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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Restoring New Testament Christianity

The Restoration Plea is Valid
 
            Our family recently returned from an 18-day mission trip to Romania. While there, we worshiped with two congregations. The first is in Iasi, with a population of around 350,000. We met with the Christians and the parents of one of the Christians. Among the parents, the father is a Romanian Orthodox; the mother is a Protestant. We, of course, are members of the church of Christ. Which of the apostles was an Orthodox? Which was a Protestant?

            The second congregation, where we evangelized for two weeks, is in Cluj, population – 309,000. The Sunday we worshiped there, we had a 7th-Day Adventist in the audience, an Orthodox, and another man who slipped out before I had a chance to visit with him.
 
            Certainly, we all believe that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior. What we disagree about is how to respond to Jesus. That is the essence of the restoration plea. The man who slipped out of the assembly in Cluj did tell one of the Christians that it did not matter in what order we do the "plan of salvation", just as long as we get it done. Really? Is it okay to be baptized first and then believe? Into what, then, are you baptized? Why be baptized if you have no faith in anything?
 
            Furthermore, Jesus said clearly that faith comes first: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:16). Observe, too, that Jesus puts "baptism" before "salvation." Does it matter how we respond to Jesus? Twisting His words leads to destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
 
            The restoration plea is simply the recognition that man gets off track sometimes and has to get back on track. The restoration plea is simply repentance on a larger scale. We see this embodied in the command of Christ to the church in Ephesus which was not on the right track:
 
            "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent" (Revelation 2:5).
 
            The restoration plea, then, has three components to it: 1.) Remember the pattern or standard which has been handed down to us. That pattern, of course, is found in the New Testament (2 Timothy 1:13). We absolutely must recognize that there is a pattern for Christian worship and work and we must follow that pattern (Galatians 1:8-9). 2.) Repent. Stop doing those things that are not in or according to the pattern. 3.) Do the works that are in and according to the pattern.
 
            That's the restoration plea. It is still valid because it would obliterate and annihilate all the denominational schisms in the world. It would unite all believers into the one body of Christ on earth. It would be a powerful testimony to all the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics in the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. It would recognize the authority of Jesus to tell us what to do and how to worship.
 
            "There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6).
 
--Paul Holland

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