Tag Archives: church of Christ

The Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination

Those of us who are conservative in doctrine insist that the church of Christ is not a denomination, and never will be.  However, there are those within the church who seemed determined to change that.

Today’s addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary is an interesting and worthwhile contribution to this discussion.

David Edwin Harrell, Ph.D., is a recognized scholar, whose writings have been reviewed (usually positively) by major scholarly journals in the field of history and religion.  He’s also a Christian.

In this short book, Harrell traces the rise of the Restoration Movement from what historians and sociologists call a “sect” (a devout conservative group) to a “denomination” (a liberal, complacent group).  He shows how a portion of the church fought against being denominationalized, but that the same movement is being made once again within the church.

It shows very clearly, from an objective historian’s perspective, that it is the liberals among us that are trying to turn the Lord’s church into something different–and that they are either “ignorant or dishonest” to claim otherwise.

We are happy to present to you this book.  Like always, we have proofread it, reformatted it, and made it just right for reading on your computer, phone, tablet, or other such device!  Just click the link below!


Emergence of the Church of Christ Denomination

Why I Left …

In 1949, a series of sermons were preached by different gospel preachers, all of whom had left something (usually a denomination) to become part of the church of the Bible.  This series was all about the topic: “Why I Left…”  After each lecture is a biographical sketch of the speaker.

  1. Why I Left the Christian Church (Floyd A. Decker)
  2. Why I Left The Presbyterian Church (Horace W. Busby)
  3. Why I Left The Baptist Church (Grover Stevens)
  4. Why I Left The Methodist Church (Claude B. Holcomb)
  5. Why I Left the Nazarene Church (Waymon D. Miller)
  6. Why I Left The Lutheran Church (Claude A. Guild)
  7. Why I Left the World (Luther Blackmon)
  8. Why I Left the Catholic Church (Joe Malone)
  9. Why I Left The Anti-Class Position (L.W. Hayhurst)

This is the latest addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary

To read this book online, simply click the link below.  Or, if you want to save it to your computer, just right-click on the link and “save target as.”

Why I Left

Stay in the House!

There are sounds of gunfire and screaming coming from outside his window.  The man slowly moves the curtain aside to see what’s going on, his kids getting more and more worried.  “Dad, what’s that noise?  Is somebody hurt?”

The man barks at them, “get back!”

He makes his way to the front door, and with tears the kids start begging, “Dad, don’t go! Stay here with us.”

The dad opens the door slowly and lightly steps out onto the front porch. Hesitating, he turns around, looks his children in the eyes, and sternly says, “Stay in the house!”

The door shuts, and the children don’t see their father anymore.  They run to the window and look as bullets fly and their father falls to the ground dead.

And through the crying and tears, they are haunted by the question that they can never answer: Why didn’t daddy stay in the house?

Why would a man tell his children to “stay in the house!”?

Because there is safety in the house. There is security in the house. There is protection in the house.  Because there is danger outside. It could cost them their lives to go outside.

In the Bible there was a strict command given to “stay in the house!”

It’s found in Joshua 2.  The Israelites—almost 3 million of them—are camped next to the Jordan River.  Across the Jordan stands the city of Jericho, surrounded by its two protective walls.

From the top of Jericho’s walls, you can see the Israelite camp, their tents, their campfires, and more people than you’ve ever seen in your life—and they’re about to attack.  Then, two of them show up in the city; on the walls; in your house!

Scared for your life, you don’t dare turn them in—you don’t want to anger their God.  You quickly hide them on your roof, and when the soldiers come to your door, you send them on a wild-goose chase—because you don’t want to anger the powerful Jehovah of the Israelites.  You send the spies out safely, but beg them to spare you and your family when they finally attack.

The spies agree, but give you the stern warning: “stay in the house!

If you want to be safe, get in the house!

For Rahab and her family to be safe, they have to get in the house (Joshua 2:18).

The spies said “when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household home unto thee.”  Literally, they said, “into your house.”

The only way that anyone in the city of Jericho was going to be saved was if they got in the house.  So, Rahab found her family, and brought them into the house with her—because she wanted to be saved, and she wanted her family to be saved too.

To refuse to come into the house was to refuse salvation.  To refuse to come into the house was to bring death on themselves.

For anyone today to be saved, they have to “get in the house” (Acts 2:47).

The house of God is the church (I Timothy 3:15 – “the house of God, which is the church”).  All saved people are in the church (Acts 2:47)—there are no saved people outside of the church.  Christ’s blood is required for salvation, and it only covers those who are in the church (Acts 20:28).

You’re surrounded by enemies who are ready to destroy you—and the only way to be safe is to “get in the house!”  Salvation is only found in the church, because it is the house of God, the body of Christ.

To reject the church is to reject salvation!  To reject the church is to bring destruction upon yourself!

If you’re not in the house yet, GET IN IT!

And if you are in the house, why aren’t you trying to get other people in it with you? Do you want them to be destroyed? Are you content to think, “Well, I’ll be saved, so it doesn’t really matter about anyone else?”

If you want to be safe, stay in the house!

For Rahab and her family to be safe, they have to stay in the house (Joshua 2:19).

“And it shall be that whosoever shall go out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head and we shall be guiltless.”  Basically, the spies said, “If they leave the house, they’re dead. And it’ll be their own fault.”

Rahab and her family get all their belongings, and they all huddle together in the house. They look out the window, scared for their people, but also confident that God would keep His promise. They see hundreds of thousands of soldiers march around their city once a day for six days—and the soldiers don’t say a word. It is eerie, disconcerting, and frightening.

But through it all, they stay in the house because they know that they are only safe if they stay in the house.

For anyone today to be saved, they have to “stay in the house!”

Almost every letter in the New Testament contains warnings about losing your salvation.  But this is nowhere more clearly stated than in Revelation.

