Summary: There is a pattern for the New Testament church in the Bible. But how do you get to it properly. Here are three steps to restore the church of the first century.
Courage to Maintain the Biblical Pattern
Theme: The right way to restore the New Testament Church.
It began in the break room, continued down the hall, and ended in the foyer of the church building. This debate took place at the Brown Trail School of Preaching. It was between Tom Pugh and me. The issues was about if Tom as a member of a congregation had the right to rebuke a preaching during a sermon if he was teaching error. Since Tom is not a elder, and the Bible says an elder can do this, can he as a member stand up and stop the preaching from preaching false doctrine? Tom said he could, I said he could not. As the debate continued I appealed to Acts 18. In this situation Apollos is preaching error. He is preaching that one should be baptized in the name of John and not Jesus. This is major error. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching, they did not stop him immediately, but waited until after the lesson to explain to him the truth more perfectly. The next day of school Tom came over to me. You are right Matthew; the Biblical pattern for a member is to wait to explain the truth more perfectly. Tom is right though, we should always seek to follow the pattern of the Bible to the best of our ability.
There has been fighting over the pattern of the Bible for years. During the Restoration Movement there was the desire to restore the pattern of the early church. There was religious error all throughout America by people adding to the word of God and taking away from it. These men sought to restore the New Testament church. Because of creeds and opinion the early church was hidden away from the world. These leaders believed that if you could restore the New Testament church then the church would realize the same influence and growth that it had in the first century. This idea is called primitivism. It states that if you restore the church to the way it was in the first century than you will receive the same results that the first century church had. It is the assumption that by restoring the church of the Bible than you will receive the same growth, dedication, and influence that the church of the Bible had. We should believe this idea today.
But the problem is that we are no longer growing like the first century church. There was a time where we were. We were growing rapidly in this nation. But recently in the past two decades, the report is that we are stagnant or declining. Why is this so? Maybe we are not living out the pattern of the New Testament church. Maybe we have lost the pattern of the church.
We have made a mistake in this idea of restoring the church. We have focused on restoring the Biblical patterns of the church like organization, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, instrumental music, and doctrine. But we are putting the cart before the horse. We are not called just to restore the church but to restore Christianity. We are focusing a lot of attention of certain church doctrines but leaving out some of the weightier matters. Remember we are not called to Churchianity but Christianity. We need to restore Christianity to the first century style than we will receive the same results that those Christians had in the first century.