The Restoration Of The New Testament Church: -- Instead of reforming existing churches, we would go back behind all denominations, sects, creeds, and councils, and would restore the Christianity of Christ and the Apostles. The ideal of the New Testament church, guided by inspired teachers, should be our pattern today.
Depravity: -- In Adam, man became separated from God by sin, and he must therefore be reconciled and redeemed to be saved. However, we suffer today only the physical consequences of Adam's sin, such as suffering and physical death; and we will each answer to God only for our own personal sins spiritually. Children, then, who die before reaching the age of accountability are safe, for "of such is the kingdom of heaven." Man is capable of responding to God's love by obeying the Gospel.
The Division Of The Word: -- Many churches today make no distinction between the Old and New Testaments. We must rightly divide the Word of God to understand it (2 Tim. 2;15). A "New" covenant implies tht the "Old" is not longer in effect. "He taketh away the first that He may establish the second" (Heb. 10:9). "He is also the Mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then would no place been sought for a second" (Heb. 8:6ff).
Most churches today recognize that they are no longer amenable to Moses' law, because they do not offer the animal sacrifices, nor practice the ancient Jewish ceremonies. But they overlook the fact that Christianity, through the fulfillment of the "Law of Moses", is actually a New and Separate Dispensation in which Christians are to be guided solely by the New Testament as their rule of faith and practice. The Old Testament is no longer valid and a source of guidance in Christianity. But a study of the Old Testament will show us how God dealt with people in the earlier dispensations: the Patriarchal and Mosaical. All are inspired of God, but the Hebrew writer tells us: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, Whom He has appointed Heir of all things, through Whom also He made the worlds." (Heb. 1:1,2).
The Manner Of Conversion: -- The Holy Spirit, One with the Father and the Son, is active in the conversion of sinners, but the instrument or agent that the Spirit uses to convict the world in respect of sin is the Word of God, the gospel message. The sinner or alien cannot be passive, but when he hears the Word of God preached, he must believe, repent and be baptized for the remission of his past sins, (Acts 2:38). This is the way he will be saved from his past sins and enter into the kingdom of God's dear Son. It is in Christ that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We are added to the church of Christ, the body of Christ, by the Lord Himself, (Acts 2:41,47). This is done without any miraculous, mysterious direct operation of the Holy Spirit, over and beyond what is said and taught by the New Testament. The Spirit of God operates through the written Word of the New Testament When we obey the gospel as is found in the New Testament we are indeed born of the water and the Spirit. We become a new creature in Christ.
The Church: -- The only institution built by Christ as set forth by the apostles on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, under special guidance by the Holy Spirit, is established upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets --Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone -- is the church of Christ, made up of living stones, Christians, and is the only divine institution wherein we must all be saved. Sects and so-called branches of the church are unscriptural and non-apostolic and unacceptable to God. To "denominate" and thereby "divide" the children of God is in opposition to the teaching of Christ in His prayer to the Father as is found in Jno. 17:20,21. It is also in opposition to what is taught by the inspired apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:10-13. We must strive to "Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph. 4:1-6.
We are pleading for all believers to be Christians only, to work and worship as did the Christians of the first century as is exemplified in the New Testament times. The church of the New Testament consists of all those who have been baptized into Christ and thereby added to the church by the Lord Himself. Those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ, regardless of race, nationality, or language are members of the church of Christ as is found in the New Testament.
The Lord's Supper: -- Following the establishment of the church in 33 A.D., we find that the disciples, Christians, continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, fellowship and breaking of bread, Acts 2:47. The Lord's Supper as instituted by Christ Himself as is found in the 26th chapter of Matthew and the 22nd chapter of Luke, was for the purpose of remembering the death and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ until He comes again. This supper was to be a part of the worship of the Lord every Lord's Day (Sunday) Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-30.
The Lord's Day: -- This glorious day is not the Sabbath of the Old Testament, nor is it even the so-called "Christian Sabbath", for there is no such thing known in the Bible. Its purpose is different from the Old Testament Sabbath. It is a joyous day wherein we serve and worship the Lord in remembrance of His death and suffering on our behalf. It is our day of worship.
The Worship: -- The essence of Christianity is the worship of the Lord as members of His church. It is a spiritual worship. The great emphasis given to religious pageantry, ritualism, and elaborate forms in many churches today cannot but detract and destroy the simplicity and purpose of the worship of God. The appeal in such is to the physical senses rather than the spiritual. So we do not use mechanical instruments of music in our worship, which are not authorized in the New Testament. We are not trying to please ourselves but the Lord. Again, the New Testaent does not authorize, nor did the first church use the mechcal instruments of music in their worship. They sang, " psalms, hymns and spiritual songs..." (Col. 3:16).
Let us strive always to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent. May God help us to live up to this high ideal in spiritual worship and service to Almighty God. May He use us humbly to call all men, not to us, but to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that all may be one in Him.
Adapted from an article by J.D. Thomas via Gospel Power, Vol. 15, No. 35, Aug. 31, 2008.
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