One hundred years from now, if I could look back from glory and do an internet search on myself, I would love to read this statement about myself: “He believes the old Jerusalem gospel with all his heart, and greatly delights to preach it”.1 That was said of L.L. Carpenter, an evangelist of the New Testament Church from the 1800’s.
Or maybe I could read about myself what was written about another evangelist of the New Testament Church. Before James Creel died in 1923, it was written: “He loves the old Jerusalem gospel, and hopes yet to spend many years in faithfully preaching the same”.2 In fact, I can relate to James Creel’s religious life in other ways. Read what was written about him in 1902:
James’ parents were pious and devoted Baptists, and at the early age of thirteen he joined the Baptist Church; and when eighteen years old, having learned the way of the Lord more accurately, he gave up all denominationalism and became a Christian only, belonging to the Church of Christ only; and by this act he became identified with that religious body who, as individuals, are simply disciples of Christ or Christians, and, as congregations, are simply churches of Christ, no more nor less. In other words, he ceased to be a Baptist, and ceased to belong to the Baptist Church by becoming a Christian only, and belonging to the Church of Christ only.2
How do I relate to someone who died in 1923? The same way some of you relate to him. You, like me, may have come out of denominationalism and simply wanted to be Christians. That, in a nutshell, is the “Restoration Plea”. It is a plea to drop all denominational teachings and practices and follow the Bible, and the Bible only. The “Old Jerusalem Gospel” that both of these men loved so dearly, is still the only Gospel that saves today!
I hope that you have learned by now that I have a passion to preach the “Old Jerusalem Gospel”. My passion is to take people back to the Bible as our sole source of authority. I may not always have the excitement of a Raymond Bennett (our “heaven-high, world-wide, shot gun barrel straight revival speaker). I may not always be as well outlined as an Ed Bousman or James Smith. I may not always have the depth of knowledge of a George Faull or the late Roger Chambers. But I believe in the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” of the Scriptures! That “Old Jerusalem Gospel” is what I live for—and what I would die for!
Why do some call it the “Old Jerusalem Gospel” though? You may have heard the church described as “Old Ship Zion”. Where do these ideas come from?
First, these ideas go back to the second chapter of Acts. As we open up the Bible and read about the beginning of the church (Acts 2) we see the Gospel first proclaimed in Jerusalem. In fact, Jesus told the apostles in chapter one (Acts 1:8) that they would be His “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth”. Notice that world evangelism would begin in Jerusalem.
On the day of Pentecost, still in Acts 2, we read where Peter preached the Gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus). He continued preaching Jesus unto them as he told them how to apply this Gospel to their lives. He preached, “Repent and be immersed everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This first Gospel message was preached in Jerusalem.
Second, these ideas of the “Old Jerusalem Gospel” and the church as the “Old Ship Zion”, goes back to Micah’s prophecy. Notice what Micah wrote as he prophesied the preaching of the Gospel: “For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”. (Micah 4:2). I would encourage you to read the entire third and fourth chapters in Micah to get the context. But the Gospel would be first proclaimed from Jerusalem—from Mt. Zion!
The old revival song proclaimed:
Give me that old time religion;
It was good enough for Paul and Silas;
It is good enough for me!
I give a hearty “AMEN”. Give me that Old Jerusalem Gospel, it was good enough for Paul, Silas, Peter, Timothy, James, Stephen, Phillip and the first century church, it is good enough for me!
Get excited with me, as we together, share the Old Jerusalem Gospel and help guide this Old Ship Zion to Danville and the surrounding area!
References about above evangelists: