The restoration of simple New Testament Christianity is a concept that most know very little about and quite frankly, do not even care about. However, understanding the concept itself would go a long way toward many becoming more interested in becoming involved in said restoration. Let us give consideration to the subject.
The use of the term “restoration” tells us a lot about what we are talking about. To restore something means to bring it back if it has ceased to exist or to bring it back to its original condition if it continues to exist but has ceased to be as it was originally. Christianity is the religion made up of Christians. Now, one would assume there would be no disagreement then in what Christianity is, however such an assumption would be completely wrong for there are numerous views of what constitutes a Christian. For many, anyone who professes belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is a Christian. The definitions found in our modern English dictionaries are of little value in revealing just what a real Christian is, rather God’s definition is that which needs to be consulted. When Paul and Barnabas were working together in converting those of Antioch, the Bible tells us, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Thus, a true Christian is one that is a learner and follower of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is the gospel of Christ that must be adhered to if one is to be a part of simple New Testament Christianity. The apostle Paul said of the gospel of Christ, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). Much emphasis is put on faith, and certainly faith is a requirement of salvation. But, how does one come about having faith? Paul said, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In the parable of the soils, Jesus said, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). When the gospel of Christ, and the gospel of Christ only is planted, the only thing that will be grown is Christians and Christians only. God’s word, specifically the New Testament is the instruction manual for Christianity. So long as man heard, believed and obeyed the commands given orally or written by those inspired clarions of the gospel, Christianity was as given by God. But, when men began to reject God’s original pattern and devise doctrines and practices of their own making, apostasy had occurred. The gospel of Christ foretold of the time that people would turn away from God’s pattern and turn to those of mere men. Paul told the Ephesian elders, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). He warned the Romans of those who served their own bellies, “And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). Paul told Timothy, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1). And, Paul wrote the Thessalonians, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (II Thess. 2:3). And, in the case of the Thessalonians, he told them that such apostasy was already at work among them (II Thess. 2:7). One would have to be completely ignorant of the Bible or of what is called Christianity today to not be able to see the great difference between the two.
Most are at least aware of what was called the great protestant reformation. On October, thirty-first of this year (2017) it will make five hundred years since Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church house door; these being issues that he noted were Roman Catholic doctrine that was not in harmony with the words of the New Testament. Other Catholic leaders followed with attempts to reform what was obvious to them, a departure from simple New Testament Christianity. The end result of these efforts was the establishment of numerous churches with numerous doctrines and practices differing one from another. In other words, denominations or divisions. It does not take a religious Einstein to see that such is still far from being in harmony with the original pattern. The original pattern called for unity of all believers. 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” (I Cor. 1:10). After praying for Himself and then for His apostle, 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, art 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). Restoring Christianity to this great unity of all believers is what is meant by, the restoration of simple New Testament Christianity. There is one and only one way to accomplish this. This we will discuss in another article.
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.