Asleep in Jesus

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ASLEEP IN JESUS

By Wayne S. Walker

     In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 Paul wrote, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”  Being “asleep in Jesus” does not refer to being annihilated or even unconscious, but to being at rest and peace.  In 1832 Margaret MacKay wrote a little poem entitled “Asleep in Jesus,” which was set to music as a hymn in 1842 by William Batchelder Bradbury.  It has been in many of our hymnbooks and used to be quite popular, especially at funerals.  It still contains a good message for us to consider.

“Asleep in Jesus! Blessèd sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep; A calm and undisturbed repose, Unbroken by the last of foes.”  Again, being asleep in Jesus means being at rest.  “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’”  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Revelation 14:13).

“Asleep in Jesus! Oh, how sweet, To be for such a slumber meet, With holy confidence to sing That death has lost his venomed sting!”  Being asleep in Jesus means victory!   “’O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?’  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

“Asleep in Jesus! Peaceful rest, Whose waking is supremely blessed; No fear, no woe, shall dim that hour That manifests the Savior’s power.”  Being asleep in Jesus means looking forward to the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:10-11).

“Asleep in Jesus! Oh, for me May such a blessèd refuge be!  Securely shall my ashes lie And wait the summons from on high.”  Being asleep in Jesus means awaiting until the final resurrection of the dead.  “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

“Asleep in Jesus! Far from thee Thy kindred and their graves may be; But there is still a blessèd sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep.”  Being asleep in Jesus means the hope of being reunited with others who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

On Monday, May 2, 1994, my mother, Mary Ellen Walker, fell asleep in Jesus.  She was born on August 3. 1929, the eldest daughter of Glen and Mildred (Holladay) Workman, and was baptized into Christ on October 13, 1940.  She married my father, Ernest B. Walker, on December 7, 1952, and had two sons.  I was born in 1954.  My brother, who was born in 1956, preceded her in death in 1976.  While living in Ohio she was a member of the Northside (originally Park Avenue) church of Christ in Hillsboro, and after moving to South Carolina in 1986, she was a member of the Central church of Christ in Greenwood.

Unless the Lord comes first, someday each one of us shall also “fall asleep” to await the coming of Christ, the resurrection from the dead, and the final judgment.   “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28).  May we love God, labor in His service, and live our lives in such a way that when this time comes we shall be ready to meet him having been “asleep in Jesus.”

(—taken from With All Boldness; June, 1994; Vol. 4, No. 6; p. 20)

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What I Learned from My Grandfather

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY GRANDFATHER

By Wayne S. Walker

     [Note:  This article is a biography-tribute regarding my grandfather, Glen Workman, a little-known gospel preacher in southern Ohio.  When he passed away in 1979, I wrote nothing about him in the papers published by brethren at that time.  About fifteen years later, I finally got around to putting some information together which I presented along with four main points in a sermon to the congregation where I was laboring at the time, and the brethren really seemed to appreciate it.  This article is a result of that lesson and contains that material.  WSW]

One can learn many good things from his grandparents.  Please consider what Moses said in Exodus 10:6 regarding the plague of locusts on Egypt.  “They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians—which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.”  This indicates that God considered the knowledge of “your fathers’ fathers” important even among the people of Egypt.

I hope that everyone has as pleasant memories of his or her grandparents as I have of mine.  Of course, some have never had the privilege of knowing their grandparents, and that is unfortunate.  Several people who are grandparents have told me that having grandchildren is one of their greatest blessings.  But speaking from the standpoint of having been a grandchild, I can say that having had good grandparents is a great blessing too.  Just think of Timothy and his grandmother Lois.

Certainly the most beneficial situation is when one’s grandparents are faithful Christians.  And, except possibly for my grandfather Lawrence Walker, whom I never really ever knew because he died when I was just two years old, all of my grandparents were members of the Lord’s church.  In fact, my Grandfather Workman, my mother’s father, was a faithful gospel preacher.  Not a lot of brethren knew him.  He did not hold many evangelistic meetings.  He did not preach in large congregations with fancy buildings and huge contributions.  He did not write articles and reports for the leading brotherhood publications.  He never edited a mass circulation bulletin.  He was content to live in the country and work with a small, rural church.  But he taught me a lot of worthwhile things, and for that I am still very grateful to him.

Charles Glen Workman, called Glen by his family and friends, was born on Oct. 29, 1896, in Clay Township, somewhere between Pricetown and Buford, in Highland County, southern Ohio, the son of William Wirt and Mary Susan (Hopkins) Workman.  While still a boy, he moved with his parents and older sister Edith to the family farm which his father purchased from a relative, near East Danville (or Winkle) in Whiteoak Township, also in Highland County.  They became members of the nearby Union Chapel Church of Christ, which we would identify as a Christian Church, but which was much more conservative then than the Christian Church is today.  His education was obtained from the nearby one-room Shofner School and from Whiteoak High School in Mowrystown.  Then on Oct. 27, 1927, just two days before his 31st birthday, he was married to Mildred M. Holladay.  To this union were born four daughters—Mary Ellen Walker, my mother, now deceased; Lois Mae McMillan, also deceased; Ruth Edith (Mann) Carpenter; and Joann Bohrer.

