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    Archive Section III

    14
    A HISTORY OF THE INDEPENDENT
    CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST: 1986-92

    Historical Document

    The following short tract was published by NCCF in April 1992 following the disorganisation of the Independent Church of Jesus Christ, the first precursor of the contemporary New Covenant Church of God. At that time Independent Church members saw themselves as a development of the Restoration movement. In the period 1992-96 (the 'NCCF Phase') the Church severed itself from its Mormon roots which, though weak by 1992, was nevertheless still Restorationist in many doctrinal and practical ways. By 1996 the emerging New Covenant Church of God was a purely Bible-believing Church.

    The Independent Church of Jesus Christ, also briefly called the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ, was organised according to the laws of the land on 21 November 1986 in Oxford, England, as an association of congregations united by the common belief that God would effect a restoration of the Church established by Jesus Christ and His apostles. Revelation to organise the first congregation was received by its founder, Lev-Zion, on 27 June 1984.

    The Independent Church (also called the New Covenant) was originally conceived as a reorganisation and reformation of the First Restoration Movement which began in the United States in the 1820's and 30's. This First Restoration, organised publically as a church on 6 April 1830 and called the Church of Christ, began as part of what was then known as the Seeker Movement, a group of people seeking and looking forward to the restoration of the original "primitive" church of the first Christians.

    There were at that time two kinds of "seekers" -- the spiritualists and the literalists. The former sought an inner restoration of God's Spirit and power amongst true believers, and were little interested in a physical church structure with specific ordinances; the latter, by contrast, sought a literal or outward restoration of the Christian Church, that is, a perfect organisation with all the officers described in the New Testament.

    Spiritualist and Literalist Seekers looked upon divine authority in very different ways, even though both maintained that divine authority was needed before a people could properly call themselves "Christians". The Spiritualists maintained that all authority was spiritual, and that the presence of the Holy Spirit in an individual gave him the authority preach the Gospel and organise churches or congregations. The Literalists, on the other hand, saw authority as coming through physical ordinances such as the laying on of hands and conceived authority in very much the same way as the Roman Catholic Church which claims "apostollic succession".

    The Spiritualists and Literalists eventually totally diverged, the Spiritualists evolving into the diverse cluster of charismatic, evangelical protestant churches, and the Literalists evolving into the Latter Day Saints churches, of which there are over 150 today, the two major ones being the Mormon and the Reorganized Churches.

    The first members of the Independent Church were strongly influenced by both these wings of the Seeker Movement for they believed both in the authority of apostollic succession as well as the authority of the Holy Spirit. They recognised from the New Testament that the Church established by Jesus and the apostles had a certain structure, order of discipline, and doctrines, and were therefore in harmony with the basic Latter Day Saint proposition, but equally they could see that God was working with many different Christian Churches and that authority was not, as Mormons, Reorganized Latter Day Saints, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and others maintained, soley vested in their respective organisations, but to be found wherever a holy people committed to the teachings of Christ were to be found.

    The first New Covenant Christians therefore sought to find the solution to this dilemma of literalism and spiritualism, recognising that both were valid and both were to be found in Bible teachings.

    The founder of the Independent Church, Lev-Tsiyon, petitioned the Lord for guidance in these matters and began to receive revelations explaining the true order of the Church established by Jesus Christ. He had, previous to this time, been born again of the Holy Spirit and had associated himself with Mormons (Utah Latter-day Saints), Reorganized Latter Day Saints (from Missouri), and evangelical Baptists, and had therefore gained much insight into these two wings of the Seeker Movement. Unable to resolve the apparant contradictions between these two aspects of Seekerism, nor able to fully understand the hostility each had for one another, he took the matter to the Lord who, in several visions and open revelatory experiences, revealed to him that both wings of the Seeker movement were correct in their own ways, but that they lacked the spiritual keys to bring them back and thus to a fullness of the Gospel. Understanding that the animostity and mutual suspicion of each would never be reconciled by dialogue, and that therefore a genuine restoration of the "primitive" Christian Church would never be made by human effort, he obtained divine approbation and organised the Church of Christ on 6 April 1988 in Oxford, England.

