CONTINUITY
From His Newborn Primitive Church, to His Mature Church of Today.



Jesus Christ founded a Church.

1. Did it all come to an end shortly after the last Apostle died? Some non-Catholics say it did.
2. Was the Church which Jesus Christ founded left to flounder as a
ship caught in a tempest, and with no one at the helm?
3. Is there no continuity between the primitive Church which Jesus Christ founded and His Church of today?
4. Is that the way that Jesus Christ left His Church?

Well if you are the least bit Bible savvy, the one answer to all of the above questions is a resounding
NO!

Holy Scripture clearly shows CONTINUITY of the ONE Church that Jesus Christ founded, right from the day He founded it until this present day, and even into the future until the end of time. I will show you the proof and I will do it from Holy Scripture first.



CONTINUITY of the Church which Jesus Christ founded as shown in the New Testament:

Try this verse first:

Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth."

Now what did that verse tell you that is not readily apparent? There are many verses in Holy Scripture similar to that one in that they may have additional
common sense clues that are helpful in our understanding of the message that they convey to us. 
It is in the last part where Jesus commissioned His Apostles to be witnesses for Him in Jerusalem (local), Judea and Samaria (spreading out) and even to the uttermost part of the world (world wide). The Apostles can easily satisfy the first three locations in their lifetimes, but what about "to the uttermost part of the earth"? How will the Apostles accomplish that in one lifetime? The answer is, they cannot. There you can clearly see CONTINUITY. The Apostles will not live long enough to spread the word to the whole world, so they will have to pass to someone else the commission that Jesus bestowed upon them. The message of continuity of the Church which Jesus Christ founded was not readily apparent overtly, but it was however, there covertly.
Acts 1:8 has set the stage for
Apostolic Succession, CONTINUITY of His Church without even overtly mentioning it, but covertly it did, and it did it quite well.


Here is another example of CONTINUITY. See if you can find the hidden meaning within these verses?

Matthew 28:19-20, "
Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

Did you find two interesting messages within those verses?
Again, like Acts 1:8, Jesus commissioned His Apostles to 'teach all nations'. Obviously it is an impossibility yet again for those twelve men to teach all nations in their mere human lifetimes. That statement clearly shows
Apostolic Succession, showing CONTINUITY of His Church without even mentioning it.
Now study the last sentence of those verses and what do you see?
"
And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."
Didn't Jesus promise to be with His Church every day in every century until the end of time in Matthew 28:20?
That statement clearly shows
Apostolic Succession, CONTINUITY of His Church until the end of time.

That same Church which Jesus Christ founded is still with us to this very day. It was His promise.



Saint Paul joined the chorus in his teaching of the CONTINUITY of the Church which Jesus Christ founded:

Ephesians 3:21, "To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, unto all generations, world without end. Amen."
That verse clearly and overtly declared perpetual CONTINUITY of His Church.


Here is another set of verses regarding CONTINUITY:

Hebrews 5:12-14, "For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat. (13) For every one that is a partaker of milk is unskillful in the word of justice: for he is a little child. (14) But strong meat is for the perfect: for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil."

There are some interesting conclusions that we should be able to draw from those verses.
First of all, there is a correlation to the beginning and then to the maturing of life, and that is a little child = milk, adults = strong meat. Now equate that to the primitive Church just at the beginning of life as a little child, and the more mature Church years later. The primitive Church in the time of St. Paul would be overwhelmed by the knowledge of GOD that His mature Church has received for the past almost 2000 years.
How can a little child progress into adulthood without CONTINUITY?
In the same context, how can a primitive Church become a mature Church without CONTINUITY?

John 16:12-13, "
I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (13) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
Do you see an echo in those verses to Hebrews 5:12-14 above?
"You have need of milk and not of strong meat" fits very nicely with "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now
."
And another 
"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come
."
Many words in that verse clearly show future tense, such as when the Spirit comes, and He will guide you. Then the last sentence overtly declares things that are to come. From these verses we have learned that over time, His Church will grow in wisdom. It will mature.

