Restoring the Old Paths
Good Shepherd Bible Sabbath Fellowship
Although Christ did not come as expected and a Great Disappointment followed, Christian believers from various denominations continued to study and pray together, meeting in homes and small churches, seeking for clarity and light. The understanding of Christ's high priestly work and ministry in heaven - commencing when He resurrected from the grave and ascended to His Father in heaven - connected with the restoration of the truth of the Sabbath - being introduced by a Seventh-day Baptist woman in Washington, New Hampshire, named Rachel Oakes Preston - gave rise to the first Sabbatarian Adventist church on March 16, 1844. Frederick Wheeler, an ordained minister originally from the Methodist-Episcopal church, pastored this newly organized Sabbath-keeping Adventist church which was named the "Christian Brethren" congregation. Frederick Wheeler then shared this truth with T.M. Preble, a Free-Will Baptist preacher and follower of William Miller, who wrote a pamphlet on the Sabbath later read by Joseph Bates, a former sea captain, temperance reformer, abolitionist, and Millerite, who wrote a tract entitled, "The Sabbath, A Perpetual Sign". This tract influenced many of the Advent believers who later formed to be Seventh-day Adventists, upholding such truths as the Sabbath, the heavenly sanctuary ministry of Christ, and the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14.
Thus the work of reform has continued, preaching truth and spreading the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:6), until today knowledge of the Sabbath and the soon-coming of Christ has spread across the globe. It is in this spirit of doctrinal and moral reform - while upholding the individual's liberty of conscience and practicing the simplicity and autonomy of the local church as in apostolic times - that Good Shepherd Bible Sabbath Fellowship exists. We seek to hold fast to the former truths held by our forefathers of the ancient Christian faith in the New Testament, guarded and held sacred by the Church in the Wilderness, developed by the Protestant Reformation, revolutionized by the Baptists and Seventh-day Baptists, and as held in the continually shining light revealed in the prophetic truths today understood by the Seventh-day Adventists. We do, however, reject the hierarchical structure of the Seventh-day Adventist church and instead uphold liberty of conscience and local church autonomy as the Seventh-day Baptists still ardently defend and uphold. We also uphold and vigorously defend and affirm the sanctity of life and inherent value of each and every human being created in the image of God, and believe that the willful destruction of human life in and out of the womb to be a heinous and nefarious sin which will be punished by God. We also strongly affirm the sanctity of marriage as one of God's first gifts to mankind, to be celebrated, consummated and kept holy as a sacred relationship between one man and one woman. We believe in the biblical principle of headship in the home and in the church, and that the proper roles and spheres of men and women are clearly outlined in the scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments. And while seeking to live peaceably with all men and to obey the laws of the land as good Christian citizens, we reject government interference in religious matters, find the combination of church and state abhorrent and unChristian, and ultimately recognize Christ's authority in the scriptures as supreme, all-sufficient, and our only rule of faith and practice.
In summary, we are a conservative Christian fellowship and identify simply as Bible-believing, commandment-keeping Christians, who seek to uphold the light of truth given and gathered throughout the ages, and hold out the Sabbath as God's gift to mankind and an outward sign of loyalty to His kingdom of grace.
A Brief History and Overview
Welcome to our new Church Page! We're glad you decided to visit us. We are a Christian home church based on the Simple Church model which seeks to follow the pattern of church organization laid down by the New Testament where believers met "house to house" for "fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers". Acts 2:42, 46 (see also Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). We are an independent, Bible believing, Christian fellowship, that believes in showing our love to God by keeping His 10 Commandments, including the Bible Sabbath. We emphasize the essential importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus and accepting Christ as a personal Savior from sin, recognizing that our own works do not merit salvation, but that we are saved only through faith in His atoning work on the cross and His High Priestly ministry for us in heaven. We are saved by God's grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that the born-again and regenerated Christian receives a new heart from Christ in which love for God manifests itself in obedience to His commands, not out of an attempt to merit salvation, but rather because we love the One who gave His life for us and who said, "if ye love Me, keep My commandments". John 14:15.
