“….from the mouths of the Restoration fathers”


I first posted the following quotes in April of last year. As I read them again this morning I was compelled to publish them again. They represent the heart of good, godly men, and the heart of the foundation of the Restoration Movement. I can only imagine what angst these good men would know if they could see one group of church of Christ folks branding another group “lost” because of how they worship God. And just as dissapointing, the common teaching that only church of Christ folks are saved.

After carefully reading the following quotes, a few things come to mind. First, these men, like you and me, were not infallible. Each of them spoke for themselves, and none of them should be given the level of trust we give God’s word. However, these statements were made by good, proven men, who refelct lives given completely to God and to the good news about Jesus. The point of this post is not an attempt to make a case for a particular doctrine, or for or against a coC distinctive. My purpose is to remind by dear friends and brothers that when we appeal to the history and tradition of the Resotration Movement for some of what divides us we are sorely wrong.

The fathers speak:

THOMAS CAMPBELL wrote: “We speak to all our Christian brethren, however diversified by professional epithets, those accidental distinctions which have happily and unscripturally diversified the professing world. By our Christian brethren, then, we mean . . . ‘All that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, throughout the churches.’ ” (Millennial Harbinger, Series 1, May 1844, p. 199.)

ALEXANDER CAMPBELL wrote: “But who is a Christian? I answer, every one that believes in his heart that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God; repents of his sins, and obeys him in all things according to his measure of knowledge of his will. . . . I cannot make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion into the name of Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and [cannot] in my heart regard all that have been sprinkled in infancy without their own knowledge and consent, as aliens from Christ and the well-grounded hope of heaven. Should I find a Pedobaptist [one baptized as an infant] more intelligent in the Christian Scriptures, more spiritually-minded and more devoted to the Lord than a Baptist, or one immersed on a profession of the ancient faith, I could not hesitate a moment in giving the preference of my heart to him that loveth most. Did I act otherwise, I would be a pure sectarian, a Pharisee among Christians.” (Millennial Harbinger, 1837, p. 411-412.)

Again, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL wrote: “The case is this: When I see a person who would die for Christ: whose brotherly kindness, sympathy, and active benevolence knows no bounds but his circumstances: whose seat in the Christian assembly is never empty; whose inward piety and devotion are attested by punctual obedience to every known duty; whose family is educated in the fear of the Lord; whose constant companion is the Bible; I say, when I see such a one ranked amongst heathen men and publicans, because he never happened to inquire, but always took it for granted that he had been scripturally baptized, and that [ranking] too, by one greatly destitute of all these public and private virtues, whose chief or exclusive recommendation is that he has been immersed, and that he holds a scriptural theory of the gospel, I feel no disposition to flatter such a one, but rather to disabuse him of his error. And while I would not lead the most excellent professor in any sect to disparage the least of all the commandments of Jesus, I would say to my immersed brother as Paul said to his Jewish brother who gloried in a system which he did not adorn: ‘Sir, will not his uncircumcision, or unbaptism, be counted to him for baptism? and will he not condemn you, who, though having the literal and true baptism, yet dost transgress or neglect the statues of your King?’” (Millennial Harbinger, 1837, p. 565.)

BARTON W. STONE wrote: “My opinion is that immersion is the only baptism. But shall I therefore make my opinion a term of Christian fellowship? If in this case I thus act, where shall I cease from making my opinions terms of fellowship? I confess I see no end. . . . Let us still acknowledge all to be brethren, who believe in the Lord Jesus, and humbly and honestly obey him, as far as they know his will, and their duty.” (Christian Messenger, 1831, p. 19, 21.)

WALTER SCOTT wrote: “Christians who have not been baptized for the remission of their sins! Strange! Whoever read of such Christians in God’s Word? But the times are peculiar, and as faith does purify the life of a man, and as the man of pure life and pure heart is accepted of God and may receive the Spirit, therefore we must allow, that there are now a days Christians in heart and life who have not been baptized for the remission of their sins. What evidences, then, have they for themselves and others, that they are possessed of the Spirit? None but the moral graces which have already been quoted, viz: love, joy etc.; they don’t need to depend upon an opinion; they feel within themselves and show to those without them by their fruits, that they have been made partakers of the Spirit of Christ.” (The Evangelist, No. 2, Vol. 2, Feb 4, 1833, p. 49.)

