FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

SUPPLEMENT

FOUNDATION PILLARS OF THE RESTORATION PLEA

By: John Waddey

http://www.firstcenturychristian.com/

The great movement to restore the faith and practice of the first century church of Christ in the present age is built upon seven great pillars of truth. No building can stand unless the builder digs deep and lays a solid foundation upon the rock. Otherwise, when the flood comes, the structure will fall (Luke 6:47-48). To keep the church loyal and true to her commitment, we need to keep our foundational pillars ever fresh in our minds. In his book, Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union, C. A. Young sets forth those great truths necessary to achieve the restoration goal.

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The Scriptures of the New Testament are the supreme and ultimate source of authority for Christian faith and practice. Of the 2400 religious bodies in America, so far as the author knows, only Churches of Christ make a proper distinction between the Old and New Testaments. Most seem unaware that the Old Testament was given to the Hebrew nation to govern their moral and religious conduct. Moses makes that abundantly clear in Deuteronomy 5:1-6, “Hear O Israel...Jehovah made a covenant with us in Horeb.” Though that law served Israel well, Christ took it “out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14-17).

Christ now has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). His words will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). To go beyond his words separates man from God (II John 9). That we are not under Moses' Law is no loss for we have “a better covenant enacted upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6). We must never forget that we are a New Testament church! Our faith and worship is derived from the New Covenant of Christ!

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The New Testament contains a perfect and complete model of the Christian institution as to her faith, life, worship, ordinances and government. The teaching of the apostles is the “pattern of sound words” to which we must cling (II Tim. 1:13). “Pattern” is from the Greek word ‘ hupotuposis ' which means, “the pattern placed before one to be held fast and copied, model” (Thayer's Lexicon, p. 245). God has provided us a divine measuring rod by which we test the church, her worship and her worshipers (Rev. 11:1). That divine standard is the Word of Christ. It will be our measure of judgment in the last day (John 12:48). Like Moses, we are exhorted to “make all things according to the pattern shown” us (Heb. 8:5). It is this fundamental concept, that our New Testament constitutes an authoritative pattern for us, that distinguishes us from the herd of human churches around us.

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The Scriptures are intelligible as far as essential matters of faith and salvation are concerned. In the early nineteenth century, most sectarian preachers taught that the Bible was a dead letter, a sealed book. At best the readers had to have special illumination from the Holy Spirit to understand it. At worst, the common man could not expect to understand it. Only “divinely called” preachers were able to correctly interpret the Word. This made the Bible the property of the clergy and kept the masses in chains of ignorance. Our fathers taught their hearers that they could “know the truth” that would make them free (John 8:32); that if they would search the Scriptures they would know if teaching they had heard was truthful (Acts 17:11). Ephesians 3:4 was cited, teaching that when Paul's words were read, men could “perceive (his) understanding in the mystery of Christ.”

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The church needs reforming by being restored to the New Testament pattern. Paul warned that “some shall fall away from the faith” (I Tim. 4:1). Within fifty years the church at Ephesus had left her “first love.”
To please God, they had to “repent and do (their) first works” (Rev. 2:4-5). That is what restoration is all about. Faithful preachers will “put the brethren in mind of these things” (I Tim. 4:6). Restoration is a task that is never completed. Man is prone to drift away from God. He must be called back to “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16). Restoration is both desirable and possible.

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The church of apostolic days was by design, one organic body. There is “one body” even as there is one God (Eph. 4:4-5). That one body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23). It is the church which Christ built (Matt. 16:18). The word pictures used to describe the church declare her oneness: Christ has but one body, one bride, one kingdom.
Denominations exist without God's approval. They are contrary to his will and in competition with Christ's own kingdom. It is God's will that we “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among” us. Christ is not divided and no man was crucified for us (I Cor. 1:10-11). It is our sacred duty to diligently work to maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Not only is denominationalism wrong, so are the “in-house” divisions that mar our fellowship!

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Matters of faith and opinion are distinguishable and recognition of what is essential and nonessential will result in unity of faith and practice. Paul made such a distinction in his Corinthian correspondence. When asked about the advisability of marriage, he responded, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” He then qualified his answer by saying, “But this I say by way of concession, not of commandant” (I Cor. 7:1, 6). In matters of judgment and opinion, “we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak...” (Rom. 15:1). Thomas Campbell argued that we could achieve unity if in matters of faith (i.e., essentials) we have unity; in matters of opinion we have liberty and if in all things we have love. There is no room for varying opinion in clearly state instructions of Christ; only obedience. But there is ample room for freedom of opinion in all unspecified matters.

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The Apostles stood on the same plane of infallibility and authority in their teaching as did Christ. Not understanding the significance of the “red letters” in their testament, some have thought and taught that Christ's words were the only ones that really counted; or at least that they took precedence over other scripture. Jesus told the apostles, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me” (John 13:20). Paul, the apostle, claimed that the things which he wrote were “the commandment of the Lord” (I Cor. 14:37). Thus every verse of your New Testament is the will of Christ and of equal value and importance in the faith and practice of Christianity.

Conclusion: May all of God's children renew their commitment to the proposition, that so long as they live on the earth they will devote themselves to searching out and doing God's will and urging others to do the same; that in their lives God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).


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