By Bruce James
Restoring Christ’s church is a continuing struggle. Though each saved person is surely a part of that called out body, we weak human beings have not perfectly restored the church of Christ. We have found it easier to restore the forms of New Testament worship and organizational structure than to restore the spirit, heart, and essence of the ancient church. In one word, the essence of the Lord’s church is “Christ.” If we are going ever to restore the church, kingdom, body of Christ to its first century form it will require a return to:
1. Christ-centered evangelism. A study of the book of Acts reveals that when the gospel was preached, the focus of any issue was salvation by grace through Jesus Christ. “He opened his mouth and beginning from the same scripture, he preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). This pas-sage represents first century evangelism. People were taught about Jesus, converted to Jesus, and then lived in obedience to Jesus. Such teaching produced Christians. And, when banded together in a given locale, Christians made up the church of Christ in that place.
2. Christ-derived morality. Jesus himself revealed to us his moral will in the great Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7 and Luke 6) and other teachings. His standard calls us to selflessness, to a high moral purity, and to an inner devotion to God expressed in daily life. This is the nature of Christ’s church.
3. Christ-mentality. Jesus had the mentality of a self-sacrificing servant (Phil. 2:5) with the determination of absolute obedience to God the Father (Heb. 10:7). When we put these two together in our thinking, the combination gives us the mentality of Christ’s Kingdom as conceived by the Lord.
4. Christ ordained mission. As the church has digressed in this matter by turning the church into an “entertainment center,” a place of luxury, and time spent in “worldly pursuits,” it denies the one who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The great commission given by Jesus is the mission of the church of Christ.
May God bless and help us as his people to continue the restoration process in matters about salvation, worship, and the work God has given his people in Christ to do (Eph. 2:10). In this noble effort we will be more and more the blood-bought body of Jesus Christ.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 17 p. 1
September 4, 1997