ISAAC ERRETT wrote: “There are myriads of godly people, who are in error on baptism, of whom, nevertheless, we are compelled to say, ‘They are not of the world.’ To urge against these a strict and literal application of passages which are meant to mark the distinction between the church and the world, and thus to attempt to thrust them out from our Christian love, among heathens and reprobates, is, in our view, a grievous wrong. As it is a question growing out of the times — a question not directly known in form in the Scriptures, it must be settled in the light of well-established Christian principles, and not by a severly literal construction of Scripture language, spoken with reference to other classes of persons, and another condition of things.
The saints were carried captive into Babylon and remained there a long time. The church lost her primitive purity and excellency. . . . Yet God had a people in Babylon. . . . Now our good brethren may be able to prove to their own satisfaction that all these people of God in Babylon were immersed believers; and they may point, here and there, to bands of religionists, who kept up a protest against the corruptions of Rome. But it strikes us that a people could not come out of Babylon who were not in Babylon; and immersed believers, walking in the light, would have been hard to find within Babylon’s limits! But there was a people of God in Babylon. We incline to the opinion that most of them were unimmersed. They were in many respects an erring people — in regard to baptism they certainly were in great error; but they ‘feared God and wrought righteousness’ and, — what seems as great a stumbling block to many good men now as it was to Peter, until the trammels of sectarianism were knocked off — ‘in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.’” (Millennial Harbinger, 1862, p.120.)

Come over and help us!


This encouraging report and plea for help comes from the Hemley Road church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. This very poor congregation was birthed after the devistaton of hurricane Katrina. They began as the Bayou Relief Project and now against all odds they are making steady progress rebuilding lives in their community. Below is the email report as I received it. My wife Carol and I gladly recommend this congregation to you.

Subject: Hemley Road C of C Summer/Fall Report

Greetings from Bayou La Batre, Alabama and the Hemley Road C of C Family!As God has blessed this community here in BLB, we just wanted to share this with you! Here is some of what has been occurring with our every so rapidly growing congregation.
1. 15 kids from the BLB church went to church camp with kids from the El Campo, (TX) church in south Texas. Two of the older teenage boys were baptized.
2. A group of the middle school kids along with their leaders from the White?s Ferry Rd. Church in Monroe, (LA) did a 3 day VBS for the BLB kids and children in their neighborhood in mid-July. With virtually no advertising, more than 75 kids came each day. Since that time, two new families have been attending.
3. Several groups from around the country have been at BLB this summer, working on community relief projects and on the church facilities. The upstairs area of the main building has been re-furbished and showers have been installed downstairs. We are now able to provide beds for 2 dozen volunteers.
4. The church in Ada (OK) sent a youth intern to work with the BLB church for the summer. Tyler is a student at Oklahoma Christian University. He plans to come back for a week in October and again at Christmas.
5. Tragedy struck the BLB church family in early August when the husband of one of the members was swept overboard from a shrimp boat during a storm. The young man was the father of 3 children. Since that time, 13 of his family members have started attending services and are studying the Bible with us on Sunday evenings. Royce and Carol Ogle will be starting our grief support groups facilitation, and plan to meet with the families in September and help us begin an ongoing Grief Share Group. They are now able to meet in the main auditorium ? although there is no air conditioning. We’ve even had a wedding in there this summer.

