Indian Territory (1)

by Paul Goddard


Since few permanent records exist, it is difficult to research the methods used in evangelizing Indian Territory. However, the work of Robert Wallace Officer is an exception. R.W. Officer was born to Alexander and Francis Officer in Murray County, Georgia, on August 18, 1845./1 Little of Officer’s early life is known except for the fact that as a teenager he served as a private in the Confederate Army and was wounded in battle./2

At the age of twenty-five, he was living in Winchester, Tennessee, where he heard a sermon by a Methodist minister on the resurrection./3 Standing at the close of the sermon, he said, “I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and I want to be baptized.” Bringing out the Methodist manual of discipline, the preacher intended to teach Methodist doctrine, but Officer refused, insisting that the example he wished to follow was the conversion of the Ethiopian in the book of Acts. The minister denied his request, and six months later Officer was immersed by Dr. Barris./4

After his conversion, Officer preached for the Liberty Baptist Association of Tennessee. Because of his conviction to the New Testament and his preaching, he was charged with heresy. It is not known at what point Officer transitioned to the Restoration Movement, but Michael Slate describes it this way, “It is probably true that Officer’s transition to the disciples occurred not so much because he came to stand behind the Restoration Movement as because many people appreciative of the Restoration ideal came to stand behind him, due to his influential and strong character.”./5

G.H.P. Showalter gives the following description of Officer in 1905:

“Bro. Officer is of rough build and possesses a sturdy constitution. He has light blue eyes, fair complexion and dark hair, just turning slightly grey. He is about six feet in height, and would, in my judgment, weigh one hundred and eighty pounds. There is no doubt that nature has gifted him with more than ordinary powers of endurance. He has traveled much, preached much, endured much. He has worked hard, studied closely and labored successfully. He is an independent thinker, and is little affected by positions taken by men, unless they can be shown to be reasonable or scriptural.”/6

1/ Interview with James Marvin Cluff, Genealogical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. (March 5, 1982). 1850 census of Murray County, Georgia.

2/ Tennesseans in the Civil War (Nashville, Tennessee: Civil War Centennial Commission, 1965), 307.

3/ Michael D. Slate, “R.W. Officer: An Example of Frontier Individualism,” Restoration Quarterly 22 (Third Quarter 1979), 144.

4/ F.D. Srygley, Srygley’s Biographies and Sermons (Nashville: Srygley, 1898), 309, and Laurence W. Scott, Texas Pulpit (St. Louis: Christian Publishing Company, 1888), 384-385.

5/ Slate, 146.

6/ G.H.P. Showalter, “Tidings From Texas,” Octographic Review 48 (January 17, 1905), 8.

