Firm Foundation #16

    THE GREAT RESTORATION

    The church was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ from the borrowed tomb of Joseph or Arimathea. For a time the church enjoyed phenomenal growth. Christianity spread to all corners of the world and permeated the thinking of the people in the first century. However, the apostles and other inspired writers of the New Testament warned the disciples of their day that the church would apostatize and, in falling away from the truth, would become so corrupt that it could no longer be recognized as the church that Jesus built. The counsel of God is immutable and these things did come to pass. Profane history tells us of the development of an ecclesiastical hierarchy that eventually sapped every semblance of spirituality from the church. In fact, the apostate church became so corrupt that it actually sold the right to sin in order to raise money for the purpose of rebuilding St. Peter’s cathedral.

    This gross disregard for the teaching of the New Testament and the utter sinfulness on the part of religious leaders prompted Martin Luther and his contemporaries to protest the sinful action of the church. It was the intention of Luther and his followers to reform the apostate church, making it what it once had been – the true church of Christ. The Reformation is a failure. The apostate church is still in the world and is as corrupt as it ever was. Nothing has been reformed. With all of their courage, zeal, earnestness, and noble intentions the reformers were able to accomplish nothing more than bringing into existence the denominational sectarian condition that now plagues the world.

    At the turn of the last century a group of God-fearing men surveyed the religious history of the world and were appalled to discover the information that has been so briefly sketched for you here. These men were all afflicted with denominational institutions of various kinds and had pledged themselves to the support of their various sectarian organizations, but they decided to throw off human shackles and to come out of the maze of denominationalism in an attempt to restore primitive, apostolic, New Testament Christianity to the world. With high courage they set themselves to the tremendous task of accomplishing this objective, knowing that if they were successful in bringing once again into the world pristine Christianity they could offer to every sincere, religious-minded person an opportunity to unite with every other sincere, religious-minded person upon common ground. They resolved to reject and repudiate their human creeds, manuals, catechisms, and disciplines; to free themselves from the dictates of synods, conferences, and councils; and to go back to the Bible and the Bible only. They determined to study their Bibles with the utmost care and do exactly as the Bible directed in exactly the way the bible commanded. In this way they reasoned that they would be able to restore to the world the church that Jesus built.

    The basis for the idea of restoration is found in the scripture. In his famous and well-loved parable of the sower, Jesus said, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). In the parable of the sower itself our Master spoke of how his kingdom, the church, would grow in good and honest hearts. In this inspired interpretation of his parable Jesus declares that the seed of the kingdom is the word of God. It is an irrevocable law of nature and of nature’s God that a seed will produce after its own kind. The word of God is the seed of God’s kingdom. When the unadulterated word is planted in good and honest hearts the kingdom of heaven, or the church of Christ, will result – nothing more and nothing less.

    As a simple illustration of this profound truth is seen by all of us every day in the works of nature. If a man should have a peach seed that grew on a peach tree in the year A.D. 33; if he should plant the seed in the ground today, and if under favourable circumstances the seed should germinate and produce anything at all, it would produce a peach tree. It would not be necessary for him to have a succession of peach trees through every generation. It would only be necessary for him to have the original peach seed. This same thing is true of the church. When we plant the same seed the apostles planted, the same institution that the apostles had will be produced. It is not necessary for us to claim, or to prove, a succession from the original church of Christ. The only really necessary thing is to be sure that we have the original seed. This is the plea of the Restoration. Let us heed the admonition and advice of the peerless apostles Peter who wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

    Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. Let us call Bible things by Bible names and do all things the Bible way. It is not difficult to see that no man would be anxious to give up a human name, human creed book, and a human organization to accept another human name, human creed book, and human organization. But it is difficult in the extreme to see how any man could resist a plea to give up things of human origin to wear a divinely appointed name, to be directed by an infallible and divinely inspired book, and to be a part of the church for which our Master died – to stand, as it were, on heaven’s tableland. The fires of modernism, infidelity and atheism in all their varying shades burn brightly upon the divided condition of Christendom. Every person who is not self-deceived and is truly a disciple of Jesus rather than a worshipper of his own desires will want to be united with every other sincere disciple of Jesus. In fact, the New Testament commands us in unequivocal language to be perfectly united.

    Paul wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you: but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Jesus prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world, may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20,21). Paul commanded, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

    Scripture could be multiplied to show that it is incontrovertibly true that one of the most emphatic doctrines of the New Testament is that the disciples of Jesus should enjoy a perfect, complete, and organic unity. The only way this can possibly be achieved is for us all to stand with our feet firmly planted upon the unchanging and unshakable word of God’s eternal truth. If we will be willing to divest ourselves of every practice that has no higher basis for its authority than the fallible minds of mortals; if we will be willing to give up our human names and our human organizations to accept the divinely appointed name and to follow the divinely appointed way, then we will all be one. Let us be Christians and Christians only – only this and nothing more. Let us follow the Bible and the Bible only, and let us be members of the church for which our Master died and that only. “Salute one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).

    Section 1-Fill in the blanks

    Question 1
    The church was established on the __________ __________ after the resurrection of __________.

    Question 2
    It was the intention of Martin __________ and his followers to __________ the __________ church.

    Question 3
    In the parable of the sower Christ said that the seed is the __________ of __________.

    Question 4
    When the seed of God’s kingdom is planted in good and honest hearts the __________ of __________ will result.

    Question 5
    When we plan the same seed the __________ planted, the same __________ that the apostles had will be produced.

    Question 6
    The plea of the Restoration is: Let us speak where the __________ speaks and be __________ where the Bible is silent. Let us call Bible things by Bible __________ and do __________ things in the Bible way.

    Question 7
    The New Testament commands us to be perfectly __________.

    Question 8
    Jesus prayed that all who should believe on him might be __________.

    Question 9
    There is __________ body, __________ Spirit, __________ Lord, __________ faith, __________ baptism, and __________ God and Father of all.

    Section 2-Choose the correct answer

    Question 1
    In the first century Christianity:
    Was unknownspread to all corners of the worlddied a slow death.

    Question 2
    At the turn of the last century a group of God-fearing men, who were affiliated with various denominational institutions, decided to attempt to:
    restore New Testament Christianityrevive the Reformationapostatize.

    Question 3
    In accomplishing this restoration it is necessary to study the bible very carefully and do exactly as:
    one pleasesdirected by the clergythe Bible commands.

    Question 4
    The New Testament teaches emphatically that the disciples of Jesus should enjoy a perfect, complete, and organic:
    divisionunityapostasy

    Question 5
    The only way that perfect unity can be achieved is by using as a guide:
    human creedsthe Biblethe dictates of human councils

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the __________ of Christ, hath not __________. He that abideth in the doctrine of __________, he hath both the __________ and the __________” (2 John 9).

    Question 2
    “So then __________ cometh by __________, and hearing by the __________ of __________” (Romans 10:17).

    Question 3
    "And he that __________ is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of __________: for whatsoever is not of faith is __________” (Romans 14:23).

    Question 4
    “Thus saith the Lord. Stand ye in the __________, and see, and ask for the old __________, where the __________ way, and walk therein, and ye shall find __________ for your souls. But they said, We will __________ walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

    Question 5
    “Blessed are they that do his __________, that they may have __________ to the tree of __________, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelations 22:14).

    Question 6
    "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any __________ shall __________ unto these things, God shall add unto him the __________ that are written in this book: and if any man shall __________ from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18,19).

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