Jesus walks among the seven golden candlesticks, which are his church (Revelation 1:20).  A church who ceases to follow Christ will have its candlestick removed—that is, they will no longer be part of the church (Revelation 2:5).  In fact, Jesus describes the process as vomiting them out of His mouth, His body—vomiting them out of the church (Revelation 3:16).

When you leave the church, you leave the protection of the blood of Christ—and you bring it on yourself!  Those who returned to the Law of Moses willingly left the church of Jesus Christ—and had “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

You’re surrounded by an enemy that is ready to destroy you. You’re in the one safe place [the church] where they can’t harm you. And then you open the door and walk out—into the destructive hands of the enemy.  That’s like being in a storm cellar in the middle of a tornado, and then getting out as it goes right over you. You’re dead!

Instead, stay gathered with your family—your brothers and sisters in Christ—stay safe in the house (the church).


On the seventh day of the siege, the hundreds of thousands of Israelite soldiers marched around the city seven times. The people in Jericho knew something was coming. As they looked out over the wall and through windows, they could see nothing but soldiers—silent soldiers—being led by God Himself.

Then, without warning, trumpets blast and six hundred thousand voices scream all at once. The ground shakes and the walls of the city crash to the ground. And through the dust they see the screaming soldiers running straight into the city with their swords swinging. Blood splatters and pools on the ground and person after person falls lifeless to the ground. Then comes the fire, destroying the city and everything in it.

But one section of the wall never fell. One small section of the wall still stood, with a house sitting on top of it. Inside that house was a woman who wanted to be saved. Inside that house was her family. Inside that house was a group of people who trusted in God’s promise.

What made that house different? Why did it stand when all the others fell?

After all, there were plenty of other houses. There were plenty of other people huddled in other houses. What made this one different? This house had a window. Out of that window hung a cord—a scarlet cord. That cord is what made that house stand out. That cord is what marked that house for salvation. That scarlet cord saved the spies, and now it saved Rahab and her family.

“And Joshua saved Rahab
and her father’s household” (Joshua 6:25).

On the final day, destruction will come upon this entire world. The trumpet will sound and Jesus will shout (I Thessalonians 4:16). No one will be able to stand in the face of His fierce destruction. And then comes the fire—the eternal fire (Mark 9:43-48).

But one house is spared. Inside that house are people who wanted to be saved when destruction came. But what made that house different? What makes this CHURCH different? After all, there’s plenty of other churches out there.

This church is different because of scarlet—the scarlet of Jesus’ blood. It is that blood which sets this church apart. It is that blood that makes this church stand out. The scarlet marks this church—this house—for salvation.

The people in this house are also saved by Joshua—of course, we know this Joshua by His Greek name, Jesus.

Jesus said He would build HIS church (Matthew 16:18). There is only one church that Christ recognizes. There is only one church that God adds to (Acts 2:47). Christ only built one church. Man has built many. Only Christ’s church—the one protected by the scarlet—will be saved.

The question now is this: Are you part of that church?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Tracts From the Past – Why Am I a Member of the church of Christ

Welcome back to another week that God has granted us!  Today, we continue our Monday series of “Tracts from the Past.”  This one (like the others from the past few weeks) was written by Paul Simon (date and location unknown), and discovered while I was cleaning my office.


Why Am I A Member of The Church of Christ?

By Paul Simon, Minister.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give ah answer to every man that asketh a rea­son for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” —I Pet. 3:15.

You should be able to give a reason for everything that you do, and should do nothing without having a reason for doing that thing. You should be able to give a reason for being what you are religiously, politically, and socially. The only reason for being that which you are in religion is a “thus saith the Lord.”

  1. I am a member of the church of Christ because it is non-demoninational. It sub­scribes to no denominational name or creed.
  2. I am a member of the church of Christ because Christ, and not man, is its founder. “Upon this rock I will build my church.” Jesus, in Matthew 16:18. The founder of any institution instills with­in that institution principles that determine its success or failure.
  3. I am a member of the church of Christ because of its foundation. “Can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” — 1 Cor. 3:11. No structure is of greater value than its foundation.
  4. I am a member of the church of Christ because Christ is its only head. “And He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church:” — Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23. The success of any institution is determined by its head.
  5. I am a member of the church of Christ because the Bible is its only creed. The creeds of men have to be re­vised every few years to cor­rect some of their mistakes, but not so with the Bible. It is a perfect creed. James 1:25; II Timothy 3:16-17.
  6. I am a member of the church of Christ because of its owner and the price paid for it. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” Eph. 5:25; Acts 20-28; I Pet. 1:18.
  7. I am a member of the church of Christ because of its name. A name means every­thing. “Neither is there sal­vation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12; Phil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-21.
  8. I am a member of the church of Christ because I was born into it, just like I was born into my father’s family. My father didn’t take a vote to see if the family would accept me into the family; neither did he ask me if I wanted to wear the family name. “Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, ex­cept a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5; Pet. 1:23; Rom. 16:17-18; Col. 1:13-14.
  9. I am a member of the church of Christ because the Lord added me to it. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:42, 47; 5:14; 11:24.
  10. I am a member of the church of Christ because the early disciples were members of it. Acts 20:28; I Cor. 12:27; Rom. 16:16.
  11. 1 am a member of the church of Christ because its members wear no name but Christian. Acts 11:26; 26:28; I Pet. 4:16.
  12. I am a member of the church of Christ because it is scriptural in origin, name, doc­trine and practice.

Tracts from the Past – Noah’s Salvation and Ours

Continuing our series of “Tracts from the Past” written by Paul Simon (date and location unknown), we now present to you one dealing with types and antitypes that deal with Noah and ourselves.  Enjoy!


By PAUL SIMON, Minister

Noah’s salvation was very simi­lar to ours. Both were spiritual and physical. Although, first em­phasis was placed upon Noah’s physical salvation, he was also saved from the sins of the wicked by their being destroyed in the flood. First emphasis is placed on our spiritual salvation, and yet we are saved physically in that [generally speaking] he who lives a Christian life will live longer than he would have, had he lived an ungodly life.

