There are many biblical themes that are studied regularly and most “church going people” are very familiar with. Things like the salvation, sacrifice, redemption, repentance, blessing, etc.
However, there is a biblical theme that the majority of those in Protestant denominationalism and Catholicism are largely unaware of. It is the biblical theme, or doctrine, of restoration.
When you hear the word restoration in the context of religion, you may think of a couple different things. Most confuse the term restoration with reformation, referring to the Protestant Reformation Movement.
However, restoration and reformation are not the same thing. One is a biblical principle where the other is not. To reform something means to “make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it” (Oxford).
The the Protestant Reformation refers to the efforts of men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Tyndale and others to make changes to the Catholic church to clean up the corruptions in the Catholic church. They, for the most part, never really intended to leave Catholicism but to make changes in the effort to make improvements.
Most of the Reformers didn’t leave Catholicism, they were excommunicated from Catholicism. Their followers then established reformed — changed — churches according to their teachings. That is where the term Protestant comes from, from the Reformers protesting corruptions in the Catholic church.
Restoration, on the other hand, doesn’t mean to to change but “to restore something back to its original condition.” Oxford says restoration is “the act of returning something to a former owner, place or condition.” The Bible uses the word restore or restoration in all three senses — owner, place and condition.
However, the word reformation is only used once in reference to the change from the Old Testament to the New Testament system (Heb. 9:10). Making changes between religious systems is something that only God can do.
However, God expects His people to be Restorers. He expected His people to call men back to His word when they stray from it. The Restoration Plea is the plea to return from man-made doctrines to God’s word alone.
It is the plea to restore the church of the New Testament by following only the New Testament pattern for the church. In keeping with the restoration plea, we will only do those things we can find in God’s word for the work and worship of the New Testament church. We refuse to incorporate anything into our work and worship that cannot be found in the word of God.
Again, reformation is not a biblical principle because only God can rightfully make changes from one religious system to another. However, restoration is very much a biblical principle to be followed by God’s people in every age.
For example, when the children of Israel had departed from following the law of Moses, the good king Hezekiah led a great restoration movement to restore the proper worship in Judah (2 Chron. 29-31). The people had forsaken the worship of God for idolatry (2 Chron. 29:6-11).
Hezekiah had the Temple cleansed and the worship of God restored (2 Chron. 29:12, 15, 21, 31, 35, 36). He had the Passover observance restored (2 Chron. 30:1). This is an example of people departing from God’s word — apostasy — and being called out of their error to return to God — restoration.
Another great example of biblical restoration is in 2 Kings 22-23, the restoration movement led by King Josiah. They found the book of the law in the temple and realized that they were not following God’s word (2 Kings 22:8, 11-13).
They turned away from the idolatry that had become prevalent in the land and returned to God’s worship according to His word (2 Kings 23:3-20). The observance of the Passover was restored (2 Kings 23:21).
In these examples there is nothing being reformed, i.e. changed from one thing into something else. Rather, the work and worship of God’s people was being restored to what it was originally supposed to be.
That is the ongoing restoration plea made by New Testament Christians today. Turn away from man-made doctrines and creeds and be restored to God’s work and worship as it was originally revealed in His word.
How can you tell what restored New Testament Christianity looks like? Just ask yourself if the things you do in worship and/or service to God can actually be found in His word. Like calling your religious leader by some exalted title like reverend.
Is that in God’s word, or like making the worship service into pomp and pageantry with special robes, furnishings and displays? Is that in God’s word? If the answer is no, then you’re not looking at restored New Testament Christianity. You’re looking at an apostate, man-made, religion.
When you look at the church in the New Testament you find a simple but reverent fellowship and worship. They assembled on Sundays (Acts 20:7) to remember the Lord’s death in the Communion (1 Cor. 11:23-26), sing praises to God (Heb. 2:12), offer up prayers and supplications (Acts 2:42), hear the preaching of God’s word (Acts 20:7), and to make a contribution (1 Cor. 16:1, 2).
If that is what the original New Testament church did in worship, then that is what the restored New Testament church will continue to do in worship today. Nothing more, nothing less. This same principle applies to the way that we serve God in our daily lives.
If you would like to learn more about restored, true, New Testament Christianity please do not hesitate to contact me and ask for the free Bible correspondence course “Introduction To Faith.”
Norm Fields is the minister for the Church of Christ Northside meeting at 1101 Hogansville Road in LaGrange. He may be reached at 706-812-9950 or [email protected]