Friday, March 11, 2016

Restoring the New Testament Church

Which New Testament church should we restore?

The one that was exclusively Jewish, and praised God in the Temple daily wherein instruments were used (Acts 2:46-47), and lived a communistic lifestyle (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32), and didn't have deacons, but having the need, invented the role (Acts 6:1-6)?

The later one that moved out of Jerusalem into the surrounding territories and met in houses (Acts 8:3), wherein they had their prayer meetings at night (Acts 12:4,12), and in synagogues (Acts 19:8-9; 22:19; Jam 2:2), and thought that non-Jews were unclean and were not to be socialized with, requiring a vision and a miracle to get them to accept non-Jews (Acts 10-1, esp 11:3), and that had elders
(from amongst mere days-old Christians) appointed for every assembly by a higher authority rather than the assemblies appointing their own (Acts 14:23)?

The still later, short-lived one, that accepted Gentiles, but only if the Gentiles were circumcised and obeyed the rest of the law of Moses (Acts 15:1,5)?

The one shortly after that which called together a multi-church conference, and issued a decree for all the churches (Acts 16:4) to accept Gentiles without them first "converting to Judaism", resulting in two "denominations" within the church of Jesus Christ, one called "the Circumcision" (Gal 2:12), composed of Jews who still kept the law of Moses zealously (Acts 21:20), and one called "the Gentiles" (Gal 2:12), which did not keep the law of Moses (Acts 21:24-25), which though they had different worship practices (Paul even kept Nazirite vows (Acts 18:18), necessitating animal sacrifice and purity rituals at its conclusion (Acts 21:26; 24:18)), were united because Jesus had torn down the middle wall of hostility dividing them (Eph 2:14), even though some of "the Circumcision" kept trying to re-erect that wall (for which Paul publicly scolded Peter - Gal 2:11ff)?

Or perhaps you mean the later Gentile-only church that started turning against "the Circumcision", blaming all of them for what a few of their leaders did, which after the destruction of the Temple, culminated in a post-New Testament exclusively-Gentile church that rejected all things Jewish, not just as un-needed in a Gentile culture, but as sinful, such as Sabbath-keeping or musical instruments in [Temple] worship (the synagogues, wherein the Gentiles learned "church", never had instruments (as a rule)), re-erecting that wall which Jesus had torn down just as "the Circumcision" (in contradiction to the Gospel - Gal 2:14) before them had tried to re-erect?

So when we speak of restoring the New Testament church, just which of these churches should we restore? The oldest, most original, which was exclusively Jewish and worshiped daily in a place where instruments were used and didn't have deacons? Or the latest, which was turning anti-Jewish, re-erecting that wall which Jesus had torn down and headed toward forbidding marriage and the eating of certain foods (1 Tim 4:3), and which had stopped meeting daily? Or something in between those two ends?

And do we try to restore the practice of praying for gifts of the spirit (1 Cor 14:13) and fan the flame of that gift (2 Tim 1:6)), or do we quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19) because now we "now know in full" and we have all matured to the unity of the faith (Eph 4:13), therefore such gifts have ceased (1 Cor 13:12)?

I judge that it's just not all that simple to restore the New Testament church, and that if we think we've accomplished that goal (or even can), we may not have thought it through very well.

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