The Restoration Plea

The Restoration Plea

(or What the churches of Christ Are All About)

In the early 1800s, a movement was begun in America that urged people to believe, do, and practice those things spoken by inspired first century men who spoke "as the oracles/spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4; 1 Peter 4:11).

 

Because God reveals His will to men by direct command, approved apostolic example, and necessary implication, men today can know and follow the "pattern" (Heb. 8:5) God has revealed through the book we know as the Bible.

The early 18th century movement known as the American Restoration urged men to apply the New Testament alone to the salvation, the church, and its work and worship.

Their plea is repeated again to this generation.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

History indicates that the age in which the church grew the greatest was in the first century, when men were content to teach and practice only those things that were taught and directed by the Holy Spirit (see John 16:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

They were not burdened with the ecclesiastical devices and traditions invented by modern men. They recognized the Word of God to have been completely revealed (Jude 3) and that it (and it alone) was sufficient to completely furnish the man of God "unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:17), as well as to guide men from this world to the next (John 12:48).

The Falling Away

The spirit of anti-Christ that fosters strife and division began to develop during the lifetime of the apostles (1 John 2:18; 2 Thess. 2:7). This apostasy (or falling away from God's truth) continued to gain momentum until it fully developed into what is known today as the Roman Catholic Church, which is complete with every device that human wisdom can invent (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Matt. 15:8-9).

When the "churches" were gathered together under one head (who proclaimed himself papa, or "pope"), Roman Catholics assumed authority to change God's word at their pleasure and to, thus, teach and practice deception (2 Thess. 2:4, 8-12).

This period of church history lasted for several hundred years.

The Dark Ages

The power of Satan, which claimed the sole right to direct all of the religious activities of the people, tried to destroy all the Bibles in the land so that their priests (at the direction of their "pope") could give out such Bible "teaching" as would benefit the apostate Roman Catholic Church and, thus, keep people in complete religious ignorance (hence the "Dark Ages") of "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27).

This period of church history lasted for about 1,000 years.

The European Protestant Reformation

In the early 1500s, such men as Martin Luther and John Calvin made huge contributions toward bringing about the changes needed to return to the Bible pattern–namely, placing the Bible in the hands of the common man so that men could study it (2 Tim. 2:16), meditate upon it (Psalm 1:2), and obey it (Rom. 6:17).

The main objective of Luther and Calvin, however, was to "reform" the apostasy of Roman Catholicism, something that was never accomplished (nor is such likely so long as men insist on having their own prideful way–see Prov. 16:18). The efforts of these reformers resulted in the formation of various Protestant (in protest against Roman Catholicism) denominations, and such division is contrary to the prayer of John 17:20 and condemned by the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:10).

This period lasted only a few hundred years, though its influence continues until this very day.

The American Restoration

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, seeing the futility of the course chosen by the reformers, others began to strike at the very foundation of the cause that divided those who believe in Christ. The problem with the reformers was that they had failed to go back far enough in time. Instead of reforming a corrupt, man-made organization, they should have gone back to the church that everyone reads about in the New Testament.

This is precisely what such men as Barton W. Stone, Alexander and Thomas Campbell, and others began to advocate–the complete return to the Bible for everything that men are asked to believe or practice in matters of religion. Instead of trying to effect a "reformation" of Catholicism, they insisted on the "restoration" of apostolic teaching and practice!

With this aim plainly in view, they adopted such slogans as "Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent" (which is merely a re-statement of the principle plainly taught in 1 Peter 4:11). "In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion liberty; in all things, charity" was first spoken by Rupertus Meldenius, and later included by Thomas Campbell in his Declaration and Address.

RETURN TO THE SOURCE

There is but one way to get pure water from a polluted stream, and that is to go back to its source (if the pollution is from downstream, the source remains always pure).

Seeing the great multitude of "churches," each with their own particular teaching and creed, most folks nowadays get plain bewildered trying to find out who is right (and no wonder, especially if people take every man's claim of teaching without going back to the source–the Bible–to see if what is being taught is what the Bible really says–see Acts 17:11 & Rom. 3:4).

PRINCIPLES OF UNITY

Acting upon the premise of doing only what the Bible teaches (Phil. 4:9), we propose the following principles by which the unity of believers is possible:

No Name but "Christian"

That all believers surrender every religious name not found in the Bible and that they wear only "Christian" as their name. If there are Christians only, there would be no need for distinguishing names.

Notice that "Christian":

    Is what they were "first called at Antioch" (Acts 11:26) and that all men are saved by "no other name" than Christ (Acts 4:12);

    Is the only name upon which all can unite because it is the "new" and "everlasting" name given by the mouth of the Lord (Isaiah 62:1-3; 65:15; 66:5), for it was given after the Gentiles came in (Isaiah 56:5) and it is the only name by which we "glorify God" (1 Peter 4:16); and

    Is the name in which men are commanded to be baptized (Acts 10:48).

No Law but the New Testament

That we do not need any system of government except that which is specified in the New Testament. All confessions of faith, disciplines, and creeds are simply the product of human wisdom (1 Cor. 2:5) and have no place in religion (Matt. 21:23-27) because they breed contention and division (1 Cor. 1:10-11; Gal. 5:20).

Notice that the Word of God:

    Is the "perfect law" (James 1:27).

    Is "profitable" for all things that are righteous (2 Tim. 3:16); and

    Contains "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (1 Peter 1:3).

No Church but His Church

That no church has any right to exist whose name, doctrines, and practices are not recorded on the pages of the New Testament. Only the church that we read of in the New Testament was bought by the blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28).

Notice that His church:

    Is the only church He promised to build (Matt. 16:18);

    Came into being on the first Pentecost after He ascended into heaven (as recorded in Acts 1 & 2);

    Will be presented to Him upon His return (Eph. 5:22-27a); and

    Is referred to in the universal sense as "the churches of Christ" (Rom. 16:16).

HOW TO ENTER THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

On the day of Pentecost, men "gladly received" the words of the inspired apostles (Acts 2:41). These words were the "gospel" that Christ commissioned them to "preach" (Mark 16:15) because it has the "power" to save lost souls (Rom. 1:16).

Also on Pentecost Day, those who believed were told to "Repent and be baptized…for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Those who obeyed were "baptized" (Acts 2:41), and the Lord "added" them to His "church" (Acts 2:47).

That's what the Bible says; by faith, we must receive it (Heb. 11:6; Matt. 10:40-41).

THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION

Those who obey the same gospel today will be added by the same Lord, in the same way, to the same church.

We contend that if men today plant the same "seed" (Luke 8:11), in the same "honest and noble heart" (Luke 8:15), people will also "obey from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered" (Rom. 6:17) and, therefore, be added to the church by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47), who purchased His church with His own "blood" (Acts 20:27), when they "put on Christ" in baptism (Gal. 3:26-27).

Our plea is simply that we restore the church of today to its New Testament purity, knowing that when we do this that "the God of peace" will be with us (Phil. 4:9).

Won't you do what the Bible says to do and become a part of His church and to share in the hope of eternal salvation in heaven that only His children have (1 Peter 4:17-19)?

If we can help you in your obedience, please contact us .

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Author: jfm

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