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Announcement: This Week’s Sermons January 21, 2018

TO HEAR SERMONS, or VIEW SERMON VIDEOS, CLICK ON “FROM THE PULPIT” ABOVE

  • Please Note Some of Gospel Meeting Videos are not in correct Order

January 21, 2018

A.M.  The Christian’s Spiritual Heritage—Galatians 3:6-8

P.M.  Congregational Singing Night—Hebrews 2:12

 

SOME GREAT LEADERS OF THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT

(Part 1)

In the movement to bring about a restoration of original, apostolic, undenominational Christianity—Christianity as it existed in New Testament times—there are literally hundreds of men who stand out as stalwart leaders.  Over the next three weeks (D.V.) we shall provide vignettes of nine of them, three per week. 

  1. Thomas Campbell(1763-1854). Born in County Down, Ireland on February 1, 1763 and educated for the Presbyterian ministry, Thomas Campbell migrated to America in 1807.  He was received by the Philadelphia Synod of the Presbyterian Church and assigned to preach in Washington County, PA.  Becoming dismayed by the divisions within the Presbyterian Church, as well as the many denominations, he withdrew from the Presbyterian Church and began to preach as an independent.  In July of 1809, in the home of Abraham Altars in Washington, PA, he declared, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent we are silent.”  On hearing the statement, Andrew Munro said, “If we adopt that as a practice, then there will be an end to infant baptism.”  Thomas Campbell replied, “If infant baptism is not found in the Scriptures, we can have nothing to do with it.” In August of 1809 he wrote the “Declaration and Address,” a 30,000 word document that was, in effect, a statement of purpose of those who agreed with his religious principles.  Among other matters emphasized were these: 1. “That the church of Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally, constitutionally one.”  2. That although there must be separate local congregations, yet they should be one, with no schisms and discord.  3. That nothing be required of Christians as articles of faith but what is expressly taught in the Scriptures.  4. “That the New Testament is supreme authority for Christians in all matters of faith and practice.”  Thomas Campbell was known for his deep piety.  He died in Bethany, VA (now WV) on January 4, 1854.
  2. Alexander Campbell(1788-1866).  Born in County Antrim, Ireland on September 12, 1788, Alexander, the son of Thomas Campbell (above), and the rest of Thomas’ family migrated to America in 1809.    Alexander Campbell established Bethany College in Bethany, VA (now WV).  He was the founder and editor of two religious journals and his prolific writings extended over a period of almost fifty years.  Among these was a series of more than thirty articles on “The Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things.” Alexander Campbell had five major religious debates—three with Presbyterians, one with Robert Owen, a Scottish infidel, and one with Bishop John Purcell of the Catholic Church. Besides the landmark debates with Owen and Purcell, his most significant debate was with the Presbyterian Nathan L. Rice in Lexington, KY in 1843 in which Henry Clay the statesman served as chairman of all sessions and in which such subjects as the action of baptism, infant baptism, the purpose of baptism, the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion, and the heretical nature of human creeds were thoroughly discussed. He traveled widely, preached extensively, and wrote prolifically.  In 1850 Campbell preached before the United States Congress.  He was unreservedly determined to follow “nothing that was not as old as the New Testament.”  He once likened instrumental music in the worship of the church to “a cowbell in a concert.”  Alexander Campbell died on March 4, 1866 and is buried in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany, WV which my wife and I have had the privilege of visiting.
  3. Walter Scott(1796-1861).  Not to be confused with his distant relative, the Scottish novelist, playwright and poet of the same name, Scott was born near Edinburgh, Scotland on October 31, 1796.  Following the death of his parents (who wanted him to be a Presbyterian minister), he migrated to America in 1818, and soon located in Pittsburgh, PA where he taught in an academy conducted by George Forrester.  After a study of his Greek New Testament, he requested Forrester to immerse him.  Soon he was preaching the principles on which the restoration of New Testament Christianity is possible.  With his analytical mind, he was the first of the restorers to properly discern that the gospel consists of facts to be believed, commands to be obeyed, and promises to be enjoyed. He became famous for his “five finger exercise”—faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, and gift of the Holy Spirit.  Because of his oratorical skills and evangelistic fervor, he became known as the “Golden Oracle of the Western Reserve” and by him the principles of the restoration movement were widely disseminated.  Scott died on April 23, 1861 at the age of sixty-five.  At his death Alexander Campbell wrote of him: “His whole heart was in his work.  I knew him well.  I knew him long.  I loved him much…. By the eye of faith and the eye of hope, me thinks I see him in Abraham’s bosom.”

 (To Be Continued)

Hugh Fulford

(Part 2)

 

Below are vignettes of three more great leaders of the Restoration Movement.  The numbering sequence continues from last week.

 

  1. Raccoon” John Smith(1784-1868).  John Smith was born on October 15, 1784 in what is now Sullivan County in East Tennessee.  In 1795 the family moved to Kentucky.  Smith was reared in a Calvinist home, and as a young man “seeking religion” he struggled with the doctrine of predestination as taught by the Baptists of his day . . . that a person could do nothing toward his salvation.  His mother told him “to wait on the Lord.”  On December 26, 1804, Smith appeared before the Baptist Church, made a simple statement of his religious feelings, and was voted into the Baptist Church.  In 1808 he was ordained to preach in the Baptist Church.  In 1815 he was asked to speak at the Tate’s Creek Baptist Association meeting in Crab Orchard, KY.  He began his sermon by saying, “I am John Smith from Stockton’s Valley.  Down there saltpeter caves abound and raccoons make their homes.”  Forever thereafter he was known as “Raccoon” John Smith!  He continued to struggle with and to question Calvinistic teaching.   To a congregation of Baptists he said, “Brethren, something is wrong—I am in the dark—we are all in the dark; but how to lead you out to the light, or to find the way myself, before God, I know not,” and abruptly ended his sermon.  But by 1826 he had become acquainted with the principles of the restoration movement and began to preach the need to return to the ancient order, thus disassociating himself from the Baptists.  He became a fervent and effective proclaimer of “the ancient order of things.” In one letter to his wife he reported on his evangelistic efforts by saying, “I have baptized 600 sinners and capsized 1500 Baptists.”  On one occasion Smith was asked the difference between baptism and the mourner’s bench.  He replied, “One is from heaven, the other is from the saw mill.” “Raccoon” John Smith passed from this life on February 28, 1868 and is buried in Lexington, KY.A part of the inscription on his tombstone reads: “Strong through affliction, and wise by the study of the Word, he gave up the Creed of his fathers for the sake of that Word.  By its power, he turned many from error; in its light he walked, and in its consolations he triumphantly died.”