Noah was saved by grace.

And the Lord said, ‘‘I will destroy man whom I have created from off the face of the earth, for it hath re­pented me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Gen. 6). We, too, are saved by grace. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.” — Eph. 2:8.

Noah was saved by faith.

“By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7). We are saved by faith. “Wherefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:1). “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). Although these passages state that we are saved by faith, they do not say that we are saved by faith only.

Noah was saved by obedience.

“By faith Noah being warned of God, concerning things not seen as yet, moved with Godly fear pre­pared an ark (obeyed) to the sav­ing of his house” (Heb. 11:7). We too are saved            by obedience. “Though he were a son, learned he obedience through the things which he suf­fered, and being made perfect he became the author of eternal sal­vation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:8-9). “To you who are troubled rest with us. When the Lord Jesus Christ shall be re­vealed from heaven with his migh­ty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:7-9). “Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14).

Noah was saved by water.

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins: the just for the unjust that he might bring us unto God; being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which some­time were disobedient when once the long suffering of God waited in the day of Noah while the ark was a preparing, wherein few: that is, eight souls were saved by wat­er” (I Peter 3:18-20). Likewise we are saved by water in baptism. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” (I Peter 3:21).

Noah was saved in the ark.

We are saved in the spiritual ark, the church. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). “Wives sub­mit yourselves unto your own hus­bands as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ also is the head of the church and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject to Christ so let the wives be to their own hus­bands. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word that he may present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:22-27). “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and unto all the church over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers to feed the church of God which he pur­chased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

More examples:

  • Noah built the ark. Christ built the church.
  • Noah built but one ark. Christ built but one Church.
  • The ark was Noah’s ark. The Church is Christ’s Church.
  • There was only one family in the ark, Noah’s family. There is but one family in the Church, God’s fami­ly.
  • All of Noah’s family was in the ark. All of God’s family is in the church.
  • All in the ark were Noah’s family. All in the church are God’s family.
  • Only Noah’s children were in the ark. Only God’s children are in the Church.
  • All of Noah’s children were in the ark. All of God’s children are in the church.
  • All in the ark wore one name, Noah’s. All in the church wore one name, Christ’s.
  • All the righteous were in the ark. All the righteous are in the church.
  • All out of the ark were disobedient to God. All out of the church are disobedient to God.
  • All in the ark were saved. All in church are saved.
  • All out of the ark were lost. All out of the church will be lost.
  • Had Noah and his family not entered the ark, or left the ark before God told them to, they would have been lost. All who refuse to enter the church, having obtained unto the age of accountability, will be lost and those who enter the church but refuse to remain faithful to the church will be lost.
  • There was but one entrance into the ark: the door. There is but one entrance into the Church: Christ.
  • There was but one source of light in the ark, the window. There is but one source of spiritual light in the church, the Bible.

You see how understanding our salvation is made simple by com­paring it with Noah’s salvation by the flood.

Tracts from the Past – Can a Person be Saved Outside of the church of Christ?

In going through my office (which needs a thorough cleaning anyway), I ran across a hand-full of old, short tracts written by a preacher named Paul Simon.  I honestly don’t know anything about him outside of the fact that he wrote these tracts.

Previous “Tracts from the Past” posts have been very well-received, so we decided to post these here as well.  If you happen to know some background on Mr. Simon, please add it in the comments section or send us a message via our contact page.

Can A Person Be Saved Outside Of The Church Of Christ?

By PAUL SIMON, Minister.

Let us forget about denominationalism, and ask, “Can one be saved outside of the church?”

Some cannot see beyond “de­nominational Christiani­ty.” Some cannot conceive of the non-denominational New Testament Church. A defini­tion of the church will help us to arrive at the correct answer to our question. The church is a spiritual institution, com­posed of every Christian in the world. To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved with­out becoming a Christian.”

Christ is the Savior of the church. “Wives, submit your­selves unto your husbands as unto the Lord: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church, and he is the savior of the body” (Eph. 5:22). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved without being saved.” “And the Lord added unto the church, daily, such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

Christ gave Himself for the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25; see also Acts 20:28; 2 Pet. 1:18). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved without being purchased by the blood of Christ. Christ is no thief. He will receive unto Himself only that which He has purchased with His blood — the church.

The church is the bride of Christ. “Wherefore, my breth­ren, ye, also, are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be mar­ried to another: even unto him that is raised from the dead, that ye should bring forth fruit unto God.” — (Rom. 7:4; see also 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:9-11).

The church is the kingdom of Christ. “Upon this rock will I build my church; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:18; see also Col. 1:13-14). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved outside of the kingdom of Christ— without permitting Christ to reign over him.”

The church is the house, or household of God. “The house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15; see also Heb. 3:6; Isa. 2:2-3). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved outside of the household of God.”

One cannot be saved without being born again (John 3:3, 5). One cannot be born again with­out being born into the family of God. To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved with­out being born again.”

One cannot be saved outside of Christ. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made night by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). To be in Christ is to be in His spiritual body. His spiritual body is the church – “the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22-23; see also Col. 1:18, 24). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say, “One can be saved outside of the spiritual body of Christ” (see Eph. 1.3, 7; 11 Tim. 2:10; 11 Cor. 5:17; Acts 4:12; John 15:1-8), and apart from His blood.

A responsible person cannot be saved without obeying from the heart the form of doctrine. “But God be thanked, that ye were the ser­vants of sin, but ye have obey­ed from the heart that form of doctrine which was deliv­ered unto you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). To say that a responsible per­son can be saved outside of the church is to say, ‘‘A respon­sible person can be saved with­out becoming a servant of God.”

A responsible person cannot be saved without eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). The supper of His flesh and blood is in His kingdom for His chil­dren. “That ye may eat and drink at my table in my king­dom” (Luke 22:30).