Mid August our church kids started school. We were blessed to receive school supplies from El Campo C of C in El Campo, TX and a check for uniforms from South 11th and Willis C of C in Abilene, TX. Even with school occurring, we are averaging 50 or so children, with a high of 80 people at church on Wednesday nights. With this growth we have of course been picking up all of these people. We were blessed with a van from Central Church C of C in Ada, OK. With the increased number of trips and vehicles that we have been blessed with, as well as the wretched increase in gas prices, we are really suffering in keeping the vehicles running. If anyone would want to donate money for gas, that would be a blessing. Any money could be sent through the El Campo C of C elders earmarked toward our funding.

With Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, although we were not directly impacted by the storms, we might as well have been. We experienced constant flooding and wind damage to our community. Much of the damage however, has impacted the livelihood of the people down here in BLB. As you know, the fishing industry is what holds BLB and the surrounding areas together. However, the flooding and other damage here has not allowed the industry to get back for several weeks now. People are not able to work, therefore, their day to day pay is null, and they are not able to survive and afford food or anything else. There is still a need for food and personal care and baby items for our NEWLY FINISHED FOOD and PERSONAL CARE PANTRY. Thank you to the churches and friends of HR C of C that have donated thus far for this emergency situation. South 11th and Willis C of C, Hope Christian Church’s Genesis Community, and a friend from Louisiana have all donated food or money for our pantry. If anyone would like to make donations to that, please please please, let someone in your church family know so that we can continue to supply food and personal items to the people of BLB. As a result of our food pantry, PRAISE GOD, that we have 4 new families coming to church. We have created a very welcoming and inviting church family here where we encourage people to come as they are.

The needs of the infant Hemley Rd Church of Christ are many. The entire area is very impoverished and we believe it will be several years before our church is completely self sustaining. We are so very grateful for our many friends and supporters from across the country. And as we say, nearly everyone who spends any time down here falls in love with the BLB people and the mighty work God is doing down here ? both in growing our new church and being a source of the Lord?s light in our community.

Of course, there is an ongoing need for people who can come and preach and teach on the weekends. We pray that at some time God will send a couple who can come here and work in this ripe mission field and be supported by a home church or other independent means. God has blessed us thus far with preachers and teachers and we would like to name them and pray for more like them. They are Martin Fu, Fred Franke, Omar Smith and his wife Sandra, John Ash and his wife Donna, and of course this summer, many of you from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, N. Carolina, and many others from all over have helped with the preaching and teaching. Last night the teenagers had a special treat from Boston, MA. Our very own Manny Carneiro taught our young and impressionable teenagers.

Among the most urgent needs are:

1. The installation of a baptistery ? estimated cost $7000
2. Air conditioning for the main building ? around $12,000
3. Funds for the parking area gravel or asphalt – $5000
4. Air conditioning for house of church property – $4000

If anyone would like to support us for 2009, please contact the elders at the El Campo C of C. Their information is as follows:
El Campo Church of Christ
311 E. Calhoun
El Campo, TX 77437
Phone: 979-543-4279
Email: eccocsec@sbcglobal.net

Please ask your church to pray for the sweet people of Bayou La Batre. Our needs at this time are great. We just replaced the radiator and the water pump on our new van and we have to pay for the insurance on the vehicles and building this upcoming week. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the money to keep up these functioning parts of our rapidly growing church.

I apologize for the length of this message. I will try to do an up to date report from our church on a more frequent basis.
God Bless. Daphne German
Secretary for the HR C of C
251-609-0448

and

Billy Spaulding
Board of Trustee Chairman
251-776-0468

Christianity is Christ


Christianity is Christ.

Christianity is not:
   . Going to church
   . Living by the Golden Rule
   . Doing acts of kindness
   . Being a member of a certain church
   . Being right about certain Bible doctrines
   . Doing certain things on Sunday
   . Living a life of piety and self denial

Christianity is Christ.

