Is the Restoration Principle valid?– Part I


“Restoration” is a return to a standard, the original.  It’s like stripping off stains on furniture to find the original wood – taking a scarred and stained piece of furniture and putting it back in it’s original appearance.  Religiously, it is a return to the church as God always intended her to be.  When Jesus said “I will build my church. . .” (Matthew 16:18) He accomplished that plan (Acts 2:47).  Religious restoration means to go back to His original blueprint and restore the Lord’s church.  This idea is different from starting a new church.    
No one can doubt that Jesus established His one body the church at Pentecost.  Nor can we doubt the hundreds of changes it has experienced at the hands of men.  Is “Restoration” a valid plea?  Must we go back?  If not, we should stop right here and allow each to follow his own opinion.  On the other hand, if it is valid to go back, to restore the First Century church today, we should pursue it as of great importance.  What would God have us do?
This is not a new problem.  The need for restoration can be seen clear back in the Old Testament.  In the Eighth Century B.C., Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah following wicked King Ahaz.  He began his reign with a great restoration movement.  II Kings 18:4 - “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”  He believed it was necessary as did the author of II Kings who said that Hezekiah did was right (see II Kings 18:3,6, 8-13).
A century later, during the 18th year of King Josiah’s reign, Hilkiah the priest and Shapan the scribe found a written copy of the law of God.   When Josiah heard this, he rent his clothes and commanded that they “inquire of the Lord for me. . .”  He restored true worship in Israel and the inspired writer said he did what was right (II Kings 22:2).
In the life and teachings of Jesus we see the continuous need to go back to the Scriptures to see what the Will of God was.   He clearly recognized the existence of a written standard.  For example, in Matthew 19:4-6, when the Pharisees tested Him regarding putting away of a wife, Jesus quoted the law.  In essence He said, “you ought to know what’s right by reading what was written.”
The rich ruler asked Him in the same chapter of Matthew what he needed to do to enter life.  He was told: “Keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16, 17).  
A lawyer came to tempt Jesus in Luke 10:26 about eternal life.   Again, Jesus replies “. . .what is written in the law? How readest thou?”
During the life of Jesus, clearly He recognized the written Old Testament as the standard to look back to. “It is written,” “Go back and see.”  This was spoken before His death and before His New Testament went into force; however, these references form a backdrop to God’s attitude toward the need for restoration.  It was not only a valid principle, but a necessary one in being faithful to God.   We’ll look to the New Testament as our authority in our next installment.

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