You cannot be saved outside of the family of God. “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3: 15). To say that one can be saved outside of the church is to say that one can be saved out of the family of God, com­posed of His children.

The word, church, comes from a Greek word, ekklesia, which means the called out. “God hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). To say that a respon­sible person can be saved outside of the church is to say that a responsible person can be saved in the kingdom of dark­ness.

Can A Person be Saved Outside the Church?

In the light of God’s word, can one be saved outside of the church? Saved out of which church? Whose church? About whose body, bride, kingdom, family, household, ekklesia, and church have we been Studying? Can a responsible person be saved outside of the church of Christ? This ques­tion you must answer before God.

Restoration Movement Week – Samuel Rogers

From Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.


This faithful servant of the primitive Gos­pel was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, Nov. 6, 1789. His father served through the Revolution and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. In 1793, the fam­ily moved to central Kentucky, and settled in the forest two miles from Winchester, where they lived until September 1801, when they went to Missouri, known at that time as New Spain. They were four weeks on this journey and lived on venison, buffalo meat, and fish, which they found plentiful in their line of travel. The mother carried her Bible sewed up in a feather bed for fear of the priests. “All that I knew of the Christian religion, until I was grown to the stature of a man.” says Samuel Rogers, “I learned from those two preachers, my mother and the old family Bible which she took to that country in her feather bed.” He had the opportunity of attending school but three months in his life.

In 1809, his father returned to Kentucky, and in 1812 Samuel married Elizabeth Irvin, and soon after, under the preaching of Stone, became a firm believer in Christ, was convicted of sin and immersed. War being declared between England and the United States he volunteered and served throughout the strug­gle. After the war he entered upon the work of the ministry and preached on both sides of the Ohio River from Portsmouth to Cincinnati. In those days it was the current belief that the Lord called men to the ministry in some ex­traordinary way, that he opened a door of ut­terance and put words in the speaker’s mouth, and by a special interposition of power he would furnish his outfit, and direct and sustain him on his way. It is not strange with this faith the preacher would start on a tour of sev­eral months with only “a cut ninepence” in his pocket.

In 1818, he settled in Clinton county, Oh., where John I. Rogers was born January, 1819. Here he organized the Antioch Church and was ordained by two ministers of the Gospel. “Old Sister Worley” he says, “also laid hands on me, and I have always believed that I re­ceived as much spiritual oil from her hands as from the hands of the others.” Under the rules of the “New Lights” he could not bap­tize until this was done. He baptized forty persons at that time and during his ministry over 7,000. Not long after this he made his first preaching tour into Missouri. The coun­try through which he traveled was wild, and often as he camped out in the forest he was awakened by the howl of wild beasts. He saw elk, deer, wolves and bears. He was over­taken by a prairie fire and escaped by firing the grass around him and keeping to the wind­ward of it. He was three months on this tour as an evangelist.

His labors extended now in all directions. He journeyed as far east as Baltimore, where he preached a few discourses and baptized sev­eral persons, and held meetings also in Harford County, Md. This trip must have been a try­ing one for he speaks of his “many privations” and tells how he was forced to sell his Bible and hymn book to pay ferriage and other expenses. On one of these trips he lived for two days and nights on “a few apples,” but he tells us “the truth triumphed gloriously.” He made a half dozen tours through the State of Missouri, and traveled extensively in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia preaching the Gospel to the people and receiv­ing less than his actual expenses. “Both among our preachers and people,” he says, “there was prevalent a foolish sense of timidity upon the matter of taking up contributions of money for the ambassador of God. The little that we did receive was collected and given to us in a manner so sly and secret that the giver often appeared more like a felon than God’s cheerful giver. When a brother or sister in telling you ‘Good-bye,’ took hold of your hand in a clumsy sort of a way, with their hand half shut and half opened, you might look out for a quarter or a few cut ninepences. I have had money slipped into my vest and pocket, into my pants’ pocket, and in my sack while I was asleep. All this was done that the ministry might not be blamed, and for the purpose of keeping the tell-tale left hand in blissful ignor­ance of what the right had done.”

Rogers first met A. Campbell in 1825 at Wilmington, O. He heard him preach one sermon two hours in length, and afterward had a free and full conversation with him at the home of Jacob Strickle. As he listened to this great teacher, cloud after cloud rolled away from his mind, “letting in upon my soul light, joy, and hope that no tongue can express.” He looked upon Mr. Campbell as a modern Ezra sent to restore the lost law of God to the people. “The reformation,” he says, “had an easy conquest over all our churches, for the reason that they were right constitution­ally; they had taken originally the Bible alone for their rule of faith and practice. This ex­plains the fact of the early triumph of the reformation in the Blue Grass region of Ken­tucky. Stone, and those laboring with him, had constituted churches throughout central and northern Kentucky upon the Bible and the Bible alone, and all these without excep­tion came early into the reformation. Stone’s reformation was the seed bed of the reforma­tion produced by Campbell.”

In 1827 Rogers rode 200 miles on horse­back to Warren, Oh., to attend the Mahoning Association and to meet with Walter Scott and the Campbells and their co-laborers. He be­gan at once to preach these views with great fidelity and power. “I never made a fine ser­mon in my life,” he declared, “but I have preached a great many very fine sermons, yea as powerful sermons as were ever uttered on earth. But all of these fine sermons were borrowed. I borrowed them from Christ and the apostles. They contained the most sublime facts in the universe to be believed, the grand­est commands to be obeyed, and the most precious promises to be enjoyed.”

November 14, 1833, the day after the great “star-shooting,” he started with his family for Indiana. His near neighbors in his new home were Joseph Franklin and wife, who were im­mersed Methodists. He began at once to preach in a school house and among the con­verts was Benjamin Franklin, who became a famous preacher of the primitive Gospel. Seven preachers came out of this meeting. His son, John I. Rogers, was one of them. For five years he labored in Indiana. In 1838 he moved back to Ohio, and in 1840 made his third missionary tour on horseback to Mis­souri. He was the second preacher to carry beyond the Mississippi the doctrine that the Bible and the Bible alone is a sufficient rule of faith and life, Thomas McBride having pre­ceded him.

