As we ended Part II in this series we suggested that in response to the Apostles warnings, we should expect a time to come after the close of New Testament when there would be a need for a restoration back to the original pattern laid down by the Apostles. 

In fact this has come many times.
Historically, we are aware of how the early church departed step by step.  We can trace how it declined step by step in doctrine and practice until it became a foreign system filled with hierarchy and dozens –  eventually hundreds – of unscriptural practices.  During the first 600 years after its establishment, the church went through a total metamorphosis.
This departure from the faith is consistent with the predictions of the Apostles, and it so restructured the church so that it did not resemble the church of the New Testament.  Early in the 7th Century the papacy with its attendant departures was clearly defined.  Finally, in the 16th Century, men such as Martin Luther (1530) and John Calvin (1536) began protesting abuses to the Scriptures.  A chief contribution they made toward religious change was to put the Scriptures into the language of the common people so they could read for themselves.  John Wycliffe had already done this from the Latin translation into English in 1382.  Luther and Calvin were contemporary with William Tyndale who completed the first Greek to English NT in 1525 and the Old Testament by 1534.
Their desire was to make changes within the system and not to found new and conflicting churches.  They did not succeed, but some good was accomplished.  Their efforts gave birth to efforts of countless others at reformation attempts and began the impetus for going back to scripture. We call their movement the Protestant Reformation Movement.  Unfortunately, much more division resulted which was the catalyst for the formation of scores of denominations which has blossomed into thousands of separate religions started by mere men today.
As we turn to the latter 18th Century and early 19th Century, various individuals from differing parts of the early United States, independent of each other, began to think differently about the divided religious scene of the day.  Eventually and gradually as they met one another, they embraced their mutual faith that the church of the Bible was accurately described and that the Bible alone was the sufficient guide to its existence in any given generation.  Instead of weeding through and trying just to reform errors within specific churches, these men felt that they should go back past all decisions and councils of men and decrees of Popes – back to the New Testament.  Their commitment: “Let us take it up again. Go back and restore New Testament Christianity.”   Their desire was not to establish another of many churches that had emerged, but to go all the way back, past the divisive names, creeds of men, and doctrines of men that were not consistent with the Word of God, and to be just Christians.  They wanted to restore the church that Christ had founded.  They did not produce a new denomination, but believed that obedient believers today can be added simply to the Lord’s church.  As they congregated, they were merely “New Testament Christians.”  Nothing more and nothing less.
Without knowing it in a conscious way, their effort was becoming known as the American Restoration Movement.  Their conviction was that the pure seed was the Word of God, Luke 8:11, and when it was planted, it would produce what it produced at Pentecost, Christians only.  Theirs was a desire to go back beyond denominational barriers - back to the measuring stick.  In every generation, Christians need to continue their fervent study of the Scriptures that are able to make us wise unto salvation, and be certain that we are not departing from the pattern of the once and for all times delivered words of salvation.  Is this a worthwhile plea?

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