 

  1. Moses E. Lard(1818-1880).  Moses Easterly Lard was born in abject poverty in Bedford County, TN on October 29, 1818.  When he was fourteen years old his family moved to Missouri.  At the age of seventeen he was unable to write his name, but went on to become one of the great scholars and preachers of the principles on which apostolic Christianity is possible in any age of the world.  He came into possession of Walter Scott’s The Gospel Restored, and after reading it became convinced of the validity of New Testament Christianity.  In 1841, at the age of twenty-three, he obeyed the gospel.  When Lard met Scott for the first time, he threw his arms around him and said, “Brother Scott, you are the first man who taught me the gospel.”  Past the age of thirty and after he was married and the father of two children, Lard entered Bethany College where he completed the four year program in three years and graduated as valedictorian of his class.  All of this was accomplished while supporting his family with secular work.  After college, he returned to Missouri where he preached for ten years, then moved to Kentucky.  He was a gifted orator and when he preached on the Prodigal Son it was said that he painted the scene so vividly that the audience would turn and look back to the door to see if the prodigal was coming home!  He founded and edited Lard’s Quarterly, wrote extensively for several other publications, and in 1875 issued his Commentary on Romans, representing the ripest of his scholarship.  The dedicatory note to the book reads: “To my Savior, in profound humility, this volume is gratefully inscribed.”  I have owned and used this volume for over sixty years.  Moses E. Lard passed from this life on June 18, 1880 in Lexington, KY.  As death approached he said, “There is not a cloud between me and my heavenly Father.”

 

  1. J. W. McGarvey(1829-1911).  John William  McGarvey, destined to become one of the greatest Bible scholars, was born in Hopkinsville, KY on March 1, 1829.  He attended Bethany College and graduated at the head of his class in 1850, delivering the Greek valedictory address.  He moved to Missouri where he preached for eleven years, before moving to Lexington, KY to serve as minister, first with the Main Street church, and then the Broadway church.  In addition to his preaching, McGarvey taught at the College of the Bible (then a part of Kentucky University), and also was a prolific writer.  At the age of thirty-three he completed a commentary on the book of Acts, being motivated to write it because of the futile efforts of denominationalism to provide the Bible answer to how one becomes a Christian.  I have owned and used this book for almost sixty years. In 1879 McGarvey made a six month trip to the Bible lands, and the following year his book, Lands of the Bible, made its appearance. McGarvey believed unreservedly in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and wrote often in opposition to the liberal critics of the Bible.  In 1886, he wrote Text and Canon of the New Testament and in 1891 produced Credibility and Inspiration.  The London Times said of him, “In all probability, J. W. McGarvey is the ripest Bible scholar on earth.” McGarvey was strong as a doctrinal preacher.  He delighted in preaching on the cases of conversion found in the book of Acts. In the summer of 1893 he preached for the Broadway church in Louisville, KY and preached all the cases of conversion in Acts. The following year a book containing the Broadway sermons was published.  This became his most popular book.  The young preacher boys at the College of the Bible would ask on Sunday morning, “Where are you going to church today?”  The answer was, “If I knew Lard (Moses E. Lard, a gifted orator but with a limited number of outstanding sermons, hf), was on his high horse, I would go to Main Street, but there is doubt about this, so I will go to Broadway, for ‘Little Mac’ never disappoints.”  J. W. McGarvey passed from this life on October 6, 1911 and is buried in Lexington, KY near the graves of “Raccoon” John Smith and Henry Clay.

 

Hugh Fulford

(Part 3)

 

Here are the remaining three vignettes in this series of some of the great leaders of the Restoration Movement.  The numbering sequence continues from the two preceding articles.

 

  1. Tolbert Fanning(1810-1874).  Born in Cannon County, TN on May 10, 1810, the Fanning family moved to Lauderdale County, AL in about 1818.  When he was 17 years old, Fanning heard the gospel preached by B. F. Hall during a meeting held on Cypress Creek in Lauderdale County.  Young Tolbert responded to the invitation and was immersed into Christ by James E. Matthews.  Within a few years he was preaching and, according to Earl I. West, became the most influential preacher in the South before the War Between the States.  Fanning was a giant of a man physically, intellectually, and spiritually.  As an adult, he stood 6’ 6” tall and weighed 240 pounds. He was possessed of a strong physical constitution and was capable of an immense amount of work. At the age of thirty-three, he founded Franklin College in Nashville, on land now engulfed by the Nashville International Airport.  In 1855, with William Lipscomb, Fanning founded the Gospel Advocate and was its first editor.  Except for a short period of time during the Civil War, the Advocate has been in continuous publication since its founding.  I have treasured copies of the 100th, the 150th, and the 160th anniversary issues of this journal.  In addition to his preaching, school work, and work as an editor, Fanning was a farmer and a breeder of cattle.  West says of him, “It was nothing unusual for him to spend all day at school or on the farm, and then write or study until 2:00 A.M.  The next day he would continue his usual program.  Fanning possessed a powerful brain, a strong will, an indomitable courage, great self-reliance and perseverance.”  He passed from this life on May 3, 1874, a Lord’s Day, and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