When a person becomes a Christian:
   1. His sins are forgiven
   2. He is given eternal life
   3. He becomes God’s child both by birth and adoption
   4. He becomes an heir of God’s bounty
   5. He is declared not guilty of sin
   6. He is declared just
   7. He is declared righteous
   8. He is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit
   9. He is sealed by the Holy Spirit
 10. He is gifted by the Holy Spirit
 11. He is promised resurrection
 12. He will never perish
 13. He will never die
 14. He is in Christ
 15. Christ is in Him
 16. He is hidden with Christ in God
 17. He is held in God’s hand
 18. Christ will never leave him or forsake him
 19. He has access to God in prayer
 20. He is a priest
 21. He is a partaker of God’s nature
 22. He is seated with Christ in the heavens
 23. He has been chosen by God
 24. He has been elected
 25. He has been predestined to be a son
 26. He has been called
 27. He has been glorified
 28. He has been washed
 29. He has been cleansed
 30. He has redeemed
 31. He has been added to the body of Christ
 32. He has overcome the evil one
 33. He has been counted worthy
 34. His eyes have been opened
 35. He has a new ability to love unconditionally
 36. He can say no to sin
 37. He is at rest
 38. The ordinances of the law are no longer against him
 39. He is free
 40. He is not condemned
 41. He will never be condemned
 42. He is not appointed to wrath
 43. He will be rewarded
 44. He has treasure reserved in heaven
 45. He is kept by the power of God
 46. He cannot be separated from God
 47. He has the Son of God
 48. He has the Father
 49. He has joy
 50. He has peace with God
 51. He has the peace of God
 52. He is one with God
 53. He is loved by the Father just as He loves Jesus.
 54. He has been born again
 55. He is a new creation
 56. He has God’s law written on his heart
 57. He died with Christ
 58. He was raised with Christ
 59. Christ is his life
 60. He is in the kingdom of light
 61. He has been granted repentance
 62. He has been given faith
 63. He has been given precious promises
 64. He is an ambassador of Christ
 65. He is an alien on eath
 66. He is a citizen of heaven
 67. He is a lover of good
 68. He hates sin
 69. He loves his brother
 70. He hears the apostolic teaching
 71. He abides in Christ
 72. He stands in grace
 73. The Holy Spirit assures him he is safe
 74. Christ is his life
 75. He does sin as a lifestyle
 76. He has Christ as an advocate for him in heaven when he does sin
 77. He walks in the light
 78. He knows the voice of Jesus
 79. He follows Him
 80. He will not follow another.
 81. He has victory over death, hell, and the grave 
 82. He is being made like Jesus
 83. He is created for good works
 84. His greatest good is to glorify God

There is more but these quickly come to mind. Not one of them is man’s own doing. Everyone of them is true and relevant and experiential because of the person, work, and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The only basis, the only ground upon which our salvation rests is Christ.

When a sinner changes his mind about the course of his life and puts his whole trust in Jesus He does not give that person anything apart from Himself. You see, what a lost sinner needs is life, he is spiritually dead. He needs righteousness for he is unrighteous. He needs redemption, for he is a slave to sin. He needs light because he is in darkness. He needs bread from heaven because he is starving. He needs the water of life for he is thirsty. He needs to be set free because he is under control of the evil one.

Christ can give nothing more than Himself. He Himself supplies every need. He is life, He is the light of the world, He is righteousness, He is our peace, He is our assurance, He is our joy, He is our glory, He is our hope, He is the author of our faith, He is the rock upon which we stand.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.” Religion will leave you wanting. Church membership and attendance will leave you lacking. Acts of kindness, giving to the poor, and even martyrdom will leave you dead in your sins. Only our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ is able and willing to give you life, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace.

We are only accepted by God “in the beloved“, we are only chosen “in Him“. The mystery of God that was hidden in ages past is this, “Christ in you, the hope of glory“. That’s it, Christianity is Christ and can be nothing less, and nothing more is possible.

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:10-12 ESV)

It is hard to imagine how anyone could misunderstand this clear message from God’s word. Sadly, many just don’t seem to get it. Like the legalists Paul addressed long ago in his letter to the churches of Galatia who insisted that Christians be circumcised, many today insist on adding to what Christ accomplished over 2000 years ago and what God planned in eternity past.

