Forthright Magazine

More restoration needed

The Forthright columnists who were able to do so were invited to write this month about “Continuing Restoration.” The theme came to mind some weeks ago when Brett Christensen from Melbourne, Australia, reviewed the book Church Reset. A summary of what we mean by restoration can be found here.

Gratitude first requires us to acknowledge those who came before. Through an arduous process that encountered much opposition, brethren of previous years threw away the shackles of denominational doctrines and sectarian creeds to read the Bible again with open eyes.

It is fair to say that succeeding generations have relaxed in this exercise. The spirit of Berea is lacking, Acts 17.11. Bible reading, both public and private, have waned. Congregations want to become like the denominations around them. The urge to innovate and go beyond what is written grows.

Several areas of life in Christ need more restoration. Below are some suggested lines of investigation.

#1. Brotherly love. We were purified for the purpose of living in love in God’s family, 1 Peter 1.22. Restoration appeals have often spoke of unity. Unity becomes possible when we know who is in and out of the body of Christ and when we, as a spiritual family, practice the love of the God who created the church.

#2. The inner life. Closely connected to the first is the development of the inner life — the heart, soul, and mind of the disciple. Modern media has hollowed out the inner person. Few saints are free of addiction — not only to drugs or alcohol but to media. Reflection, meditation, and mindfulness are seldom practiced. Devotional exercises and inner virtues must be restored.

#3. The sending. Most see the mission of God as a separate activity for specialists. It is consigned to the corners of the church. Benevolence has been redefined as mission. But we have been sent with a message, not a hand-out. The church is less missionary than 40 years ago. Our motto should be, every saint for every soul.

#4. The distinction. We mustn’t copy the denominations. (See Deuteronomy 12.29-31; 17.14; 1 Samuel 8.5, 20; Ezekiel 20.32.) Do we strive to look like them, talk like them, act like them? If so, we then will have nothing distinct to offer a religious world that lives by emotion, mistakes high quality productions for worship, and builds expensive infrastructures. We mustn’t follow the morals of the majority. Sound doctrine cannot fall by the wayside.

The early church was courageous in her message. She was certain of the truth of God. She was fearless to reject teachings that contradicted the Good News. The disciples were devoted to each other and dedicated to the faith. The body of Christ tolerated no hierarchy, but respected the service of each member. Christians knew what it took to enter the Kingdom and did not shrink from telling others. They entertained no such notion that in the final judgment God would jettison his promises and threats and save all sincere people ─ or everyone. They knew the world was lost in sin without obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew that if they themselves did not proclaim him people would not receive eternal life. The followers of Christ imitated the Master and surrendered comfort for the calling of God.

In these areas and others, we ought to devote ourselves to the continuing restoration. Souls depend upon it.

Read about the editor’s most recent efforts in restoration: “3 important principles for starting again.”


J. Randal Matheny
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