The Restoration of All Things – Prologue
Contending for the Faith Once Delivered
[Author’s note: this is an introduction and overview to a new series of three writings that will present the restoration of things critical to the faith: an understanding of the Mystery of the Name, an understanding of Christ Jesus as the Living Word, or Word of Life, which proceeded from the Father, and was begotten, not created, and finally the testimony and the law (Isa. 8:16) which were sealed by Christ’s disciples that we would have a dependable word of God that would be coherent and consistent and a proper measure in all matters of faith. That written word is a testimony to the Living Word and bears witness to Him.]
To those who are keen on searching out the truth in all matters of faith from a Christ-centered perspective, it may be coming clearer that the faith of churches today is quite different from that of first and second century congregations, those led by men who actually knew some of the eyewitnesses to the Lord’s majesty, that is, the apostles. And as Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, the congregation [ekklesia] where tradition states he installed Timothy as the first bishop, the congregation, or body of Christ is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (Eph. 2:20).
And not a few epistles in the New Testament betray signs of a struggle over the real content of the gospel. Jude wrote:
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the holy ones. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand written about for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4)
Peter also wrote about the challenge of keeping the faith, which was not merely synonymous with a passive belief, but was a way of walking, known to Jeremiah (ch. 6) and the prophets, as the way of righteousness, or way of holiness, Derek Kedoshah, for which reason early followers of Christ Jesus were known as keepers of the way.
Fot it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. This is not, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior by your apostles. (2 Pet 2:21, 3:1-2)
Paul made this way of holiness quite clear to the Ephesians
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones, and are of God’s household [Beth El], having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)
And before Felix the governor, Paul made His defense of Christ and “the way”
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, thus I worship the God of our fathers, believing all things according to the law and the things written in the prophets, having hope toward God . . . (Acts 24:14f.)
Can there be any doubt, that there were struggles for the faith in the first century? But there is a faith attested to by multiple witnesses, from the apostles to their close disciples, Jude, Luke, and others. And as it is the faith of the Fathers then isn’t it fair to assert that it has MUCH to do with Malachi 6:4-6
Remember the law of Moses, my servant, statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of YHWH. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to children and the hearts of children to fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.
Yes, there needs a return of love and that sense of the faith and love of the Fathers toward God and toward their children, and from the children toward their Fathers and toward God their Father. The Law is “the commandment” which Jesus brought to the holy ones, which was part of the faith and what Peter called the obedience of the faith. The heart of the Father, YHWH, cannot be turned toward His children if they are not in joyful and loving obedience to His ways, the ways of righteousness, which are coded in the Law and the Holiness Code (Leviticus 19-20).
And now in our time, there is a gargantuan struggle for this faith, the faith of our Fathers, the faith of the prophets and apostles, the faith which is written in the law and the prophets. It was delivered once for all time to the holy ones. But what happened to that which was delivered?
If there were no problem then why is there such universal division in the greater “body of Christ?” If we still have the faith once delivered, what happened to the holy commandment? We have all received. There is no room for boasting (1 Cor. 4:7), as if we had not received. But what exactly was received by the holy ones?
This faith of the Fathers, the faith of Jesus Christ, is precisely what needs restoration. It has been twisted and torn beyond all recognition, it has become a covenant without terms and cannot produce a bride that has been beautified and made holy. The way of holiness has been forsaken and the law has been abandoned, and that in spite of the marvelous words of Isaiah that point to His disciples:
Bind up the testimony, seal the Law <torah> among my disciples. (Isa. 8:16)
And so it was done, according to the word of the Lord which will not return empty. Through His disciples, the Logos confirmed the teaching in the Law and the prophets, and bound up the testimony, which is what? The testimony is the written witness handed down, the written word of God that bears witness to His glory and His accomplishments and all that He has planned to do until heaven and earth pass away (Rev. 20:11).
Thus the canon was complete with those holy ones He chose from the foundations of the world, who put their testimony together with the testimony of the prophets. And let’s not forget Moses.
Moses saw the pattern in Heaven and put together the Ark of the Testimony. And what is an aydah, a testimony? It is a memorial within time, an artifact, evidence bearing witness to something. The stone tablets bore witness to the experience of Moses in the presence of God and the revelation of His holy Torah, law and teaching.
And it is this testimony that has suffered under the bad stewardship of men and their traditions, under the spiritual guidance of the adversary who likewise disdains the law — though Paul said it is holy and spiritual and good.
The keynote point here is this: If Jesus Christ told the disciples upon the Mount of Transfiguration that Elijah would return and “restore all things” then is it not likely that all things are in disarray and distorted from the days of old, from the ways of long ago? Indeed! The Law and the prophets and the faith once delivered are all in need of restoration. And for this reason Christology has suffered enormously, which will make possible the entry of a counterfeit to the world stage who may capture loyalty that is really due the Son of God. Within the greater community in Christ there needs a return to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, not the gospel of lawlessness which concerned Paul to no end. With hope waning and love growing cold, it is an indisputable fact that the foundations of faith, hope, and love must be restored. While these are the three greatest spiritual qualities, they have ebbed so greatly in 1900 years that they are but a shadow of their true reality when they were delivered by the Son of God.