Many preach a salvation that is “God’s part and your part”. Your part is to repent (change your mind) and believe on Jesus Christ. If you have Him (A very big “IF”) what more can you possibly imagine you need? There is nothing on earth or in heaven that is a substitute or a supplement for what Christ has accomplished on behalf of sinners. Trust Him alone, He will not always wait.

By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce

 

Religious but Lost


Religion by any name is not acceptable by the Holy God of the Bible. If you examine all of the well known religions of the world, and those not so well known, thee have one commonality. At the center is the human ego who wants to take credit, wants approval, wants “self” to be the center of attention. I know of no exception to this.

All egocentric efforts to be approved and accepted by God are in direct contradiction to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only people God approves and accepts are those who have put their whole trust in His promises, who have taken Him at his Word. All whom God accepts are accepted only upon the work and merit of Jesus whose righteous life was given for those with unrighteous lives, whose body was a perfect sacrifice prepared to die the death required of everyone whose sins offended God, and upon Whom the angry wrath of God against sin was completley exhausted, so that when He rose from the dead, death, hell, and the grave were defeated. Now God declares “right” or “righteous” those who receive His gracious offer extended in the gospel. Never has God compromised his hatred and punishment for sin, the price has been fully paid.

Of this righteousness which is by grace through faith Paul asked, “Where is boasting? It is excluded”. Or he could have asked, “Where is religion? It is uselss”. Religious but lost. Who are they? Perhaps it is you or the man who has been on the same pew with you for decades. It is really simple to understand. All one must do is honestly answer only one question. On what basis do you expect to be given eternal life? If that answer includes anything that is acheived by human effort, anything that satisfies the human ego, anything that assumes the glory that only Christ deserves, you have given a wrong answer.

Jesus made a starteling statement in Matthew 7. He said in regard to the day of judgment, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.‘ (Matthew 7:21-23)

First, consider what He did not say. He never hints that they are backsliders, that they were once saved and became apostates. He does not say they were not religious folks, or not “good” people by the worlds standards. Perhaps they were “good” people even by the local church’s standards. Just what did He say?

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one. Not everyone who makes a profession of faith in Christ, not everyone who cries out “Lord, Lord” is saved. Also not all who do good works, even “mighty” works, or “wonderful” works are saved. And, not all the preachers and teachers will be saved. There are those who prophesy and cast out demons in Jesus name but are lost. Now, do you suppose these folks Jesus described were religious or not religious? Of course they were religious folks. They attended church, they said all the right things, they did all the right things. but were damned for hell. Why? Because they had failed to do the will of the Father in heaven. Strange you say! They had seemingly done the right stuff, perhaps they attended the “Lord’s church”, they had heard teaching, they had sung songs, they had prayed, they had given, they had taken the Lord’s Supper, but they had depended on themselves and not upon Jesus. They were religious but lost.

How many of these religious imposters are there? According to Jesus “Many”. If there are “many” who are religious actors why would you suppose that there are not some in my church or yours? It is the will of the Father in heaven that all men everywhere repent and put their whole trust in Jesus Christ the Lamb of God. Hear Jesus’ answer when asked, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28,29) And then He explained, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)

“Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life.”  At hearing these words many of His own disciples turned away, they chose religion over Jesus alone. How wonderfully clear has Christ made His promises to hopeless and helpless sinners? Again and again He makes the gracious offer of Himself. Only those who trust Him alone and forsake everything else are secure for eternity.

Jesus characterized the way to heaven as “hard” and “narrow” and said that only “few” will find that way. The contrast is the road to hell which is “easy”, “wide”, and “many” are traveling on it. Yes, more lost than saved, more who trust themselves than Jesus. Remember “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is death.” That statement is still true in 2008.

What a sad condition! Religious but lost. “The wages of sin is death but the FREE GIFT OF GOD is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Please, don’t cling to good works, religious ritual, saying all the right things, being in the right church, at the expense of the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf. Throw yourself upon the mercy of God and trust Christ will all your heart. He will not always wait for you.

Great grace,
Royce Ogle