Gospel Order, Part 2
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Cor.xiv,33.
It is the opinion of the mass of professors of religion, that human creeds are indispensable to the maintenance of gospel order. They seem to think that without creeds all would be confusion in the church. But what is the real condition of the churches with all their creeds to aid them? They are in a condition but little less than perfect confusion. And is it not a fact that creed-making has produced the Babel confusion now existing among them? If it has, and it is evidently a clear case, then why talk of a human creed being indispensable to the maintenance of gospel order?
Look at any one of the religious sects, and you will see divisions of the most unhappy character. And it is a common thing to see members of the same church divided in sentiment and in feelings; and discord and confusion existing among them. It is evident, therefore, that human creeds do fail to accomplish the work for which men plead their necessity. Then as they are not sufficient to secure unity, purity, and order in the church, why plead for them? Why not discard them, and at once cast these things which do not answer the end for which they are made to the moles and to the bats?
“But,” says one, “is the church of Christ to be left without a rule of faith?” We answer, that she is provided with a creed that is sufficient. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Tim.iii,16,17.
Let us look at the character of this creed. It is “given by inspiration of God,” therefore it is perfect. It is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” How full! – How complete is this creed! Why need the church have more than this? Then see its object. “That the man of God may be perfect.” With it, he is “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Then let the church of Christ take the Bible for their only creed, believe its plain teaching, obey its injunctions, and for them it will accomplish the very work for which it was designed. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isa.lv,10,11.
We go for order and strict discipline in the church of Christ. And while we reject all human creeds, or platforms, which have failed to effect the order set forth in the gospel, we take the Bible, the perfect rule of faith and practice, given by inspiration of God. This shall be our platform on which to stand, our creed and discipline. This will not fail to accomplish the work “whereto it was sent.” It came from above. It has its origin in the councils of heaven. – Its author is the God of “peace” and order; while the strange confusion of man-made creeds spring from this world, and have their origin in the brains of poor erring mortals. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,” so is our creed, which is the word of God, higher in perfection and real worth than all human creeds.
We have no idea that it is a small thing to arrive at, and preserve gospel order in the church; yet the work must be, and will be accomplished. If the friends of Christ, the friends of truth and good order, act well their part, the Lord will help, and work gloriously among us. It will be a work of labor, of care and mental suffering to those who are called to take the watch-care of the flock, who watch for souls as those who must give an account. Such have awful responsibilities resting upon them. O, who is sufficient for these things!
That there may be union and order in the church, it is of the highest importance that those who go forth as religious teachers should be in perfect union; union of sentiment and of action. The reverse would produce division and confusion among the precious flock. He who enters upon the work of the gospel ministry, must be called of God, a man of experience, a holy man of God.
In our next we will speak upon the calling, qualifications and duties of a gospel minister.
— James White, Review and Herald, 12/13/1853