the battle to the Christian God (whose sign he believed he was shown) and upon victory became supreme ruler in the Western Roman Empire. 
    Christianity had finally gained favor in high places. 

    In 313 A.D., Constantine issues the Edict of Milan which gives Christians the freedom to worship openly throughout the empire, putting the growing new religion on an equal plane with the popular pagan cults and practices that thrived there.   
    Suddenly, after more than two centuries of persecution unleashed on Christians by various Emperors, all Christians both "true and false", enjoy a new era of tolerance and acceptance throughout the empire. 
    Unfortunately for "True Christians", it doesn't last long. 
    In 321, Emperor Constantine forbids work on "the venerable day of the sun", "Sunday" - changing the biblical day of rest from God's commanded seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. 
    In 323, he defeats the Eastern Emperor to become sole ruler over the reunified Roman Empire. 
    In 324, he makes Christianity the official religion of the here-to-fore pagan Roman Empire. 
    In 325, Constantine himself presides over the council of Nicea at Bithynia.  The council rules that all Christians that continue to memorialize the death of Christ on the 14th day Nisan, (Passover) must now keep the first Sunday after the Vernal Equinox (Easter Sunday) as the commemoration of His resurrection. 
    In 337, Constantine is baptized on his death bed.  Though he had declared Christianity the official religion of Rome 13 years earlier, he himself had not become a Christian. 
 
   So he who first appeared to be the Christian's best friend, in actuality, turned out to be their worst enemy.  Within 13 years, Constantine the first "Christian" Emperor of Rome, managed to undermine almost every precept that had been established by Christ himself.  The Gospel that the Roman Bishops (by now calling themselves "Popes") preached, was no longer recognizable to "True Christians".  Even worse they were now prohibited from practicing their faith by penalty of death. 

    In 365, the council of Laodicea strikes another crushing blow to the true church and bans the keeping of the "Jewish Sabbath", by Christians.  It was now impossible for true believers to honor their commanded Sabbath openly without consequence even though all existing churches except those at Rome and Egypt still venerated the seventh day rest at that time. 

    A dark cloud hangs over the faithful. 

    Many are martyred - 
    Many flee to the far corners of the empire, while others yield to threats and pressure from the majority and turn from their faith to the other "Christianity", which by this time has been erroneously sanctioned as Christ's church by almost the entire world. 
    The church whose Gospel was so early on blended with the Gnostic Mysteries of Simon Magus, Menander and their followers like Basilides of Alexandria and Saturninis, whose own heretical cult became known as 'Saturnillians'; the church that had appropriated the name of Christ but taught the doctrines of men instead of the Commandments of God; the church that was sanctioned and made rich by the Kings of the Earth so that it prospered and grew into the great and powerful false church - 

    The Church, "drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus."   Rev 17:6

 

 
 

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The Great Falling Away by Joseph Santora --- ©1998-2002 True Christian Ministries
 
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