During his early life, my grandfather made his living as a farmer, a school bus driver, and a school teacher, also did some plumbing, and pursued his hobby of carpentry.  But he was always deeply interested in spiritual matters.  He obeyed the gospel while still a young man, probably being baptized in Whiteoak Creek which ran through the family farm as well as beside the Union church building.  My grandmother was a Methodist when they married, but just three years later, through my grandfather’s influence and teaching, she too was baptized into Christ.  At one point, he served as an elder in the Union church.  However, later in life, he decided that he wanted to preach the gospel.  So he enrolled at Cincinnati Bible Seminary and studied Bible under R. C. Foster.

He began preaching at the May Hill Church of Christ near Seaman in Adams County, OH, which again we would identify as a Christian Church, on Sept. 2, 1951, and continued there through Dec. 28, 1952.  His first sermon was entitled, “Why I Preach the Gospel.”  I still have his notes on that sermon and have even used his outline before.  On Jan. 4, 1953, he, my grandmother, and my Aunt Jo moved to Deming County, KY, near Mount Olivet, where he started work with the Christian Church in the small town of Piqua (pronounced pick-way in Kentucky) and continued there through Aug. 14, 1955.  During this time, my parents lived on the Workman family farm in Highland County, and that is where they were when I was born.

When my grandfather finished his work at Piqua, KY, and moved back to his farm in Ohio, he had grown very dissatisfied with the Christian Church and so began visiting with the (non-instrumental) Park Ave. church of Christ in Hillsboro (now known as the Northside church).  After continued study and discussion, one Sunday in 1955 my grandparents went down the aisle at Park Ave., confessed their error in worshipping with the Christian Church, and became identified with the non-denominational, New Testament church of Christ.  Then on Dec. 15, 1955, Grandfather began his labor with the Mt. Zion church of Christ near Belfast southeast of Hillsboro in rural Highland County, OH, where he continued for the next eighteen years.  Interestingly enough, the May Hill church, where he began his preaching work, had resulted from a division that had occurred around the turn of the twentieth century in the Mt. Zion church where he ended his labors.

Sometime in the early 1960s, they even sold the family farm to my Aunt Jo and her husband and bought a house in Belfast so they could be nearer the church.  I should say bought the shell of a house which my grandfather, with his knowledge of carpentry, rebuilt into one of the quaintest and coziest homes that I have ever been in.  But on Dec. 24, 1971, my grandmother had a massive stroke.  After that, I did some of my first regular preaching at Mt. Zion, filling in for Grandpa whenever Grandma’s situation and needs kept him from speaking, until I left for college in Aug., 1972.  Taking care of my grandmother began to wear on my grandfather’s health (he was now 75).  Thus, in the summer or early fall of 1973, he finally gave up his work with the Mt. Zion church.  They moved into Hillsboro and once again identified with the Park Ave./Northside church, where he continued to speak occasionally as opportunities arose.

Grandpa and Grandma celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1977, at which time they had nineteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild (another great-grandchild was born shortly thereafter).  But late the following year Grandpa came down with a cold that just would not go away.  After several tests were run, it was confirmed in February of 1979 that he had Hodgkin’s disease.  Eventually he was taken to Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, OH, where he died on Mar. 22, 1979, at the age of 83.  My mother, her three sisters, and I, his oldest grandson, were all present at his death.  It has been a number of years since my grandfather died, yet I still miss him and think of him often.  My grandmother, continuing to suffer the effects of her stroke, survived until her death four years later on Mar. 3, 1983.  But enough about Glen Workman’s life.  Now I want to share with you what I learned from my grandfather.

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First, my grandfather taught me to test all things by the Scriptures.  It was his love for, knowledge of, and determination to stand on the Scriptures that led him to recognize the error of the Christian Church and identify with the truth.  And that same emphasis on the Scriptures characterized all of his life and his preaching.

The Scriptures were given by inspiration for our benefit that we might know what God wants us to do (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Thus, these Scriptures must be the standard by which we test all beliefs, teachings, and practices in religion with which we come into contact (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, 1 John 4:1).  Only those who base their religious faith, doctrine, and activity on the doctrine found in the Scriptures can be assured of pleasing God (2 John vs. 9-11).

Second, my grandfather taught me to use wisdom in making decisions.  I firmly believe that my grandfather was a very wise man, whose wisdom was born of the maturity and experience that come with age, coupled with a firm trust in God’s word.  He always seemed to approach matters with a great deal of practical insight, common sense, and patience.  Over the years I have had preachers (and preachers’ wives) who knew Grandpa tell me that when they faced some problem or difficult decision and went to him, he encouraged them to look at all sides and not act rashly.

And this is good advice for anyone at almost any time and place.  Certainly God wants His people to be characterized by wisdom in the lives which they lead (Ephesians 5:15-17).  Especially in our relationships with the people of this world, among whom we are to be an influence for good, we need to walk wisely in both deed and word (Colossians 4:5-6).  Of course, we are all going to make some mistakes at times, but in every situation that we face, we need to be constantly looking to God for the wisdom that is from above so that we can treat others right, be righteous examples, and accomplish as much good while doing as little harm as possible (James 1:5, 3:17-18).

