Oct 31

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The effort to restore Christianity as revealed in the New Testament, and which is limited to “the teaching of Christ;” was such an effort as found in the early “searchers for the ancient order of things,” struggling with every step forward. Denominationalism was on every hand; each having different doctrines, and identifying themselves with different names. Religious division was a plague on young America.
There were more Presbyterian congregations, 55 compared to the next highest number, the Quakers with 39 congregations. With Presbyterians came Calvinism and its teaching of “total depravity,” or inherited sin, and its “Limited Atonement.” Samuel Rogers of the 1800’s had two sons, and believed in Calvinism. Being a humble man, he could not believe that he would be so blessed that both his sons would be among the “elect” of the “Limited Atonement.” So his thought was, if only he could know which one of the two would be saved, then he would give the other all of this world’s goods he could. As this would be the only “good” he would ever know! This is just one of the problems facing the religious people of the new land!
Then, there was, as now, the prevailing thought that governed the religious thinking of Martin Luther: “What is not against Scripture is for Scripture, and Scripture for it.” It was a very negative view of “the teaching of Christ,” but it gave liberties to church leaders as they wrote their various “Creeds” in Europe which came with the settlers of the new land. It was in fact, a license to go beyond “the teaching of Christ;” the very thing which John so strongly warned against: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Readers of the New Testament have read Jesus’ words the night in which he was betrayed: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:26-28). Within Jesus’ words there is a command, but it was personal to the disciples who were with him; as Matthew wrote speaking of the bread: “and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat.” The question facing the churches of early America, who followed in “Luther’s Shoes,” is there scripture against taking the Lord’s Supper on Friday night (Or any other time.)? If not, then, it would not be “against scripture,” thus, it “is for scripture and scripture is for it.” So churches were free to take the Lord’s Supper on Friday night! They had dusted off “Luther’s Shoes” and put a new shine on them.
It was true that these early Americans had read Luke’s words: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, …” (Acts 20:7). But they were fast to notice, this is not a command, as Luke was only reporting what the church did! Therefore, they were free to take the Lord’s Supper on Friday night, or any other time they so choose! Yet, for the truth seeker, the one who desires to abide in “the teaching of Christ,” he understood, taking the Lord’s Supper on Friday is not within “the teaching of Christ; therefore, he cannot abide in “the teaching of Christ” and take the Lord’s Supper on any other day than “the first day of the week.” You see, there is no scripture for taking the Lord’s Supper on any day, but “the first day of the week.” So, the question: How can there be scripture for it? What verse would you read which would convince another that he is free to take the Lord’s Supper on another day? “Luther’s Shoes,” dusted off and shined to look so bright do not help! There just is no scripture for it!
Those who were “searching for the ancient order of things,” were looking for things which would allow them to abide in “the teaching of Christ;” as they desired to have fellowship with God and his Son. It was salvation they were seeking, in this life and that which is to come and they understood, it is in “the teaching of Christ!”
“Luther’s Shoes,” dusted off, spit shined, to use an Army term, will never equal the gospel of Christ, which is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). My friends, when you have the truth, don’t settle for “Luther’s Shoes,” as they have been worn out a long time ago!

— Frank R. Williams

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