We need to appreciate those revivals by God that recovered the Gospel in Protestantism and the recovery later of Church Truth. Both of these great works of God are for His glory and purposes, and our good. Here is part of a paper on THE CHURCH AGE which is very instructive and sound, I believe. One can see the full paper if interested. - Seriousseeker
"A study of church history shows a period called "the dark ages" or the Middle Ages, when the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Religion prevailed (about 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D.). Faithful saints of God could only meet in secret for fear of persecution or death by the organized religion of Rome for about a thousand years. There was secular persecutions prior to this after the apostolic time, and saints of God had to meet in secret, but with the RCR in circa 500 AD, religious persecutions were severe as the religionists had control of the governments. One can learn more of this in most secular studies of the Middle (dark) Ages.
"In the 1500's God moved to revive the gospel message of salvation and justification by faith in the grace of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and a protest movement called a Reformation began. After much trouble, fear, and slaughter of saints, the tyranny of the RC religion was broken.
"Denominated sects with hierarchy then developed much like the RC religion, with other religious men seeking to exalt themselves (as the daughters of Rev.2:20-23 & Rev. 17:5-6). Many faithful saints followed that form in ignorance, for the Word of God was not available to many faithful saints to show them God's way. With the invention of printing the Bible began to circulate widely and more people became literate. Much has been written on this history if one desires to study it further.
"In the early 1800's God began another great revival work to recover Church Truth which had been lost since apostolic times. This work, often called "the brethren movement", began in conformity to the New Testament church as found in the Word of God, and it was a lovely thing in its' simplicity and truth and happy fellowship. It spread rapidly, but soon the enemy raised up the flesh of men to bring in imitations and ruin. This simplicity in Christ seemed too simple and plain for many religious people, who held to their denominated systems, or tried to mix the purity of the New Testament order with various innovations. All this history is available in more detail if one wants to study the "brethren" from the revival of 1827.
"In the beginning of the church in the book of Acts and the epistles, the saints met without a name, without a special building, without man’s organization, without a priest or one-man leader in charge, without ceremony or rituals, creeds, programs, entertainment, etc. Acts 2:42 was the essence of this pure expression of God's mind, and the innovations of men was not acceptable. Elders were appointed by the Apostles to guide the saints and guard the truth in the church (not by rulers or a hierarchy, and they did not have the gifts of Apostles). The Epistles show us the teachings of the Apostles as God appointed, and the church now goes on with the Holy Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
"Today, many do not know about the revival of the 1800's and are not studying the Scriptures, and continue with various sects and religious ideas after their various preferences. Indeed, there are new sects being formed every year, which no doubt displeases and dishonors our Lord.
"The work of Satan to ruin a collective universal church testimony in the world has diminished the saints, but God has continued His light, and spiritual saints have held the faith. All of us are responsible to find the expression of the "one body in Christ" according to the Word (especially as we “…see the day (of redemption) approaching