Third, my grandfather taught me to think for myself.  Through the years my grandfather heard a number of different gospel preachers, listened to several debates, read some of the papers published by brethren, consulted various commentaries and religious books, and in general did whatever he could to learn what other people were saying.  But he never followed anyone or anything slavishly.  He obtained whatever good he felt he could and discarded anything he believed was not beneficial.  And since he knew that I wanted and planned to preach, this was something that he was always trying to instill in me.

The fact that something has been around long enough for it to become a “tradition” does not necessarily make it wrong, but we always need to make sure that we are not simply following the traditions of mere men (Matthew 15:7-9).  In fact, while we certainly can and should learn from what men have said and done, we should never put our trust in fallible mortals because even the best of them can let us down (1 Corinthians 4:6).  Therefore, like the Bereans, we must never accept what anyone says just because of who says it, but study for ourselves to make sure that it is in harmony with God’s will (Acts 17:11-12).

Finally, my grandfather taught me to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.  In the course of our discussions on various topics, I found that my grandfather and I disagreed about some things.  While he was opposed to instrumental music in the worship of the church, he felt that a Christian could sing hymns to the accompaniment of an instrument outside the assembly, whereas I do not believe that one can.  We also had differences of opinion on certain aspects of the divorce and remarriage issue.  But the point is that we could disagree on these subjects and even express our disagreements as we discussed them, yet still not be mean or ugly about it.

On the one hand, we must recognize that there are many issues facing God’s people, some from without and some from within, the preaching and practicing of which involve folks in soul-damning error, and which we must, publicly and forcefully, oppose (Romans 16:17-18).  On the other hand, there are issues which involve only personal conscience and application, or beliefs which, even if wrong, a person may hold as a matter of private conviction without actually teaching error or practicing sin.  Paul dealt with some principles governing these types of situations in Romans 14:1-6, 19, 22-23.  And even when we find circumstances where we must strongly oppose someone whom we believe to be in error to the point that we cannot have fellowship with him, there is still never any occasion to be unkind, nasty, and malicious in our treatment of him (Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8).

Usually when we hear the term “pioneer preacher,” we think of such individuals as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, Barton W. Stone, and “Raccoon” John Smith, who in this country pioneered the way out of denominationalism back to the Bible.  Or we may picture such colorful characters as Jefferson Davis Tant, Joe S. Warlick, W. Curtis Porter, or W. W. Otey, who proclaimed the gospel so forcefully among the pioneers as they moved west.  My grandfather was not a pioneer preacher in either of these senses, but he helped pioneer our family to know and obey God’s word.  Something for which every Christian can and should be grateful is the good influence in his life of his family or at least those who have taught him the way of the Lord and provided a good example.  Therefore, I thought that I would share with our readers, by way of illustration, some things that I learned from my grandfather.

—taken from Faith and Facts; January, 1994; Vol. 22, No. 1; pp. 56-61

A Wonderful Legacy

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A WONDERFUL LEGACY

By Wayne S. Walker

     While doing some random Internet surfing earlier this year, imagine my surprise when I came across the following note by Harold Savely, a gospel preacher then of Nashville, Tennessee, in The Gospel Guardian, August 2, 1956 (I was about two and a half at the time).

     Thanks to Bordeaux for time off for the Hillsboro, Ohio meeting. The church there is small (18 members), and overshadowed by digression. Our efforts resulted in one baptism and two to identify with the congregation. It was nice to be associated with faithful members there who treated me with no better hospitality to be found anywhere.

     While at Hillsboro, I had a wonderful visit in the home of Brother Glenn Workman, who recently left the Christian Church and preaches in the county. A man of no little experience, 59 years old, he gave me the following reasons as to why he left the Digressives. The Christian Church is distinguished with: (1) A diminishing authority of elders over the congregations. This is brought about by a “board of deacons and elders” jointly running affairs of the church. Since deacons are in majority, they exercise control of the churches. (2) Rise of Ladies’ Aids. He found them harder to remove, once established, than a piano. (3) Rise of entertainments and recreations palmed off as work of the church. He saw that if people had to be entertained to get, they had to be entertained to keep. (4) Rise of institutional problems within the church; such as encampments, colleges, homes, missionary societies, etc. Colleges, for instance, trains and sends out preachers in return for more funds from the churches. (5) Fruits of instrumental music always causes a warfare within. Feuds come over the size, type, cost of instrument, who shall play it, whether it is played at the Lord’s Supper, prayer, etc. Change of arguments to defend its practice led him to study to see its condemnation. (6) Leaving God’s way of raising money for every conceivable scheme, even to hiring professional outside money raising institutions to do the work for them. He lamented that the Gospel Advocate is becoming like the Christian Standard! “Non-hobbyist” brethren ought to take notice.

Hillsboro, OH, is my hometown, and Glen Workman was my grandfather who in 1956 left the Christian Church and began preaching with the Mt. Zion church of Christ located out in the countryside of Highland County, Ohio, south of Hillsboro near the town of Belfast, where he continued until his retirement in late 1973.  He lived from 1896 to 1979.

