(More Bible Studies Available At www.marktabata.com)
It is written:
1 Corinthians 3:6- I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.
As denominationalism spread, there were many disciples who wanted to go back to the Bible. Let’s learn about some of these great men and women of the faith.
(Note: Much of the biographical information regarding the Restoration Movement comes from Frederick D. Power, Revised, Expanded, And Corrected By Bradley S. Cobb, Sketches Of Our Pioneers To Which Is Added The Autobiography Of Chester Bullard (Kindle Edition); McLoud, Oklahoma; Cobb Publishing)
Barton W (Warren) Stone was born on December 24, 1772. As a young man, he was enthralled by the Baptist church. Charismatic “signs” were commonplace in this age and religion, and he was intrigued. Later, he came to respect the Methodist church; but the men and women in this fellowship were opposed by the Baptists as being “the locusts of the Apocalypse.” Discouraged by the religious division, he turned away from religion.
In 1790, Stone joined the Guilford Academy. The students here were largely Presbyterian. After hearing a sermon from a Presbyterian preacher, Stone was disturbed for some time. The Presbyterian denomination embraces the Gnostic teachings of Calvinism summarized by the acrostic “TULIP.” The teaching of “tulip” can be summarized in this way:
T (total hereditary depravity-the teaching that all babies are born as wicked little sinners condemned to Hell because of the sin of Adam);
U (unconditional election: the idea that God arbitrarily chose certain individuals to be saved before the foundation of the world, irregardless of their freewill);
L (limited atonement-the notion that Jesus only died for a few individuals and not every sinner);
I (irresistible grace-the belief that God will work on “the elect”in such a way that they will not have any choice but to turn to Him and be saved);
P (perseverance of the saints: once-saved always-saved).
All of these ideas are completely refuted by God’s Word, but Stone did not realize this at the time! So for a year, he was tormented by the notion that he was not one of “the elect.” At the time, many expended on “the revealing experience” to find out if they were saved or not. They looked for some strange supernatural sign to confirm this to them; and woe to the person who had no such experience! However, he found comfort in a lesson on, “God Is Love” and became a member of the Presbyterian church.
Stone graduated from the Academy in 1793 and was recognized as a candidate for ministry. He preached in several locations, and in 1798 he became a regularly ordained pastor in Bourbon County, Kentucky. The churches required that every minister in their faith adhere to the Confession Of Faith, which he set to examine. He was greatly troubled however by the false teachings in this creed regarding election and predestination. It was perhaps at this time that he began to realize a new sense of the power of God’s Word!
“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.” (Frederick Power, Sketches of Our Pioneers (Restoration Movement History), 13 (Kindle Edition); McLoud, OK; Cobb Publishing)
Stone continued encouraging people to return to the Word of God, even when enemies worked hard to stand against him. But the Holy Scripture could not be broken!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.