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Messianic Wannabees

“The church’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah has always been central to its theology.” — H.L. Ellison
After the reign of David, Israel craved for an ideal king to maintain their culture and prestige among the nations. Disillusioned when the kingdom was divided, Israel’s hope of a Messiah was projected into the future (Jeremiah 31:31-40; Zechariah 9:9-17). Looking toward Bethlehem, they longed for his coming (Micah 5:2).
The word “Messiah” is derived from an Aramaic word meaning to anoint or smear with oil. The sons of Aaron were the first to be anointed (Exodus 29:7). This induction ceremony allowed them to have a special relationship with God. Later this consecration rite was conferred upon the monarchy of Israel with Saul being the first anointed King of Israel, followed by David (1 Samuel 9:14-16; 2 Samuel 5:1-5).
In contrast to Saul, God’s promise of dynastic succession continued after David’s death (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Though imperfect, David was marked as God’s chosen representative. Yet, many of his descendents wronged God, and the Kingdom was taken from their hands. While in captivity, the remnant of Israel anticipated the return of a powerful and visible Davidic King, the Messiah of God.
Over the centuries, many have claimed to be this Messiah. Here are just a few:
Abraham Abulafia (1240)
Abu Isa (685 B.C.)
Ann Lee (1784)
Athronges (4 B.C.)
Asher Kay (1502)
David Alrui (1160)
David Koresh (1993)
Haile Selassie (1974)
Hayim Vital (1620)
Jacob Joseph Frank (1791)
Jacob Querido (1690)
Jim Jones (1978)
Jonathan the Weaver (A.D. 73)
Joseph Eleff (2007)
Judas the Galilean (6 B.C.)
Lukuas (A.D. 115)
Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1994)
Menahem (66 B.C.)
Miguel Abraham Cardoso (1630)
Mirza Ghulan Ahmad (1908)
Mokichi Okada (1955)
Mordecai Mokiakh (1683)
Moses Botarel of Cisneros (1413)
Moses of Crete (448 B.C.)
Nissim ben Abraham (1295)
Sabbatai Zevi (1676)
Samaritan Prophet (36 B.C.)
Simon bar Giora (69 B.C.)
Simon ben Kosiba (132 B.C.)
Theudas (45 B.C.)
With so many claiming to be the Messiah, how do we know who’s the real one?
There is abundant evidence in scripture to determine his identity (Isaiah 9:1-7: Isaiah 11:1-5; Hosea 6:1-3). The Prophets described him as a direct descendant of David. They taught that he would suffer and be put to death. Likewise, they said that he would be resurrected to restore the Kingdom of God, destroy the wicked, and judge the world.
The life of Jesus of Nazareth fulfills these Messianic prophecies. He is a direct descendant of King David (Matthew 1:1). He died as a sacrifice, and his death is identical to what we read about in Isaiah 53:1-12 (John 11:49-51).
I like the way that Shadrach Meshach Lockeridge describes him:
“My King was born King. The bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.
Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.
He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of the spiritual religion. That’s my King.
He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He is available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and he beautifies the meek. That’s my King.
Do you know Him? Well, my King is King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my king.
His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you … but He’s indescribable. That’ my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.
I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they could not stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.
He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!” /1
The evidence cries out that Jesus is the Messiah. Is he yours? Christian, are you up for the task?
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.” –Isaac Watts
1/ This sermon was preached in Detroit, Michigan in 1976.

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"Feast for Princes and Princesses"

“While there is time, let’s not just sit down.” -Fred Asare
In 1989, the Village of Hope was established to care for the abandoned and destitute children of Ghana, West Africa. This orphanage is under the oversight of the elders of Vertical Center church of Christ in Tema, Ghana. Before Thanksgiving I received this email from Tommy Drinnen. He serves as a missionary in Ghana.
“The La Palm Royal Beach Hotel is the only 5 Star Hotel in Ghana. It’s a nice place to say the least, right on the beach. Caters to wealthy Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Americans who travel here for business. I have been there a couple of times. It costs about $350 a night to stay there (never have) and about $20 to get a breakfast buffet (did that once on my birthday). Heads of State and even the Queen of England have stayed at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel.
Two weeks ago, they had a special event at the Hotel – You could tell because all the big managers were there. They had their finest china and crystal out in the dining room. They had the place decorated and the waiters, waitresses, and workers were dressed in their finest uniforms – vests and ties for the waiters and dresses for the waitresses. The Hotel was opening a new wing and a new attraction. They had planned an event and invited some distinguished dignitaries to be the guests of honor. No expense was spared. It was all you can eat. They had a wonderful band playing music. I was there a little early and heard some people talking about who was coming? Is it someone famous? There was an air that important people were on the way.
And, important people were indeed on the way! The orphan children from the Village of Hope were coming as guests of honor at this 5 star hotel! You see, the hotel was opening their children’s amusement park and they wanted to open it to some very special children. So they invited some royalty – some princes and princesses.
I wish you could have seen it. Children who were naked and living out on the street were now drinking from crystal glasses and eating off of fine china. When they finished one glass of pineapple juice, they could get another, and another. Only one rule – wait your turn- which they did with smiles on their faces – big smiles. All the food they could eat – bowls of ice cream with five scoops. Their little stomachs were popping out!
These children had never seen such a place. They were treated unbelievably by the staff and given a day they will never forget. I’m preaching a sentence from Micah this month that is very appropriate here – WHO IS A GOD LIKE YOU? (Micah 7:18) Who is a God like you that would bring these children from the depths of poverty and use so many people from all over the world to see that these children have as good a home life as they do, as good an education as they do, and as good medical care as they do?
I think this God loves moments like this for several reasons but one of the big ones is that it looks like what has happened to everyone of us. From the outcast to the royal table. From famine to feast – that is what has happened to each one of us. We have gone from the blackest of sins to the King’s house – not just for a short visit, but to live – and live forever!
Thanks to the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, but, most of all, thanks be to God for His indescribable kindness. Who is a God like that?”
Pure religion is to look after orphans and widows (James 1:27; Proverbs 31:8-9). Christian, are you up for the task?
“Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.” – A. B. Warner

