Restoring New Testament Christianity: Part 2
Note: this is part 2 of a series of articles on “Restoring New Testament Christianity”
David, Josiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Malachi, along with virtually every other righteous prophet and good King of Judah, attempted to restore faithfulness among God’s people in the OT. In the NT, John the Baptist initiated an attempt to restore the people’s hearts to the Lord in preparation for the coming Messiah. Of course, Jesus was the ultimate restorer, calling people to a new way of living at a time when Pharisaical law keeping was more heavily emphasized than righteous living.
This begs the question…why is religious restoration needed so frequently? Well, we understand entropy- the process of degradation; a trend to disorder. The principle of degradation says that everything degrades over time and falls into decay (unless effort is made to prevent such). We have all seen firsthand how quickly this can happen- with a home, car, or any other material object.
We can also look back in history and see how quickly it happened in the realm of religious matters, whether it was the period of the Judges, following Israel’s entrance into the promised land; the period of the kings of Judah/Israel; or the post-exile period for the Jews where even after 70+ years of captivity in a foreign land, upon returning home the people quickly slipped into religious decay. As for the church, look no further than the church at Ephesus which Paul spent around 3 years with (Acts 19) and appeared to be thriving up until his death; however, within 30 years thereafter, we are told in Revelation 2:4 they had left their first love.
The scary part is that we can’t always see the drifting or degradation taking place even though it might eventually be obvious in retrospect. This was clearly an issue in Malachi’s day (post-exile) when in Malachi 1:6,7 we read that the priests were asking God, “how have we despised Your name” and “how have we defiled You?” All the while, they continuously dishonored God with their defiled sacrifices (v. 7,8), by profaning His name (v. 12), and with their evil behavior (v. 13,14). For all these reasons, continuous examination and restoration are critical for us as Christians. That said, we can be easily tricked into thinking we are restoring NT Christianity when in reality, we have missed the point altogether. As such, we will look at some Biblical guardrails for restoration next week.