The Restoration Principle

6 — The Restoration Principle (1)

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

WE SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISED THAT THE WORK OF “RESTORATION” HAS TO BE A PART OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIVES. There is nothing in this world that does not fall into ruin unless continual efforts are made to bring it back up to where it needs to be. Our practice of the Christian faith is no exception. Both individually and congregationally, we must return to the Scriptures time after time — honestly inquiring in what areas we need to adjust ourselves so that we can be closer to the standard left by Christ through the teaching of His apostles (Matthew 28:18–20; Hebrews 2:1–4; 1 John 2:24).

In America in the early 1800s, there began to be what historians have called the Restoration Movement. This was an effort by many people to extricate themselves from apostate Christianity and take a stand for the practice of the first-century church under the authority of Christ’s apostles. This movement reflected a restorationist (or primitivist) mindset: a love for Christ that will stay within His revealed will for the church which He promised to build (Matthew 16:18).

But restorers have no sooner separated themselves from a “Christianity” that has departed from Christ, and gotten themselves back as close as they can to New Testament Christianity, when the process of deterioration begins again. Within a few generations, many of the restorers’ descendants begin to circle back and return to the very world of apostate Christianity which their forefathers made such a brave effort to get out of. There comes a time (as with Jerusalem in Malachi’s day) when the restorers themselves need restoration.

But what is it that needs restoring? Is it just church structures and worship practices? No, it is also the hearts of people. When things have gone wrong outwardly, it is people’s inward allegiance to Christ that needs repair. When that takes place, the outward changes that need to be made will surely be made — with a penitent attitude.

“What did the Restoration restore? It restored, in the hearts of people, proper respect for the authority of the Lord, as expressed in His unchanging Word. With such an attitude some people hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and were filled. They sought truth, and found it. With such an attitude they became followers of Christ. They remain Christ’s church only so long as they keep this spirit” (Robert F. Turner).

Gary Henry — +

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