Category Archives: Restoration

Back To The Bible!

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


This is the final installment in this series from the American Christian Review by J. R. Howard. While I cannot agree with everything stated in the original article, and some of the more objectional material was redacted from this presentation, the emphasis on the difference between the Lord’s church and the denominational world is worth noting. Would that there was this same fearless distinction made today.


We have now given the marks, or the most important marks, by which the true Church of Christ may be identified and recognized. Wherever they will all apply, that is most certainly the true Church–the only organization of the kind on earth that has the authority and approbation of God–that will prevail and triumph, and stand when all others shall fail, and the only one that the Lord Jesus Christ will own and receive as his bride, when He shall come again, “without a sin-offering unto salvation.”

It may be said to us, as it was once said to the Savior: “This is a hard saying, who can bear it?” And it may also be said to us, “You have unchristianized every Church in the land but one–but your own–and consigned them all alike to the disapprobation of God, disownment by the Lord Jesus Christ, and utter extinction and annihilation!” If so–if thus consigned–it is not we who have done it, but it has been done by the New Testament, by the WORD of God. If they are recognized by that, it is beyond our power to unchurch or unchristianize them; nor do we wish to do so. If they are not the true Church, or true Churches, of Christ, they can easily become such. Any Church can become the true Church by acquiring all these marks of identification, by parting with everything inconsistent with them, and by conforming to everything taught in the New Testament, as regards its constitution, organization, laws and regulations.

The Church which has all these marks, to the exclusion of what is inconsistent with them and the Bible, and claims to be the true,…Apostolic Church, has taken high and vantage ground in religion–the highest position on earth. She has taken ground that must be sustained at every point, which she must never abandon, and which, she must occupy worthily and improve perseveringly, in a manner that shall result in her own welfare and happiness, the glory of God, and her eternal happiness and salvation.

If she is no better than the sects around her, or perhaps not as good, in piety, temper, good works, the practice of Christian duty and keeping the ordinances of the Lord’s house, what will be the inducement to unite with or enter into her? Or what advantages will she possess by a mere external conformity to the Bible in all these marks of identification? The inquiry with her should always be, Wherein do we excel? Her members should indeed be “a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” and in obeying the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. They should endeavor to have ” a good report of those without,” or of the world–should avoid everything inconsistent with their high and holy profession and be found in the daily discharge of every duty–should be living epistles, known and read of all men,” and “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.” Then will the Church be “clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and as terrible as an army with banners “–” the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Eric L. Padgett


The following is the continuation of an article written by J. R. Howard and originally published in the American Christian Review, edited then by elder Benjamin Franklin (not the statesman). I will present more of this article at a later time. Please review the previous posts to get the complete context.


Such documents as human “creeds,” “Confessions of Faith,” “Disciplines,” “Articles of Faith,” “Abstracts of Doctrine,” etc., were totally unknown to the Apostles, never permitted by them, and have no authority whatever, not the least shadow of authority anywhere in the Bible or New Testament, but are subversive of its authority, full of evil tendencies, and supplant that volume by their uninspired, unauthorized human legislation, and usurping and nullifying the ordinances and commandments of God, by their assumed authority over the minds and consciences of men. “In vain do they worship me,” says Christ, “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” “Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions.” These written and published creeds virtually “add to” or “take from” the Bible, and incur the Divine malediction for so doing, pronounced there for all such conduct. They create and continue parties, foment disunion, and keep up and perpetuate divisions.

The primitive Christians had no other creed but the Bible, nor did those who lived for ages after them. This alone kept them united for three hundred years, kept out heresy, and was all-sufficient to perfect them in holiness and character. And if the Bible was sufficient then for all these purposes, it is amply so now; and we have no need of human creeds.

The Church now which has no creed but the Bible, which owns and recognizes none other, whose motto is, “The Bible, the Bible alone, and nothing but the Bible,” is, all things else being equal, the true Church of Christ.


Another mark of the genuine Church of Christ is its unity… It was but one–a unit. Jesus calls it “my Church,” thus implying that it could be but one, a unit, and not “churches” in the plural. Wherever it is mentioned in the New Testament, in the general or abstract, it is only as one. “There is one body and one Spirit”–“the Church, which is his body.” “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” “We have many members in one body.” ” Now they are many members, yet but one body.” “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” Hence the Church is composed of one general body, and not many sectarian bodies, and had no sectarian “branches.” How would a cedar tree look, with here an apple branch, there a peach branch, yonder a pear branch, and yonder a cherry branch? How odd, unnatural and grotesque would it appear! And how would the old Jerusalem trunk look, with a Roman Catholic branch, an Episcopalian branch, a Baptist branch, a Presbyterian branch, a Methodist branch, etc. What an odd, unnatural and heterogeneous appearance would it present? But it neither has, and never had, any of these sectarian branches growing from it. Its branches are all homogeneous with itself-—of the same nature, and nothing more than its members, or the organizations composing the true Church of Christ.

