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Tuesday, July 25 2017 @ 09:43 PM CDT

The Restoration Plea

Bible Study MaterialsClarence Lavender discusses the "Restoration Plea" and whether or not it can be achieved.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, preachers of different denominations went into the frontier settlements to teach the Bible. Since there were no established religious bodies in many of those communities, an invitation was given to everyone to attend and partake of the Lord's Supper (Communion). Usually, only those who were members of the preacher's faith would attend. These preachers wondered why people were so divided that they could not sit down together at the Lord's table and partake. They found that each religious order professed belief in the Bible. They all claimed to be Christians, but they were divided (Luke 11:17). It was not the Bible that divided them. They found that their religious names, organizations, doctrines and traditions were the root of their division. They determined to restudy the Bible and eliminate from their preaching and practice, all things that could not be authorized by the word of God. They determined to be just Christians, members of the body of Christ. This has been and still is the plea of the churches of Christ.

Is it possible to be a member of the body or church Jesus promised to build? "And I say also unto thee,that thou art Peter (pebble) and upon this rock (mass of rock) I will build my church; and the gates of hell (hades) shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Is it only a pipe dream to think that it is possible for people living in the, twentieth century to become members of the same church which the apostles and others were members of in the first century? If the Bible only would make Christians only in the first century, doesn't it have the power to do the same today (Rom. 1:16-17)? If a person could become a Christian by following what was preached on Pentecost twenty years after that sermon was delivered, why can't people become children of God today by following the instructions of that same sermon (Acts 2:37-41)? Is it possible to be a New Testament Christian in an age of the Nuclear bomb, SDI, and scientific advancements like the world has never known? Is such possible in an age of "entertainment religion," such as the social gospel, frills, fads and fancies?

Churches of Christ believe it is possible to be just Christians, members of the body of Jesus Christ, without being in a denomination. This concept or idea is almost impossible to fathom for many in the religious world.

Some believe it is impossible to go back to the Bible because they say it is a dead letter. The Bible says differently. "For the word of God is quick (living) and powerful..." (Heb. 4:12). Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). A dead letter? Hardly!

Others do not think we can use the Bible to restore first century Christianity in the twentieth, because they do not accept it as their authority. They have added their traditions. In fact, some will argue for their tradition while they put down the Bible. Christ did not think highly of the doctrines or traditions of men which set aside God's word. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). In fact, if one loves Jesus, he will obey what Christ commands. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words..." (John 14:23). If one refuses to obey the words of Jesus, he is foolish. "And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain decended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell: and great was the fall of it" (Matthew 7:26- 27).The very words one rejects will be his judge. "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:47-49).

The problem with our society is that many think almost anything is acceptable if that is what they want to do. They do not seek to see if their practices are acceptable to God; they demand that God pamper and indulge them! Man seeks to be the master of God rather than God being his master.

Jesus spoke of the word of God as the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11-12). Plant God's word in the heart of man by teaching it to him, and he will be saved if he obeys it (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 5:9). That seed will produce a child of God (I Peter 1:23). That child is a Christian and glorifies God in that name (I Peter 4:16). He is in the family or house of God (I Timothy 3:15). God adds him to the saved who make up the body of Christ (Acts 2:47; I Corinthians 12:27). He is in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). He does not need to join anything nor belong to anything else. What God has provided is sufficient.

Pick up a book on the Rules of Baseball and you may establish that game. Pick up a book on the Rules of Football and you may establish that game. Pickup the Bible and you may restore New Testament Christianity. If a baseball book produces baseball, the New Testament will produce, not denominations of men, but Christians who are members of the body of Christ.

The Churches of Christ wish to point people back to the Bible. We wish to restore the teachings God gave to man in the first century. We believe they are as applicable today as in the first century. It is our desire to be Christians and Christians only, members of no other body or church than the one Jesus founded and to which the apostles belonged. We believe that the restoration of the New Testament church is not an impossible dream.

~Clarence Lavender

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