My heritage of faith begins with my mother. Although my father has been a strong influence upon
my faith, my mother was a Christian before my father, and was responsible for taking my brother
and I to Bible classes and worship before my father became a Christian.
Through my mother’s family, I can trace a heritage in the church that goes back to the days of
Alexander Campbell and beyond. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Bankes, and
her mother’s maiden name was Sands. If you look in the index of The Millennial Harbinger and
The Christian Baptist (Alexander Campbell’s papers) you will find correspondence from both
the Bankes’ and the Sands’ in Morgan County, Ohio.
Very few can trace their spiritual heritage so far in the church. My ancestors were elders and
preachers for approximately 200 years or more.
But, what difference does it make? Each of us stands or falls upon our own before the Lord (2
I have personally preached the gospel of Jesus Christ for over 42 years. Yet, this “track record”
means nothing if I do not preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
The canon, the rule, the thing by which we will be judged is the word of God (John 12:47-50). It
is not whether we agree with a creed, a commentary or a favorite preacher, even if he is one of
our ancestors. We are not judged by what man has said or written, but by that which God
through his Son has said. It is no defense to say I preach what others preach, unless we are
referring to Jesus and the apostles. Neither Campbell, nor Franklin, nor Summer, nor
Lipscomb, nor Hardemann, nor Wallace, nor Goodpasture, nor Cogdill, nor any other preacher
you can and will name is our standard.
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;…” (1 Peter 4:11).
As Paul, I speak as a fool to boast of my heritage, or even of the labors I have engaged in. I
decided early in my preaching that I would go where I thought they needed my help the worst.
Thus, I have not worked to gain a reputation among men, but where the work was the most
difficult, with small struggling congregations. I have suffered death threats for preaching the
gospel. I have done this to the degradation of my family. We have been poor. We have struggled
with debts of six figures because to have had health insurance would have unduly burdened the
church. I have worked odd-jobs, with multiple jobs (at least one other, and sometimes two,
besides preaching) to relieve that debt, rather than burdening the church (which I have seen
others do for a tremendously smaller debt). My wife and my children have gone without. If not for
the generosity of my father, we would have been homeless.
But, none of this makes me right. Neither does it make me wrong (except in the eyes of those
who measure service to God by popularity and prosperity). I am to be judged by my faithfulness
to God, and to his word. Before my maker, I either stand or fall, as do each and every one of us.
Upon what does your faith stand?