Those verses clearly show CONTINUITY of His Church.


Here is another set of verses proclaiming the CONTINUITY of His Church:

John 14:16-18, "
I will ask the Father to give you another Helper, to be with you always. (17) He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, for he abides with you and will be in you. (18) I am not going to forsake you like orphans. I will come back to you."
Those three short verses are loaded with CONTINUITY of His Church.
'The Spirit of Truth will be with you always'. The word always is CONTINUITY. 'He abides with you and will be in you,' more CONTINUITY. 'I will not leave you as orphans', is still more CONTINUITY of the Church which Jesus Christ founded.

With all of the Biblical proofs for the CONTINUITY of the Church which Jesus Christ founded that I have shown in this text, why then do some 
Sola Scriptura (Bible only) believers reject them all and insist that there is no CONTINUITY between the primitive Church and His Church of today?




Old Testament Prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament:

2Samuel 7:12-13,  "And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of the bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build a house to my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom fore ever."

Isaiah 9:6-7, "For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. (7) His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

Isaiah 41:10-12, "Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God: I have strengthened thee, and have helped thee, and the right hand of my just one hath upheld thee. (11) Behold all that fight against thee shall be confounded and ashamed, they shall be as nothing, and the men shall perish that strive against thee. (12) Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find the men that resist thee: they shall be as nothing: and as a thing consumed the men that war against thee."

Isaiah 59:21,  "This is my covenant with them, saith the Lord: My spirit that is in thee, and my words that I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever."

Daniel 2:44, "But in the days of those kingdoms, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, and his kingdom shall not be delivered up to another people: and it shall break in pieces, and shall consume all these kingdoms: and itself shall stand for ever."

Daniel 6:26,  "It is decreed by me, that in all my empire and my kingdom, all men dread and fear the God of Daniel. For he is the living and eternal God for ever: and his kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his power shall be for ever."

Daniel 7:13-14, "I beheld, therefore, in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the ancient of days: and they presented him before him. (14) And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed."

Those verses clearly predict CONTINUITY of His Church.

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old.
The Old Testament is revealed in the New.


Want more proofs of the CONTINUITY of the Church which Jesus Christ founded?
OK!

Here are some genuine historical quotes from early Church writers, many of whom are called Church Fathers.
For the sake of brevity, I have left out some of the quotes but I have given you the source, so you can find them for yourself.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrneans, 106 A.D.,
 8:1-2, "You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the presbytery as you would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as you would God's commandment. Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop. Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not permitted without authorization from the bishop either to baptize or to hold an agape; but whatever he approves is also pleasing to God. Thus everything you do will be proof against danger and valid."
That is CONTINUITY... In 106 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp 16:2, 155 A.D.

Saint Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis,  202 A.D.,
7,17,107,3, "We say, therefore, that in substance, in concept, in origin and in eminence, the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, gathering as it does into the unity of the one faith which results from the familiar covenants..."
Hmmm, that was written in 202 A.D.. It could have been written today, for the Catholic Church is alone, and it is gathering as it does into the unity of the one faith which results from the familiar covenants.
That is CONTINUITY... In 202 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4-6, 251 A.D.

Cyprian, Letter to Florentius 66,69,8, 254 A.D.
 
Lactantius, Divine Institutions 4,30,1, 304 A.D.

Alexander of Alexandria, Letters 12, 324 A.D.

Athanasius, Letter on Council of Nicea 27, 350 A.D.,

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 350 A.D.,
18,23, "The Church is called Catholic, then, because it extends over the whole world, from end to end of the earth; and because it teaches universally and infallibly each and every doctrine which must come to the knowledge of men..."
That is CONTINUITY... In 350 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

Serapion, The Sacramentary 13,1, 350 A.D.