 

  1. David Lipscomb(1831-1917).  David Lipscomb was born in the Old Salem Community of Franklin County, TN on January 21, 1831.  His family had been members of the Baptist Church, but left the Baptists when they learned the principles of the restoration of apostolic Christianity.  Lipscomb was a diligent and thorough student of the Scriptures.  At the age of thirteen he memorized the four gospels, as well as the book of Acts.  He entered Franklin College under Tolbert Fanning (see above) where he was a good student.  He preached his first sermons around 1857 or 1858, and when the Gospel Advocate resumed publication after the Civil War, Lipscomb was listed as co-editor with Tolbert Fanning. Because of Fanning’s other interests and activities, much of the editorial work of the Advocate fell on Lipscomb.  For the next almost 50 years he served as editor of the Advocate and wielded a great influence on the church throughout the South.  He wrote in strong opposition to missionary societies, instrumental music in the worship of the church, and women preachers, issues then confronting the church.  In 1906, those issues led to a split between those who were for the innovations and those who opposed them.  Those who supported them became known as the Christian Church, which later again divided into the Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ.  Those who stood on the original ground of the New Testament were known simply as churches of Christ.  (It is alarming to note that instrumental music and women preachers are again plaguing the church in some quarters today).  In 1891, Lipscomb and James A. Harding established Nashville Bible School.  In 1903, the school moved to Lipscomb’s farm—Avalon—on Granny White Pike which Lipscomb had donated to the school.  Following Lipscomb’s death in 1917, the name of the school was changed to David Lipscomb College, and today is known as Lipscomb University.  Lamentably, the current Lipscomb University does not hold to the principles and truths so ardently advocated by Lipscomb the man.  David Lipscomb passed from this life on November 11, 1917 at the age of 86 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

 

  1. N. B. Hardeman(1874-1965).  Nicholas Brodie Hardeman was born on May 14, 1874 near the little town of Milledgeville in McNairy County, TN.  He was baptized into Christ in 1890 while a student at West Tennessee Christian College in Henderson, TN.  Hardeman later taught at WTCC, and its successor institution, Georgie Robertson Christian College.  In 1908, he and A. G. Freed founded National Teachers’ Normal and Business College in Henderson.  This school was renamed Freed-Hardeman College in 1919 and Hardeman served as its president from 1926 until 1950.  In 1990 it became Freed-Hardeman University.  I am honored to be an alumnus of this great school.  In addition to being an outstanding educator, Hardeman was a great preacher and debater.  From 1922 until 1942, he held five extended meetings in Nashville – known popularly as the “Hardeman Tabernacle Meetings.”  The first four meetings were held in the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  The fifth meeting was conducted in the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville.  The sermons from the meetings were published in their entirety in both The (Nashville) Tennessean and The (Nashville) Banner, Nashville’s two daily newspapers.  It has been said that Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons did more to advance the cause of New Testament Christianity in Middle Tennessee than anything else.  I own all five volumes of these published sermons and commend them highly as being representative of the kind of preaching that is still badly needed today!   Hardeman also was an extremely able debater and conducted a number of outstanding discussions with exponents of religious error.  In 1923 he met Ira M. Boswell of the Christian Church in the Ryman Auditorium in a debate on the use of instrumental music in worship. Hardeman showed convincingly that instrumental music is not authorized in the worship of the church, and he often felt that this was his best debate.  The Nashville newspapers gave wide coverage to the discussion.  In 1938, he met Ben M. Bogard of the Baptist Church in a debate in Little Rock, AR.  They discussed the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion, the necessity of baptism, the establishment of the church, and the possibility of apostasy.  I have read and relished both of these published debates.  On the evening of May 18, 1959, more than 750 people gathered at the elegant Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN to honor N. B. Hardeman on his 85th birthday.  Among an array of dignitaries present were Governor Buford Ellington, Senator Albert Gore, Sr., and Senator and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.  N. B. Hardeman passed from this life in Memphis, TN on November 5, 1965 and is buried in the City Cemetery in Henderson, TN.

 

To borrow the language of the writer of Hebrews (11:32, 38), “And what more shall I say?  For the time would fail me to tell of” Barton W. Stone, John T. Johnson, Samuel Rogers, Benjamin (Ben) Franklin (not to be confused with the statesman of the same name), T. B. Larimore, A. G. Freed,  F. D. Srygley, F. B. Srygley, J. D. Tant, and a host of others “of whom the world was not worthy.”

 

Hugh Fulford

 

(Part 4)

 

In November I wrote three essays under the above heading, with vignettes of three great leaders constituting each essay.  I have been encouraged by a number of readers to write some additional articles along this line, and intermittently over the next several weeks I plan to do so.  I will resume with the previous numbering of the articles (i.e., this will be Part 4), as well as with the numbering of the men I shall mention (i.e., Barton W. Stone will be number 10, etc.).

 