—in Search for Truth; Oct. 9, 2016; Vol. VIII, No. 10; p. 1

Mildred H. Workman

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MILDRED WORKMAN

By Wayne S. Walker

     [Note:  When my Grandmother Workman died in 1983, I wrote an article about her passing which appeared in the April 7, 1983, edition of Guardian of Truth (Vol. XXVII, No. 7; pp. 26-27).  Although placed in the “Obituaries” section, it was not intended so much to be a eulogy of her life as it was a reflection on her passing.  It may have been published previously in the church bulletin at Medina, OH, where I was then located, and is based on the remarks I made while preaching her funeral.  WSW.]

On March 3, 1983, one of the sweetest and loveliest ladies on earth, Mrs. Mildred Holladay Workman, my own maternal grandmother, passed away in her sleep.  Two days later she would have been 76 years old.  Although she was a stroke victim and had suffered the effects of that for over ten years, she was doing relatively well at the time of her passing.  Grandmother meant a great deal to me.  During the time that I was growing up, she and my grandfather were a constant source of help, encouragement, and affection to me, their oldest grandson, and I will always appreciate that very much.

However, the purpose of this article is not so much to talk about her.  She was a faithful Christian, and that is all that needs to be said about her life.  She was raised in a Methodist home, but there was a time when she heard the gospel of Christ and believed it, repented of her sins, confessed her faith in Jesus as Lord, and was baptized into Christ for the remission of her sins.  And though her later years were spent in a nursing home, she continued steadfast.   Until the last couple of months of her life when she was afflicted by an additional painful illness, she attended worship services on Sundays every time she was able.

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     Her life speaks for itself.   But there are several things which we can learn from her death.  In Ecclesiastes 7:2, Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to heart.”  What lessons are there for us in the house of mourning as we grieve for a lost loved one?

We can learn about the very nature of life itself.  God is the ultimate source of all life.  James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.”  Even though it cannot be explained by scientists, we believe that when we are conceived God breathes into our nostrils the breath of life just as He did for Adam in Genesis 2:7.  Yet, when one who is near and dear to us passes away, especially when it is rather sudden, we are reminded of what James wrote in James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  This earthly life is so frail and fragile.

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     Also, we learn about death, because when life ceases, death takes place.  James 2:26 tells us, “The body without the spirit is dead.”  According to Ecclesiastes 12:9, the body returns to the dust whence it came and the spirit to the control of God who gave it.  For many, such as my grandmother, death is a welcome relief from pain and suffering.  And for all Christians, it is the opportunity to do what Paul desired to do in Philippians 1:12, “to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.”  Yet death is also referred to as an enemy of mankind (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).  It is not an enemy to deceased believers for they are in a far better place.  Rather, it is an enemy to those left behind because it separates us from our loved ones.  This sense of loss which our Savior saw at the tomb of Lazarus was the reason why “Jesus wept” in John 11:35.  Even though He knew full well that He would raise His friend from the dead again, He sorrowed with those who suffered grief.  However, according to Hebrews 2:14-15, Jesus came “that through death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”  Because of this, we can say with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).

Then, we learn about hope, because the death and resurrection of Jesus bring hope.  Christians have many blessings in this life (Ephesians 1:3).  One of these is loving brethren to comfort us in times of trial and tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:18).  Another is what 1 Peter 3:3-4 calls “a living hope” of “an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”  Through trust in God and confidence in His word, we know that by faith in Christ and obedience to His will, we can be reunited in a place where we shall never have to worry about being parted again.  For this reason, Paul referred to it as a “blessed hope” in Titus 2:11-14, and 2 Peter 3:13 says, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth” where all this will take place.  May God grant us the strength to live in such a way as to love, serve, and please Him, that we might also have this hope by which we can   be saved, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:24.

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     My grandmother was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Glen Workman who was a gospel preacher for many years.  Many friends and brethren have offered their condolences and sorrow.  Yet, we do not sorrow “as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).  Certainly death is not a time for frivolity or gaiety, and there is nothing wrong with mourning—it is entirely natural for such an occasion.  But at the same time, we can be “rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12:12) because of the promises of Jesus Christ.

The unknown poet expressed this hope so well when he wrote:

That sweetest, dearest tie that binds

Our glowing hearts in one,

That sacred hope that tunes our minds

To harmony divine:

It is the hope, the blissful hope,

That Jesus’ grace has given,

The hope when days and years are passed

We all shall meet in heaven.

It is my prayer that all of us may conduct our lives in such a way so that we can be found acceptable in God’s sight, as Grandmother always sought to do, and when it comes our time to follow her in death that we might have the same joyful expectation that she did.

—taken from Guardian of Truth; April 7, 1983; Vol. XXVII, No. 7; pp. 26-27

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Craigsville, West Virginia

CRAIGSVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA

By Wayne S. Walker

     [Note:  The recent death last year of our dear friend and sister in Christ Nadine Blankenship of Medina, OH, reminded me of an article that I had written back in 1985 after preaching in a gospel meeting at Craigsville, WV, which was Nadine’s hometown.  Aside from the personal references, it might contain some useful and instructive information.  WSW.]

Nestled among the mountains of central West Virginia is the unincorporated community of Craigsville, with a population of around 1,500.  This small but growing village is situated about 80 miles east of Charleston, 60 miles northeast of Beckley, 100 miles southeast of Parkersburg, and 90 miles south of Fairmont, near the cities of Cowan and Richwood.  A congregation of God’s people meets in a convenient and commodious building of their own located on State Highway 20 South, just below the center of town.

