OceanSide church of Christ
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RESTORATION IS POSSIBLE
Victor M. Eskew
The apostle Paul prophesied that the church of the first century would fall away from the truth. To the elders of Ephesus, he spoke these words: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). This same church was again warned of a falling away in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1). The church in Thessalonica had also been warned of a great falling away. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (II Thess. 2:3-4).
A study of church history reveals that the departure did come. The writings of the “church fathers” in the second and third centuries reveal some strange teachings that began to surface within the body of Christ. Many of the things did not reflect the teachings of the New Testament at all. The culmination of the apostasy was the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. This church was both a religious group and a political establishment. The Catholic Church established itself both by teaching and by force throughout the world.
After some 1100 years of tyranny and oppression in the religious world, men began to see that the Catholic Church and the New Testament did not harmonize. At first there was a call for reformation. Eventually, it was seen that a restoration was needed. Many desired to restore the church of the Bible to its original condition. It was believed that if the New Testament were closely followed, the church of the first century could be reproduced.
There are some people who are skeptical about restoration. They are not certain that the restoration of the early church is really possible. We want to show you that restoration is possible. Our study is going to take us back into the Old Testament. We will examine something that happened during the reign of one of the kings of Judah, King Josiah.
The days of the kings were not the glory days of Israel. The northern kingdom had no righteous kings to reign within them. The southern kingdom only had a handful of kings that served God. Most of the time, the Law of Moses was set aside and the worship of false gods was promoted. The temple in Jerusalem stood, but it was in need of major repairs. Worship was perverted. The sacrifices were perverted. The Feast Days were ignored. The priesthood was corrupted. There was hardly any part of the Law of Moses that was carried out during the times of apostasy.
When Josiah took his position as king at the age of eight years old (II Kings 22:1), he gave orders for repairs to be made to the temple (II Kings 22:4-6). During this time, Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law in the house of God (II Kings 22:8). Note, it had been some fifty-seven years since a righteous king had reigned in Israel. The practice of the Law of Moses had been completely set aside. If God’s law was going to be followed, there would have to be a restoration in Judah.
Hilkiah gave the book of the law to Shaphan the scribe. He, in turn, took it, and read it unto the king. “And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (II Kings 22:11-13).
In his words to his advisors, Josiah sets forth the simple principles of restoration: heed and do the words of the book of the law. In chapter 23 of II Kings, the restoration process is carried out. All that was corrupt and vile and sinful was destroyed. The evil was replaced with the things found in the law of God. Josiah’s efforts at restoration are concluded with these words: “…that he might perform the word of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord” (II Kings 22:24b). Josiah performed the word of the law. When this happens restoration takes place.
Is restoration possible? Yes. The reign of King Josiah in Judah is proof that it can be done. Had Moses been resurrected from the grave in the days of Josiah, he would have recognized, appreciated, and commended the efforts of this righteous king. He would have been proud that the temple was restored, the priesthood was reestablished, the Passover was implemented, and all the elements of the law were being practiced. Moses would have told Josiah: “You have truly restored my law!”
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, a restoration movement sprang up in the religious world. The men who headed this movement knew that the Law of Christ had been set aside for many years. Men had given ear to the Pope of Rome and to the creed books of the denominations. These men, like Josiah, understood the need to go back to the original document, the Law of God. One of their cries was: “Back to the Bible!” Another motto was: “Where the Bible speaks, we will speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” They were convinced that if they heard and obeyed the words of the New Testament, the New Testament church could be restored. They, like Josiah, labored diligently to do this. Thankfully, the church found in the pages of God’s Word can be easily found today. That church, dear readers, is the church of Christ.
Let us close this article with two verses from God’s Word. One is from the Old Testament. The other is from the New Testament. Both of these verses set forth the concepts needed for restoration. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). And again: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (I Pet. 4:11).