This little booklet was written as a term paper for my eleventh grade English class at McClenaghan High School in Florence, South Carolina. At first I started writing the history and belief of the denomination with which I was affiliated.
After a thorough research and examining the principles set down for the New Testament Church in the Bible I came to the conclusion that this denomination was not meeting according to Scriptural principles.
I searched until I found a group of Christians meeting on a Scriptural basis. I now meet with the Christians who attend the Gospel Chapel, 618 Greeg Avenue, Florence, South Carolina.
I was not proselyted, neither was I talked into this as some seem to think. I saw these truths entirely in the light of the Word of God.
I must admit that I certainly have a clearer conscience about this matter now.
This is a plea for a return to Scriptural Principles. My sincere prayer is that this little booklet will prove to be a real blessing to you.
WARD GASQUEA Plea For Scriptural Principles.
The story is told of two Christians who met for the first time in a railway coach. After some pleasant conversation about the things of God, one inquired, "To what denomination do you belong?" The other replied, "That's just my difficulty and I wish you would help me. Supposing you had only the word of God to guide you, what denomination would you advise me to join?" His fellow Christian thought for awhile and then said, "Why, with only the word of God as my authority, I could not advise you to join any." (1)
How true this is! You can search your Bibles in vain to discover the Episcopalian denomination, or the Baptist, or the Methodist, or the Lutheran or any of the various others. God's words says, "Every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? " (2)
Here is what some great Christians of the past centuries had to say about the matter:
John Bunyan-who is claimed by the Baptists-was cast into Bedford jail because he would not attend the organized Church. He refused sectarian names. He wrote the following in 1672, the year of his release from prison: "Since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others, I will tell you I would be and hope I am a Christian, and choose, if God will count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost. And as for titles of Annabaptists, Independents, Presbyterians and the like, I concluded that they come neither from Jerusalem nor Antioch, but from hell or Babylon." (3)
Martin Luther said, "In the first place, I pray you to leave my name alone, and not to call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine. I have not been crucified for any one. St. Paul would not that any one should call themselves Paul, nor Peter, but of Christ. How does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to cling to these party names and distinctions; away with them all, let us call ourselves only Christians, after Him from whom our doctrine comes." (4)
By looking at the preceding and to God's Holy word you can tell that we should be called only Christians. We should be known only by His name.
What do we see today? Approximately 1500 different sects and denominations, meeting under different names, governed by different rules, and each professing to be the true Church or the truest expression of the Church on earth. Some rally to the name of a reverend founder, some to a doctrine, some to a practice, and some to a Divinely appointed ordinance. Many of the people out of Churches have more faith than most of the people inside of today's Churches. (5),
Alfred Tennyson wrote:
"There lives more faith in honest
Abraham Lincoln disturbed many Americans with his idea on church membership. He said he had never united himself to any church because he was unable to accept the long complicated statements of Christian doctrine characterizing orthodox articles of belief and confession of faith. To put it into his own words: "When any church will inscribe over its altar as its sole qualification for church membership, the Savior's condensed statement of the substance of both the law and Gospel, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself,' that church will I join with all my heart . . ." (8)
People can look at the condition of the churches today and see that something is wrong. But, is there any group that is different from this? The answer is yes.
There is a Christian movement in the world today which departs radically from generally, accepted and traditional methods of procedure. This movement has increased rapidly in the last century. Over twelve hundred missionaries are pursuing its methods in almost every country in the world, and report their success among all classes of people. (9) These people do not show favoritism to people of any denomination. They look to all born again believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. They do not go around preaching against the denominations.
God's word says "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together and so much the more as we see the day approaching, "(10) but the word of God does not say to have denominations. These groups gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are usually small except in big cities. They look to the Lord Jesus when He said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." (11)
Is this a new religion-a new form of worship?
Is the message they preach something new? The message is, "For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." (12), They stand for the Gospel as presented in I Corinthians 15:1-4. This message is not new; it is apostolic and fundamental!
Is the practice of believers' baptism by immersion something new? "And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." (13) Bishop Handley Moule says, Scripture indicates a usage of immersion in the apostolic missions very plainly." And then again, In the New Testament we have not indeed any mention of infant baptism-few certain notices of it are to be found before the third century." (14) Baptism by immersion is not something new!
Is the regular observance of the Lord's Supper something new? "Upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread." (15) You will notice that the disciples broke bread on the first day of the week, not the first day of the month, nor the first day of the quarter. The regular observance of the Lord's Supper is not something new!
Is the gathering without a denominational name something new? "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you." (16) The early disciples gathered in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and were content to be called after Him. That was one of the main themes of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. The gathering without a denominational name is not something new!
Is the rejection of a "one man ministry" something new? The "one man ministry" refers to the common practice of having a "pastor" or "minister" to whom alone is committed the responsibility of preaching to the people. The definition of a minister, according to Alexander Cruden is "One who serves. waits on, or attends another." (17) How many so called ministers of today are really servants of the people? The Epistles seem to contemplate a number of pastors, or evangelists, or teachers in each assembly of Christians. Pastors and teachers were plural in each church. The rejection of a "one man ministry" is not something new!
Is their method of financing God's work something new? "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 (collections) when I come." (18) "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give." (19) Search the Scriptures in vain for the suppers, bazaars, rummage sales. cook-book sales of today's churches. The early church received no money from those without -the world. Is the idea of not taking up public offerings and not asking money from unsaved a new idea. This method of financing God's work is not something new!
This movement back to first principles is apostolic and fundamental.
"Ask for the old paths, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (20)
May the Lord give you grace and courage to act according to His will no matter what the cost.
(1) Gibbs, Alfred P., Scriptural
Principles of Gathering, Walterick Printing Company, P. 15
Cruden, Alexander, Cruden's Unabridged Concordance, Fleming H. Revel Co.
Fraser, Neil M., "Are We Preaching Something New?" Faithful Words Publishing Co.
Gibbs, Alfred P., "Scriptural Principles of Gatherings." Walterick Printing Co.
Kane, Hugh, "A Return To First Principles," Faithful Words Publishing Co.
Landis, George M., "My Reasons," Walterick Printing Co.
Moule, Bishop Handley, "Outlines of Christian Doctrine."
Nathanson, Jerome, "What Do They Believe?" Look Magazine, Vol. 19, March 22. 195.' PP. 41, 42, 44.