The theme of this year’s gospel meeting is “Back To The Bible.” This is an important theme and serious topic. It was the ardent cry of sober men who wanted to throw off the shackles of denominationalism and restore simple, New Testament Christianity. “Let us speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where it is silent,” was the plea of the American Restoration Movement. Calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways was their goal. The cry of “Back to the Bible” is also an imminently scriptural plea. Peter commanded, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11).
This cry is not just a mere slogan, it is something which we must fully embrace yet today. Jude wrote that we must earnestly contend for the Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). This was necessary because, even in the first century, even with the inspired apostles present, man’s tendency was to apostasy. Paul warned that after his departing there would be those in the church who acted as grievious wolves, not sparing the flock but would speak perverse things, drawing away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:28-30).
While apostasy often takes only a generation (Jud. 2:10), it can also come even sooner. Paul warned the brethren in the churches of Galatia that there were some troubling them and perverting the gospel of Christ even then (Gal. 1:6-8). John warned the brethren in the first century church to try the spirits because there were many false prophets already gone out into the world (I John 4:1). Our Lord condemned those who would teach for doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9).
What was true then, is true today. The possibility of apostasy was real then, and it is an ever present danger today. Thus, the need for adhering to the Old Jerusalem Gospel. With the number of denominational groups growing yearly, and the number of congregations of the Lord’s church freely drinking from the contaminated fount of human doctrine, we must constantly be on guard against the ever subtle change from truth through compromise. We must guard against being pressured to accept doctrines and practices which the Lord’s faithful never did accept and which the New Testament never did authorize.
With only a little encouragement, Eve was quickly willing to take a bite from the fruit of disobedience (Gen. 3:6). Some today have taken a bite out of this fruit regarding evangelism. Instead of seeking lost souls by preaching the unadulterated gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16), they want to lure the uninterested through gimmicks and games. We need to go back to first century evangelism and preach the word in season and out (II Tim. 4:1-8).
Many have turned their backs on biblical authority and have allowed their feelings to be their guide. While in years past many adhered to their denominational creeds, today most so-called religious people have no idea what their denominational creed is. Instead, they have adopted an every man for himself approach to truth. Like Namaan of old they determine what they believe through their own prejudiced feelings (II Kings 5:11). But we must go back to a “Thus saith the Lord” and book, chapter and verse preaching.
High moral precepts and standards, both in and out of the church, are a thing of the past. It seems with every breaking news story there is an unbelievable new low reached in moral depravity. Wickedness and just plain nonsense and stupidity abound. The good is called bad and the bad good. We live in a world turned upside down. Abortion, homosexuality, “transgenderism,” worldliness, immodesty, lying and cheating and so much more are now considered normal actions while Biblical morality is called abnormal. We need to call men to go back to the standard of the Bible for morality and throw off the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).
We need to go back to the Bible for the pattern of the church and worship. The Bible is clear as to the pattern for the organization of the church and worship (Matt. 16:16-19; Eph. 1:22,23; I Tim. 3:1-8; etc.). Israel of old erred when they sought to be like the nations about them in having a king (I Sam. 8:5,19,20). Today, adopting the innovations to be like the denominations around us will only lead to more apostasy because it is tantamount to rejecting God (I Sam. 8:7).
Brethren, the call to go back to the Bible and the Bible alone is just as serious and sober as it was in the first century and during the Restoration Movement. We must be serious about God’s word and about our eternal destiny for how we approach God’s word will determine our eternal destiny.
Eric L. Padgett