The Ancient Faith

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Paul Mackey

Longfellow once wrote:

“Art is long, and time is fleeting
And our hearts, though stout and brave
Still, like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.”

Yes, every day and every hour that we live on this earth brings us that much closer to the time when we will be required to put off this tenement of clay and go on to meet our Maker. The world rushes on with the majority marching headlong toward destruction without realizing their destiny. In this article I wish to present some thoughts that will cause us to think more seriously of the things that are to soon come about. Peter wrote:

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Notice especially his words that follow the above: ‘‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” I feel that if we more perfectly understand the things that are to come about, we will live a more godly life. The particular part of the future events that we wish to elaborate upon is the Judgment Day.

The modernist boldly states that there will be judgment; that everyone will go on to be with the Master. Our conscience asserts that there must be a judgment. When we do something good and worthwhile, our conscience attests that we have done something good. When we do something contrary to the will of God, our conscience immediately tells us that we have disobeyed Him. If there were no judgment and consequently no reward or punishment, then a conscience would be unnecessary. Conscience is God-given and must be God-trained to be useful. Our conscience affirms that there will be a judgment day.

Justice decrees that there must be a judgment day. Our God is a just God; justice is one of His attributes. Justice is that thing which decrees the punishment of the wrongdoer. If justice is to be met, there must be a judgment day.

Most important, I think, is that the Scriptures tell about the certainty of judgment. Acts 17:30-31 reads as follows: ““And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Again in II Corinthians 5:10 we read: ‘‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


Here, as with every Bible topic, it is necessary for us to search the Scriptures that we may find its teachings. Paul wrote to Timothy in this fashion: ‘I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at. His appearing and His kingdom.” Again in John 5: “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment. to the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.” From these and other Scriptures, we learn that Jesus Christ shall be the Judge.

Those who despised and rejected the lowly teacher of God from Nazareth will one day stand before Him in all His glory and be judged of Him. Pilate, who many years ago stood before the multitude and made a pretense of washing his hands of the blood of Christ, will one day stand before Him and answer according to his deeds on this earth. All of the Jews that cried out, “let His blood be on us and our children’ and went to their graves without repenting, will stand before Him to answer for those words. All the peoples of the earth today, as they go on their heedless way, hearing and rejecting the words of eternal life, will be required to stand before that One they rejected. Jesus Christ will sit upon the throne of His glory, and all the holy angels will be with Him. All the nations of the world shall be gathered before Him, and He shall divide them as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Friends, what a wonderful picture that will be for the righteous, and such a sad picture for the wicked.


A matter of interest to all those faced with the judgment is the nature of that judgment; that is, how we shall be judged. The following Scriptures show us that we shall be judged according to our works: Matthew 16:27 says, ‘“‘For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”’ Revelation 20:12 says, ‘“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”  When we stand before Christ on that great last day, we shall answer according to our deeds, whether they be good or bad. Friend, examine your life. Is it filled with good works? Will you be able to stand before Christ and say, ‘I have fought a good fight’’?

Matthew records the following words of Christ: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall  speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’’

Christians frequently forget that they shall be judged according to their words! Yes, we shall answer for the things that we say in this life. Christ gives a good rule concerning this very thing: “But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil’ (Matthew 5:37).Our idle words will condemn us!

Again we read in Ecclesiastes 12:14: ‘For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ Every secret thing shall be brought forth in the Judgment Day! How often do people do things that they think no one will ever know? No matter how well hidden it may be, it shall be brought forth in the Judgment Day. We may be successful in hiding our sins from our fellow man, but they shall be revealed.

We shall be judged according to our works, according to our words, and according to our secret things.


Again we have only the Scriptures for the answer to this question. Our opinions and thoughts have no bearing when it comes to religious and doctrinal subjects. II Peter 2:4 relates this concerning this subject: “For… God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto Judgment.” Jude states, ‘And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.’’ According to these Scriptures, the fallen angels will be judged.

More pertinent to us, though, are the following three Scriptures found in II Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:12, and Revelation 20:13. In order, they are: ‘‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;” ‘‘So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God;”’ and ‘“The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Every one that has ever lived upon the face of this earth shall stand before God and give an account of himself on that last day! ‘‘We all”, “every one of us”, and “every man” leave room for no exceptions!


We are a nation that is interested in results. Every time that we hear of a trial or something that involves a decision, we keep a keen eye on the news sources so that we might be among the first to know the results. The results of judgment are clearly set forth in the Bible and should be in the minds of every person. The eternal destiny of mankind is not shrouded in mystery, and therefore the results of judgment should be a surprise to no one. Matthew the 25th chapter sums up the results as well as any portion of

Scripture, I think. To those on the right hand, representing the righteous, these words are to be heard: ‘‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’’ Whereas to those on the left hand, representing the wicked, He is heard to say, ‘“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Again, concerning the righteous, Paul states in I Thessalonians that we shall meet the Lord. John the Revelator writes this about the wicked: they ‘‘said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Brethren, these results are eternal!  The judgment seals our eternal destiny!

In conclusion, I shall quote a verse of a song often sung in the churches:

“There’s a great day coming,
A great day coming.
There’s a great day coming by and by.
When the saints and the sinners
Shall be parted right and left.
Are you ready for that day to come?”

[This was originally published in Old Paths Pulpit No.2,  M. Lynwood Smith Publication, 1978]

 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.”