  1. Barton Warren Stone(1772-1844).  Born in Port Tobacco, MD on Christmas Eve in 1772, Stone’s father died when he was three years old and his mother moved the family to Virginia.  As an infant his mother had him sprinkled in the Church of England.  In 1790 he entered Guilford Academy in North Carolina, a school operated by David Caldwell, a Presbyterian preacher.  In 1791 Stone united with the Presbyterian Church, and in 1796 he received his license to preach in that denomination.  In 1798 he received a call from the Cane Ridge and Concord Presbyterian Churches in Kentucky to preach for them, but he became increasingly dismayed by Calvinism. In 1804, after preaching six years for the two Presbyterian congregations, he informed them that he could no longer conscientiously preach Presbyterian doctrine.  He and four of his fellow Presbyterian preachers withdrew from the Presbyterian Church.  Independent study led them to abandon infant baptism and sprinkling.  They baptized (immersed) each other and soon many others followed them in taking this step. In a famous document known as “The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery,” among a number of other items, they said, “We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, [they] may cast them into the fire, if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.” In 1826 Stone began editing and publishing The Christian Messenger and it continued until 1845.  In 1801 he had married Eliza Campbell.  Eliza died in 1810, leaving him with a son and four daughters.  The next year he married Cecilia Bowen.  By both wives he fathered nineteen children.  Stone died on November 9, 1844 in Hannibal, MO in the home of his son-in-law, Captain Samuel Bowen.  (I do not know what kinship may have existed between Stone’s second wife and Samuel Bowen who married his daughter Amanda).  When asked if he had any fear of death, Stone’s response was, “Oh, no, I know in whom I have believed and in whom I have trusted.  God bless you, my brother.  I hope to meet you in heaven.”  He was buried in Hannibal, but the body was later reburied at Cane Ridge in Kentucky.  A stone marker bears this inscription: “The church of Christ at Cane Ridge and other generous friends in Kentucky have caused this monument to be erected in a tribute of affection and gratitude to Barton W. Stone, minister of the gospel of Christ and the distinguished reformer of the 19th century.”     

 

  1. Samuel Rogers(1789-1877).  Rogers was born in Charlotte County, VA on November 6, 1789.  His mother, a member of the Church of England who had taken her stand with the Methodists, had Samuel christened by the famous Bishop Francis Asbury.  On January 14, 1812, Samuel married Elizabeth Irvin who became a great spiritual influence in his life.  Her family had been converted to the principles of the restoration by Barton W. Stone (see above), and because of her, Rogers came under the influence of Stone.  Shortly after his marriage, he was immersed into Christ.  In spite of a lack of much formal education, Rogers began preaching the gospel and calling people back to the Bible.  After preaching for a while in Kentucky, he moved to Clinton County, OH.  He preached to his neighbors and gathered together a group of Christians.  Rogers expanded his field of labor and spent much time preaching on the frontier of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.  He was the second man to preach the gospel in Missouri and the first to preach it in St. Louis.  Both success and hardship were parts of the life of Samuel Rogers.  Of his preaching he said, “The story was plain and easy to tell.  There was nothing to do but open my Bible and let it tell to a perishing world the way of salvation.  It was not necessary to warp or twist a single word or sentence” (H. Leo Boles, “Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers,” Gospel Advocate Company [1932], pp. 52-53).  Of all the hundreds of people Samuel Rogers baptized, probably the most famous was Benjamin (Ben) Franklin, the object of the next sketch.  Though deaf and almost blind in his closing years, Rogers remained happy.  He retained his mind and memory to the very last, and closed his eyes in death in Carlisle, KY on June 23, 1877. (Note: For much of the preceding, I am indebted to Don Deffenbaugh and his lecture on Samuel Rogers delivered at the Faulkner University Bible Lectures in Montgomery, AL in 1997).

 

  1. Benjamin Franklin(1812-1878).  The great-great nephew of his famous forebear and namesake, Ben Franklin was born in Belmont County, OH on February 1, 1812.  The Franklin family moved to Henry County, IN in 1833.  The same year, Samuel Rogers (above) moved with his family to Henry County, IN and established a church after the New Testament order.  Rogers set out to convert the Franklins (who were Methodist in their religious background), and succeeded in doing so, with Rogers baptizing Ben in December of 1834.  The following month, Ben went to work studying the Bible and preparing himself to preach.  Though his education was limited and his grammar initially quite poor, he continued to study diligently, and went on to become one of the greatest and most influential preachers among those pleading for a restoration of the New Testament order of things in Christianity, especially in the North.  Of him Earl West wrote, “He did not pretend to be a philosopher, a politician, a teller of stories, or anything of the kind.  He was a gospel preacher in everything the term implies . . . It is not likely that a greater, nobler, truer, purer preacher of the gospel lived since apostolic times than Ben Franklin” (The Search for the Ancient Order, Volume 1, p. 103-104).  Two volumes of his sermons were published under the title The Gospel Preacher. When Samuel Rogers had grown old and Ben Franklin had become famous as a preacher, Rogers took great satisfaction in knowing that he had introduced Franklin to the gospel.  In 1850 Franklin and his family moved to Cincinnati, OH, and in January of 1856 he began editing and publishing the American Christian Review, a periodical devoted to upholding the principles of apostolic Christianity.  Franklin engaged in a number of debates with Universalists as well as with various denominationalists.    He was bitterly opposed to the use of instrumental music in worship and refused to preach where the instrument was used.  In 1864 he moved to Anderson, IN where he spent the rest of his life preaching, debating, and writing for the advancement of the New Testament way.  He died on October 23, 1878 of an apparent heart attack, after spending the morning writing editorials.   West notes, “Until that Tuesday afternoon of October 23, 1878, Franklin was a busy man in the kingdom of Master.” His funeral was conducted two days later and he was buried in the Anderson Cemetery in Anderson, IN.  Of him, Jacob Creath, Jr. said, “If our own brethren believed in canonizing men, he could soon be placed on the front ranks of the roll of canonization . . . He has left no one who can fill his place, and we shall not see his like soon again” (American Christian Review [March 4, 1879], p. 73, as cited by West).