An idea of his preaching may be gathered from the sketch of a sermon about this time on election, I Pet. 1:1. He showed the election of believers to be according to an arrangement which God had previously made known; that elections in a state are carried on according to the law and the constitution previously ar­ranged and made known, that is, according to the foreknowledge of the framers of the con­stitution; that every man, elected at all, must be elected according to that previous arrange­ment made known and promulgated; that the law clearly defined, first, the character of the person to be elected to office, and secondly, the mode and manner of holding said election. God has made and promulgated such a law for the election of men to a place in the kingdom of Christ; that kingdom was set up on Pente­cost; Peter was the one chosen to publish the law of election and Jerusalem the place and Pentecost the time, and this one at the proper time and place opened the polls, laid down the rules regulating the election, and 3,000 men were elected according to the previous arrangement of God the Father, etc. He de­clared the same law in force today and the polls open, and asked all to come forward who desired to be chosen.

On his fifth tour to Missouri he had a most successful visit to Gasconade County. He tells how the primitive teaching was introduced here. A daughter of James Parsons heard him, was convinced of the truth, and demand­ed baptism at his hands, but her physician prevented her obedience. Later, finding her days were numbered, she desired her father, an unconverted man, to baptize her. He de­clared himself unworthy to perform the sacred rite. She urged him, saying that the validity of the ordinance did not depend on the ad­ministrator. Her family and friends were greatly moved by her dying entreaties. They sent far and near for a preacher, but could find none. Finally, the girl remembered her old colored “mammy” was a pious woman and she called for her and demanded that she should baptize her. The old colored woman con­sented, a bath tub was provided, and Sarah, the believing girl, was immersed, and rejoiced in the Lord. This opened the doors to the hearts of the people, and the Gospel triumphed in all that region. On this tour he associated with him a young man, Winthrop H. Hopson, who became afterward the gifted and eloquent Dr. Hopson, who did such noble service for Christ.

In 1844 Samuel Rogers settled in Carlisle, Ky., where he remained seven years. He continued to travel and preach constantly and in his eighty-fourth year made his last visit to Missouri. His end was full of peace. “I shall greet,” he said, “first of all, my Father, whose hand has led me all the journey through, and my Savior, whose grace has been sufficient for me in every day of trial. And next I shall look around for her whose love and goodness have imposed on me a debt of gratitude to God I can never repay. When we meet shall we not gather up the children and grandchildren and sit down under the shadow of the throne and rest?”

Restoration Movement Week – Barton W. Stone (part 2)

From Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.



July 2, 1801, B. W. Stone married Miss Elizabeth Campbell, a pious woman. In August of the same year came the great meet­ing at Caneridge. “The roads,” he tells us, “were crowded with wagons, carriages, horsemen and footmen, moving to the solemn camp.” The number was estimated as be­tween twenty and thirty thousand. Method­ists and Baptists united with them in these meetings. The services continued six or seven days until provisions gave out. There were many conversions. Most remarkable bodily agitations were seen here. Some with a pierc­ing scream would fall like a log and appear dead for an hour at a time and awake crying for mercy. Others would be seized with “the jerks,” sometimes the head alone being af­fected, jerking backward and forward or from side to side so quickly the features could not be distinguished, or moving backward and forward till the head would almost touch the floor. Wicked people cursing “the jerks” would be seized with this exercise. Sometimes the jerks would cease and they would begin to dance, praying and praising as they moved until they fell exhausted. Barking would also at times accompany this strange affection, and at other times loud, hearty laughter. The subject of these curious agitations would be solemn and his laughter or actions would im­press others with the deepest solemnity. It was indescribable. The running exercise was another of these manifestations when, through fear, persons would run until they fell. Some indulged in a peculiar singing, the sound is­suing not from the lips but from the breast, and the music was described as heavenly.

Stone was employed day and night, preach­ing, singing, praying and visiting, until his lungs failed him and he felt that his end was near. His special associates at this time were Richard McNemar, John Thompson, John Dunlavey, Robert Marshall and David Purviance. The distinguishing doctrine they preached was that God loved the world—the whole world—and sent his Son to save men on condition that they believed on him; that the gospel was the means of salvation, but to be effectual must be believed and obeyed by the sinner; that God required men to believe and had given sufficient evidence in his Word to produce faith; that sinners were capable of un­derstanding and believing the testimony and acting upon it by coming to Christ and obey­ing him, and from him obtaining salvation and the Holy Spirit. They urged the sinner to believe now and to receive salvation, that in vain they looked for the Spirit to be given to them while remaining in unbelief. God was willing to save now, and no previous qualifica­tion was required as necessary to come to Christ.

This teaching aroused the sticklers for or­thodoxy, and they cried, “The confession is in danger!” The matter came before the Synod of Kentucky, at Lexington, which re­sulted in the suspension of Stone and his co-­laborers. They were bitterly assailed on all sides. Stone called together his congregations and stated he could no longer conscientiously preach the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, but would henceforward labor to extend the Redeemer’s kingdom irrespective of party, and dissolved his connection with them. At this time, also, he emancipated his slaves and retired to his farm. He continued preaching, however, night and day. He concluded to throw all creeds overboard and to take the name “Christian.”

In 1804 he had become disturbed on the question of baptism and was immersed, and came also to feel that baptism was for the remis­sion of sins when Acts 2:38 occurred to him while mourners were gathered at the altar and were being prayed for. But for the full Scriptural views of the design of baptism he acknowledges his indebtedness to Alexander Campbell. In the winter of 1809 his only son died, and in May following his wife died also, leaving four daughters. In 1811 he married again, a cousin of his first wife. About this time A. Campbell visited Kentucky. He saw no distinction between Campbell’s teaching and that he had preached for years except on the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins, and the practice of weekly communion. He did not think Mr. Campbell sufficiently explicit on the influ­ences of the Holy Spirit. In 1831 special meetings were held in Georgetown and Lexing­ton, and a union between the followers of Stone and Campbell was readily secured.

