The Plea to Restore the New Testament Church (6): The Results to be Accomplished
The things to be accomplished by the plea to restore the New Testament church are many and great. The adoption of the restoration plea by the general populace would greatly improve and correct the moral and religious circumstance in America or anywhere else in the world. Here are some results which would be accomplished by the plea to restore the New Testament church:
1. The original church of Christ, in its faith, worship, organization, unity, and terms of admission, would be reproduced. In every community where the plea was followed, the Lord's church would be established. The rule of faith, the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), would be the rule of faith of every local congregation. Every church would assemble on the Lord's day to remember the Lord's death in the Lord's supper, pray to God, give of their prosperity, study God's word and sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Eph. 5:19).
2. All of the followers of the Lord would be Christians only. There would be an end to "Baptist Christians," "Methodist Christians," "Pentecostal Christians," and "Catholic Christians." The names which reflect the divisions among us would all die. These would be replaced by the wearing of Bible names - Christian, disciple, believers, saints, children of God, etc. The churches would no longer be called Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, and such names as are not found in the Bible; instead churches would wear names such as church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), church of Christ (Rom. 16:16), house of God (1 Tim. 3:15), etc.
There will be no need for sectarian preachers building fences to keep their members from going to another denomination. There will be no need for duplication of labor and service, where one denominational preacher serves the need of 50 people in his little group and another denominational preacher serves the need of 50 people in his little group. When the plea to restore the New Testament church is followed, these differences will be destroyed that all may be one in Christ.
3. All Christians would belong to the church of the Lord alone and not at the same time hold membership in some modern denomination. The Lord's church is big enough to include all Christians; there is no need for different churches for different people. If both Jew and Gentile could be reconciled to God in the one church of the first century, so can all men in the twentieth century be reconciled to God in one body (Eph. 2:16). Therefore, all denominational churches are wholly unnecessary and are contrary to God's revealed will.
4. All Christians will believe the one divine creed, have the same confession of faith, and be governed by the same divine rule of faith and practice. There will be an end to creeds written by men to regulate the beliefs and actions of the churches. There will be an end to annual "general assemblies" called together to vote on changes to the rules governing the churches, as presently is done in modern denominationalism. The largest church organization on earth would be the local church and the highest church office on earth would be that of an elder in the local church.
5. Among Christians, there will be allegiance to just one head, Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is head of the church. The plea to restore the New Testament church would remove human heads of churches, such as the pope, synods and councils.
6. The moral standards of God's people would be those approved of God. We would not have one church accepting easy divorce and remarriage and another accepting the teaching of Matthew 19:9. We would not have one church hosting a gambling event (bingo games, casino nights) and another opposing gambling as sinful. We would not have one church ordaining homosexuals to preach and another condemning homosexuality as sinful. If the restoration plea were accepted and adopted, there would be an end to differing standards of morality.
7. The Lord's prayer for the unity of his people would be answered. Jesus prayed, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (Jn. 17:20-21).
The restoration plea is the only means of seeing the Lord's prayer for unity answered. Other plans for unity condone unscriptural doctrine and practice in express violation of 2 John 9-11 ("Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds"). Unity-in-diversity, unity in gospel and differences in doctrine, ecumenism, and other denominational forms of unity are not to be equated with the unity for which Jesus prayed. They are not and never can be the Bible plan of unity.
8. All men will be united in the "one hope" of the gospel. There will not be one group working to accomplish "heaven on earth" because they have lost faith in obtaining eternal life and another trying to restore Israel to the land of Palestine. Instead, all will be aiming to obtain the everlasting home with God, the inheritance that is "incorruptible, undefiled, fadeth not away, and is reserved in heaven" (1 Pet. 1:4-5).
9. There will be biblical cooperation in the great works of evangelism and benevolence. Every local church will do its work in taking the gospel to the lost in their community and in supporting men to preach in other areas (1 Thess. 1:7-8; 1 Tim. 3:15; Phil. 4:15-16). The world can be evangelized without the invention of central organizations such as missionary societies, mother churches and sponsoring churches. God's plan worked in the first century, to spread the gospel throughout the known world, and it will still work today (Col. 1:23).
When brethren in a given locality are in need, local congregations can rally to relieve that need, just as they did in the first century (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 11:27-30). They relieved the needs of suffering saints without the creation of church supported hospitals, orphan homes, old folks homes, and other human institutions.
We are not so naive as to think that all men everywhere will lay aside their unrevealed religions in order to restore the New Testament church. Not all of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, Essenes, Epicureans, Stoics, and other first century proponents of unrevealed religion did, so why should we expect that all Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Episcopalians, Muslims, and other proponents of unrevealed religion will today? Men will be saved one soul at a time. Our prayer is that we can increase the number of the redeemed by the preaching of the undiluted gospel and bring a few more sons to glory in the process. (I have borrowed heavily from The Plea to Restore the Apostolic Church by James C. Creel for this series of articles.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 15, pp. 450, 471