 

Hugh Fulford

 

(Part 5)

 

  1. John T. Johnson(1788-1856).  The eighth of eleven children, Johnson was born on October 5, 1788 in Scott County, KY at Great Crossings, about three miles west of Georgetown.  His father, Robert Johnson, was a colonel in the army and his brother, Richard M. Johnson, would later serve as the ninth vice-president of the United States during the presidency of Martin Van Buren.  In 1820 John T. turned his attention toward politics and was elected to serve in the U. S. Congress, and then was re-elected for several terms.  In 1821 he joined the Baptist Church in Great Crossings, his home community, but after his retirement from politics in 1830, he became interested in what was derogatorily called “Campbellism” (then sweeping his community) and determined to make a study of it in the light of the Scriptures.  He said, “My eyes were opened, and I was made perfectly free by the truth” (John Rogers, The Biography of Elder John T. Johnson [Cincinnati: 1861], p. 21, as cited by Earl West, The Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 1, p. 234).  Johnson immediately set about to convert the Baptist Church at Great Crossings, but did not take into account the power of religious prejudice, though he did baptize his wife, as well as his brother Joel and his wife.  With others, he formed a congregation in Great Crossings that worshiped after the New Testament order.  Johnson went on to become an extraordinarily successful preacher of the gospel and an ardent advocate of the principles calling for a restoration of the New Testament order.  Alexander Campbell said of him, “I wish Kentucky had a few persons equally gifted for taking care of the sheep, as brother Johnson is for marking them and putting them in the green pastures” (a reference to converting people to the right way of the Lord) (The Millennial Harbinger, June 1839, as cited by West, p. 228-229).  Samuel Rogers said of him, “As an evangelist, I have thought John T. Johnson the best model I have ever known.  Perhaps I ought not to speak of him as a model at all, for no man could imitate him” (as cited by West, p. 229).  On the first Sunday evening of December 1856, Johnson preached his last sermon.  He developed a case of pneumonia and died in the home of Thomas Bledsoe with whom he was staying in Lexington, KY.  When told that death was approaching he said, “I did not think death was so near, but let it come.”  In his delirious moments he would quote scripture or preach on the sacrifice of Jesus for sin.  On December 18 he closed his eyes in death.

 

  1. Elisha G. Sewell(1830-1924). Sewell was born on October 23, 1830 in Overton County, TN, the thirteenth child and eighth son of Stephen and Annie Sewell. All but one of the eight boys had Bible names.  Four of them—Isaac, Caleb, Jesse, and Elisha—went on to become gospel preachers.  Joshua, Caleb’s twin, died in infancy.  Originally, the Sewells were all Baptists.  When an older brother, William, married a member of the church of Christ he soon came to accept the principles of the restoration plea.  His brothers regretted William’s course and Jesse set out to bring him back to the Baptist fold, but in the process he converted himself to the New Testament way.  Soon, Isaac and Caleb and the whole Sewell family, except Elisha, had been converted to the original apostolic ground.  In the spring of 1849 Elisha started reading and studying the New Testament for himself, and on the fourth Lord’s Day of October 1849, he was immersed into Christ by Jesse, an older brother.  In the fall of 1851, in the private home of a neighbor, Elisha preached his first sermon.  In 1853 he married Lucy Kuykendall near Cookeville, TN.  He studied at Burritt College in Spencer, TN, and in 1859 he graduated from Franklin College in Nashville where he studied under Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb.  In 1870 when David Lipscomb found himself in need of help in editing the Gospel Advocate, he turned to E. G. Sewell.  For the next almost fifty years—January 1, 1870 until Lipscomb’s death in 1917—the team of Lipscomb and Sewell played a key role in shaping the cause of the restoration of the New Testament order in the South. Nothing expanded his influence more than his work on the Advocate.  In addition to his work at the Advocate, he stayed busy in evangelistic work and establishing churches of the apostolic order, especially in Nashville.  He lived a quiet and peaceable life, was known for his moderation in all things, and was extremely methodical.  He was described by F. D. Srygley as being “meek and lowly in spirit, gentle and timid in manner, severely scriptural in doctrine, and kind and persuasive in his oratory” (Biographies and Sermons, p. 257).  He and his family were extremely hospitable, and traveling preachers often found themselves welcomed in his home at 801 Boscobel Street in east Nashville, where he lived for fifty-four years and where death came to him on March 2, 1924 at the age of ninety-three. 

 

  1. James A. Harding(1848-1922).  The oldest of fourteen children born to James W. and Mary McDonald Harding, James Alexander Harding was born on March 16, 1848 in Winchester, KY.  At the age of thirteen he was baptized into Christ by his father during a meeting in Winchester conducted by the illustrious preacher, Moses E. Lard.  Young Harding grew up in a home in which Alexander Campbell, “Raccoon” John Smith, Moses E. Lard, John T. Johnson, and John Rogers were regular visitors.  Following his graduation from Bethany College in 1869, he moved to Hopkinsville, KY where he taught school and did some preaching.  In 1871 he married nineteen year old Carrie Knight of Hopkinsville.  Following her death in 1876, he married Patti Cobb in 1878.  In the spring of 1875, he was asked by a brother John Adams to preach in a meeting.  At first he refused, saying he had no evangelistic sermons.  Adams responded, “Why you have been brought up in the church all your life.  You have attended Bethany College and you have your degree.  You have been preaching since you were nineteen.  If you can’t hold a meeting, you ought to be shot.  Now shut your mouth, get your horse, and come on out and hold that meeting!” Thus was launched a great evangelistic preaching career that extended from Canada to Florida and from Maine to New Mexico.  From 1876 until 1893, Harding poured himself into evangelistic meetings, preaching twice every weekday and three times on Sunday.  He held over 300 meetings that lasted anywhere from three to ten weeks.  In one eight-week meeting at Foster Street in Nashville there were 123 additions.  In a meeting at South Nashville he had 300 additions.  He was no less adept as a debater than he was as a preacher and conducted over forty debates with various exponents of error. Of him it was said, “His mind was quick and his speaking ability extraordinary” (G. C. Taylor, Gospel Advocate, June 18, 1884, as cited by Earl West, The Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 2, p. 336).  T. R. Burnett said of him, “He believes the Bible from ‘lid to lid’” (West, p. 336). In 1882 David Lipscomb made Harding a corresponding editor of the Gospel Advocate, and in 1891 Lipscomb and Harding began Nashville Bible School, now Lipscomb University.  Ten years later, Harding moved to Bowling Green, KY to begin Potter Bible College and remained there for ten years, resigning the presidency when his memory began to fail.  Harding was renowned for his great trust in the providence of God.  He passed from this life on May 28, 1922 at the home of his daughter, Sue Paine, in Atlanta, GA, and is buried in Bowling Green, KY.  In 1926, following the merger of Harper College in Kansas and Arkansas Christian College in Morrilton, Arkansas, Harding College (now University) in Searcy, AR was named in his honor.