In 1826, Stone began the publication of the Christian Messenger. John T. Johnson was associated with him. The work went forward with great success, and A. Campbell’s visits to the state gave it renewed impetus. In 1834, Stone moved to Jacksonville, Ill. In 1841 he was stricken with paralysis, still he made preaching tours into Ohio, Indiana and Ken­tucky. He died at Hannibal, Mo., in 1844.

Some years ago I visited the old Caneridge meeting-house. It was here this great and good man instituted, in the face of great opposition, a church on the Bible alone, and in harmony with Christ the great head of the church. And in pursuance of apostolic example, it was called the “Christian Church” or “Church of Christ.” And here on the 28th of June, 1804, he proclaimed to the church and to the world, that he took from that day forward and forever the Bible alone as his rule of faith and practice, to the exclusion of all human creeds, confessions, and disciplines, and the name Christian to the exclusion of all, sectarian or denominational names.

The union of Christians on Christ’s own terms was nearest and dearest to the heart of Stone. For forty years most sincerely, indus­triously, consistently, and successfully he ad­vocated this doctrine. He loved the church of God, and wished to see it harmonized. He loved the world lying in wickedness, and longed to see the church united that the world might be converted. Hence when the Campbells came forward to advocate the return to primi­tive Christianity in faith and practice, laying down the simple terms of Christian union as found in the Scriptures, and sanctioned by common sense, Stone and his co-workers hailed them at once as brethren and fellow laborers in the gospel.

Restoration Movement Week – Barton W. Stone

Since we’re still away, we’ve decided to give you some more special freebies!

Our most popular book each and every month is Sketches of Our Pioneers: a Brief Restoration Movement History.  So, this week, we’re going to post some of the twenty chapters contained in it.

Without further ado, here’s chapter one: Barton W. Stone (part 1)


This co-laborer of Alexander Campbell was born at Port Tobacco, Md., December 24, 1772. He was the son of John Stone and Mary Warren. When he was very young his father died, and his mother moved to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1779, during the Revolu­tionary War. General Greene and Lord Corn­wallis fought at Guilford Court House, N.C., about thirty miles from his home, and young Stone heard the roar of their guns. He at­tended school for four or five years, and re­ceived instruction in the simpler branches. He was a great reader, but could get but few books. Religion was at a low ebb following the war; the Bible was little read, the Lord’s day was given to pleasure, and the houses of worship were deserted. Then came the Bap­tists into that region, and young Stone was greatly impressed by the scenes he witnessed at their revivals. People claimed to be de­livered from sin by dreams, visions, voices or apparitions, or the actual sight of the Savior. “Knowing nothing better,” he tells us, “I considered this to be the work of God and the way of salvation.” These preachers had a way of affecting their hearers by a “singing voice” in preaching.

Following these came the Methodists, who were very plain and humble, but zealous men, and were warmly opposed by the Baptists, who represented them as “the locusts of the Apocalypse” and warned the people against them. Young Stone’s mind was much agi­tated by their conflicting teachings. He had an earnest desire for religion, and often retired in secret to pray, but, ignorant as to what was required of him, he became discouraged, and joined in the sports of the time.

February, 1790, he entered Guilford Acad­emy, North Carolina, worked hard, lived on milk and vegetables, and allowed himself only six or seven hours out of twenty-four for sleep. There was great religious excitement at the time, and many of the students united with the Presbyterian Church. This was distasteful to him, and he determined to leave the institu­tion, but a little circumstance changed his plans. His room-mate asked him to go with him to hear the preacher. The sermon so im­pressed him that he resolved to become a Christian. For a year he was tossed on the waves of uncertainty, laboring, praying, and striving to obtain “saving faith,” sometimes desponding and almost despairing. The com­mon doctrine was that men were so totally de­praved they could not believe, repent, and obey the gospel; regeneration was the im­mediate work of the Holy Spirit, and now was not the accepted time, but the sinner must wait.

While in this state he heard a sermon on the words, “The Sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit.” It described his condition, and hope sprang anew in his breast. But another ser­mon on “Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting,” cast him down as profoundly as before, and his days were full of sighs and groans. Still another discourse, on “God is Love,” gave him great comfort, and he found his way to peace.

He was very poor. He could not secure sufficient clothing. But he passed through the Academy, and in 1793 became a candidate for the ministry. The particular subjects assigned him for study were the Trinity and the being and attributes of God. “Witsius on the Trinity” greatly confused him, and before he was licensed he became so unsettled by the doctrines presented that he determined to give up the idea of preaching. Early in 1795 he went to Georgia and became teacher of languages in a Methodist school near Wash­ington. In the spring of 1796, however, he returned to North Carolina, and was licensed to preach. He preached for a time in Wythe County, Virginia, and then journeyed into Tennessee, preaching at Cumberland. The Indians were still in this region, and he had several narrow escapes from them. In 1798 he was regularly ordained pastor of Caneridge and Concord churches, Bourbon County, Ken­tucky. Knowing he would be required to adopt the Confession of Faith, he determined to examine it. This was the beginning of sor­rows. The doctrines of election, reprobation, and predestination, and of the Trinity as set forth in that instrument, he could not accept. When the Presbytery put the question, “How far are you willing to accept the Confession?” he answered, “As far as I see it consistent with the Word of God,” and on that statement they ordained him.

