Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 13, 1957

The Restoration Movement

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

The background to our lesson is found in the Old Testament. God gave His law through His mediator, Moses. (Deut. 5). He placed restrictions upon it for the protection of its purity. It was to stand as given; no one was to change the wording or meaning of its words. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish ought from it." (Dent. 12:32). "As Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed thee in the mount." (Heb. 8:5). Further instructions, commands and prohibitions were laid down along with warnings concerning idolatry and heathen religions.

The Jews as a whole did not heed God but lapsed into idolatry and failed to keep the law. The longsuffering and forebearance of God reached a limit; the time arrived when God no longer tolerated their apostasy and digression. God punished the Israelites by sending two heathen nations, Assyria and Babylon, to carry them in captivity into a strange land. These armies also plundered the country, tore down the walls of the Holy City, Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, the place of worship. After seventy years captivity many of the Jews were permitted to return to their homeland. The country was overrun with idolatrous people and the city of Jerusalem lay in ruins. The first tasks facing Ezra and Nehemiah who had led contingents of Jews back home was to rebuild the temple, RESTORE true worship and build again the walls surrounding Jerusalem, for these walls served to protect the temple. Upon returning the Jews set themselves to these difficult tasks in the face of much opposition. The Israelites laid aside all false doctrine and demanded to hear and receive "the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel." (Neh. 8:1) and this alone. This formed the basis to true religion and worship. Sanballat proposed a compromise and evidently represents false religion. (Neh. 4-6). But the Israelites would not allow idolatrous men to join their ranks in their efforts to restore God's will. Each one who worked had a sword girded at his side. (Neh. 4:18).

At the cross, the Son of God took away the law of Moses in order that His law might be given. He came to build his church. It was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. (Acts 2). Christ's law is "the perfect law of liberty." (Jas. 1:25). The New Testament scriptures are perfect so that one may be "complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." (II Tim. 3:17). The apostle Paul, by inspiration, froth: "for that day shall not come except there be a FALLING AWAY first." (II Thess. 2:3). He further stated that it was already at work. (II Thess. 2:7). The many religious sects and creeds which form the basis of each sect prove the above cited verses.

The idea to return to the Bible only as a basis of authority is old. As far back as the 16th century, Martin Luther desired to return to the Scriptures alone but ruined this noble endeavor by writing his catechism. The ideas cumulated and took form in Scotland in the early 18th century. John Glas broke with the state Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and formed an independent congregation based only upon the New Testament. Many men have followed in this same attempt. The fundamental meaning of the Restoration Movement is simply to restore Christianity on the basis of the New Testament. To do this one must realize there has been an abandonment of God's word, that all man-made doctrines must be laid aside in favor of the New Testament; that the New Testament only is authoritative and perfect; that it alone perfectly sets forth the form, organization, purpose and design of the church, the plan of salvation and the Christian life.