The Ancient Faith

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Ronny F. Wade

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.– Matthew 16:18  (Read Matthew 16:13-20)

Misconceptions about the church abound. Some believe that church membership is totally unnecessary, while others believe that it is mandatory. Church building is common in the world today. If one is displeased or dissatisfied with a particular religious organization, they just remake it, or start another one. The number of different religious organizations range into the hundreds. They wear different names, preach different doctrines, and practice their beliefs in different ways.

The church Jesus built is the subject of divine revelation. The bible has something to say about the origin, name, doctrine, and organization of this great institution. Our purpose is to describe the bible Church just as it is revealed in God’s word.


I. The Bible Church Is God Planned

It is neither accidental nor an afterthought. 

Eph. 3:10-12 “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”

In this verse Paul affirms that the principalities and powers i.e. (those who have rule and authority in the spirit realm, the unseen rulers both good and bad) behold God’s wisdom “through the church.” They learn God’s prudence and purposes by observing the church. By seeing how God has brought all believers together into one body in Christ. One may observe God’s wisdom in the material creation, but that was not enough. God’s most dramatic display of wisdom is in the spiritual creation. The church is here seen from the vantage point of heaven itself.

This purpose of God that unfolded in the church is the result of God’s plan laid prior to the creation of the universe. This “plan of the ages” centering on Christ is revealed by the church. The church is not an accident, nor is it a stop-gap measure until the kingdom can be established. The Lord did not act in such a capricious or haphazard manner. It is blasphemous to suggest that man can stop the plan of God in this respect.


II. The Bible Church Is Old Testament Predicted.

The prophets of old foresaw the coming of the church.

Isa. 2:2-3 “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways and we shall walk in his paths For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

Zech. 1:16 “Therefore says the Lord I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it, says the Lord of hosts, and a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.”

These men spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They knew whereof they spoke.  2Peter 1:21 “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

From these prophecies we learn the following facts about the bible church:

– It will be established in the last days—during the days of the Roman Kings

– In the city of Jerusalem

– It will be universal–all nations will flow into it

– It will be everlasting

– It will be spiritual. Swords in to plowshares; spears into pruning hooks; they will learn war no more.


III. The Bible Church Is New Testament Revealed.

Mark 9:1 “some of you standing here will not taste of death until you see the kingdom come with power.”

Luke 24:49 “Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Luke 24:46-47 “Then he said to them Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.”

The power came in the form of the Holy Spirit who inspired the apostles to speak in other languages, on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem according to Acts 2:1-4.

We have: The right place–Jerusalem

 THE RIGHT PEOPLE–all nations

 THE RIGHT TIME—Acts 2:16-17 “ But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God that I will pour out of my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy your young men shall see visions your old men shall dream dreams.”

THE RIGHT MESSAGE- Acts 2:38- Repentance and remission of sins.

THE RIGHT EVENT- Acts 2:47-People being added to the church.


IV. The Bible Church Is Christ Built

Psa.127:1 “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” i.e. empty or to no avail.

Mt.16:18 Jesus said “I will build by church…”

Hence the church could not have been built by just anyone. Those built by men are not the bible church.

Many religionists assume that John the Baptist built the church. Not so. John was dead at the time Jesus promised to build the church. Mt.14:10 “And he (Herod) sent and beheaded John in the prison. Two chapters later in 16:18 Jesus promises to build (future) my church. John was never a member of the church or a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Mt.11:11 “Verily, I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” How is it possible for John to be one of the greatest born of women, but for one who is least in the kingdom to be his superior. “In grammar school there is no greater than Bill, but the least in high school is greater than he.” This is true because Bill is not in high school. Just so, John was not in the church or kingdom.

Any religious organization built by some man or woman cannot be the bible church.


V. The Bible Church Is Blood Purchased.

Acts 20:28 “Take heed unto yourselves and unto all the flock among which the Holy Spirit hath make you overseers to shepherd the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

A things value can be seen by what it cost. The church “cost” the blood of Christ.

Eph. 5:25 “Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”

1Cor.6:20 “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Just as the blood of the Passover lamb provided safety from death for the Israelites, so also the blood of Christ covers our sins and provides us with salvation.


VI.  The Bible Church Is Independently Organized.

Each church or congregation is independent of every other church. There are no “earthly headquarters” “no league of churches with an overseeing human head.” God’s plan is that there be elders in every church.

Acts 14:23 “So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Titus 1:5 “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city as I commanded thee.”

Phil.1:1 “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus -who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”

Elders, deacons, and members make up the organization of the church. Christ is head.  Col. 1:18 “He is the head of the church which is his body.” No earthly superintendent, Pope, or “Arch-bishop.”  The rule of elders begins and ends in the local church.

 1Peter 5:1-3 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed; Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock;”

Elders have no authority beyond the local church which they oversee.


VII. The Bible Church Is Undenominational.

The church of the Bible is undenominational.  It is not all-denominational i.e. “to look with favor on all denominations.”

The church of the Bible is undenominational in that it is opposed to denominationalism.


The Church of the Bible

Many bodies

One Body Eph 4:4

Founded by men

Founded by Christ Mt.16:18

Human heads

Christ the head Eph.1:22-23

Human Names

The name Christian 1Pet. 4:16

Membership not essential

Membership essential to salvation 2Cor.5:17

Many gospels

Another gospel is condemned Gal. 1:6-9

Many faiths

One faith Eph. 4:5

Many baptisms

One baptism Eph. 4:5

Join church

The Lord adds to church Acts 2:47


The Origin of Denominationalism: The Lord established the church some 2000 years ago. It was pure and uncorrupted at the time. Then the predicted apostasy began 2Thess.2:1-4. The commandments and inventions of men let to the gradual development of the Apostate Church. At a later date men tried to reform the Roman Church. Their efforts gave birth to denominationalism with its hundreds of contradictory doctrines.

Friend, will you not be content to be a member of the church Jesus purchased with His blood? Renounce all man-made bodies and become a member of the Church Jesus built today.

[Sermon outline transcribed from the Let the Bible Speak broadcast by Ronny Wade]

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”