01-4. Reformation and Restoration
When it comes to God's dealings with men and women on the earth, the Bible indicates that two processes are constantly at work: REFORMATION and RESTORATION.
Reformation is a radical change for the better and is traditionally associated with the work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and others, who in the 16th century set about reforming the Roman Catholic Church.
Restoration is the bringing back into use that which has been lost. Unlike Reformation which assumes that all the basic elements are already present and just need modifying, Restoration implies that a reconstruction - partial or total - must be undertaken. To some extent, there is an overlap of the two concepts.
The Roman Catholic Church was a post-apostolic institution and was (and still is) very unlike
the original New Testament Church. Amongst other things, it denied many of the gifts of the spirit, created a separation between the clergy and the laity, and whilst claiming apostolic succession, very much redefined the sense of what an 'apostle' is.
The early Reformers, whilst checking the many abuses of the Roman Church, essentially continued this post-apostolic tradition - prophecy, visions and new revelation were largely denied, in many of the Reformed Churches the clergy-laity divide continued, and none claimed New Testament apostolic ministry.
Over time new Reformation movements sprang up attempting to correct these defects, foremost amongst which were elements of the Evangelical movement that re-stressed the Priesthood of all Believers, admitted to contemporary revelation, and began claiming apostolic ministry.
Many of these movements have, however, been influenced by a number of non-Christian ideas, and particularly in the latter part of the 20th century. Though the terminology of New Testament Christianity in its completeness is now being used, its spirit is very alien to the original Church established by Christ and carries with it an army of demonic influences.
Various attempts at 'Restoration' have been made over the last two centuries including not a few major counterfeits. Alexander Campbell's Disciples of Christ attempted to get back to a New Testament model but continued to be strongly influenced by post-apostolic traditions. Joseph Smith's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) similarly claimed to be initiating a 'Restoration' but built on the non-biblical Catholic model of apostolic succession. The early introduction of occultic doctrines and practices which he attempted to blend with Christianity resulted in a form of witchcraft cloaked in the language of the Gospel.
What, then, is true 'Restoration'? It is, for one thing, the bringing back of man into full relationship with Yahweh through Yahshua (Jesus). Inasmuch sin either partially or completely cuts a Christian off from God, it is important that a full restoration of the Gospel must be set in motion to enable this restorative process to come to fruition. Ultimately (and most importantly), then, Restoration is the bringing of man back into full fellowship with God.
This Restoration happens in two ways. The first, which occurs by faith in Christ, is what we call JURISDICTIONAL RESTORATION. A person trusting in Christ and doing his best to obey obey the commandments of Christ may be said to be "covered by the blood of Christ" so that when God the Father, Yahweh, sees the sinner, He sees the righteousness of Christ instead. Though the saved soul continues to sin and must repent and to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" all the days of his life, his continual trusting and obedience gives him what is called ETERNAL SECURITY. This means that were he to die, he would be given a place in heaven. This eternal security is, however, dependent upon his continuing obedience, for there is always the possibility of a fall and the loss of salvation. (New Covenant Christians reject the doctrine of "once saved, always saved" which dominates the thinking of one portion of the evangelical Christian movement).
Though a man is finally and completely saved by trusting in Christ, the Scriptures also teach that he must continue working out his salvation. Salvation may therefore be said to be both an EVENT and a PROCESS. The event is the acceptance on the part of the believer of the finished work of Christ at Calvary that brings Him into relationship to Yahweh through Yahshua (Jesus) and gives him a place in heaven, and the process is the gradual transformation of his soul by adherence to the commandments which will determine what kind of INHERITANCE he gains in heaven. The latter is sometimes called SANCTIFICATION, or the process by which a man or woman is made holy. As he becomes sanctified, so he becomes more like Christ in nature (by appropriation of that nature), until he becomes fully one with Christ the Son and with God the Father.
Restoration, then, is the bringing back of the full and complete relationship that Adam and Eve had with Yahweh before they fell into transgression (sin). It is the face-to-face contact that they enjoyed in Eden - the state of complete knowing. This is the highest form of fellowship and the great goal of all men and women. It is why we were created for this kind of fellowship brings us the greatest possible joy.
The New Covenant Church of God believes it is continuing the work of the Reformation as well as Restoring precious truths that have been gradually eluted out of the Church by false teachings and a gradual paganisation of the Gospel caused by Rome and Byzantium. We shall now look at some of these briefly.