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Testudo of Faith

walking%20books.gif “Beliefs, as such, are convictions held on grounds, not of self-evidence, but of testimony.” –James Packer
Centuries before armored personnel carriers were invented to transport troops, the testudo military formation was used by the Romans to deploy soldiers into battle. The word testudo is Latin for tortoise. By forming a tightly packed group of men, this tactic was employed when assaulting a heavily fortified position.
The men at the front and both sides of the testudo would hold their shields to the outside, while those in the middle would provide an unbroken covering by overlapping their shields above their heads. Virtually invulnerable to arrows, javelins, and sling stones, the testudo could advance while being attacked. When used correctly, this formation took on the appearance of a slow moving turtle.
The shields used in the testudo were made out of interwoven bark covered in animal skin. To prevent them from catching fire, a soldier would soak his shield in water before going into battle. This was essential, for if a tarred fire-tipped arrow penetrated the shield, the flames could disrupt the entire combat formation.
The Apostle Paul used this imagery in his letter to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:16). Admonishing them to utilize the armor provided for the impending spiritual struggle, he reminded them that Satan would bombard their faith with destructive flaming schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18). The skirmish would be awesome and fierce, but in the end the faithful would be victorious (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Obviously while being attacked by flaming arrows, the Romans did not fight as individuals. Like these warriors, we are stronger when we work together (Ephesians 4:1-6). While we hold up our shield of faith, we are uncertain when the enemy will strike. Yet, we do not lose heart, for we know that our fellow prayer warriors are standing at our side with the sword of the spirit. This loyalty strengthens our courage to finish the battle (1 John 3:16-18).
Will you not take up your shield? You have been enlisted to fight in a cosmic battle against the spiritual forces of evil. If you refuse, you will be conscripted by the powers of darkness. Christian, are you up for the task?
“Against the foes in vales below,
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.” –John H. Yates