The Craigsville church began in 1951 when Mr. and Mrs. P. L. Blake, their son Gerald, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Stove were baptized at the Central church of Christ in Clarksburg, WV, by brother Charles Burns, after hearing the gospel preached on radio.  Along with five others, they started a local assembly of Christians with brother L. D. LaCourse of South Charleston, WV, preaching.  The group met in a couple of homes and a rented facility until 1953 when they purchased a garage and remodeled it into the present meeting place.

Over the years, regular preaching has been done by Gale Miller, Clifford Cronin, Bob Kessinger, Jerry Ketchum, Robert Montgomery, Okie Lamp, Olean Holliday, and Robert P. Cooper.  The present preacher, Sam Gwinn, works with them on a part-time basis.  Unfortunately, much of the teaching, associations, and influence in the past have come from “institutional” brethren and churches.  The church has also experienced other problems common to small congregations as well.

During the week of April 29 through May 5, 1985, I was privileged to hold a gospel meeting with the church at Craigsville.  Two of the members at Medina, OH, where I then worked, came from Craigsville, as did some good folks in other churches of the Akron, OH, area; it was because of their concern for the congregation and through their efforts that this meeting was arranged.  We had non-member visitors from the community at every service, some of whom appeared to be very close to obeying the gospel.

While there were no “visible results” while we were there, I believe that good was done in strengthening the members by laying down a foundation of basic Bible principles which can be built upon.  Faithful Christians from Beckley (Carriage Dr.), Summersville (Hwy. 19 S.), and Charleston (both Daugherty St. and Oakwood Rd.) supported the meeting as well as people from other area congregations.  Normal attendance runs from twenty to thirty.  The high for the meeting was forty on Friday night and the low was twenty on Saturday night, with an average of near thirty.

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay among these fine brethren.  Their hospitality and friendliness were overwhelming.  They were also very attentive and receptive.  My impression of the church there is that the majority of the membership is primarily conservative in nature, but because of the associations of the past they are basically ignorant of the true nature of the issues that have arisen to divide the churches.

What this congregation needs is a full-time, sound gospel preacher who can provide consistent teaching which will help to win them away from the institutional influences which have previously characterized them.  In fact, several of the members expressed that very desire to me.  They have a nice preacher’s home which is just about paid for and will be able to provide some support, while a sizeable portion will have to come from some outside sources.  The work will be slow and difficult, but I believe that there is a good prospect for growth, both spiritual and numerical, with patience and forbearance.

If there is anyone who might be interested in a work of this kind, you can contact me and I will be happy to put you in touch with them.  I would like to think that support will be forthcoming to assist someone who would accept a challenge like this, and I will be glad to do whatever I can to help in this area.  The Craigsville church needs our aid.  Are there those among us who will be willing to provide it?  I hope so.

—in Guardian of Truth magazine; June 20,1985 (Vol. XXIX, No. 12); p. 11

[Note:  Regarding Craigsville, the introductory note pointed out that this article was originally written in 1985.  I have included it here as kind of a historical footnote.  I haven’t had any contact with the church there since around 1987 or so.  So again, I feel that I need to include another note to that effect at the end.   WSW.]

A Response to a Letter

A RESPONSE TO A LETTER

by Wayne S. Walker

     Author’s note:  In the October, 1982, issue of Faith and Facts, I wrote an article entitled "A Search for Truth on Baptism," in which I attempted to chronicle Thomas and Alexander Campbell’s change of view about baptism.  They went from allowing the particulars of baptism to be an individual decision and thus permitting the sprinkling of infants, to teaching that the immersion of believing, penitent adults is essential to salvation.  In May of 1983 I received a letter disagreeing with my conclusions and asking several questions about them.  I have reproduced the letter below and my response follows.

     "First of all, I have no animosity, but I’m writing concerning your article ‘A Search for Truth on Baptism’ in Faith and Facts, Volume 10, October, 1982, Number 4.

     "On page 233, you stated Campbell was immersed into Christ.  Was it in 1812?  He was not baptized for the remission of sins at that time, nor was Thomas Campbell, nor Barton W. Stone, nor Walter Scott.

     "I am a graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and have done extensive research on the Restoration Movement.

     "I was a member of the church of Christ but no longer.

     "If you will do careful research, Alexander Campbell taught baptism for remission of sins as a theory in 1820.

     "The first baptism for remission of sins as taught in churches of Christ today was in November of 1827.

     "I’m confused.  I worship in a Baptist church but by your definition I’m lost.  Campbell and the others were not immersed for remission of sins.

     "Why did you not include any material from Campbell’s son-in-law Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell?

     "If you place such high regard on the writings of Alexander and Thomas Campbell can you really not be said to be ‘Campbellites?’

      "I hope that in fairness to historical research you will clear up this matter.  Sincerely yours,  ______ _______" (signed).

     Dear _______ _______,

     Thank you for your letter in response to my article in Faith and Facts entitled "A Search for Truth on Baptism" (10/82, 10-4).  It is always good to hear from others who read what I have written whether they agree or not.  The spirit in which you wrote is appreciated.  I was not able to detect any animosity.