 

Hugh Fulford 

 

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WHAT IT MEANS TO “PROSPER”

Gary McDade

The subject of giving is very special to Christians for many reasons. As an item of worship it deserves careful attention. A thoughtful, young Christian writes, “I have a question; what exactly does the word, ‘prosper’ mean like in 1 Corinthians 16:2?” While there are a handful of words describing acceptable giving to God which start with the letter “p” such as purpose, proportion, punctual, persistent, and polite, the question focuses the present study on the word, “prosper.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

The English dictionary defines “prosper” as “to succeed in an enterprise or activity; esp: to achieve economic success” (Webster’s, p. 945). An even more exact definition may be obtained by examining the underlying Greek text and word “euvodw/tai” from “euv” meaning “well” and “o`do,j” meaning “way or journey, to have a good journey, to prosper in general” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4, p. 200). “For the literal use of this verb of a successful journey” is the meaning of “euvodo,w” in Moulton and Milligan’s The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (p. 263). G.G. Findlay adds, “to send well on one’s way.” He also contrasts those “prospering” with some in the Corinthian church who were not “prospering,” “Many in this Church were slaves, without wages or stated income” (The Expositors Greek Testament, vol. 2, p. 60). And, it may be in regard to these brethren that Paul later wrote, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Corinthians 8:12) because the Macedonian congregations used by him to illustrate a good example of giving did so out of “deep poverty” and liberally gave (2 Corinthians 8:2).

Much can be learned about the word “prosper” by considering the two other verses in which it appears in the New Testament, Romans 1:10 and 3 John 2 (W.F. Moulton and A.S. Geden, A Concordance to the Greek Testament, p. 402). The first verse says, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you” (emphasis added). And the second in which the word appears twice, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (emphasis added). G. Abbot-Smith says the voice of this verb being passive as in these verses literally means “to have a prosperous journey” and metaphorically means “to prosper, be prospered, be successful” (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 188).

Brother Hugo McCord translated 1 Corinthians 16:2 this way, “Every Sunday, let each one of you lay aside by himself, if he earns anything, and put it in the treasury; so that there will be no collections when I come” (McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel, p. 343, emphasis added). Once Jesus was watching “the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury [poverty, NKJV] hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:1-4).

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MISSING THE MARK

 Gary McDade

When I served in the Unites States Navy as a supervisor for the Optical Alignment Crew onboard the USS Simon Lake (AS-33), my job was to ensure the mechanical and electronic systems associated with the targeting of our nuclear missiles onboard our nuclear submarines were maintained at peak efficiency. We were impressed with the fact that any minute miscalculation from the launching point of a missile travelling thousands of miles downrange would result in greatly missing the mark of the target and with catastrophic consequences. Today, people are being misled about the second coming of Christ. We hear about the rapture, the great tribulation, the battle of Armageddon, and the 1,000 year reign of Christ in Jerusalem which are key elements in a false doctrine known as premillennialism, the idea that we are now living in the last generation before Christ returns to sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. I have dug into the writings of the most influential advocates of premillennialism and want to show you where they initially “miss the mark” that yields all the vast speculation and devastation of Bible teaching in what we know today as premillennialism.

Everyone knows and agrees that the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 constitute 490 years. For reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, Daniel presented these 70 weeks in three sections of 7 weeks (49 years), 62 weeks (434 years), and 1 week (7 years) for a total of 490 years. Where premillennialism “misses the mark” is in taking the position that the last week (7 years) does not follow the previous 483 years but immediately precedes the return of Christ. An earlier generation of premillennialists referred to this as a “parenthesis in time.” They have succeeded in shrouding the fact that the so-called “parenthesis in time” has become as of this date four times the size of the 490 years of Daniel’s prophecy! We now expose this error by affirming no Bible prophecy that relates to a period of time contains such a “parenthesis.” Examples are: the 7 years of plenty and the 7 years of famine in Egypt respectively were consecutive years (Genesis 45:6); the 430 years of Israel’s bondage in Egypt were consecutive years (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40; Galatians 3:17); the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness were consecutive years (Numbers 14:34); and even the 3 days after which our Lord was raised from the dead were consecutive days (Matthew 12:40; John 2:19).

Supplementary to the discussion is an exposure of the false reasoning given by premillennialists to justify the so-called “parenthesis in time.” In the scholarly writing of E.J. Young on The Prophecy of Daniel (1949, p. 213), he quotes A.C. Gaebelein’s work published in 1911 entitled The Prophet Daniel in which he says, “With this event (i.e., the rejection of the Messiah), as we have seen, the 69th week closed and an indefinite period of unreckoned time follows; when that is expired the last prophetic week of seven years will begin and run its appointed course.” Note the rejection of the Messiah was to be the reason for the “indefinite period of unreckoned time” referred to as a “parenthesis in time.”  The truth is the rejection of the Messiah was also prophesied centuries prior to its fulfillment in the time of Christ and not a surprise or unaccounted-for variable in history. This truth is an overwhelming annihilation of premillennialism. God’s Word affirmed it in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Let all the premillennialists return to the sacredness of these prophecies of Christ coupled with Daniel’s 70 weeks in Daniel 9:24-27 and repent of their error.

