The word quickly spreads--the persecutions are ended!
All over the empire, the Christians come up out of their hiding places. A great wave of joy and excitement spreads. To worship God openly at last! To freely witness the Gospel! And PEB--the great one--has done it! Surely this is Gods' will!
Or is it?
In Heaven there is much concern! The sudden change of the climate in the earth means the church must receive new instructions, new directives, if they are going to continue witnessing. Prosperity can be a dangerous thing. Gods' constant will is that none should perish. Will the church listen to His commands to carry the Gospel in directness and simplicity, or will it loose it's perspective and be fooled by it's possessions. It happened in the past--the Lord is well aware of this!
PEB is the key--he must receive instructions--a warning.
But in the earth, someone else is vying for the same key....
"........you must send for PEB, sire. He would be a great addition to your cabinet, to handle this new situation--he is a good man--he would fit perfectly into your hierarchy of rule."
"Yes, bring PEB to New Utica."
The angelic message comes to a believer......"You must warn PEB not to go to New Utica!"
"I will do your will oh' Lord--even though I don't always understand it."
A great crowd of believers has come to see off PEB. They know that the emperor STIN has requested PEB to be his advisor. Everyone is joyful. They see this as a great opportunity--the leader of the church, a part of the emperor's government!
Certainly it is God's will.....but has anyone truly asked God about this?
One man has--and he speaks.....
"PEB--brother PEB! You must not go to New Utica!"
"Do not go! So says the Lord!"
The prophetic word comes forth--but now, in the crowd, not in the simple, small apostolic group. What if the word of the Lord contradicts the intentions of the masses?
"Shhhh! ---Quiet brother!"
"The Lord is sending PEB to New Utica. If you think this was not Gods' plan, don't you think He would have told PEB? Let's be in unity brother--God is a God of order."
"But doesn't the Bible say that any may prophecy or teach in the gathering of Christians?"
"Oh, I don't think so--"
"I was so sure God wanted me to say that message--I must have been wrong some how..."
So without the guidance of the Word of God, the Way subtly begins to fall.
".....we have received grace and apostleship.... (Romans 1:5)"
"Not much we can do about grace--so let them have it. But apostleship---that is a different matter!"
"We are so glad you are here PEB! We need your help, your advice, your leadership in this time of transition."
"The emperor likes your religion. He has legalized it--but he wants to do--more."
"He wants to bring you, and other great leaders of your movement into his government--as advisors--to bring the Christian influence to this troubled world."
"You shall live in this palace from now on."
"But I am called of God an apostle--one who is sent...."
"No--no--no more of that, my friend. You have new work to do--let me explain..."
"You will be given power--rulership, to bring your Godly influence to the masses, that so very much need your help."
"But I don't know if that is truly the mission or method of the Way. We have always worked together in small groups--the apostleship of the church--to spread the Gospel--to build God's kingdom...."
"But PEB! Times have changed! God has given you favor, opportunity! People need leadership--they are like sheep--doesn't your Bible say "All we like sheep have gone astray"--PEB--the people need shepherds--strong leaders--guides. King David was a shepherd--eh? The emperor has been very influenced by your Bible--he sees himself also as a shepherd--as the Word describes."
"But Jesus is our Leader!"
"Of course he is--but now, the church is part of the empire. Certainly God has appointed rulers, with authority over others within the church.."
"No! we are all brothers and sisters.."
"Oh PEB! That's a sweet little idea for the thing you called the Way--but we have big ideas for the church!"
"What if I say no?"
"It doesn't matter--it is out of your hands--the emperor--the god above all gods, has decided to....."
".........divide the world into pastorates--christian rulerships--in his hierarchy. We will supply all that is necessary. The military is already chasing the pagans out of their temples--that you may have a place to meet."
"There is so much to be done PEB! The people need to be taught--in a slow and controlled manner. We are simply providing a way of you to reach people."
"I don't know if this is God's will."
"Of course it is! Should you miss this chance!?"
"You can't force people to believe. Jesus is a choice..."
"Not any more!" "But they need to hear the message--'how shall they hear, without a preacher'--says the Word!"
"I just don't know--can I consult with others......?"
"No--you are here to stay! In any case, it is no longer your decision. The emperor has spoken--Christianity is now the official religion of the U.W.A. If you will not cooperate, we will find someone else from among the brethren."