His mind was constantly tossed on the waves of speculative theology, the all-engrossing theme of that period. “I believed and taught,” he declares, “that mankind were so totally de­praved that they could do nothing acceptable to God till his Spirit, by some physical, almighty and mysterious power, had quickened, en­lightened, and regenerated the heart, and thus prepared the sinner to believe in Jesus for sal­vation. Often when addressing listening mul­titudes on the doctrine of total depravity, their inability to believe, and the necessity of the physical power of God to produce faith; and then persuading the helpless to repent and be­lieve the gospel, my zeal would be chilled by the contradiction. How can they believe? How can they repent? How can they do im­possibilities? How can they be guilty in not doing them? Wearied with the works and doctrines of men, I made my Bible my constant companion. I earnestly, honestly, and pray­erfully sought for the truth, determined to buy it at the sacrifice of everything else.”

In 1801 he was led “out of the labyrinth of Calvinism and error into the rich pastures of gospel liberty.” He preached from Mark 16:16 on the universality of the gospel and faith as the condition of salvation, and urged sinners to believe now and be saved. His con­gregation was greatly affected. He tells how religious excitement ran high at this time. In the revivals scores would fall to the ground pale, trembling, speechless. Some attempted to fly from the scene panic-stricken, but either fell or returned to the crowd, as if unable to get away. An intelligent deist approached him and said, “Mr. Stone, I always thought you an honest man, but now I am convinced you are deceiving the people.” “I viewed him with pity, and mildly spoke a few words to him. Immediately he fell as a dead man, and rose no more till he confessed the Saviour.”

Abner Jones – A Bonus!!!

If you read the other posts this week, you’ll know more about Abner Jones than 99.9999% of the people in the world.  But, if all those footnotes scared you away, today’s post will hopefully make things a bit easier.

What you see below is the text of a lecture given by Bradley Cobb on the life and work of Abner Jones.   The focus in the first section is on how he was never at peace until he actually obeyed the gospel.  If you’d rather just listen to the lecture, then just click here and select the Abner Jones lesson.

This will also be included in the upcoming book, Abner Jones: A Collection (Volume 2).


Abner Jones is not a familiar name to most people. And even for those who are somewhat familiar with the Restoration Movement, he is usually nothing more than a name to them. We think about Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and others, but Abner Jones is usually only given a passing notice—perhaps a sentence or two, if anything at all. Today, we will try to remedy that. Obviously, there’s no way of covering everything he ever did, but we’ll look at his life and see the things that he did to help restore New Testament Christianity.

One thing that I want to make very clear—Abner Jones was working to restore New Testament Christianity almost a decade before Alexander Campbell ever set foot on American soil.

Birth and early life:

Abner Jones was born in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Both of his parents were hard-core Calvinist Baptists. In fact, his father was a Baptist preacher. Needless to say, the idea of religion and eternal torment was pressed into Abner’s head from a very early age.

When he was eight years old, in the middle of winter, their family moved to Bridgewater, Vermont, which was basically a wilderness. The closest neighbor was around two miles away. They built a house completely out of logs. And in his autobiography, he makes it very clear that there were no planks, no windows, nothing except for logs stacked on each other. One side of their new home was left open, and they had a continual fire going throughout the winter.

Throughout much of his early life—even up into his 20s—Abner suffered from depression. This was not a clinical depression or some chemical imbalance, but instead it was an immense depression brought on by the thought that he might not be one of the “elect”, and that he might burn forever in hell. Calvinist doctrine teaches that man has no control over his destiny—that God determined whether you are going to heaven or hell before you were even born, and that you have no choice in the matter. Even before he turned ten years old, Abner said that he was fully convinced that he must be born again or be damned. He desperately wanted it, but his Calvinistic Baptist upbringing warred in his mind, telling him that it didn’t matter how much he wanted it—if God planned to send him to hell, that’s what would happen. Because of this, his depression continued—feeling as though life was pointless unless God had chosen you to salvation. And with that depression, Abner was more and more convinced that God hadn’t chosen him.

When he was ten years old, he went to a meeting (having prayed his usual prayer for God to have mercy upon him), and the message he heard made him feel alive inside. For a time, he took this to mean that God had saved him, that God had made him alive. But the feeling went away, leaving Abner more depressed than before. He did not then realize it, but his feeling of joy came when he first believed in Christ.

Because of his uncertainty about this experience, he determined to keep it to himself. However, he made the mistake of telling his mother’s nosey friend that he had a secret, and she hounded him until he told her. However, after making his confession of faith, he again had a feeling of joy. But, as he did not continue on the path to salvation, his joy subsided once more.

He admits in his autobiography that he felt the need for baptism pressing upon him, but he continually rejected it—likely owing to the teaching of his parents that baptism is of no importance. As he fought against being baptized, his depression grew more and more. One day he went to his mother and told her “I am going straight to hell.” Her response was that it was still possible that he was one of the elect. This caused even more depression, because as bad as Abner wanted to go to heaven, he felt he had no power to do anything about it.

For the next six years, he did everything he could to embrace universalism (the belief that everyone will go to heaven, regardless of how they live their lives). He went to dances (which he admits he knew was wrong), and spent his time with those who didn’t have any care for religion at all. But still there was a sorrow, a deep longing for heaven—and a depression because he had resigned himself to never being able to get there. And within there was also a fear of what his friends would say if he suddenly “got religion.”

It was during these years that he had a series of events happen that he describes as God’s judgments against him—judgments because he refused to be baptized. He got sick of fever so bad that he lost his apprenticeship in one place. While chopping wood, once, he missed and implanted the axe into his foot. During another incident when he was fighting even harder against God, he suffered a massive hernia that was never able to be completely fixed. From that point onward, he was unable to do any real physical labor.

Finding Religion

He went back home to Vermont, and there was quite the revival going on there. Abner felt ashamed of the life he’d been living, but still did nothing about it. His pride kept him from being able to publicly admit the need for salvation. Months went by, and finally he repented of his sins and determined to follow God. He began to pray a couple times at some Baptist meetings, but had not yet been baptized. He felt an intense inner feeling that he would someday have to preach.