It is our understanding that as the primitive church in the days of the apostles gradually lost its distinction, and as the pomp and influence of Rome began to infiltrate the Church of Christ in the early centuries of the Christian era, Romish customs and heathen rites gradually entered into the body of believers, thus corrupting her once pure worship of God and Christ. However, even during the darkest days of apostasy God had a remnant of believers who kept the "commandments of God and the faith of Jesus". Revelation 14:12. The Asiatic church in the near East, the Celtic church in the British Isles, the Waldenses of the Swiss and Italian Alps, the French Hugenots, the Lollards, and others - faithful Christians who kept the true Sabbath and resisted the tyrannical hierarchy of the Papal church in Rome - maintained their pure worship of the One True God and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. They often congregated amidst the wonderful scenes of nature, surrounded by the awful grandeur of the mountains, meeting in lonely caves, mountainous valleys, or from home to home in secret. Amidst the darkness and superstition of those times, and in the face of fiery trials and relentless persecution, these faithful Christians witnessed for their faith - their voices ascending in praise and echoing from the hillsides - and often sealed their witness with their own blood.
As the Church of Christ progressed through the Dark Ages of Papal supremacy, the Protestant Reformation began its work of reform in Europe - the seeds of reform being early planted by John Wycliffe, often called "the Morning Star of the Reformation", followed by John Huss the Bohemian reformer and his colleague, Jerome of Prague - and then continuing with Martin Luther in 1517 with his emphasis on justification by faith in Christ alone.
"Sola Scriptura", or "Scripture Alone", was the maxim and rallying cry of these faithful men of God who pointed the people to the Bible and the Bible alone as their source of truth and wisdom and for an understanding of the revelation of God's will to mankind. The fiery darts of Satan were unable to quench their efforts, and soon the lights kindled by the Reformation in Europe spread from land to land, eventually burning away the darkness and blackness of midnight which marked the days of Papal oppression and the supremacy of Rome.
The English and Dutch reformation also gave rise to the English Puritan movement and the German Anabaptists of Holland and the Netherlands who all sought to separate themselves from any semblance of a church/state union which they viewed as unscriptural and pandering to the world. They emphasized godly living and an inward reformation of life and soul that was attested to by baptism by immersion as an adult. They rejected infant baptism as a man-made tradition instituted by a corrupt church - along with purgatory, saint and Mary worship, and liturgical church services - and instead taught the "priesthood of all believers", upheld the autonomy and independence of the local church which was made up, not of so-called "clergy and laity", but by all believers gathered out of the world and made "one in Christ Jesus". From these groups eventually sprang the Baptist movement in the 1600's who continued these beliefs, but also held as sacred the idea that independence of thought and freedom of conscience to believe as the Holy Spirit should guide the Christian's mind in the study of God's Word was essential to the formation of a right character and a strong mind.
As the light of truth continued to burn as a bright lamp in Europe, the powers of darkness redoubled their efforts to extinguish it. Even in Protestant lands, the powers of church and state united to persecute those who would stand for civil and religious freedom until separation from these lands became inevitable and final for those who would preserve their liberty of thought and independence to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.
As our spiritual forefathers fled the Old World and settled the New, in search of a land where the broad principles of civil and religious liberty could be fully enjoyed and practiced, the spirit of intolerance - so long employed by the proponents and supporters of Rome - reared its ugly head even here in America. The Puritans - once the persecuted by the Church of England - became the persecutors and oppressors of all who dared resist its professed Christian faith and control of the colonies established by the Pilgrim fathers. Roger Williams, a Baptist minister, fled in the winter of 1636 from the local authorities who had condemned his writings and banished him from Massachusetts Bay, and established the colony of Rhode Island which would serve as a bastion of civil and religious freedom for the persecuted and oppressed, and stood as a pattern and example for the Founding Fathers to use when later drafting the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Roger Williams would aptly name the capitol of his new-found colony "Providence", and would, along with Stephen Mumford, a Seventh-day Baptist minister, go on to greatly influence through their writings and work the minds of such great men as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison who enshrined these principles of freedom and religious tolerance in the Declaration of Independence and in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
Baptist thought continued its influence in seeking truth as for hidden treasure in the Great Advent awakening of the 1800's, when a Baptist minister by the name of William Miller revolutionized the Christian church with his introduction of basic rules of Bible interpretation which codified principles used successfully by the Protestant Reformers to unlock Bible prophecy. The unsealing of the book of Daniel, along with the study of Revelation, and a general increase of knowledge of the prophecies, led great numbers to expect the Lord's appearing in 1844.