     You asked several questions.  "On page 233, you stated Campbell was immersed into Christ.  Was it 1812?"  Yes, I had the 1812 event in mind.  The article used the date of June 12 based upon the sources I used, but further investigation into more primary sources gives the date as June 2.

     You further state, "He was not baptized for the remission of sins at that time, nor was Thomas Campbell, nor Barton W. Stone, nor Walter Scott."  I am somewhat unsure of what you mean by "not baptized for remission of sins."  Do you mean that the phrase "for the remission of sins" was not said when they were baptized?  I really don’t know (or care) what was said at the time.  I do know that, while a Baptist preacher was contracted to assist (becaue the Baptists practiced immersion), it was stipulated that it was not to be "Baptist Church Baptism" but New Testament baptism.

     Furthermore, the validity of baptism does not depend upon what is said by the baptizer but what understanding is in the hearts of those being baptized.  How do you know they were not baptized for the remission of sins?  What sources do you have which provide evidence to substantiate that claim?  Can you look into their hearts and determine what thoughts were in their mind on that occasion?

     You seem to take some exception to my use of the words "immersed (or baptize) into Christ."  That is an entirely scriptural term and concept (Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:26-28).  But let me quote from Alexander Campbell himself as he wrote in the Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell about his baptism on p. 113.  "Accordingly, on June 2nd, 1812, my father, mother, my sister Bryant, my wife, myself, James and Sarah Henon, in all seven persons, were baptized into the Christian faith."

     Alexander said that he and the others were baptized into the Christian faith.  That necessarily implies that he had reached the conclusion that until that time, he had not been in the Christian faith.  One cannot be in the Christian faith without being saved or having remission of sins.  So if Mr. Campbell says that was the reason he was baptized, then I’ll have to take his word for it.

     You say, "If you will do careful research, Alexander Campbell taught remission of sins as a theory in 1820."  I assume this has reference to the Campbell-Walker debate.  To prove your assertion, you would have to find evidence that Campbell never taught nor believed prior to this time that baptism had anything to do with remission of sins.  And I would deny that he taught this as a theory; he taught it as a fact, because it is exactly what the Bible says.

     It is true that those who sought in the early days of this country to reject the doctrines of denominationalism and return to the primitive order of things did not always arrive at their conclusions all at once.  It often took long, hard, arduous effort and great debate.  Theirs was a process of growth in striving towards the light.  While we do not slavishly follow them, we are indebted to them since we live many years later and can benefit from their work and scholarship.  This makes it much easier for us to reach our conclusions as we study the scriptures.

     You tell me, "The first baptism for remission of sins as taught in churches of Christ today was in November of 1827."  To what event you have reference as happening on that date is a mystery to me.  However, I must again deny the truthfulness of your statement.  Baptism for the remission of sins was taught and practiced in the first century.  "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…" (Acts 2:38, cf. 41 & 47).  I preach exactly what Peter preached on that day.  And there were churches of Christ then (Romans 16:16).

     You state, "I’m confused.  I worship in a Baptist church but by your definition I’m lost."  I will try to say this as tactfully and as kindly, yet as simply, as possible–yes I believe you are lost.  Why?  Because I cannot read in all the pages of God’s word about a Baptist church.  Can you?  If so, where?  All I want to be part of is the church that Jesus built (Matthew 16:18), which He purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28), and of which He is the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23)–the one which is described and defined in the New Testament.  The Baptist church isn ot mentioned in any of those passages.

     You wondered, "Why did you not include any mataerial from Campbell’s son-in-law Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell?"  The answer is that I have not read that work nor do I have it in my library.  Besides, my study began with Thomas Campbell’s change, although it necessarily led to Alexander’s as well.

     Finally, you ask, "If you place such high regard on the writings of the Alexander and Thomas Campbell can you really not be said to be ‘Campbellites’?"  The truth of the matter is I place very little regard on the writings of the Campbells.  Where they have expressed truth, I accept it as I would accept truth proclaimed by any other.  But there are areas in which I would strongly disagree with both Alexander and Thomas.  I do find it interesting from a historical standpoint to see how they turned away from the creeds of denominational churches for the ancient apostolic pattern.

     Nothing I believe, teach, or practice originated with the Campbells.  I greatly respect their search for truth, but after all, they were just fallible human beings.  The congregation I am associated with is not based on their teachings.  It is simply a group of non-denominational, New Testament Christians who assemble together to worship God in spirit and truth, and who work together to accomplish His will in our community.  I have generally found that this is a hard concept for those who have a denominational view of "the church" to comprehend.  We are not tied to any movement, college, paper, or man.

     It is my hope that this letter deals with those things you were concerned about.  I do not claim to be an expert in "restoration history."  All I know is what I have read and studied.  But I am always happy to give an answer concerning everything that I have taught.  If you would like any further discussion regarding these points, just let me know.

     All I can do is encourage you to study the Bible, accept the truth, and live according to the teachings of God’s word.

