Jule Miller's once popular evangelistic film strip series taught that "men do not remain faithful very long to God's revealed truth." A cursory examination of history confirms this.

Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate fellowship with God in the Garden. Scripture tells us that God walked with them in the Garden. God prohibited only one item: the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Temptation entered and their lusts enticed them away (James 1:13). Horrible consequences followed. Generations later, Cod called Abraham with promises. He based these promises on covenant established with the sign of circumcision. Even later, God delivered the people descended from Abraharn from Egyptian slavery. The deliverer, Moses, also served as God's instrument for revealing the Law (National, Ceremonial, and Moral). Upon hearing God's Law spoken by Cod himself (Exodus 19.1ff), the Israelites responded, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do!" Old Testament writers filled the pages with reminders of Israel's obvious failure to actually do this

In time, God chose to fulfill his promises to Abraham through the church. The New Testament reveals to us that God's church is the new Israel and Christians Abraham's children by faith. At the same time, there are "works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). You can summarize some of those works in Matthew's enunciation of the church's purpose B Matthew 28:19-20. Frankly, the church has not really accomplished God's purpose much better than ancient Israel.

Dr. Harold Ford suggests eleven important turning points in church history. You'll find God's purpose for the church frustrated or fulfilled at each turning point.