May 03

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If you do not know everything the New Testament teaches, then you should “search for the ancient order of things!” By “ancient order” is meant the New Testament. Nothing later than the New Testament is old enough; so all “articles of faith” and such like are too late to be part of the “ancient order of things!” “The ancient order of things” is what God through Christ has authorized his people to do in the age of Christ. Who would desire to do anything else, more or less?
In this article the subject will answer the question: “What is the church authorized to do?” As a person looking at churches throughout the land, it will be noticed that they are engaged in many activities. Many churches have become very “social” in their activities; others have become very family oriented; then, some churches have put more importance in some area than in other areas. Thus, the question: “What did the apostles of Christ authorize the church of the New Testament to do?”
In a “search for the ancient order of things,” the honest “searcher” will allow God to speak through the inspired writers of the New Testament and begin and stop where they authorized works and activities of the church of the New Testament. By the words, “the church of the New Testament,” is meant the church revealed with approval under the oversight of the apostles of Christ. It must be understood, written on the pages of the New Testament, are things approved and disapproved; as the inspired writers wrote of what must be and what was being done by the churches and individuals to whom they wrote. In these writings they both praised in words of approval and wrote words of condemnation of things disapproved. Therefore, in any “search for the ancient order of things,” the honest “searcher” must be prepared to exclude all works and or activities disapproved and prepared to accept and to put into action all approved works and activities!
Through the years, it has been found that “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) were authorized to engage in three areas. These three areas are: 1) worship, where the worshipper is edified, 2) helping those in need of things necessary to daily life, and 3) evangelism, teaching the gospel to the lost. In this “search,” it is also important to distinguish between personal activities and collective, church activities. The local church is not authorized to do everything the individual is allowed to do. The individual Christian is authorized to own and engage in business activities; while the local church has no such authority! In other words, the individual Christian may own and operate a Ford dealership, but the local church has no such authority. At the same time, the individual Christian has authority to engage in every work and activity the local church does. The individual Christian may worship, help the needy, and teach the lost; and the individual Christian does not need authority from the local church to do such! The authority for this individual is the New Testament itself!
If a group of Christians determine to form themselves into a local congregation, approved of God, there must be a total commitment to “the ancient order of things!” Otherwise, they should form themselves into a social club, a political group, a benevolent organization, or whatever they desire to be. The church of the New Testament may not do anything more or less than there is authority for, as found in “the search for the ancient order of things!”
The New Testament knows nothing of anything else, other than the one universal body of Christ which is organized in local autonomous congregations. These congregations have no authority to work and have activities other than the three named above: 1) worship, 2) helping those in need, and 3) evangelism.
If we are not bringing people to the church approved by the apostle of Christ, just what are we bringing people to? More importantly, why are we making the effort to bring people to something not approved by the apostles of Christ?

— Frank R. Williams

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