     P.S.  Unless you object strenuously, I am sending a copy of your letter as well as my reply to Robert Welch.  As editor of Faith and Facts, I feel he has a right to know what kind of response articles published in his paper are getting.   (—Taken from Faith and Facts, January, 1984; Volume 12, Number 1; pp. 50-53)

A Search for Truth on Baptism

A SEARCH FOR TRUTH ON BAPTISM

by Wayne S. Walker

     Thomas Campbell, born in 1763, and his son Alexander, born in 1788, were originally Scotch Presbyterian in their religious affiliation.  Both of them had water sprinkled on them as infants and were taught from their youth up that this was acceptable for Bible baptism.  Thus it is interesting to trace their search for truth on baptism.  Let it be said that churches of Christ today do not teach any doctrine that originated with the Campbells, nor do we practice anything by their authority.  Our only standard for preaching and action is God’s word.  But a study of Thomas and Alexander’s conclusions about baptism, along with the circumstances and events that led to those conclusions, can be profitable.

     On May 27, 1807, Thomas arrived in America from his native Ireland.  He was soon ordained by a Presbyterian synod but a strain quickly developed and he withdrew.  Immediately after, Campbell gathered with a number of supporters and friends at the home of Abraham Altars in Washington, PA.  It was in his speech on this occasion that he first uttered the famous words for which he is best remembered: "Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent."  Following this, Andrew Monroe spoke up, "Mr. Campbell, if we adopt that as a basis, there is an end to infant baptism."

     Campbell replied, "Of course, if infant baptism is not found in the Scriptures, we can have nothing to do with it."  Upon hearing this, Thomas Acheson arose excitedly and exclaimed, "I hope I may never see the day when my heart will renounce the blessed saying of Scripture, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’!", quoting Matthew 19:14.  James Foster replied, "Mr. Acheson, in the Scripture which you have quoted, there is no reference whatever to infant baptism."  So the stage was being set for an examination of this particular issue.

     On August 17, 1809, another meeting was held at which time was organized the Christian Association of Washington.  Later, Mr. Campbell wrote down the concepts he had presented in these meetings and read them before an assembly of twenty-one on September 7, 1809.  This document is known as the "Declaration and Address."  Baptism was not specifically mentioned, but it was averred that nothing should be practiced but what was expressly taught in the word of God and that admission into the church is permissible only to those who would confess and obey Jesus.  After his son came to America, they found that they had reached many of the same ideas while on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

     Alexander and the rest of the family arrived on September 29, 1809.  The son preached his first sermon on July 5, 1810.  The Christian Association of Washington desired to attempt a union with another Presbyterian synod and so applied for membership in the Pittsburgh Synod on October 4 of that year.  They were refused, in part, because it was alleged that they taught that infant baptism was not authorized in the scriptures.  Therefore, they decided to organize an independent church known as Brush Run on May 4, 1811, with thirty members.  It was here on January 1, 1812, that Alexander was ordained a preacher.

     In the very beginning of his ministry, the younger Campbell preached on Mark 16:15-16 and said, "As I am sure it is unscriptural to make this matter a term of communion, I let it slip.  I wish to think and let think on these matters."  Up to this time neither of the Campbells had been immersed and almost all the members of the Brush Run church, having been sprinkled as infants, were convinced that such was sufficient for entrance into the church.  Like others of their day, they had given no special attention to the Biblical teaching on baptism.

     However, Thomas and Alexander had agreed that all religious questions were to be settled by the Bible.  This aim began a slow but steady journey towards the truth about baptism.  At the first meeting of the Brush Run church, several in the audience declined the Lord’s supper.  Upon inquiry as to the reason, it was found that they had not been baptized and felt they had no right to the table.  It was also learned that nothing but immersion would satisfy them.  The Campbells’ original plan was to make this a question of forebearance with each individual free to settle it for himself.  Accordingly, the unbaptized were immediately buried with Christ in nearby Buffalo Creek.

     Alexander had married Miss Margaret Brown, the daughter of John Brown of Brook Co., Virginia (now West Virginia), on March 13, 1811.  A year later, a little girl was born into their home.  This blessed event brought with it a demand that the question of infant baptism be restudied.  Being a thorough Greek scholar, Alexander began a careful investigation as to the teaching of the scriptures upon this subject.  After an exhaustive search of God’s word, he was soon convinced that baptism was for believing adults and not babies.

     He did not stop at this, however, but continued his research which revealed that the meaning of the word "baptism" in the original language is "immersion."  He therefore became persuaded that New Testament baptism was immersion as well.  Thereupon, Mr. Campbell concluded that he had never been truly baptized!  His wife agreed with him.  Also, his sister, Dorothea, came and told him that she, too, had read the Bible and found there was no authority for the affusion of infants.  So they conferred with Matthias Luce, a Baptist preacher, to immerse them into Christ.

     June 12 [later research showed that the correct date was June 2], 1812, was set as the day for the baptism in Buffalo Creek.  Mr. Luce spent the previous night with Thomas Campbell.  The next morning, the elder Campbell told Luce that he and his wife had likewise studied the question and had decided to be immersed.  Later that day, a large audience gathered at the home of David Bryant near the creek.  Thomas preached a sermon which gave his reasons for believing that immersion alone was Biblical baptism.  Alexander followed with an address emphasizing the truth that believing penitents were the only proper subjects for baptism.  Upon this, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Campbell, Miss Dorothea Campbell, and Mr. and Mrs. James Hinen, who had been convinced by the two speeches, were baptized.

