The principle of the “restoration of the ancient order of things” is under vicious attack. • One writer described some of the early Restoration views in America as “. . . . a frontier illusion, naïve in today’s religious climate” • Today, the principle of restoring the New Testament church with its teaching, practice and worship is both valid and most needed.
Why? • A lack of teaching in the past produced a church today with little or no familiarity with the events of the past . • The result is an eroding of both teaching and practice of New Testament in many churches
The Meaning of “Restoration” • I Kings 13 records Jereboam’s changes in worship. • Fearing the people would follow the Levites who returned to Judah, he set up two golden calves, one at Bethel and one at Dan, at extreme ends of the country. • This was, he said, to make traveling to worship more convenient.
Jereboam also set up his own rituals of sacrifices, “which he had devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 13:33). • Jereboam demonstrates the basic principle of apostasy, a principle working in all ages. • He began by putting his own will above that of the Lord. • He set up his own order of worship according what pleased him and not what the Lord said.
Josiah • The Old Testament not only demonstrates apostasy but also restoration. • Josiah, one of Judah’s best kings, began repairing the temple and restoring the worship. • Hilkiah the priest found a copy of the Law, probably the first five books.
Upon reading the law, the king tore his clothes, fearing the wrath of God. His fear came “. . . because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13).
Realizing their apostasy from God’s will, “Josiah made a covenant before the Lord,
to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes,
with all his heart and all his soul,. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.” ( 2 Kings 23:3).
He looked to the word of God as the basis of establishing worship that pleased God.
He commanded the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” (2 Kings 23:21).
These Old Testament examples make plain • What it means to depart from the faith • What it means to restore God’s order of worship and service. • Jeroboam's actions were based on his own wishes • Josiah’s restoration movement basedon what God’s law said.
Inspired men in, before the New Testament was complete, had full knowledge of God’s revelation . Though not written, congregations everywhere had access to necessary knowledge.
The New Testament speaks of this as “the apostles’ doctrine”, “the truth”, and “the faith. Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written…1 Corinthians 4:6
Restoration is possible because there has been an apostasy or falling away from “the faith”.
BARTON WARREN STONE 1772-1844
He, with others signed The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery in 1803, rejecting this form of government. • “We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; • and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose . . .
. . . for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.”
Thomas Campbell, newly arrived from Scotland in 1807, to the same conclusion as the men in Kentucky, though he did not know of their work.
“Our desire”, he wrote, “therefore, for ourselves and our brethren would be, that rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men, as of any authority, or as having any place in the church of God,
we might forever cease from farther contentions about such things; returning to, and holding fast by, the original standard; taking the divine word alone for our rule:”Declaration and Address p. 4
Thomas Campbell soon yielded his role in the leadership of the Rest-oration to His son Alexander
Alexander Campbell 1788-1866
Both Stone and Campbell had the same goal, the unity of all in Christ. Yet, both restricted unity to this principle—the restoration of New Testament Christianity. It was on this basis and this alone that such unity could ever be truly found.
The Principle is valid today • One can look at modern history to find the validity of the restoration principle. This can be found in the beginning and growth of the church in Nigeria.
In 1950, the Lawrence Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville received an unusual request from a former Nigerian policeman.
C. A. O. Essien had received a correspondence course on the Bible from that church.
He stated he needed help, he had studied the course and from this and other study of the Bible, he believed he had restored the New Testament church in Nigeria.
He said they needed further teaching and help as he and five other preachers had already baptized 10,000 people and established a number of congregations.
Investigation proved Essien’s claim was correct and today the church flourishes in Nigeria because of this beginning work of restoration. .
These events were repeated in other countries. • Many individuals in our country have discovered this for themselves and were able to search and find the Lord’s church.
. If we accept that the New Testament as inspired, we must agree that it gives us principles of what a church and individuals must teach and practice in order to please God. • If we take the New Testament and examine the doctrine and practice of churches today by it, we should be able to find a church which follows these teaching. .
“If we cannot find such a church today, cannot we take the New Testament, follow its principles and start a church that pleases God?”
Again, those who have accepted the first two principles have always agreed to the truth of the third. This is an example of the restoration principle in action.
Some Conclusions • The principle is simple, its applications are sometimes difficult. • Alexander Campbell called for the “restoration of the ancient order of things.”
When faced with the question of sprinkling as baptism, his search did not find this in the Scriptures. • He therefore was immersed, along with his family.
Yet Alexander Campbell and others found some questions not so simply answered. • If we restore the New Testament church, what about the holy kiss, observing the Lord's supper only at night, and foot washing? Why are these not required in a restored church? • Campbell’s conclusion, was that the church must ask, "What may be dismissed as a part of the culture of the ancient world and not binding upon the church in every age?"
When faced with the question of sprinkling as baptism, his search did not find this in the Scriptures. He therefore was immersed, along with his family.
His method was to study each question in its context and attempt to determine whether it was a common practice which required of all the churches,
Another problem in applying the restoration principle lay in the silence of the scriptures. Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address declared that nothing should be admitted into the faith or worship of the church unless it was expressly taught in the New Testament.
It is a mistake to assume, "It must be acceptable since there is no command against it.” • The Bible commands by its silence.
The early restorationists concluded that when God has spoken specifically, He excluded anything else. When He has given a general command, He allows man to use his judgment as to best way to carry it out. This allows for expedients such as church buildings, song books, communion ware.
It was only later that some failed to accept this principle in the area of instrumental music in the worship.
The Restoration is Not Finished • Bill Humble states, “And it is possible that the Lord might say, "As you have tried to restore the church, you have stressed the outward observances like baptism, • but you have left undone some of the weightier matters of the law like commitment and sacrifice and the life of prayer. These ye ought to have done, but not left the others undone."
Though we teach and practice salvation, and worship as did the early church, we must give equal attention and fervor to its example of continually steadfastly in His service, even to accepting the loss of homes or even life.
In the early Christians we see a transcendence of concern for material things to the spiritual. Such spiritual lives led to an evangelistic zeal that caused the gospel to be preached to every creature in the apostles’ lifetime.
We also must admit that we have not restored their faith in practice in the power and need of prayer..