By Clinton D. Hamilton
Question: The following question had been received by brother Houchen and passed along to me: What is the “Restoration Principle”? Is it still valid for men today?
Reply: One lives through a generation before he sometimes may realize it. Time passes quickly. One learns something and tends to project that same knowledge to others. Many in the body of Christ hear terms that mean little to them but to older members of the body the terms may be perfectly clear. The “restoration principle” is such a term.
Simply, the restoration principle means that the effort is made to bring back the original condition. It involves putting things back as they were in the beginning. In relation to the religion of Christ, the meaning is to teach and to practice what was revealed to be the teaching and practice of the New Testament.
Several ideas are involved: (1) the gospel is to be taught as it is recorded in the New Testament without addition or subtraction; (2) men are called upon to obey the commands of the Lord as was the case of those who did so as recorded in the New Testament; (3) working together in congregations and individually those who obey the gospel are to practice what is revealed in the New Testament; (4) whatever men may now believe or practice is to be discarded if it cannot be found revealed in the New Testament; (5) one is to be governed only by the testament or will of the Lord as that is revealed in the Scripture and, therefore, no human authority is to be accepted as the binding agent and no human arrangement is to be substituted for the Lord’s to regulate the practice.
Jesus charged the apostles to teach men to observe whatsoever he commanded them (Matt. 28:20). He sent the Holy Spirit to bring to their remembrance what he had said to them in order that there might be no error in their recall and record of what he said (Jn. 14:26). What had not yet been revealed that nevertheless needed to be revealed, the Holy Spirit was to guide them so that they would have all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Holy Spirit was not to speak from himself but was to declare what he heard from Jesus (Jn. 16:13-14; 15:27). It is the New Testament record that the Holy Spirit gave and to which we should give heed (1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Thess. 2:13). What is revealed is what the Lord wants men to know and to do. Wherein men have erred from this, it should be the aim of godly people to reject it and to restore what was in the beginning. This is what is involved in the restoration principle.
Is it valid for men today? Valid has several synonyms such as sound, cogent, convincing, and telling. In a legal sense, it refers to having force or efficacy. The central idea relates to argument which is convincing, based on solid ground and impeccable reasoning. In logic, the argument is valid if the form or structure is correct. No doubt, the meaning of valid in this question means sound. Obviously, the thrust of the question is whether men should now be committed to the restoration principle. In this last decade of the twentieth century, should men concern themselves with restoring New Testament religion?
The answer to the question is an emphatic yes! Jesus promised that he would be with the apostles to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). The idea is that his authority would be as relevant later even to the end of the age as it was when he gave commandment. Going back to the meaning of “restoration principle” as set forth in preceding remarks and in the light of the authority of Jesus, it follows conclusively that the restoration principle is as relevant today as it has ever been. The principle is clearly in complete harmony with the Lord’s instructions.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 9, p. 261
May 3, 1990