Saint Athanasius, Letter to Serapion,  359 A.D.,
1,28 ,"But what is also to the point, let us note that the very tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian."
That is CONTINUITY... In 359 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

Athanasius, Letter to Council of Rimini 5, 361 A.D.

Pacian of Barcelona, Letter to Sympronian, 375 A.D.,
1,4, "Christian is my name, and Catholic my surname. The one designates me, while the other makes me specific. This am I attested and set apart... When we are called Catholics it is by this appellation that our people are kept apart from any heretical name."
That is CONTINUITY... In 375 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3, 382 A.D.

Augustine, The True Religion, 390 A.D.,
7,12,  "We must hold to the Christian religion and to communication in her Church, which is Catholic, and which is called Catholic not only by her own members, but even by all her enemies." 
That is CONTINUITY... In 390 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

 Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 6,14, 395 A.D. 

Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani, 397 A.D.,
4,5, "In the Catholic Church,  not to speak of that  purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, in such a way that, in its least part only, for they are but men, they know it without any doubting, while the rest of the multitude finds its greatest safety not in lively understanding but in the simplicity of believing,  not to speak, I say, of that wisdom which you do not believe is present in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which, most properly, can keep me in her bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the Apostle Peter, to whom Our Lord, after His resurrection, gave the charge of feeding His sheep, up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And at last, the very name of Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called Catholic, when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house." 
 That is CONTINUITY... In 397 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church. And from the quote above, what does this mean for you,  'the succession of priests, from the very See of the Apostle Peter, to whom Our Lord, after His resurrection, gave the charge of feeding His sheep up to the present episcopate'?
It is nothing less than
Apostolic Succession, as I have shown in the Bible verses previously.
How many times in that one paragraph did Saint Augustine mention the word Catholic or Catholic Church?
Did you know that in all of his many writings, Saint Augustine mentioned the Catholic Church by name over 300 times?
Some non-Catholic sects quote from St Augustine. I wonder if they ever quote from him when he mentioned the Catholic Church by name?

Augustine, Christian Instruction 2,8,12, 397 A.D.

Augustine, Baptism 4,21,28, 400 A.D.

Augustine, Letter to Vincent the Rogatist, 408 A.D.,
93,7,23, "You seem to be saying something perceptive when you derive the name Catholic not from the communion of the whole world but from the observance of all the divine precepts and of all the Sacraments, as if we relied on the meaning of the name and not on the promises of GOD and on so many and such clear pronouncements of truth itself to prove that the Church is found among all nations. Yet it is a fact that the Church is called Catholic because it truly embraces the whole of that truth, some particles of which may be found even in various heresies."
 That is CONTINUITY... In 408 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

 Innocent I, Letter to Probus 36, 417 A.D.

Augustine, Psalms 88,2,14, 90,2,1, 418 A.D.

Augustine, Against the Pelagians 2,3,5, 420 A.D.

Augustine, Letter to Vitalis 217,5,16, 427A.D.

Augustine, Sermons 2, 267,4, 430 A.D.

Fulgence of Ruspe, Forgiveness of Sins, 512 A.D.
1,23,2, "Let them abandon heresy and return quickly to the Catholic Church.  Let them neither doubt the possession of their inheritance nor despair of the forgiveness of their sins. For anyone who does not believe that within the Catholic Church all sins can be loosed deprives himself of the forgiveness of sins if, persevering in the same hardness of an impenitent heart, he departs from this world alienated from the Church's society." 
That is CONTINUITY... In 512 A.D. there is the primitive Church, now called the Catholic Church.

I have shown CONTINUITY from the primitive Church which Jesus Christ founded to His Catholic Church of today through five early centuries of genuine historical writings from several sources. If need be I could show genuine writings that would take us from the century where I left off in this writing, right up to the present day.
Now it is up to the naysayers to prove their false charges that there is no CONTINUITY between the primitive Church which Jesus Christ founded and His Catholic Church today.



 

Written by Bob Stanley, July 14, 2008



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