And this is precisely the reason why a true and reliable canon is such a critical necessity. You can take it from the Lord’s own mouth, and by that reason believe it! If we lose the scripture and its richly textured meaning from the mind of God, then we lose the greater knowledge of God and His Logos — the One who is in the bosom of the Father. And the loss of the teaching means: not having God.
Anyone who goes on ahead [goes too far] and does not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. (2John9)
And this brings to the fore the Great Mystery of God (cf. Col. 2:2) namely of the Father and of Jesus Christ, which reveals that the two are One — without a third person we should add, a matter of church doctrine that must wait for another time to be fully explicated — and that the teaching [or Torah] which He gave reveals the Father (John 1:18) as He revealed the Father in His person. Further, and of great importance, the teaching of Christ cannot be added to, not a word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:19), and one cannot go on ahead but must abide or remain in the teaching of Christ, for to fail to do so would be to not have God.
A Great Paradox
Returning to the greater theme for our time, viz. the “restoration of all things,” or the apokatastasis of Elijah, this presents a conundrum for the faithful of Christendom because it implies a very deep paradox embedded the prophecy of Christ, there in Matthew 17:11. If the faith once delivered was explained by, even revealed by the Son of God, then why would it need to be restored unless He was prophesying its complete despoiling which would require a restoration for a return to that faith He delivered?
This may not be happy news for those who claim Jesus Christ as Lord, but there is no other solution. The faith of today by the truth of the Lord’s own words IS NOT “the faith once delivered.” And that is what these authors will be bringing forth in the coming series that will help to publish the good news as it was given by the voices of the prophets as well as the apostles and of course, Christ Jesus Himself. He delivered the unequivocal truth of the Law and the prophets, the faith of the Fathers, the importance of obedience and walking in the way of holiness. This was “the way,” that handle by which the early congregations of Christ grasped their self-understanding.
We are not talking about another religion or even any religion itself. For religion is Man’s creation in an effort to build a fortress against God. Truth on the other hand sets one free. Traditions of men enslave while the traditions of God liberate, under the great law of freedom, the Law of Christ.
Subsequent installments in this series will unfold the Mystery of the Name and Mystery of the Word to help the disciple understand not to make a graven image of the name of God but to realize that Christ manifested the Name, something that cannot be spoken, but is the very glory and splendor of God’s being.
We will reflect upon the scriptures in a way that helps uncover the deep treasure on Christ’s essential nature without relying upon traditions of men, such as the Trinity doctrine, something which went beyond Scripture and did not remain in the teaching of Christ. Within world Christianity, most christologies either make Christ equal with the Father, in spite of His own claims to the contrary, or they make Christ a first-born created servant exalted above all.
In one of the greatest ironies of ecclesiastical history, it was Bishop Arius, who while denying personhood of the Holy Spirit, remained adamant that Jesus was begotten, not created. In the christology of Arius, Jesus was brought forth at some undisclosed point of time in eternity before the worlds were created. All of this is consistent with scripture, whereas the various claims in the trinitarian formulae are thoroughly inconsistent with scripture.
Again, this truth finds substantiation in Isaiah 8:16 and 2 John 9 cited above. The disciples were charged with completing the treasury of God’s word, and this written word is meant to be a testimony, aydah, to the Living Word. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and Melito of Sardis stood as two witnesses to the complete two testaments possessed by the congregations in Asia Minor, and fully composed before the death of the last living apostle John, in Ephesus.
In the restoration of all things there must be a perfect resonance between the testimony and the reality to which it points. This is the meaning of the words of Christ Jesus to the Pharisees
You diligently search the Scriptures because you think to have eternal life in them, and these are they bearing witness concerning Me; and you are not willing to come to Me, that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)
He is the way, the truth, and the life, so it is in coming to Him and in receiving Him, that one may become a child of God (John, ch.1). For this reason, the third part of the series on restoration of understanding the Living Word, will focus on the importance of having a canon that helps to match up the the true Son of God and not some other Jesus and some other gospel. The struggle over the gospel and the nature of Christ is apparent in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and to the other churches, in Peter’s general epistles, in John’s 3 epistles; it is abundantly clear that there was a great battle for the faith. So today we must, like our brothers and sisters in the first two centuries and later, earnestly contend for that faith once delivered.
It is our hope that in this written offering we may help serve you in seeing more clearly where people slipped from the path, or went on ahead and did not remain in the teachings of Christ.
In closing this brief overview, let us rest in the words of Christ Jesus there in John 5, reminding us that we are to come to Him for life and not let our love for scripture eclipse Him as the living word. And just as we will not make an idol out of the written testimony, so we must not make an idol of the name, but remember that He came in the Name — Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. And we should be mindful that
Though all the peoples walk each in the name of his god, as for us, we will walk in the name of YHWH our God forever and ever (Micah 4:5)
This name is not a physical designation, nor is it a special pronunciation as if the sound of air moving through lips were somehow as powerful as the Holy Spirit. But this Name is the glory and splendor, the substance and reality, the radiance of the life the the true God YHWH. That we shall do as we come to Christ, receive life, and are given the authority to become children of God. In growing up into the full measure, then we shall walk in the name of our God.