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PREMILLENNIALISM IS UNSCRIPTURAL

Gary McDade

The prefix “un” means opposite to or contrary to the base word (See: Webster’s Dictionary, pp. 1280-1282). Therefore, when something is proven to be unscriptural it is opposite to or contrary to the Scriptures, the Word of God. Before proving that “premillennialism is unscriptural” consider its definition. In speaking of dispensational premillennialism (the most popular type of premillennialism in the world today), Robert G. Clouse, editor of The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views and a Professor of History at Indiana State University says, “…the Millennium, is inaugurated by the return of Christ in two stages: the first, a secret rapture, which removes the Church before the Great Tribulation devastates the earth; and the second, Christ’s coming with the Church to establish the kingdom” (Revelation, Four Views, A Parallel Commentary (1997), Steve Gregg, ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers), p. xiv).

Let’s break down Professor Clouse’s definition and begin to unravel the fabric of this unscriptural belief. First, he presupposes a literal millennium on earth. Revelation 20:4-6 does speak of a thousand years or millennium but makes no reference to the earth or to this millennium being literal. These Scriptures tell of “souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,” not bodies, souls. And, since John said from the beginning of the book that the contents are “signified” or in signs, no compelling reason exists to believe the reference to the thousand years is literal (Revelation 1:3). Second, Jesus “shall appear the second without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28) not a second time with “two stages.” “Two stages” would mean a second and third coming of Christ! Third, “a secret rapture” is added to the Scriptures, for no such event, nor the word “rapture” itself, is ever mentioned in the Scriptures (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Fourth, “the Great Tribulation” as defined by the premillennialists does not match the Bible verses where reference to “great tribulation” is found (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:22; 7:14). And, fifth, Christ already established His kingdom; it is the church (Mark 9:1; Matthew 12:28; 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28).

A reason to show that “premillennialism is unscriptural” is because so many are being misled by it. Professor Clouse wrote that dispensational premillennialism “has become the standard interpretation for over 200 Bible institutes and seminaries in the United States. Many famous interdenominational evangelists including D.L. Moody and Billy Graham have also adopted this understanding of eschatology [a study of last things]. Books and periodicals such as the phenomenal best sellers, The Late Great Planet Earth, have also popularized this approach” (Revelation, Four Views, p. xiv).

The Scriptures teach, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29), and “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. …And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-32, 46). Therefore, “premillennialism is unscriptural.”

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by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

“The Church of God” and the Deity of Christ

The church of which all Christians are to be a part is God’s church. Although many so-called Christians claim to be members of the church that God established nearly 2,000 years ago, they often wear names that indicate ownership by, or allegiance to, men (or offices of men). Some call themselves the “Lutheran Church” (after Martin Luther). Others call themselves after the designated local leaders of the church, e.g., Episcopalians (from the Greek word for bishop) and Presbyterians (from the Greek word for elder). The Scriptures, however, make clear that the church to which all of God’s children are to belong is not a church begun by man, owned by man, or called after man (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Christians must accept the fact that the church of the New Testament is God’s church, not man’s.

Several times in the New Testament, the term “church” (Greek ekklesia) is linked together with the Greek term theos (God), and thus one easily can ascertain the fact that the church to which obedient believers belong is the church begun and owned by God. Paul wrote “to the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1, emp. added), and later commanded the Corinthians to “[g]ive no offense…to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, emp. added). He confessed to the churches of Galatia that he had “persecuted the church of God” before becoming a Christian (Galatians 1:13, emp. added). Paul also wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, reminding them how they “became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea” (1 Thessalonians 2:14, emp. added), and even boasted of them “among the churches of God” for their endurance through persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, emp. added). One must not miss the point that the church of the New Testament is God’s church. It is of divine origin and established according to Deity’s “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11).

Interestingly, Bible writers often refer to the “church of God” as the body or church of Christ. Near the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul wrote: “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16, NASB, emp. added). He taught the Corinthian Christians how they were “members individually” of “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27, emp. added). Since Paul informed the churches at Ephesus and Colosse that “the church” is Christ’s “body” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24), the body of Christ is equivalent to the church of Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). Simply put, it is Jesus’ church. He promised to build it (saying, “I will build My church”—Matthew 16:18, emp. added), and later purchased it “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; cf. Ephesians 1:7,14; Hebrews 9:14).

These verses not only inform Christians of the names by which they should identify themselves, they also indicate something significant about the nature of Christ. Although some alleged Bible believers (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that Jesus is not divine, the very fact that Bible writers equated “the church of God” with “the body/church of Christ” is one of the many proofs that Jesus is Divine. Paul consistently used these phrases interchangeably throughout his epistles. Thus, to say the church is Christ’s is to say the church is God’s, because Christ is God (John 1:1-3; 20:28). He is the head, Savior, redeemer, and owner of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). May we thus put ourselves under the subjection of Christ as God (Ephesians 5:24), and wear only scriptural names such as “church of God” or “church of Christ.” In the words of the apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, emp. added).

Copyright © 2006 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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ONLY SIX SHOPPING DAYS LEFT UNTIL JUDGMENT DAY

TV, radio, and print media remind us that there are only six (or whatever the number) shopping days left until Christmas.  The Bible tells us about the great day of final judgment, but it does not tell us how many days there are until that day comes.  Of His second coming and the day of judgment, Christ said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

Yet, the Bible is quite clear that there will be a day of judgment and that to enter into eternal life in heaven one must be prepared for it.  In a masterful verbal picture of that day, Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Paul, the great apostle, declared that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all, in that He has raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).  Paul further affirmed: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).  He emphasized: “So then each one of us shall give account of Himself to God” (Romans 14:12).  Yes, “it is appointed for men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Where should one “shop” in preparation for the day of judgment?  Not among the councils, creeds, catechisms, and church manuals of men! Not among family and friends who are wed to their religious traditions and long standing denominational affiliations. Not among preachers and priests and televangelists who refuse to give people a Bible answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”  Not the advocates of the “sinner’s prayer” or “just receive Jesus into your heart.”  Not among the “faith only” advocates.