     Alexander had agreed with Luce that the "ordinance" should be in harmony with the New Testament pattern.  Since there was no Biblical precedent for the Baptist practice of making a "religious experience" the prerequisite for baptism, it was to be omitted and the good confession of Peter in Matthew 16:16 was to be substituted in its place.  Mr. Luce hesitated, not because the change was unscriptural, but because it departed from Baptist usage.  But he finally yielded.  The next day at the Brush Run church, thirteen others confessed their faith in Christ and were buried with Him in baptism by Thomas Campbell.

     What were the conclusions that led the Campbells to take this step?  First of all, they concluded that immersion is the baptism of the Bible.  They had accepted without question the beliefs of their ancestors for generations.  But when forced to examine the matter for themselves, as honest students, they saw that immersion alone is taught in God’s word and that sprinkling, of later day, was of human origin.  The word "baptize" literally means to immerse.  The language of passages like Matthew 3:16 and Acts 8:38-39 demands this action.  And it is the only thing that can be described as a burial (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12).

     Secondly, they saw that the penitent believer was the only proper subject of baptism.  Infant baptism had been practiced so long that it appeared sacrilegious to question its validity.  But when compelled to find scriptural authority for sprinkling water on the newborn baby or leave it unbaptized, they had to abandon this cherished tradition.  The Book, in Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38, says that one must believe and repent before being baptized; infants cannot do this.  And Acts 8:12 indicates that men and women, not small children, were baptized in apostolic days.

     In the third place, they determined that the good confession made from the heart was the sole condition preceding baptism.  Since Christ is the only Savior of men, when lost sinners would come to him they could not relate a "Christian experience."  Rather, they should confess their personal faith in Jesus as the Son of God and upon this confession be baptized into His name.  Our Lord taught the need for a confession of Him in Matthew 10:32-33, as did Paul in Romans 10:9-10.  We have an apostolic example of it in Acts 8:35-37.  The confession, "God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven me" (see Ephesians 4:32) as commonly demanded by several denominations, was never used prior to baptism with divine approval.

     Finally, they came to understand the design of baptism.  Campbell asserted that baptism was connected with remission of sins, making a distinction between the change of heart, effected by repentance, and the change of state, effected by baptism.  He used the marriage ceremony as an illustration.  It does not change the hearts of the contracting parties, but their state or relationship, and they are not married, however great the change of heart, until this ceremony has taken place.  Baptists called this "baptismal regeneration" or "water salvation," claiming baptism is because of remission of sins and thus does not precede but follows baptism.  However, baptism is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38) just as Christ shed His blood "for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).  Baptism washes away sins (Acts 22:16) or saves (1 Peter 3:21) based on the blood of Christ.

     Many of these principles were enunciated by Alexander in some of his well-known debates.  In the Walker debate of 1820, he argued against the contention that infant baptism was equivalent to circumcision under the old covenant by enumerating seven specific respects in which baptism differed materially from circumcision.  The latter was for males only, was performed on the eighth day, required only fleshly descent from Abraham, was administered by parents or civil officers, was a sign of separation of Jews from Gentiles, affected a specific area of the body, and brought the peculiar promises of Canaan.  In each of these respects, infant baptism was distincly different.  He also presented several important facts about sprinkling in his contention for immersion as the action of baptism.

     In the Rice debate of 1830, Campbell affirmed that immersion in water of a proper subject, into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is the one, only apostolic or Christian baptism, using thirteen separate arguments to prove it; and that Christian baptism is for the remission of past sins, that is, in order to forgiveness, just as one takes medicine for remission of an illness.  He denied that the infant of a believing parent is a scriptural subject of baptism and that baptism can be administered only by a bishop or ordained presbyter.  He concluded, "Baptism, my fellow-citizens, is no mere rite, no unmeaning ceremony, I assure you.  It is a most intellectual, spiritual and sublime transition out of a sinful and condemned state, into a spiritual and holy state."

     From 1813 to 1830 the Brush Run church was united with a couple of Baptist associations as a result of their jointly held belief in immersion as the action of baptism.  However, they were forced out of this union over the design of baptism just as years before they had been denied union with a Presbyterian synod over the subjects of baptism.  Thus, the Brush Run church became an autonomous, New Testament congregation of God’s people.  None of these ideas originated with Thomas or Alexander Campbell.  They were taught and practiced nearly two-thousand years ago by first century Christian in New Testament days.  They come to us through the seed of the kingdom, which is the word of God (Luke 8:11).  But we can be thankful to the Campbells and others for having the courage to bring them to light.  May we never lose sight of the simple, Bible truth relating to baptism.

Bibliography

     Ahlstrom, Sydney E.  A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1972).

     Campbell, Alexander.  The Christian System (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company, n.d.).

     David, M. M.  How the Disciples Began and Grew (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company, 1915).

     Hailey, Homer.  Attitudes and Consequences in the Restoration Movement (Marion, IN: Cogdill Foundation Publications, 1975).

     Humble, Bill J.  Campbell and Controversy (Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club, 1952).

     Lard, Moses E.  A Review of "Campbellism Examined" (Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club, 1955).

     Longan, George W.  Origin of the Disciples of Christ (St. Louis, MO: Christian Publishing Co., 1889).

     Welshimer, P. H.  Concerning the Disciples (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company, 1935).

     (—Taken from Faith and Facts; October, 1982; Vol. 10, No. 4; pp. 3-8).