Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3602

Jump Start # 3602

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.

 Recently, I was asked to deliver a lecture at the famed Cane Ridge meeting house. This is the third time in the past four years that I have been honored to do this. Those that know American Church History, know the log cabin at Cane Ridge is like the old Yankee Stadium, honored by those who cherish the early American origins of the Restoration Movement. It was built in 1791. It was the site of the most famous revival in America in 1801. It is estimated that between 10,000-40,000 people gathered on the grounds. From slaves to the governor of Kentucky, they all came. Forty percent of the Kentucky population came to the Cane Ridge revival, which started as a Presbyterian Communion service. Barton W. Stone, the preacher at Cane Ridge, along with Methodist, Baptist and fellow Presbyterian preachers, found spots on the grounds to preach the Gospel. This event lasted for days. And, out of this, began the seeds of restoration ideology. Leaving creeds, Calvinism, and man-made organizational structures, pioneers started just picking up the Bible and followed that N.T. pattern. Across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, whole congregations embraced the primitive Christianity. By 1804, the Cane Ridge Presbyterian church was known as the Cane Ridge Christian church.

  Volumes and volumes of articles and books have been written about the movement and the leaders that awakened a sleeping giant, that pure, N.T. faith in Christ.

  I was asked to speak on the concept of “Is the restoration plea still relevant?” And, that’s a great concern and question. In a culture that embraces letters such as LGBTQ+, gender dysphoria, and places personal feelings above all else, does primitive Christianity have a chance today? Have we outgrown the Bible message? Does God’s plan work in this mobile society today? Does the church need to change? Is that message outdated? Is it still relevant?

  Here are my thoughts on all of this:

  First, did the restoration plea ever work? History shows that it did. Across the Midwest, thousands and thousands left the denominational world for what they found in their Bibles. Independent congregations following that N.T. pattern sprang up everywhere. If it wasn’t in the Bible, it was challenged, debated and most times defeated.

  The restoration plea wasn’t the brainstorm of Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell or other Americans. It finds its way back to the days of Jeremiah, where God pled with the nation to return to Him (3:11-14). Seek the ancient paths (6:16); for My people have forgotten Me…and they have stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths” (18:15). Later God through the prophet says, “Set up for yourself road marks, place for yourself guideposts; direct our mind to the highway, the way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel” (31:21). Returning to what God had established was the plea of Jeremiah.

  Malachi said, “Remember the law of Moses, My servant, even the statues and ordinance which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel (4:4). The Thessalonians were commended for receiving the word as from God and imitating the churches in Judea (1 Thes 2:13-14).

  It was understood that God’s way was right and that God’s way was sufficient to do all that the Lord wanted. When God put Adam in the garden, he didn’t have to find a gas station to get food to survive. God made is sustainable. When Noah was on the ark, he didn’t have to find an Old Testament Buckees to get by. Everything he needed, God had provided. That understanding takes one back to the original plan. It worked then. It did all that God required. The question before us is, will it still work? Does it still work?

  Second, if the restoration plea is not relevant for our times today, what is the alternative? We see it all around us. Empty, shallow, cotton candy, feel good theology that is based on the here and now and a focus upon self rather than Christ. If we leave the N.T. pattern, then we are heading directions without God’s guidance. We are on our own. All that we know of God He has revealed (1 Cor 2:11). Has God ever left it up to mankind to figure out? Details that are chapters long in Exodus, describe what God wanted for the tabernacle. Details that are chapters long in Leviticus, define the kind of sacrifices that pleased the Lord. God never said, “Surprise Me.” He never said, “Be original.” He never left things up to us. If the primitive way is no longer relevant, then God blundered. He didn’t think things through. And, now, we are left without a divine guide that will work.

  The modern church has been dating current culture for generations. They have tried a merger with the world and found out that the world doesn’t budge. It’s going to continue heading secular and selfish. To be accepted, the modern church has embraced and chased the culture of our times. This is why so few ever hear real Bible preaching. Doctrine has died. Do what ever makes you happy has become the Gospel. And, with that unity is gone, and the church looks more and more like the world. Standing on the platform of love and only love, everything is right and nothing is wrong. And, if you disagree, your heart is filled with hate. That’s our times. And, those that claim to know God, don’t know Him.

  Third, the restoration plea is especially needed these days. If God and His way doesn’t work, what will? Getting back to life the way God intended, from the One who created us, is where we find purpose, hope and life. This in not a call to follow Stone, Campbell, Lipscomb or any other voice, other than the voice of the Lord, through His word.

  For centuries, thousands and thousands have found forgiveness, peace and lasting joy through the message of the Gospel. That’s what needs to be preached today. That’s what will turn families back to where they need to be. We’ve forgotten our purpose. We’ve taken our eyes off the map. We’ve got tangled up in the weeds of today.  But the restoring plea to simply follow Christ, is what will lead us safely home.

  We don’t look to Cane Ridge for the answer. Our answer comes from above. It comes from Heaven.