What Jesus Saw and What He Did About It

Jesus came inspecting

The place that was supposed to be dedicated to God was being badly abused.

So Jesus took decisive action. “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things  away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’” (John 2:14-18).

Obviously, this was not well received by those most affected, and yet as God’s official Representative on earth He had every right to do what He did.

They were wrong; He was right. He always is.

Jesus still comes inspecting!

The physical temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. It served its purpose. But another temple, much more glorious, is His church (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Jesus is its cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22). He is its Founder (Matthew 16:18). He is its Head (Colossians 1:18). He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28).

Does He then not have every right to say what His church should be?

If the Jerusalem temple did not pass inspection, what of the church today?

In the last book of the New Testament Jesus has words for seven congregations in the Roman province of Asia. He was very pleased with a couple of them but highly displeased with others. He commands several of them to repent (Revelation 2-3).

This is what Restoration means—making the needed changes Christ requires. He tells several of these churches specific things they must do to get their spiritual house in order. He even threatens two of them with total removal.

Sobering!

After Jesus cleansed the temple, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9).

Does zeal for God’s house consume us?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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One Man’s Story

A  Christian who had done mission work in South America told me about a man there who picked up a leaflet from the church and liked what he read. He requested a Bible correspondence course, and after completing it asked for someone to visit him.

So the missionary made contact, and during the two hours they studied the Bible together, he would start to quote a verse and the man would finish it. This happened over and over. To say the least, the missionary was amazed.

The man told him he believed everything those passages taught. When asked if he had been immersed for the forgiveness of his sins, he said he had. He then told his story.

Dissatisfied with his religion, he began studying the Bible in earnest—all by himself. As a result he realized his christening as an infant was not scriptural baptism and that his church was not the church of the New Testament.

He approached a religious group that practiced immersion and asked to be baptized, which he was. He was then encouraged to consider himself a member of their group.

“No,” he said, “I am just a Christian.” He did not wish to be aligned with a denomination but yearned instead to be in fellowship with others like himself who were trying to go by the Bible only.

Because his family and friends thought he was crazy, he concluded he must be the only Christian in the world since no one else he knew shared his understanding.

When he finally found the church associated with the missionary, he was thrilled and began worshiping with them.

The missionary told me that as a result of this and other experiences, his own faith was strengthened in the validity of the plea to go back to the Bible and be Christians only.

He and his brethren had always taught that if all that people have is a Bible, and if they study it and do what it says, then they will be Christians only.

The truth-seeker he met was proof of this. He had studied the New Testament and had come to the same conclusions as those who believed in going by the Bible only.

The Restoration Plea is valid!

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Back to the Basics

Examining our traditions

Often we humans tend to make elaborate the simple and to embellish the unadorned. A study of the history of Christian worship bears this out.

Rather than ritual, pomp, and ceremony, early Christian worship was simplicity itself. Often gathering in homes, first-century disciples knew nothing of vested clergy and robed choir, processionals and recessionals, pipe organs and prescribed liturgies.

Various possible reasons could be offered for the development of the “high church” tradition, but how many worshipers have thought to question whether indeed it has a basis in Scripture?

Following the divine pattern

A fresh look into the New Testament reveals the simple nature of the worship of the early church. They partook of unleavened bread and shared the fruit of the vine as they remembered what Jesus did on their behalf (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29).

They prayed together earnestly, and their a cappella singing was an expression of heart-felt praise (Acts 4:23-31; 12:12; 16:25; Ephesians 5:19).

They listened as the word was taught (Acts 14:21-22, 27; 20:7), and they gave liberally as they prospered (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Philippians 4:15-19).

They were a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, gathering frequently to worship their common Lord, receive instruction and encourage one another (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).

Is there any reason why we cannot do the same today?

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What Restoration Means

If anything should have been well-maintained, surely it was God’s temple in Jerusalem.

But King Hezekiah’s forebears had drifted far from God, and the temple showed the dire effects of their apostasy.

Time to set things right!

Hezekiah commanded, “. . . carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight of the LORD . . . . They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps . . . .

“So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the LORD they brought out to the court of the house of the LORD. Then the Levites received it to carry out to the Kidron Valley.”

Their efforts were two-pronged. First, they removed what should have never been put into the temple. Second, they replaced what should have never been removed.

“. . . all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness, we have prepared and consecrated; and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 29:5-7, 16, 19).

And for us today?

Just as Hezekiah restored the temple to a condition that would once again honor God, so shouldn’t we also be diligent to restore the purity and simplicity Christ desires for His church (Ephesians 5:23-27; Revelation 2:1-7; 3:1-6, 14-22)?

In the New Testament God reveals how He wants His church to be organized, how His people are to worship, what they are to teach, and how they are to live.

Through the centuries, countless unauthorized changes have been made to the divine plan for the church—but could they be called improvements?

Isn’t the call to return to the original divine pattern as needed today as it was in Hezekiah’s?

Are we willing to re-examine our beliefs and practices in light of God’s Word?

The Bible labels Hezekiah’s restoration efforts “these acts of faithfulness” (2 Chronicles 32:1).

May God be able to say the same of us!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Restoration: The Glory and the Challenge

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Getting back to the original

Restoring old paintings, automobiles, or houses is a labor of love.

In restoration there has to be a standard to give direction to the project. The standard is, of course, the original condition. Often it takes considerable research to determine what the original condition was.

A biblical example

Restoration is also a vital biblical principle. The Old Testament gives accounts of several restorations—especially in the days of Hezekiah and Josiah, kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 29-30, 34-35).

In both cases God’s people had drifted far from the original plan revealed by God to Moses centuries before.

A most unusual thing happened during Josiah’s reign. As the temple was undergoing restoration, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the Law. Judging from Josiah’s reaction when it was read, we could conclude that he had never heard it before.

“Then the king . . . made a covenant before the LORD . . . to perform the words of the covenant written in this book . . . . Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:31, 33).

Josiah has left a noble example for us today. Restoration requires diligent study followed by application of what one learns. In the process those who dedicate themselves to do only what the New Testament teaches may make some remarkable discoveries.

Whether it is how we worship, how the church is organized, or what is taught—all of this must bear the scrutiny of examination. Truth-seekers may find that certain venerated practices they have taken for granted are in fact of human rather than divine origin.

Satan has influenced the introduction of many additions to the original plan Christ gave for His church. The best way to counter Satan’s efforts is to go back to the Bible!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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