LarryMiles2015“From Reflections of the Restoration Movement.”

Alexander Campbell and the other pioneer preachers that we have  been writing  about were good men, but we must be sure that we understand our true relationship to them. They did not  re-establish the Church. The Church of Christ has been on the  earth since the  first  Pentecost after  the  Ascension of  Jesus, and  has  been  here  ever since and  will be  here  until the Lord comes  back for His  own. To teach otherwise would mean the  words of Jesus in Matthew  16, where  He said, “the gates  of  hades shall not  prevail..”  would have  been untrue.

But  it was the Lord Jesus who established the Church (Mathew 16:18). He was the One who purchased the Church with  His blood that was shed on the  cruel cross of Calvary (Hebrews 9:14; Titus 2:13-14). Jesus  is head of the  Church today, and it is in the  Word of God that  we, as simple New Testament Christians, go to seek the teachings of God concerning “The Ancient Order of Things.”

We have  tried to  show  how Alexander Campbell and other godly men  dedicated to the Word of God  led men to seek after the  whole counsel of God and organize churches after the  New Testament pattern.

Alexander Campbell was a  mere man who pointed men to the  Savior and the  Book. May we ever take his example and  preach and teach the everlasting Gospel  to a lost  and dying world.

As we said in our  previous article, the decades of the  1820’s brought  great strides for the work of  restoration in this land. Many were preaching New Testament Christianity all over  America. James DeForrest Murch had this to say in Christians Only,    In a  marvelous way, God raised up a  people in many  places throughout America prior to  1830. Without  consultation or with prior knowledge of each other, men  had been led by the Holy  Spirit to abandon human dogmas and traditions and turn to the Bible as their only  rule of faith and practice. A remarkable similarity in the  views of these people was evident and usually when they confronted one another, they came to common ground and gladly worked together to  further the  kingdom of God.” Let’s truly work  together to spread the teachings of the Lord of Glory!

The  two main groups in 1830 were those “led” by  Alexander Campbell and those “led” by Barton Warren Stone. They were  very  strong in Kentucky. Murch says that each  group numbered in the ten  thousands. Thus it was  to be  in Kentucky that the  informal union was  to take shape, the  area  being  around  Georgetown, KY

John T. Johnson was the  minister for the Great Crossings Church (Campbell Movement), and  Barton W. Stone was the minister of the Christian Church in Georgetown. They decided to  combine their efforts and work for unity.

The  Christian Church (Stone Movement) was  dedicating a  new  meeting-house at the New Years Day gathering at Hill Street church on January 1, 1832. This event  brought brethren from both  groups. The  two main speakers that day were Barton W. Stone and  “Raccoon” John Smith. Smith showed that the Bible taught Christian unity. John Augustus Williams, in  his ‘Life  of John Smith’,  quotes Smith as saying, God has but one people on earth. He has given them but  one Book. A union as we plead for-a union  of God’s people on that one  Book-must, then be  practicable. Every  Christian desires to stand completely in the whole will of God. The prayer of the Savior, and the whole tenor  of  his teachings, clearly show that it is in God’s will that His  children should be united.

Later in the  same meeting, “Raccoon” John Smith spoke these words, Let  us, then, my brethren, be  no longer Campbellites, or Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other  kind of lights, but let us  come to the Bible, and the Bible alone, as  the only  book in the world that can give us all the light that we need.

Concerning this informal union, Barton W. Stone wrote these  words in the Christian Messenger, they were united by no written compact, no association, no conventional constitution…They were free to think for themselves without the dictation of ghostly  bishops…were drawn together by the spirit of truth by our  common Lord and expressed by us, the  subjects of his kingdom.

Alexander Campbell, writing in the Millennial Harbinger, had this to say, These brethren need not to be told that to convert persons is not  merely  to baptize them, to loose them and let them go; nor to give them the name Christians, and induce them to protest against  human  leaders and  human creeds, and to extol the sufficiency of the inspired  writings; but to ‘turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may  receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance amongst them that are  sanctified—to teach them to observe and do all that the Lord has commanded.’

 -Larry Miles is  Co-Editor of Word & Work