Apr 05

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This being the third article written under the above title, it might be good to address the words themselves. Just what is this, “ancient order of things?” The word “ancient” refers to the time of the apostles of Christ; the words “order of things,” refers to the spiritual order of things delivered by the inspired apostles of Christ. There was perfect harmony in what the apostles taught and what Christ had taught personally; so much so that Luke called “the teaching of Christ,” the “apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Therefore, “the ancient order of things,” simply refers back to the inspired teaching done by the apostles of Christ. They did not “search for the ancient order of things,” they delivered it!
The word “search,” refers to the early years of America; when men turned from denominationalism back to the Bible. First, their efforts were to throw off all man-written creeds; such as confessions of faith, articles of faith, and all such material. They desired to “speak where God had spoken, and to be silent where God was silent.” They also desired to call Bible things by Bible names and terms! In doing so, they desired to be in harmony with the inspired scriptures. Therefore, they went in “search for the ancient order of things,” in the “ancient” Book of books!
Their plea was simple; it was a call to go back to the Bible! In this they called on all mankind to give up their creeds, confessions of faith, and articles of faith; and to place their faith in Christ, in “the teaching of Christ!” This took them, and they hoped to take others, out of denominationalism and into the one body of Christ. It was not easy for these “searchers;” they did not know just what would be required of them, but they understood their “search for the ancient order of things” would take them to Christ, to his blood, to his teaching; thus, when obeyed, to salvation! Their first desire was to simply please God; and they understood only God knew what pleased him; so they looked to the word of God. Little did they know they would have to give up their finite sprinkling and be immersed, buried into Christ in order to have their sins forgiven. Little did they know they would have to rightly divide the word of truth, which required them to give up “paying tithes” and start giving: “Upon the first day of the week…, as God hath prospered him, …” (1 Cor. 16:2). For they would learn, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). They would learn that the music acceptable to God is singing and “making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). These and other things would separate them from family and friends; but they loved the Lord more than all. (Luke 14:26) Finally, this led them to understand “the churches of Christ” could have no part in denominationalism and total separation was required. It was not enough to just “search,” but they had to find and obey!
It was not easy to see “the churches of Christ” which was so unlike what they had known all their lives! The apostles of Christ never revealed any spiritual institution larger than the local church; nor did they reveal any spiritual institution smaller than the local church. Their “search for the ancient order of things” led them to the church revealed, to the church built by Christ; though it was one body universally, the only organization was totally local; with elders, deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1). Fellowship was established and maintained in believing and obeying “the teaching of Christ.” Therefore, dear to their hearts was the saying: “In faith, unity; in opinion, liberty; and in all things, charity.” Here they simply stood upon the words of Peter: “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).
These men of earlier years in America: opened the Bible with an honest heart; their heart being set upon truth; their desire was to worship God, to serve Christ, to love each other, and bring the lost to Christ through the gospel of Christ. What a novel idea!

— Frank R. Williams

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