“What Do You Mean, Restoration Movement?”
Within the United States, as well as around the world, there is a growing number of people who have come to be known as “Christians” only. Their congregations are simply called Christian Churches.
The uniqueness of this group lies in its desire to restore the church of the New Testament, not in its form of dress, mode of transportation, or in the language spoken or read, but in its doctrines, ordinances, and faith. Because of this position, this purpose to restore, we have come to look upon ourselves as the “RESTORATION MOVEMENT.”
This movement is not “just another denomination,” since we have not chosen a denominational or “man-made” name, creed, or book of doctrine. Our name, as individual members, is Christian and as congregations, Christian Churches. As these terms are scriptural and based upon the Word of God, we can honestly claim to be “Christians only.” We are not the only Christians; we are Christians only!
As to our creed (from the Latin “credo,” meaning “I believe”) we believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, as Lord and as Savior. Our book of doctrine, or list of beliefs, is simply the Word of God. Thus as one man has expressed it, “We have no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no name but the name Christian.”
Not only are we non-denominational, but in reality we are not even Protestants. The word “Protestant” is derived from the protesting of the followers of Martin Luther against the decision of the Diet of Speier in 1529 which denied liberty of worship to the reformers. Later other groups in turn broke with the Lutheran, Presbyterian, or other denominations, protesting some part of their doctrine. As a result, these “protesters” went on to form still other denominations.
As a “Restoration Movement” we have not broken with any particular group in an attempt to protest or “reform.” The early participants in this movement consisted, instead, of those who broke from a variety of denominations and religious groups. They did this, not in an attempt to reform any particular denomination, but rather in an effort to restore the “original” church of the New Testament.
With the passing of time there have arisen those who would have us believe that such a restoration is no longer possible-that the New ‘Testament church and primitive Christianity cannot be restored. The facts reveal, however, that a restoration is not only possible but also practical and scriptural. Equally important, it is BEING DONE!
There is a New Testament Church to Restore
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” This “rock” upon which the Lord promised to construct His church was His own deity, or the FACT that He (Jesus) was the Christ, the son of God. Upon this firm foundation Jesus promised to erect a spiritual Kingdom with Himself as the “chief cornerstone.”
Actually, however, it wasn’t until about a year later, on the Day of Pentecost in the year 30 A.D., that this “construction” was begun and the church brought into being. On this day, the Apostle Peter stood up before several thousand of the Jews in Jerusalem and presented to them the fact that they had murdered their Messiah. In response to this accusation, the Scripture records:
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the Apostles, `Friends, what are we to do?’ `Repent,’ said Peter, `repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ “ (Acts 2:37-38).
Later in this 2nd chapter of Acts, Luke records that “day by day the Lord added to their number those whom He was saving” (Acts 2:47). This was the church.
As to the doctrines or beliefs of the early church, they included such things as the deity of Christ, the necessity for living the Christian life, and the promise of eternal life for the faithful believer.
Its ordinances were two in number, immersion (baptism) of the penitent believer in water for the remission of sins, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper, Communion, when they met.
According to the Scriptures, there were several names given to this body of believers both as individuals and collectively, but prominent among these were two. In the latter part of Acts 11:26, it is recorded that “It was in Antioch that the disciples first got the name of Christians” And in Romans 16:16 we read, “All the churches of Christ greet you” (N.A.S.V.). The term “Christian church” is also often used because it can readily apply as a collective name for the entire body of believers.
This, then, is the New ‘Testament Church-pure and simple. It was organized at the command of Christ and under the direction of His Spirit-directed Apostles. Its teachings, doctrines, and ordinances, free from all pomp and ritual, were plainly revealed within the pages of God’s Word.
How Can the New Testament Church be Restored?
Webster defines the word “restore” as “to bring back to its original condition.”
Suppose you owned an old, run-down, dilapidated house. Say it was nearly 100 years old. Somehow you wanted to restore this old house to its original condition and beauty. Although you never saw it in its original state, from what is left you can visualize that it must have been very beautiful at one time.
If this were the case, how would you go about restoring this old house? Would you face it with limestone so that its weather-beaten wood shingles couldn’t be seen? Would you add several new rooms and possibly enlarge and redecorate the existing basement? If you did all this, you might possibly have a very beautiful house, but it would not be a RESTORATION of the original!
Suppose, however, you found in the attic of this old building the original blueprints, as well as some old photographs of the house as it was when it was first built. Then suppose you set about to rebuild that old house according to these plans and pictures of the original. If you followed the plans in every detail and then finished the house as shown in the photographs, what would you have as the result? You would have a RESTORATION of the house as it was 100 years before.
Surely the application here can be readily seen. If we take the church as we find it today, after nearly 2000 years of wear and tear, abuse and disuse, and try to reform it, we will never bring it back to its original simplicity and purity. Our efforts might result in a beautiful ritual and ceremony -that which the average individual thinks he wants in a church-but you would not have the original New Testament church!
On the other hand we can take this plan-book or “blueprint,” this verbal picture of the early church, and “restore” it to its original doctrines, ordinances, and faith. The desires and doctrines of men would be ignored; the Bible alone would furnish all the necessary details. If this were done, what would be the result? We would find ourselves face to face with the 1st century church alive and functioning within a 20th century society!
The Christian life involves many things.
–Prayer: Matthew 26:41, Luke 18:1.
–Bible Study: John 5:39, 20:30-31, Acts- 17:11, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 2:15.
–Worship: Matthew 18:20, 26:26-29, Acts 20:6,7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Hebrews 10:25-27.
–Faithfulness: Matthew 28:10-20, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Revelation 2:10.