It was upon reading his Bible and finally admitting to himself that baptism was a requirement of God for salvation that he finally submitted to the divine ordinance, in 1793. For months afterwards, Abner would occasionally preach the Calvinistic doctrines that he was raised with—but this didn’t last very long, because he was studying his Bible. He realized very quickly that the Calvinistic ideas of “predestination” and “election” were foreign to the Bible, and he rejected them.

It was shortly after this that he came to the realization that the name “Baptist” was never applied to the church in the Scriptures, and he rejected that as well. From that point on (1794), he determined only to use the name “Christian.” In his studies, he also realized the entire Baptist organization was unscriptural: the way one becomes a member of the Baptist Church, their confessions of faith, and their leadership councils. So he rejected all of them.

It was around this time that he got married and went into the practice of “physic” (he became a physic-ian). He began to build up some wealth with his medical practice, but he continued to feel the pressing urge: I need to preach. Eventually he completely gave up his medical practice.

The Christian Connexion

He went about preaching wherever he had the opportunity, calling people to follow only what the Bible says and nothing more. At this point, he was still aligned with the Baptist Church—though he expressly stated that he would not abide by any of their unscriptural doctrines or practices. In 1801, after ruffling many feathers in the Baptist Church, he planted a congregation of about 25 people, and they went by the name “Christians.” Later, Elias Smith joined forces with him, and they spread the wonderful news about the ability to become “Christians only.” These congregations were loosely joined together (like churches of Christ today), and as a whole, they were called “the Christian Connexion.” In 1802, A group of like-minded brethren came to him with an offer: We believe God has called you to preach, and so we are going to make sure your family is financially supported so that you can go about preaching wherever you feel God wants you to preach. Abner took this as a sign from God that preaching was what he was meant for.

Because he preached heavily against Calvinism, the Free-Will Baptists endorsed him, and even ordained him—though he refused to wear the name Baptist or to be associated with any of their confessions and practices that couldn’t be found in the Bible.

In 1804, and in the years following, Abner wrote and published quite a few hymnals—some of them with Elias Smith.

In 1805, some of the congregations gathered together and had a conference where they drew up articles of faith—old habits die hard. However, they quickly realized what they were doing, and “agreed that their articles were useless, and so they abandoned them, taking on the New Testament” as their guide.

Abner was content to let Elias Smith be the visible face in spreading the message of the Christian Connexion. Meanwhile, he was going around to churches, strengthening them and encouraging them. And these congregations grew, which Abner believed was God’s sign that he was doing the right thing.

He caused quite an uproar when he began preaching against drinking alcohol in any amount—but he held his ground. He also came under fire at one point because he joined the Freemasons. Because of the outrage of a few, he resigned his membership with that group, believing that Christian Unity was far more important than belonging to any social club.

The Decline

When Elias Smith drifted into universalism and basically left the Christian Connexion for a time, it dealt a staggering blow to the congregations—and to Abner. He went about trying to keep encouraging the members, but the one who had been their unofficial leader had abandoned the cause—and the people became quite disheartened. Abner Jones did not know what to make of this, because if growing congregations were a sign of God’s being pleased with him, what did it mean when the congregations were shrinking?

Because of an outbreak of disease, he again took up his medical practice while working with the congregation in Hopkinton. After six years’ work there, he returned to Salem—only to find a congregation in ruins, having turned completely to emotion as their guide. It took seven years, but Abner rebuilt the congregation. Meanwhile, the Hopkinton congregation had merged with the Baptists.

By the 1830s, the Christian Connexion was having annual conferences (the first one was convened to discuss how to deal with the fallout from Elias Smith’s departure), and was showing the signs of drifting into denominationalism. Many of the congregations were being led by people who were Unitarians (denied the three-fold nature of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jones’ own son identified himself as a “Unitarian minister.” Another thing that was taking place in a couple of the Connexion congregations was that women were being allowed to preach. This was not widespread, and there is nothing to suggest that Abner Jones condoned or accepted it, but it was happening.

Perhaps the final death knoll came when a man named William Miller—a charismatic man—famously predicted the coming of Christ would take place on a specific date in 1843. By 1839, he had taken in close to half of the Connexion members with his lies. The other half was derided as being “faithfless” for not believing him.

The former leaders in the Connexion were gone. Elias Smith was no longer among their number. Abner Jones was approaching 70 and was “well stricken in years.” Daniel Hix, preacher for one of the largest congregations in the movement, had died the year before. And without strong leadership in the congregations, they became ripe for the plucking.

When William Miller’s date came and went in 1843, he announced a miscalculation and said it should be 1844 instead. Undaunted, those who followed him were even more determined than ever. When the date came and went (an event, which by the way is known historically as “the Great Disappointment”), many of those who were taken in by his lies were too ashamed to go back to the brethren they had made fun of previously. The Connexion suffered an irreparable split. Those who bought into Miller’s lies were too ashamed to face the ones who knew better. The ones who knew better decided they couldn’t put their trust in those who were so easily led astray. Ultimately, the Christian Connextion split into two separate bodies. One of them joined forces with other “Christian Churches” (like those led by Alexander Campbell or Barton W. Stone) or “churches of Christ” (back then, they went by both names). The other group stayed independent and called itself “The Christian Church” (not to be confused with the group today called the Christian Church). This group later joined with the “Congregationalists Churches,” and that group has come to be known as the United Churches of Christ.

Thankfully, Abner did not have to live to see the day when close to half of the people that he had worked so hard to teach the true gospel would fall away. He passed away in 1841.

The Christian Connexion (and Abner Jones) have been claimed as part of the history of multiple religious groups including the Seventh-Day Adventists (one of William Miller’s followers started that group), the Mormons (who claimed his restoration movement was to prepare the way for Joseph Smith in New England), and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses (because a hymn book by a different man named Abner Jones used the name “Jehovah” repeatedly).

Throughout his life, Abner Jones’ main desire was to simply be a Christian and to go to heaven.