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

ORIGINS OF THE FALLING AWAY – LESSON 9

2 Timothy 3:1-5But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

The History of the Falling Away Part II

In the previous lessons, we have learned that the Apostasy was already at work; yet, the Holy Spirit through the Apostles of Jesus Christ restrained it directly for a time (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Even during this time, the Apostle Paul witnessed clearly that the Apostasy would come, a falling away from the truth, brought on by false teachers and weak, unknowledgeable brethren.

This apostasy is going to take place in name, organization, worship, teaching, work, and reverence of scripture. As we look into the history of the apostasy, there are a couple of points we want to set forth up front –

  1. Historic Sources.

We want to acknowledge up front that much of recorded history is produced by the power in control of the specific times.  We would be incredibly naive to think that much of what we know is not slanted in favor of the powers that be. In this case, much of history was written by the apostate church; however, in the presentation of the birth of this apostate church, there is enough clear history to plainly share the fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s words.

  1. Historic Periods.

We will share this information in highlights of specific periods (there are vast amounts of information over the thousands of years of history). We will point out important trends and happenings, but restrain from detail in many of the points, as massive books would be needed to record it all; however, everything is researchable in detail, if something catches your interests (just use the search engine on your internet explorer). There are also many good books written on the subject of church history. In your research, just be careful of the historic influence (where it may come from! – consider point #1).   

  1. Please Men, or God?

Universally, the importance of this series of lessons is to set forth that apostate churches and reforms of the apostate churches may do whatever their founders desire them to do, and please men; however, they will never please God!

If the church of our Lord is to be faithful, it must only do the bidding of its founder, Jesus Christ, and such will never please men in general!


Period Seven:

Restoration vs. Reformation (coined by some; “The Second Awakening”)

1800 to Present AD

Once again there is so much information to share in this period, that we can only touch some specifics. I strongly encourage you to continue your own research; a good book to help with this period of history is by Ed Harrell:

   Churches of Christ in the 20th C. - Author: Harrell, David E., Jr.

In the last years of the 18th century, the American Christian awakening witnessed a low point, described by some as lethargic in nature. Political factions that divided a nation and led to the demoralization of army life (especially when faced with the prospect of killing your neighbor vs. a foreign invader), and the induction of humanism to universities (established in Darwinism and the evolution theory); all combined to begin to undermine, disillusion, and take the heart of the weak in faith.

The vast protestant denominational growth of the Great Awakening saw in this period a falling away of thousands per year. This forced many, who were charged in their respective denominations to find solutions, to take to the country side and begin a preaching campaign in scattered frontier populations vs. settled institutions. This brought revivals, camp meetings, traveling bands of preachers who spoke to thousands at a time; seemed, for a time to reignite the country back to its roots.

However, the gains in this community style movement would be undermined by controversies, schisms, and a liberalism with the truth of God’s word that had never been seen before (brought on by those who were charged to increase membership). This liberalism began to create un-educated Christians, who could not defend the scriptures and no longer saw the Bible as tenable, but just an easy accord. This gave traction to Darwinian science, Theistic evolution, Bible criticism, and Philosophical world views.

As a natural recourse to this intrusion on the established sanctity of God’s word, a new wave of intensive Biblical study began.

Out of this would be born many attempts to recognize the importance of God’s word. There was the Oxford Movement (an attempt to prove that the Anglican church was a direct descendant of the Apostolic church of the New Testament); American Bible Society (for the propagation of the Christian Bible); The Gideons International (an attempt to organize Christian commercial travelers); The American Sunday-School Union (determined to establish Sunday schools in pioneer communities); The Salvation Army (to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination); and many, many more.

Most important in all of this would be those who saw this return to the pure word of God, as an opportunity to restore the Lord’s church to its pure roots in the New Testament, and instead of reform to existing human infusions into the Lord’s church; remove them completely.

Stone

Barton W. Stone

Main article: Christians (Stone Movement)

In 1801, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky planted the seed for a movement in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley to disassociate from denominationalism. In 1803 Stone and others withdrew from the Kentucky Presbytery and formed the Springfield Presbytery. The defining event of the Stone wing of the movement was the publication of the Last Will and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery, at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1804. "The Last Will" is a brief document in which Stone and five others announced their withdrawal from Presbyterianism and their intention to be solely part of the body of Christ.[4] The writers appealed for the unity of all who follow Jesus, suggested the value of congregational self-governance, and lifted the Bible as the source for understanding the will of God. They denounced the divisive use of the Augsburg Confession.[5]

Soon, they adopted the name "Christian" to identify their group. Thus, the remnants of the Springfield Presbytery became the Christian Church.[6] It is estimated that the Christian Church numbered about 12,000 by 1830.[7]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciples_of_Christ.

This insertion from Wikipedia gives an understanding of the restoration movement and the universal understanding that there was a strong desire to not simply be just another denomination; but purely seek the origins of, and the practices of the Lord’s church.

This first movement would be followed by the Disciples of Christ (1811 AD), established by Thomas and Alexander Campbell. Their credentials removed from them by the Presbyterian Church; and because they preached baptism as water submersion, were allowed to preach with the Baptists. But because they would not submit to the Philadelphia Confession, they were disavowed from the Baptists.

This early restoration movement would see the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and the Churches of Christ as a result; these names being used as Biblical names, instead of human founders, setting them apart from reformers.

In 1906, the churches of Christ were recognized as a distinct movement by the U.S. Religious Census. This separation from the original restoration became necessary due to the failure of the others to stay true to the universal mandates of restoration. 

Today, each local body of Christ (Church of Christ) is tasked with the continued fight to maintain its New Testament roots. This is fought in true education in God’s word and the avoidance of church doctrine verses the Doctrine of Christ, as the true Head of the body:

Ephesians 1:22-23 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

2 John 1:9 “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”

The restoration movement was one that demanded that no new church be established, but a return to the one of the New Testament, which rested not upon men, but upon the deity of Christ. Church order should be as in the days of the Apostles, with elders over each congregation and no larger human organization over them. There should be evangelists to preach the Gospel, elders to shepherd the local flock, deacons ministering to the members by the guidance of elders, and teachers instructing in the word of God.

The simple Bible plan of salvation should be preached and obeyed, just as the Apostles themselves were commissioned and preached to establish the kingdom of heaven. The doctrine of Christ should be the only subject preached to educate Christians to proper pious living.

The only objective should be to honor and exalt the only name given under heaven by which we must be saved; Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Philippians 2:9-10). 

Apostasy was born of man; but restoration is born of the word of God, to this summary:

Universally, the importance of this series of lessons is to set forth that apostate churches and reforms of the apostate churches may do whatever their founders desire them to do, and please men; however, they will never please God!

If the church of our Lord is to be faithful, it must only do the bidding of its founder, Jesus Christ, and such will never please men in general!

Next: “The Nature of the Body!


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.

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!

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.

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.”

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.

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 with 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!

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.

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).


http://www.firstcenturychristian.com/restoration/restoration_07.htm