JohnSWilson3 Blog

Review of “The Torch and the Testimony” by John W. Kennedy
July 3, 2012, 1:33 am
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

I have actually had the book “The Torch of the Testimony” by John W. Kennedy for some time, ever since reading “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna a couple years ago. I have also read quite a lot of books on church history but believe this by far is probably the most succinct and least biased that I have read. Too often as the saying goes “those who win the war writes the history.” Sadly when many of the gatherings of Christ’s people degenerated into a religion they tended to be the only writers since they attempted to exterminated those true gatherings of God of whom they disagreed with. But in this day and age God has raised up some truly excellent writers who not only have experienced and expressed the life of Christ but can write in humbleness of heart and share using history as a backdrop to look at the gathering of God’s people for the purpose God meant it to be and make some striking conclusions.

“The Torch and the Testimony” is a quick read, a book you really don’t want to put down! It does not follow most other history books that go into the sordid and horrible details of gossip, slander, murder, etc. He does though give some analysis to the reasons for such awful behavior but most importantly gives the precious journey of those who wanted to simply live life together from Acts to the present time looking at the key spiritual movements through history and the resulting conclusions. In his preface he writes: “The great need of the present day is not for more knowledge, theological or historical, but that what knowledge we have should be practically related to life.” This then is a key to understanding why Kennedy writes the way he does. Kennedy goes into sufficient detail into the major movements both ecclesiastical and spiritual throughout church history to give the reader a big picture of what happened from the time Christ came and indwelt His people with His life by His Spirit.

Throughout the book, based on what history shows us, some key principles are shown for how well a gathering of God’s people can endure the challenges of fellowship together and be a place Christ finds to rest His head. Perhaps the key principles that Kennedy notes are that “the ground of fellowship is possession of the life of Christ,” “the church is grounded solidly upon it’s relationship with Christ and looks to Him alone as its Head,” and that every member is a participant.

Kennedy also gives a warning on the key temptations for every local gathering (ekklesia) of Christ:

“The true church is the scene of a continual, spiritual struggle for its own existence…It is tempted to compromise with organized Christianity. It is tempted to organize itself in order to conserve what it has gained. It is tempted to sectarianism by limiting its growth to a certain emphasis of Christian truth. When it succumbs to any of these temptations, declension follows, for progress has been limited, and when it has reached the end of its possible progress, it must fade out as a spiritual power. This is the picture that history so graphically portrays, the picture of spiritual power followed by declension, but from every scene of declension God calls out His remnant.”

Throughout the difficulties of Christ finding a place of rest He has always had a remnant. You may be in a local gathering learning to center your life together on Christ alone as we are. By the way, we too still have much to learn. May you be comforted to know that you are not alone. May we fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith! These are some arresting words of exhortation by Kennedy to Christ’s people:

“Life reproduces life. The church is the embodiment of the life of Christ, and is not dependent upon particular leaders or institutions for maintaining its existence. Where the vitality of the Spirit directed by God’s Word exists in those who are part of that body, the churches will extend and grow. No power of earth or hell can overcome them.”

May we simply gather together with Christ as Head living by Him, in so doing we will be over-comers and endure until the end.

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Reblogged this on dhaggaboy and commented:
John S Wilson’s Blog: Excellent Links and Resources

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