Eric L. Padgett


The following is the continuation of an article written by J. R. Howard and originally published in the American Christian Review, edited then by elder Benjamin Franklin (not the statesman). I will present more of this article at a later time. Please review the previous posts to get the complete context.
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“On this rock,” said Jesus, “I will build my Church, and the gates of hades shall never prevail against it.” Nor have they ever done so, nor will they ever be able to do it. The powers of the unseen world; persecution, corruption and division, opposition of every kind and character, have been arrayed against it, and have all been unsuccessful in attempting to put down and destroy it. And though it was predicted concerning it that it should be…in a state of depression, and perhaps of corruption, or partial corruption, yet it has never become extinct. It has always continued to exist in some place, and in some state or condition.

Hence Satan attempted at first to destroy the Church by persecution, but “the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church,” and he failed. He then attempted to destroy it by corruption, and the long, dark night of the Roman Catholic apostasy came on. But Luther sounded the trumpet of reformation, the light of truth began to dawn upon the benighted world, and the true Church began gradually to emerge from the long, gloomy, dark night; but she did not get entirely out. Seeing her emerging, Satan then attempted to destroy her by division. And then “a thousand and one” sects arose, one after another, or really more than six hundred! But he is destined to be foiled and fail here, for the full blaze of Divine truth is now shining in all its pristine purity, by the influence of the current reformation in restoring the ancient Gospel; and the Church, again in her primitive apostolic purity, is destined to go forth in the strength and power and irresistible might of the Lord of Hosts.

Here, then, we have the first mark of the true Church of Christ—origin and perpetuity. The Church, now, which can establish a claim to these marks, is THE Church of Christ all things else being equal, or if not otherwise defective.

The Church of Christ is known and recognized in the New Testament, by such appellations as these: “Church of God” “Churches of Christ.” Jesus calls it, “My Church.” Hence, we may with propriety call it the …”Church of Christ.” In fact, we are not authorized by the Bible, or in the New Testament, to call it anything else than according to the Divine nomenclature. The New Testament recognizes no party or sectarian names whatever. The names, “Roman Catholic Church,” or “Episcopal Church,” or “Presbyterian Church,” or “Baptist Church,” or “Methodist Church,” and so on, are nowhere to be found there, and are not recognized by it; nor are the names Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.

All such names, as party appellatives and distinctions, or as distinctive appellations, are condemned by the Apostles in the most unreserved and unqualified terms, and ranked by them among the “works of the flesh.” Says Paul to the Corinthians, in reference to this: “Ye are carnal [fleshly]; for whereas there is among you envying and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” Will the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes the second time, own as His Churches those wearing any other names than His–or than those names in the New Testament authorized by Him to be worn? Most assuredly not!

For illustration: Suppose a man was to leave his wife and family to make a visit to a distant foreign country, necessary to be made and to be necessarily absent for some long-stated or indefinite period of time, but at the same time with the promise and assurance of returning again, to receive her again, and live with her as his bride, and to be again united to his family; and suppose that during his absence, she was, with a perfect knowledge of all these things, to throw away his name and take some other name, and be found when he returned wearing that other name, think you that he would own and take her as his bride? By no means. He would most assuredly refuse and reject her. Now, the Church is called the bride, or wife, of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is called her husband. “The bride, the Lamb’s wife.” “Prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband.” “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Now, the Lord Jesus Christ left the world about eighteen hundred years ago, ascended to heaven, was crowned Kings of kings, and took His seat on the throne of the universe “at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” and has left in His WORD the promise and assurance of His returning again to earth, to receive His bride, the Church…But what has taken place since He ascended? As we have shown, corruption, division and apostasy have done their evil work; and His Church, which His Apostles left pure, undivided and uncorrupted, wearing His name alone, and observing His ordinances, worship and commandments, has apostatized from Him, “left her first love,” and become an abominable sectarian organization…Hence, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes the second time, to be united to His bride, the Church, will disown every one of these corrupt, unauthorized religious organizations remaining–will reject every one of them, and will recognize but the one true Church, wearing His name, to the exclusion of all others. And fearful will be their destiny then!

Here, therefore, is the second mark or the true Church. The Church that wears the [name of Christ-ELP], to the exclusion of all party or sectarian names, and whose members do not wear any names but that of “Christian,”…as found in the New Testament, is the Church of Christ, all other things being equal, or having all the other necessary marks.

Eric L. Padgett


The following is the continuation of an article written by J. R. Howard and originally published in the American Christian Review, edited then by elder Benjamin Franklin (not the statesman). I will present more of this article at a later time. Please review the previous posts to get the complete context. To summarize, Mr. Howard, using the illustration of plotting a piece of property, makes the point that we must find the original corner of the Lord’s church in order to have the true design and extent of the Lord’s church. Some, however, have plotted new pieces of property, distorting the original ground the Lord had plotted. He now continues that…

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Some, taking advantage of this state of things, and others having made fruitless searches for the old corner, began, each one, to make a new corner for himself, and to run out a corresponding tract on the old survey to suit their own notions and opinions. In process of time other tracts were run out, in accordance with new corners, or in correspondence with preceding ones, until, tract added to tract, they had almost entirely covered the old survey.