Christ alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and it is to Him and His inspired apostles and prophets and their message as set forth in the New Testament that we must do our “shopping” and “buying” (see Proverbs 23:23) in preparation for the day of judgment.  On the day of Pentecost, when inquiring sinners had been convinced of the Messiahship and Lordship of Jesus, they asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:37-38).  Those who gladly received the word were baptized (verse 41), and all those who were saved from their sins that day were constituted into Christ’s church which had its beginning on that momentous occasion.  Those who have continued down through the ages to hear, believe, and obey that same original message of the inspired apostles have been saved from their sins and added to the same church to which those first converts were added (Acts 2:47). 

The rest of the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament is a confirmation of this divine plan of human redemption.  “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).  “Therefore we were buried with Him in baptism (not sprinkled or poured, hf), that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  Just as new life for Christ began after His resurrection, just so new life for us begins after our death to sin by repentance, and after our burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism!  After all, why would anyone who is already spiritually alive be buried in baptism?  We bury dead people, not live people!

A thousand years before the birth of Christ, the wise man Solomon said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). 

If you knew there were only six “shopping” days left before the day of judgment, what would you be “buying”?  

Hugh Fulford

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WHY INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP MATTERS

Gary McDade

Clearly today a cavalier even flippant approach to the worship of God is prevalent in society. The church of Christ has not been immune from this spiritual plague as informed people are aware. At least in the interest of younger people who have never had the opportunity to learn the Bible doctrine of worship because it is discussed less and less from the pulpit and the classroom, “why instrumental music in worship matters” ought to be presented to well balanced, open minded people who wish to learn, retain, and uphold the doctrine of Christ.

It Violates Four Divine Laws

The use of instrumental music in worship violates four divine laws. One, the law of faith.  A spirit that is against law dominates the religious landscape.  It is known as antinomianism meaning “against law.” Lest the reader think reference to this word and the concept behind it represents some deep, esoteric, theological concept unassociated with everyday, ordinary life, please take note of the dictionary definition of the word “antinomian”: “one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.” That’s Webster’s Dictionary page 49. Today, sometimes we have to start with the dictionary before we can get to what the Bible teaches. The law of faith includes both God’s moral and spiritual law. Not only does the law of faith guide the practices of clean, wholesome, godly living morally and overt expressions of worship and service spiritually but it even trains the conscience in matters that are optional as discussed in Romans 14:23b where Paul wrote, “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

The New Testament both makes and sustains the claim to be God’s complete law of faith for people living throughout the world today. A sampling of verses from one New Testament letter will demonstrate the high regard in which everyone should hold the Bible. 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” 2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” And, 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” But, since people are so difficult to convince today because of the prevalence of the spirit of antinomianism by non-religious and religious people alike, please note the following as proof of the point: In the parenthetical statement Paul made to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 9:21 he said, “Being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.” And, in highly complimentary fashion James wrote of the law and its attendant blessings when he said, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).

Now, in view of the fact that the New Testament is the law of faith for everyone living today, here is how the use of instrumental music in worship matters. It is unauthorized by the law of faith, and, resultantly, it is impossible to sustain its use in worship as being something that God wants or with which He is pleased.  So, does it matter? Absolutely, provided a person or congregation of people has the desire to give God what He wants and what pleases Him.

Two, the law of worship. Bear in mind “there is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12), and this lawgiver is Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-26). The lawgiver said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  The imperative of the command is formulated into the word “must,” and the two-letter preposition “in” forming the parameters of authorized actions in the phrase “in truth,” shows that the lawgiver, Jesus Christ, commands that actions and activities in worship to God are confined to that which is presented or legislated in the New Testament because that which is “in truth” is in “the word of God” (John 17:17).

Now, in view of the fact that Jesus Christ is the lawgiver today, and he has placed everything he requires of those who approach God in worship to be done “in truth,” here is how the use of instrumental music in worship matters. The law of Christ does not authorize the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the church today. So, does it matter? Absolutely, provided a person or congregation of people has the desire to worship God in spirit and in truth.

Three, the law of unity.  The Bible says, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The law of unity is the Word of God, for Jesus said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21). The Word of God is both the basis of belief in Christ and the basis of unity in Christ.

Now, in view of the fact that the New Testament is the law of unity for everyone living today, here is how the use of instrumental music in worship matters. It is unauthorized by the law of unity, and it divides those who are obeying the Word of God from those who have added to it, and, resultantly, it is impossible to sustain its use in worship as being something that God wants or with which He is pleased. So, does it matter? Absolutely, provided a person or congregation of people has the desire “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” and to give God what He wants in worship and what pleases Him in worship.

Four, the law of love.  A funny thing about love is the more it is given away the more you get. The urging of the Scriptures is “let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). Since some do not think of love as partaking in the concept of law, think again from the following statements: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” 1 John 4:20-21, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Notice, that last verse makes honoring the law of God essential to entering into heaven.

Now, in view of the fact that the New Testament is the law of love for everyone living today, here is how the use of instrumental music in worship matters. Its use in worship cannot be found in the New Testament and, therefore, it is unauthorized by the law of love, and, resultantly, it is impossible to sustain its use in worship as being something that God wants or with which He is pleased. So, does it matter? Absolutely, provided a person or congregation of people has the desire to love God and to give God what He wants in worship and what pleases Him in worship.

Summary

Instrumental music in worship matters because it violates the law of faith, the law of worship, the law of unity, and the law of love. Christians must ever remain content in the worship of God to be “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

 

 


It is our desire and intent, to be the church that you read about in the Bible. Not a man-made organization, but the church built by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.


Mission Statement of Tiftonia church of Christ  

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20