The Restoration MovementWritten by Stephen Kingery
Do you know what Restoration Movement is? Do you consider yourself to be a part of this movement? Do you think that movement is important to church? Do you even care?
Please don't think that I am trying to me a smart aleck. I certainly do not intend to be. However, I hope that you can find an answer to each of these questions in this article.
It would not be possible for me to even come close to giving a complete history of Restoration Movement in this short article. There have been volumes written about movement, key people who founded it, its underlying principles, and how it has progressed. My aim is to acquaint you with movement and hopefully spark your interest so you will seek to learn more about it.
The Restoration Movement was founded in 1800's by such men as Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell. These men, along with others, sought to get church back to following New Testament as its only source of authority. They also preached against a denominational structure and in favor of local congregations modeling themselves after churches in New Testament. They spoke in favor of using Scriptures as only source to determine how one receives gift of salvation.
I am convinced that most people who attend Christian Churches and Churches of Christ which associate themselves with Restoration Movement do not know what sets us apart from all rest who claim to be Christian. So, what does set us apart?
We strive for restoration of church, both in unity and practice, on a New Testament basis. The church was instituted by Christ. The church is His! Local congregations (we most often call them churches) are just a part of church which Christ instituted. If this is true, and it is, then we have an obligation to Christ to pattern local congregation after pattern which is set forth in New Testament. By reading and studying New Testament we can learn how first churches which came into existence conducted themselves, how they were governed and so forth. Here are a few things we can learn:
"And they continued steadfastly in apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42) They continued steadfastly, or in other words, they did not allow themselves to deviate from these practices. They continued in apostles' doctrine -- they followed teachings of apostles. We have these same teachings in New Testament. We too can, if we choose, continue to follow teachings of apostles. They continued in fellowship -- they met together as Christians to worship. They continued in breaking of bread -- they observed Lord's Supper on a regular basis. They continued in prayer -- they went to Lord in prayer on a regular basis. There are many groups today (over 300 major denominations) who claim to be Christian but have gone away from teachings of apostles. Just turn on your television and listen to doctrines being broadcast as if they were part of apostles' doctrine. Such things as infant baptism, sprinkling or pouring as a form of baptism, speaking in tongues, "once saved always saved," salvation by faith only, faith healing, prophesying (as if relaying a message directly from God), denying that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, and list goes on and on. None of these "doctrines" can be found in Scriptures. And if this isn't bad enough, there are other groups who claim to be Christian who deny deity of Jesus Christ or who follow teachings of men (latter day saints) who teach things contrary to Christ.
"Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;..." (Acts 6:3) The local church is to be governed by deacons and elders, each office having its own functions or duties. This governing group is to come from people in local congregation not a regional or state governing board as is practice of those in denominations. See also: Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, 1 Timothy 5:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-5, and 1 Timothy 3:1-13. "Now on first day of week, when disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight." (Acts 20:7) We in Restoration Movement observe Lord's Supper each Lord's Day (the first day of week) as is patterned in this Scripture.
Not only should we pattern local congregation after those in New Testament, but church should be unified. "For as we have many members in one body, but all members do not have same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another." (Romans 12:4,5) Notice in New Testament that all local congregations were given same teachings. A study of this shows that apostles considered church to be unified, that all were obeying gospel, that all were to obey commands of Jesus, and that all were expected to conduct themselves in same manner. Are we today to believe that when Jesus returns for His church that He will receive a divided church, a church which teaches different doctrines, a church which has different means by which one may receive salvation, and a church which will not even associate or fellowship with each other? No, He will not! Listen to some of things Jesus tells seven churches in Asia as written in Revelation: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent." (Revelation 2:5); "... Be faithful until death, and I will give you crown of life." (Revelation 2:10b); "Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with sword of My mouth." (Revelation 2:16); "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until end, to him I will give power over nations-" (Revelation 2:26); "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5); and "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth." (Revelation 3:16) Please read this entire passage in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Do we see here a picture of what Christ expects when He returns? He expects church (you, I and everyone who professes to be a follower of Christ) to be faithful and not following false teachings. If we don't measure up, then we can expect to have our name blotted from Book of Life.
The Fruit of the SpiritWritten by Stephen Kingery
There are those who claim to be "Real Christians" because they claim to speak in tongues, heal people, or have some other supposed gift. Then there are those who put on air of being a "Super Christian" because of their following; such as some of television evangelists. But neither of these is what real Christianity - being a true follower of Christ and His teachings - is all about. The apostle Paul tells us in no uncertain terms how to identify a real Christian. "But fruit of Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in Spirit, let us also walk in Spirit." (Galatians 5:22-25) A true Christian is one who "walks in Spirit" and has fruit of Spirit manifested in their lives.
So, what exactly is each element of fruit of Spirit? Notice first that word fruit in Galatians 5:22 is singular - not plural. We are not talking about "fruits" of which you may pick and choose ones you want to have. They obviously come as a group. You can't have "one without others", so to speak. You can't have love without joy, peace, and patience. And you can't have peace without kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. You either have them all, or you have none.
God is love! His love caused Him to create us and all universe. It caused Him to provide for us a Savior in person of Jesus Christ. Love has provided for us God's Word so we may know how to live a Christian life. But love is also a part of us, if we are a Christian.
God's love for us is unconditional and undeserved. Therefore, if we are to have in us Love, it will also be unconditional and unmerited upon those whom we show Christian love. We will not only have love for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but we will also love our brothers and sisters in Christ. It will be a pure love not dependant upon favor of persons whom we love. They will not have to earn it, it will simply be there.
We will love those outside of Christ - sinner. We must be compassionate with those who do not know Christ and strive to win them for Lord. To love them is to bring them to Christ.
And we will love even our enemies - or those we perceive to be our enemies. This is perhaps true test of Christian love. To give to those who have hurt us in some manner, regardless of how severe that hurt, true Christian love and compassion. To want what is best for them, to pray for them, and to forgive them for their transgressions.
Christian joy is not excitement we feel when we purchase a new car or accomplish some difficult task. It is not rush we get when a perceived danger is past. And it is not happiness we feel as we plan an interesting and exciting vacation.
Joy comes from God. It is that quiet sense of well-being we have as we lay our heads down on pillow at night knowing that God will watch over us. It is that sense of belonging when we consider that we are a child of God - we are His child. To know that we have a Father who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die on cross for us, joy is that realization. And finally joy is a taste of Heaven, but only a taste. Heaven will be full of joy. All thoughts and feelings of joy we can have here on earth will be multiplied thousands and thousands of time in Heaven.
I don't know about you, but after I came to know what Word of God had to say about future of those who do not accept Christ, I had a lot of fear in my life. It took me several weeks to muster courage to take that first step for Christ. But after I had taken that step and was buried in watery grave of baptism, I had for first time true peace.
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)
I think song writer says it very well; "There's a quiet understanding." It is understanding that God, His Son, and Holy Spirit are there for us. Our Heavenly Father to watch over us, His Son to intercede for us, and Holy Spirit to guide us. With this "quiet understanding," we can truly have peace in our lives.
Longsuffering (or patience) is also mark of a true Christian. In my job as an administrator in public education, there are many trials I must endure. I have colleagues who say, "I can't believe patience you have. How do you do it?" Actually it is not me that does it, but rather guidance of Holy Spirit that makes it possible.