February 1997, Vol. 6, No. 2

A Unified Army



Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear  Him;  and  He  will  show  them  His covenant.  Psalm 25:14

A Unified Army

The terms “church” and “churches” combined occur at least 114 times in the New Testament. “Church” is translated from the Greek word: ekklhsia - ekklesia (Strong’s # 1577). It is derived from two different words which, when combined, mean a called out group or assembly.  Ekklesia is used in the Septuagint to name the “gathering” of Israel, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. (See Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

The phrase “church” is only used three times in the gospels. However, it is used eighteen times in the book of Acts with the term “churches” used an additional four times. There, with the concepts expressed in the epistles,  we find the apostolic understanding of  “church.” Not only does ekklesia carry the concept of an assembly or meeting of people, but ekklesia is at its base, the individuals who make up God’s people regardless of their physical location in relationship to time. In other words, the “church” can also represent the unassembled believers when not connected in time and location. An early example of this concept is given in the book or Acts.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” (Acts 8:1-3)

Here we read about the early persecution against the “church.” This not only included a search of the synagogues, but also a search from house to house for believers in “the way.” However, Christ did not allow His “church” to be persecuted without giving it grace and strength. In fact, the persecution constrained the gospel to go into new areas not yet reached.

While there were recognized leaders such as the apostles, the head of the true “church” was and always has been Jesus Christ. Paul writes plainly that “Christ is the head of the church.” (Ephesians 5:23) He also calls Christ “the head of the body.” (Colossians 1:18) Jesus told His disciples that He, not any man, was their lord or “master.”

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” (Matthew 23:8-10)

Not only did Jesus clearly claim to be Lord and Master, but He forever told His followers what their true relationship was to be one toward another: “all ye are brethren.” While there are different gifts of the spirit, (see Ephesians 4:11, 12) and talents are distributed in various amounts, (see Matthew 25:14-29) there is to be no one superior to another in God’s “church.”

God desires His “church” to be a unified body working as an ordered army for the work of the gospel. Their unity will be based on an understanding and application of truth which will bring a true “unity of the faith.” (Ephesians 4:13) Amos states that two cannot “walk together except they be agreed.” (Amos 3:3) As one Christian writer stated:

“[God] does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.—Manuscript 10, 1905.” (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 175)

An Efficient Army of Workers

Good counsel is found in the following statements: “[God]calls for a united army, which moves steadily forward, not for a company composed of independent atoms.” (4 BC, p. 1146) “God does not design that his workmen shall stand apart as independent atoms.” (PH 156, p. 12) Beloved, there is a blessing of super efficiency when God’s people work together. In discussing the blessings of obedience, God gave the children of Israel the following illustration:

“And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Lev. 26:7, 8)

Carefully notice the ratios mentioned. Five can chase one hundred. That reduces in simplest form to one chasing twenty. Yet a hundred can chase ten thousand. That reduces in simplest form to one chasing a hundred! As they work together, they are 500% more efficient! The same ratio of efficiency is given in Deuteronomy 32:30.

The LORD is a God of Order

God plans for His people to work together in harmony without the anarchy and confusion that is represented today by Babylon. The Bible guilelessly states that: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Cor. 14:33) It also says: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor. 14:40) In fact, God through one of His servants has stated, “Order is heaven’s first law, ...” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 201)

An Expanded Old Paths

Clearly we see that heaven demands both order and efficiency in the work. To help fulfill that demand in these last days the Smyrna Church, which publishes Old Paths, has accepted the leading of the Lord and through mutual dialog and consent, agreed to merge our efforts with that of others who are writing and publishing. Specifically, Old Paths will merge with the publication Advent Movement Fulfilled beginning with the March 1997 issue.

The expanded publication will still be published and printed by Smyrna Gospel Ministries and will continue to be called Old Paths. The editor of Advent Movement Fulfilled, Brother Lynnford Beachy, will become the associate editor of Old Paths. Brother Lynnford is a fine young worker in the Lord’s vineyard who has a firm grasp on the Bible with a clear understanding of how to articulate present truth for today. Brother Doug Goslin who has helped as contributing editor for Advent Movement Fulfilled will continue to provide spiritual material as well as others such as Fred Allaback, Joe Harricharan, and others. In fact, we solicit any studies that you have which can be a blessing to others.

Expanding Old Paths will allow us to present a broader range of topics and deeper studies. Old Paths will continue to carry theological studies as before, and with the expansion allow us to include topics designed for young people, materials on health and better living, news notes, camp meeting announcements, speaking appointments, letters to the editor, etc.

The March issue of Old Paths will carry a new masthead with various layout changes. The new masthead was designed by Brother Beachy and effectively presents the stable concept of the “old paths” as mentioned by Jeremiah with an artistic beauty produced with the help of computer graphics. We solicit your prayers for the expanded publication. We do not claim to be the only ones who have truth for today, nor do we claim that God is going to finish the work using only Old Paths. However, we do believe and pray that this publication will be a light among the many representatives of God, proclaiming the truth that will lighten the earth with the glory of God. To that end we dedicate the expanded Old Paths.

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