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The Restoration Movement

 

What is the Restoration Movement?

This is a movement that came into existence I during the second great awakening from 1800 to 1830. The original intent of the Movement was to unify the various factions and churches that were operating in the USA in the early 1800’s.  This Movement produced the Church of Christ, the Disciple of Christ and the Christian Churches

 

Which groups were united in the Restoration Movement?

1.   James O’Kelley movement

2.   Abner Jones movement

3.   Elias Smith Movement

4.   Barton W Stone movement

5.   Alexander and Thomas Campbell movement

6.   Scotch Baptist of New York

 

What was the original intent of the Restoration Movement?

The original intent of the Movement was to unify the various churches and factions into one body.  The primary purpose was not to reform existing churches but to come together as “Christians only” leaving denominational doctrine and practices

 

What difficulties have presented them? 

The Movement has been plagued with schisms, into three larger groups (Churches of Christ, Christian Church and Disciples of Christ) and numerous smaller groups or sects.  We have divided probably as much as any fellowship sometimes over really inconsequential things.

 

Why has the Restoration Movement divided?

First, I have no special knowledge hence the view that follows is my own personal opinion based on my experiences.  Second, I am not antagonistic to the Movement.  My wife and I continue to worship with the Church of Christ and cherish our upbringing in the Church. 

We might surmise that the people that make up the movement are simply more cantankerous than others.  But this is not my belief.  After some seventy years of association with the Restoration Movement. I have found them to be for the most part, people of good will who want to serve God.

The Scriptures stress and emphasize unity.  Hence I do not attribute the divisions to some flaw in Christianity itself.

I believe that the frequency of division must be attributed to some basic flaw in the perception of many of its people.  My view is that many have the perception that their right standing before God is based on total and complete adherence to the commandments of God despite the ample testimony in the Scriptures that the just shall live by faith.

 

Why was this idea developed and persisted?

It seems to me that the idea has developed to a great extent because of the way that the “plan of salvation” has been presented to us and we have given little attention of how these factors relate one to another

 

The Plan of Salvation

1.  Hear the word of God

2.  Believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins

3.  Confess that Jesus is the Son before men

4.  Repent of our sin

5.  Be baptized for the remission of sins

 

Now please don’t misunderstand, I believe that each of these factors is true and essential to salvation but they do not tell the complete story and the interrelationship of these factors is essential to have a sound understanding of salvation.

What do you mean when you say that the “plan of salvation” does not tell the complete story?

The “plan” tells us about faith and obedience but says nothing about grace and love.  Without these two factors are vision will be distorted and shortsighted.

 

Why is grace important to a discussion of salvation?

The grace is the basis of salvation.  Without grace we can not possibly have a clear few of salvation.  The emphasis must be on God and not ourselves.

1.  In grace and love God gave His Son to die for our sins.  God has graciously

     determined to accept His death as payment in full for the penalty for sin of

     those that believe.

2.  God has graciously determined to save those that believe.  This decision

     makes salvation possible, because works cannot be the avenue to salvation.

The RM has taken a wrong view in some regards about grace as revealed by the clichés we have in the RM.

“Do your best and God will do the rest”

Of course we want to must do our best, but our best will never be good enough because of the weakness of the flesh.  But grace was never intended to make up deficiencies in our performances.  Quite the contrary is true; namely, God clothes us with the righteousness of Christ.

“Grace is God’s part; obedience is our part.”

Certainly grace is God’s part but God is also working within us both to will and to do.  He has not merely given us a law then abandoned us to obey by ourselves.  Secondly, obedience is not man’s only responsibility, neither is it our greatest.

Faith and love must have their proper place.  I have heard one minister say that obedience is the greatest characteristic a Christian can have.  That simply is not true.

 

How does the “plan of salvation” distort our view of faith?

Many have the idea that “faith” is merely one of the factors in our obedience.  This is not true!  The Scriptures speak of the “obedience of faith,” not the “faith of obedience”.  Obedience proceeds from faith in God, not the reverse. 

Faith not works, provides access to grace.  The just shall live by faith not works.

 

How does the “plan of salvation” affect our view of obedience?

Obedience is essential in salvation.  Make no mistake about it.  The idea that salvation is by faith alone is incorrect.  But obedience is not to become righteous before God; obedience is to perfect or complete faith.  We are not saved by faith plus obedience but we are saved by faith, which obeys.

On the other hand, if we love God we will do righteousness; we will obey.  We should never think that salvation by grace through faith eliminates obedience.  While it is true that we obey, after we become a child of God, because we are saved; it is also true that Jesus enumerated some six factors that lead to salvation.

 

What is the summum bonum?

But now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  Love is not only the goal of obedience but also the motivation of obedience.

 

What would be a better plan of salvation?

Plan of Salvation

1.  Grace of God

2.  Faith

3.  The obedience of faith

     a. Denial of self

     b. Repentance from sin

     c. Confession

     d.  Partaker of Christ

     e.  Be converted

      f.  Born of water and the Spirit

4.  Love

 

Salvation is by the grace of God through faith, which obeys in love.

 

How is it possible to worship with people in whom you are not in total agreement?

The just shall live by faith, not works.  There are some things we must do to become a child of God.  We must believe, deny ourselves, repent of our sins, confess Christ, partake of Christ, be converted and be born again to become a child of God.  But as a child of God, justification by faith not works, gives us some wiggle room.  Total and complete adherence is not a requirement, but faith and love are.

My brother does not have to agree with me on every facet of every detail, nor I with him.  There are of course limits I cannot be led to disbelieve; I cannot do that which is contrary to my conscience.

 

Is the Restoration Movement the only avenue to becoming a child of God?

No, those who have been begotten by God and then born again are children of God.  I continue to worship with the Church of Christ because they do teach the plan of salvation and because, in my mind, their practices and doctrines

are most compatible with the Scriptures.

Fortunately there are fellowships, other than the RM. that do teach that one most be begotten by God then born of the water and the Spirit.

 

God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  

 

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Last Update   11/04/08