The Roman Catholics were the first trespassers on it and made the first new corner, and run out a very large tract. This trespass on the old grant opened the way for others; and the corner they made became a key corner for a chain or connection of chains.

The Episcopalians then made a corner, from the Roman Catholics, and run out a tract. The Presbyterians made one in connection, and run out at first one tract, and then this became a key corner, from which they ran out several other tracts, and then divided their first tract between the Old School and the New School. The Methodists made a corner from the Episcopalians, and at first run out one tract, and then from this as a key corner ran out several other tracts, and then divided the old tract between the Church North and the Church South. The Baptists made one, but “ran past Jerusalem,” not to Jericho, but to John the Baptist in the river Jordan, and thought they had made their corner there, but were mistaken, as they made it in modern times and somewhere else, and then ran out one and afterward several tracts. And thus on with all the other sects or denominations. But none of these began at the right corner.

The beginning corner of Roman Catholicism was made at Rome. The beginning corner of Episcopalianism was made at London, that of Presbyterianism in Scotland, that of Methodism at Oxford in England, of Baptistism in Germany, of Lutheranism there at Wittemburg, of Calvinism at Geneva, And so on through the long catalogue of sects or denominations and religious parties. None began at the right place. But the beginning corner of the Gospel—of pure, Apostolic, primitive Christianity—was made at JERUSALEM—”beginning at Jerusalem.”

Justinian made the beginning corner of Romanism, Henry VIII of England made that of Episcopalianism, John Wes-ley that of Methodism, Menno of Baptistism, John Knox of Presbyterianism, Martin Luther of Lutherism, John Calvin of Calvinism; and thus on to the end of the long catalogue of religious sects or parties in Christendom. But the Apostle Peter made the beginning corner of the Christian dispensation, of pure, uncorrupted Christianity, and, as we have shown, by special commission of the Lord Jesus Christ himself (See Matt 16:19 and Acts 2:14, 38; 10; 15:7).

The Apostle Peter, and not Alexander Campbell, made the beginning corner of the Christian Church. Alexander Campbell only acted the part of the man who shewed the beginning corner of the survey. He exposed and tore away the human additions and appendages, the traditions, mysticism and error with which the marks on the Jerusalem trunk—the corner of primitive Christianity—had been covered over, obscured and hidden from the view of men, and identified it, by the original marks, to be the same one made by Peter. And this is the reason why there is such an outcry against Alexander Campbell, and why he is so much opposed and abused by the various religious parties, who have made their new corners and run out their tracts on the old survey. They know that the identification of the old corner, for which he is contending, will be fatal to all their old claims; that if that stand (and it will stand), they will have to give them all up and “abandon the ground” which they have taken—the man-made systems they have espoused. Hence the great excitement and contention throughout the length and breadth of the land, the opposition to this identifier of the old corner and those associated with him, the debating and declamation every where.

Had Alexander Campbell made a new corner, and run out a new tract on this old survey, according to the chart and compass of “orthodoxy,” (as so self-styled), so as not to have interfered with the claims of others, he would have been hailed as a good orthodox neighbor, and welcomed into the sectarian community. But he identified the old corner; and in this consists the great head and front of his offense.

And as finding and identifying the original corner of the old survey did not constitute the man who found it the locator or owner of the land, so the identification of the old Gospel, of the Church of Christ, does not make Alexander Campbell the inventer of a new system or the founder of a new party. This he has always disavowed or disclaimed in the strongest terms. He has been only the humble instrument in the hands of God in the restoration to the world of apostolic and primitive Christianity, as it was left uncorrupted by the Apostles, and as it came completed and perfected from their hands.

The sectarian occupants of the new tracts, made and run out on the old Gospel survey, have tried in various ways to show that these marks made by Peter are not the true marks of the old corner. Some have endeavored to prove that faith alone is the only mark, and they accordingly made but one chop on their tree. But this would not do—would not constitute a legal corner. Others contended that there were but two marks necessary—faith and repentance—and they accordingly put two marks only on their tree. But neither of these will do, as the law requires three chops in all cases, all the country over, to constitute a genuine and legal corner; and to be a lawful and acceptable one it must have these three. Hence one chop will not do, and two are no better than one. These three marks were necessary; and accordingly the Apostle made three on the old Jerusalem trunk— 1. Faith; 2. Repentance; 3. Baptism “for the remission of sins.” And as every corner must have its “pointers” to point to it and show where it stands and is to be found, and that it is the true corner, so this has its pointers. It has thirteen pointers, the thirteen Apostles, who always point to it as the genuine corner—to this alone, and never to any other. The genuine corner must have these three marks; and every corner that lacks them is not the right corner. To begin at such a one is to begin wrong; and there is great danger, in such a case, of running wrong and ending wrong! “Take heed.” “Be not deceived.” “So run that ye may obtain.”

Eric L. Padgett