A reader asked, “Olan, can you give me a text or two that tell us we must restore something? That might help clear up this shoving match over the word “restoration.” Thanks.”

My response: That is a great question. I am very glad you asked it. It points us to what the Bible says or does not say. I believe its answer will clear up what “restorationism” is.

The answer is “YES -We find it in the Old Testament, in the New Testament, and in between.”
First the Old Testament: 2 Kings 22 and 23. In the reign of king Josiah “the book of the law” had been lost for many years. A high priest found that book in the temple. When it was read to the king he realized that Israel was completely astray from God’s way and he was upset. He sent out word to all the elders, priests, prophets and all the people of Jerusalem, and gathered with them “at the house of the Lord.” He read to them “the book of the covenant.” (23. 2) Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant with the Lord to follow precisely the words of that book, “to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. (Vs. 3) The people saw the same truth – “and all the people took a stand for the covenant.” Josiah did what God wants His people to do in a case where they find themselves separated from His covenant. God’s approval of Josiah’s mind set is stated at 22:19f. The Restoration pioneers had the same.

Between the covenants: The mission of John the Baptist was to call backslidden Israel back to God. His was a baptism of repentance which would restore them to God (Mark 1:4)

In the New Testament: Revelation 2: Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for many good things. But then He said, “I have this against you that you left your first love.” How could it be that they were doing all these good things yet they they had left their first love? Notice that His answer to that problem was the same as in Josiah’s case and that of John the Baptist. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; Repent and do the first works or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place unless you repent.” (vs.5) Notice the “or else.” This is necessary. “Repent and do the first works” is restoration. In Josiah’s case they were to return to their original place of loyalty to their covenant with God. Their restoration was a return to accepting the covenant. This is what John taught the Jews to do, express their repentance and return to God in baptism. Here in Revelation 2 Jesus prescribed the same thing, return to “the first works.”

To understand what this is and how “your first love” is involved in it, think about this. We all know how it usually is when some one obeys the Gospel. They are at first enthused with love for the Lord and committed to obeying Him. But many times they later “cool off” as did the church at Laodicea. They may continue doing many good things, but more from a sense of duty than of love. In any case the instruction is always, when you find the word of God has been hidden, lost, or rejected, take action to return it to its rightful place as the supreme authority. This is not saying “recreate” it. It  is saying restore the one God created.

The American restoration movement: “The book of God’s New covenant” had been taken away from the people and chained to the desk of the priest. The later protestant “reformation” brought out the Bible again but their attempt to follow it was so corrupted with biased opinions that it produced a different kind of religion, still contradicting God’s prescription. The restoration ideal was to make the return to the scriptures actual and accurate. This is seen in the expressions that were put forth by these men. “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.” “The search for the ancient order of things.” “No creed but Christ.””No guide but the Bible.” “We are Christians only.” etc. It is not a matter of anyone claiming to be perfect. It is a matter of having the right authority standard and being loyal to it.


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