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Philippi, Gateway to Rome

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears …” –William Shakespeare
In 42 B.C., Mark Antony and Octavius set out for Macedonia to punish the assassins of Julius Caesar./1 West of Philippi, they met the armies of Brutus and Cassius. Here, the Roman Republic would become the Roman Empire./2
Taking a defensive position, Brutus and Cassius occupied the high ground on the Via Egnatia./3 To outflank this placement, Mark Antony ordered his legions to attack by approaching through the marshes south of the city.
Discovering this movement, Cassius ordered his men into the wetlands to counter Mark Anthony’s offensive. In doing so, a gap developed between his fortified outpost and the marshes. Seeing this mistake, Mark Anthony ordered his troops to push through the gap, thus dividing Cassius’ army. Thinking all was lost, Cassius committed suicide.
Meanwhile at the other end of the battlefield, Brutus’ soldiers charged forward without orders. Consequently, their surprise assault routed Octavius’ men. Capturing three legions, their spontaneous attack was a complete success. At the days end, both sides celebrated victory and mourned defeat. Fortunately for Octavius, the premature looting of his abandoned encampment allowed time for his army to reform./4
Several days later, Brutus’ army went on the offensive again. This time they were repulsed by the combined forces of Mark Anthony and Octavius. Upon recognizing his defeat, Brutus followed the example of Cassius, and took his life./5
When the fighting ceased, the remnants of his conquered army were rounded up and drafted into the victor’s army. Those not suitable for military service were discharged and allowed to return to Rome. However, some chose to remain at Philippi making it a Roman colony (Colonia Victrix Philippensium). A decade later, it was enlarged and became a retirement home for many Roman military veterans.
Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul used military terminology when he addressed the Philippians (Philippians 2:25). Appian of Alexandria referred to Philippi as “the gate of Europe to Asia,” and a century later Paul used this gate to enter Europe.
On his second evangelistic journey, he traveled from Troas to Neapolis, and from Neapolis, he took the Via Engatia to Philippi. While in Philippi, he preached his first gospel sermon on European soil (Acts 16:6-15).
Eventually, Paul was not welcomed in Philippi. Accused of being a Jew who was causing trouble, Paul was beaten and thrown into prison (Acts 16:16-24)./6
While in stocks, Paul and his companion prayed and sung songs of praise. About midnight, an earthquake shook the city. The prison doors opened, and the prisoners chains fell to the ground. Fearing the prisoners had escaped, the jailer contemplated suicide. Fortunately for him, and unlike Cassius and Brutus before him, he did not complete the task. Paul shouted “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Later that night the jailer died, but it was not with his sword. The sword that caused his death was the sword of the Spirit. After hearing the story of Jesus Christ, he was filled with joy and responded by being united with Christ’s death in baptism (Acts 16:25-34; Romans 6:3-7).
The following morning the Roman authorities learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, and they realized that they had treated him unlawfully (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Alarmed at their mistake, they asked him to leave the city. In victory, he did so, but he left behind a church firmly planted in the faith and love of Christ (Acts 16:35-40; Acts 16:13-15).
Christian, where are you traveling? What will you leave behind when your trip is completed? Will it be regret, or will it be joy? Christian, are you up for the task?
“Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and of woe;
It will joy and comfort give you,
Take it then wherever you go.”
–Lydia Baxter
1/ Gaius Octavius (later known as the Emperor Octavius Caesar Augustus) was the adopted grand-nephew of Julius Caesar. On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated by the Roman Senate.
2/ Over 200,000 men participated in the battle of Philippi. The armies of Mark Antony and Octavius were known as the Triumvirs, and the armies of Cassius and Brutus were known as the Liberators. After defeating the conspirators at Philippi, Octavius Caesar Augustus would turn on his friend Mark Antony and become the first Emperor of Rome (Luke 2:1).
3/ The Via Egnatia was a Roman highway that connected Thessalonica on the west (Acts 17:1), and Neapolis on the east (Acts 16:11-12).
4/ After the first battle of Philippi, the Roman battle cry became, “Complete the battle once begun!”.
5/ Primary sources for this battle can be found in the writings of Appian, Caesar Augustus, Dio Cassius, Plutarch, Suetonius, and Velleius Paterculus.
6/ The previous year, Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. In Philippi, Paul was arrested for healing a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. The pagans believed in a mythical snake, which was associated with the Oracle of Delphi and the Greek god Apollo. This “python spirit,” allowed those processed to predict the future. To what extent this “python spirit” actually allowed this girl to prophesy is unknown.

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Retired Christian?

old%20lady.jpg “Don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire.” –Samuel Johnson
Accounting for almost 25% of the national budget, Social Security is the largest federally-funded program in the United States. Providing financial assistance for more than 46 million retired and disabled workers, Social Security has become the main source of stability for many Americans. Each month, one out of seven Americans receives a Social Security check./1
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the participation of older men in the American work force has decreased over the past 150 years. In 1850, 76% of men who were 65 years old were active in the labor force compared to just 17% in 2000. What has caused this 59% decrease over the past 150 years? Some say Social Security, but the data shows that this decline started 46 years before our Social Security program was started.
Today, Baby Boomers are now retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. Likewise, many of these new retirees have living parents. What has caused this paradigm shift? I say that it is our affluence./2
Financial independence in the United States is unmatched to any other time in the history of mankind. Our independence allows us to spend more time in our pursuit of pleasure. This worldly view can also be found in the American church.
Unfortunately, many older and experienced saints, who now have the time to evangelize, choose to retire from servant-hood. Recently I heard a gray-headed disciple say, “I have done my tour of duty; now, it is time for someone else to teach.” This causes me to question, is there such a thing as Christian retirement?
There are legitimate reasons that prevent one from service (Numbers 8:24-26; Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Timothy 5:3-14), but should we equate our retirement with rest (Hebrews 4:1-16)? Perhaps our elderly wealth and health are intended for a greater purpose (Psalm 71:18; Colossians 3:17). Christian, are you up for the task?
“O land of rest, for thee I sigh!
When will the moment come,
When I shall lay my armor by,
And dwell in peace at home?”
–Elizabeth Mills
1/ On January 31, 1940, Ida May Fuller was the first American to receive a monthly Social Security check. She is pictured above. In 1889, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was the first to provide national benefits for retired workers. He set the retirement age at 70, but after his death the standard was lowered to 65. In 1936, this German model was adopted by the United States.
2/ Due to better diet and good health care, the life expectancy of Americans has increased since 1850.

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