    Immediately this had been done, a flood of revelations was received, numbering 570 in total by the time the Independent Church was dissolved on 12 April 1992. In addition many lost books of scripture were restored, including two books of Joseph (the patriarch), three books of Abraham and two Gospels by two of the other apostles. The Church of Christ relocated to Norway following the organisation on 6 April 1988 and built up some small congregations in several places. In the space of four short years, the entire blueprint for the Church was received, both doctrinally and organisationally. For the members, it was a giddy and overwhelming period, with so little time in which to absorb so much; but the foundation of the Second Restoration was laid.

    On 12 April 1992 the Independent Church of Jesus Christ (Church of Christ) was dissolved in Bergen, Norway, and a simpler congregational structure organised based solely on the Bible, resembling in form the first Christian congregations in Asia Minor and south-eastern Europe in the days of the apostles. These self-governing congregations are called New Covenant Christian Fellowships. Most Christian movements have taken many decades, if not centuries, to become established and all have undergone considerable doctrinal, and sometimes structural, evolution. The apostollic Church likewise underwent considerable evolution, both for good and evil. As Christians grew in number, so the simple fellowships became more organised to cater for the many branches of ministry required. The effect of this "organising" tendency, coupled with doctrinal speculation and unregenerated men seeking power bases, led to what we, and most evangelical Christians and Latter Day Saints, regard as an "apostacy" or "falling away". Rapid schism caused by a lack of divine revelation and Christian love, priestcraft and intolerance of every kind, led to the effective removal of Christ's Church from the earth and the formation of competing and jarring sects. Doctrinal division was solved by persecution and the sword and what vestiges of the true Christian faith that survived were not to be found in the organised Church but in individuals such as Francis of Assisi, Thomas Kempis, and scores or others who through their faith, devotion, and purity, kept the Christian faith alive. Courageous and devoted men like Martin Luther, the Wesley brothers, and many others brought much needed spiritual revival though they constantly battled the crystalising and fossilising forces of institutionalisation which quenches the Holy Spirit. Like giant bubbles breaking the surface of a pond, fresh revivals have occured almost uninterrupted over the centuries, though most have "popped" and passed away, or become frozen like the statues at Pompei.

    The First Restoration, established through Joseph Smith, Jr., at first showed considerable promise but rapidly became corrupted by Freemasonry and priestcraft. Initially placing emphasis on spiritual seekerism, it moved to the opposite pole and became highly literalistic. A brief reformation through the Reorganized Latter Day Saints showed some promise, but lacking high callibre prophets, and vunerable to the winds of religious and secular change, it too lost the vital spark of the first Christians.

    New Covenant Christians recognise the importance of doctrine and structure, but equally know that without the life of the Spirit, there is no Church of Christ. Preferring to stay vital and alive in the Holy Spirit to becoming overwhelmed by an institution too large to be coped with by its inexperienced and struggling members, New Covenant Christians, under the direction of revelation from their founder, Lev-Tsiyon, dissolved the Independent Church of Jesus Christ in 1992 and organised into simple fellowships.

    The Independent Church of Jesus Christ no longer exists but it was not a failure, neither is it extinct. It awaits, like a potent seed, ready to be planted into soil capable of sustaining it, to flourish as a great tree. It will, moreover, return with a different name, the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ.

    The New Covenant Christian Fellowships consider themselves a part of the wider Body of Christ, those who have been born-again in the Lord Jesus Christ and are preaching His Gospel. Though they are the possessors of priceless spiritual keys, which they treasure in their hearts, New Covenant Christians preach essentially the same message as other evangelical churches and fellowships. Where they perhaps differ with others is that they are awaiting the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ again, in all its glory. Part of it is already locked away in their hearts, and they know that it is their task to prepare themselves as a wife awaits the return home of her husband.

    Historical Footnote

    The reconsititited "New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ", as it was conceived then in 1992, never did return. Between 1992 and 1996 the Church evolved considerably. Long dormant questions about the Restoration movement eventually resurfaced and were confronted, particularly in regard to the historicity of the Book of Mormon, the myth of the gold plates, priesthood ordination, and other events critical to the Mormon paradigm. By 1995 it was clear that the whole Restoration edifice was built on sand and irretrievable. False structures, teachings and scriptures were excised from the New Covenant body leaving, in effect, a Reformation Movement, Part II. The New Covenant Church of God today is a very different species to the old Independent Church which it eventually replaced.

    This page was created on 8 July 1998
    Updated on 9 March 2001

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