CNN, computers, the Internet, satellite links, and cell phones are remarkable tools of the “Information Revolution”.Yesterday, what we could access only with great difficulty, today is at our fingertips.For a fraction of effort we now may tap the archives of science, medicine, government, sports, or religion from our homes.Exciting opportunities abound to know, and Know, and know.
Autos, super highways, 737’s, 747’s, 767’s, and the Concord have reduced our world to a journey of hours.Where I need to be or where I want to be is only a matter of decision.Recently, as I returned in the late evening from a meeting, nearly 100 miles away, I considered the blessing of modern travel.The six hours that I had just spent traveling and meeting with people would have taken 7 - 10 days in my father’s childhood.Using those same six hours I could have flown to Manhattan, eaten, and taken in a Broadway show.Also, with a punctual, coordinated plane schedule I could have used those six hours in order to travel to Europe.
The economy is booming and jobs abound.Instead of a chicken in every pot we must have two cars in every driveway.Beanie Babies, Blue Bell Ice cream, ATV’S, designer tennis shoes, and season tickets – whatever the heart desires we have a way or make a way [credit] of getting it. “I want to do it, I can do it, bless God I will do it,” we tell ourselves.As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “whatever our eye saw that our heart desired we kept it not from ourselves”.
Yet with all the reports of man’s gleaming ingenuity and genius there is an ominous dark side.The American Church has fallen prey to the wonders of “technology”.We are like the Athenians who gave themselves constantly to “tell or to hear some new thing”.We have become bloated by volumes of “cutting edge” info.The mundane, front line, foxhole mission of the Local Church has a hard time competing with high tech, high energy, charismatic “Christian Phenomenons”.The strides of loving people serving their communities are overshadowed by reports of enormous success somewhere else.Real relationships have been replaced by a clinical, business environment.Restraints are viewed as outdated and are cast aside for the “Whims of Spontaneity”.
What has happened to the simplicity that is in Christ?I fear that we have lost God between the halls of “Tradition”, “Signs and Wonders”, and “New Revelation”. The vision of Jesus, for His body to be one, has been set aside for doctrinal nuances and independence.We must slow down and come back to the center.In the stillness of the morning we must recapture intimacy with God - not as a corporate expression or a project but because He is our life.We need to discover and cooperate with our place in the living “Body of Christ” – not the sterile environment of religion as usual, but the communion of God-life in relationships with real people.
The Church needs transformation. We are paralyzed by the familiar paradigm of our fathers.Our understanding of what the Church is has come to us through the DNA of our religious roots.At best, we are greatly hindered.At worst, we are blinded by these traditions.We are comfortably engaged in “church life” as usual, not realizing that what we are doing is a far cry from the vision of God.In a world of vast change the stability and sameness of religious institutions gives us comfort. We continue to meet in our buildings called “Churches” and yet “receiving one another” and “loving one another” seems to elude us.At the same time our land is spiraling down, deeper and deeper into moral decay. Perhaps something is wrong?Why do we keep finding mirrors that only reflect our own desires instead of finding a window with a view to the heart of God?
When Mr. Black was a child he couldn’t see very well.He could sit on the front seat of our Model A Ford and could just barely make out the radiator cap in front.No one knew that he couldn’t see.His elementary teacher didn’t even pick it up.She would make fun of him in class and thought he just didn’t want to learn.He thought his eyesight was normal and had no way of knowing any different.Finally, one day he and his dad were going somewhere and were at an intersection.He asked, “Son, is any thing coming?”The boy looked.He didn’t see anything.“No sir, it’s all clear,” the boy answered back.As they started into the street his dad barely avoided an accident from a car coming on the little boy’s side.He almost got the two of them run over by oncoming traffic.Mr. Black told his dad that he hadn’t seen the car coming.
Not long after that, they carried him to an eye doctor.The doctor checked him out and found that he was almost blind.He was about to fit the boy for glasses when the dad said with concern, “Doctor, he’s a boy you know, and I don’t know whether we will be able to keep those glasses on him”.The doctor looked at the dad with a smile and said, “Oh, I don’t believe that will be a problem, when I put these glasses on him, he will never take them off”.Sure enough, those glasses changed his whole world and he has worn them ever since.
Mr. Black, years later, raised up in his seat with passion and said, “All of my life I have heard people make fun of others wearing glasses.I have even heard people fuss or complain about wearing them.Holding up his glasses he said, “This is the difference between the good life I have now and welfare.”Mr. Black is totally convinced that this change has been his salvation.It has allowed him to survive and succeed in a life where he was otherwise destined to be hindered or stopped.
This similar condition in the church is not totally brought on by religious rebellion or stubbornness to change.We have received from our spiritual forefathers what they new and all they had to give.The truths and blessings received at their hands have convinced us of the wisdom of their way.After all, there has been much good accomplished through our organizations.However, if we pause to be honest with ourselves, we know much of what we do is just religious motion. Sustained kingdom life full of righteousness, peace, and joy seems to elude us.We remain empty and unfulfilled.
The good news is that there is a remedy. The Lord has the cure and he is already administering the treatment.He will heal the body from the crown of its head to the souls of its feet.However, in this healing will be sweeping extensive changes.
The Lord is visiting now.The Church must take a hard look at itself.Repentance will never come until we see ourselves as we really are.The fog of self-delusion must be blown away.In order to reform, we must have a revision.We must see the blueprint of the Church as God sees it.Only His design will bring us to the fulfillment of our destiny and the triumphal end of the age. When we see it, we can yield our hearts to be it.
THE SPIRIT OF REFORMATION
There is now a dual work of God in the earth:The first is a very visible visitation of refreshing, bringing relief and revival to the children of God.The second is a more subtle work of re-structuring, bringing functional and government relationships to the Church.The outline for these works is found in Acts 3:19-21.AV “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times(2540) of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.Whom the heaven must receive untilthe times(5550) of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
This is the “Chronos (season) of the restitution of all things”.
times- G2540 kairos-an occasion, i.e. set or proper time
WE Vine - Quality
refreshing-403. Anapsuxis; prop. a recovery of breath, i.e. (fig.) revival
WE Vine - Obtaining relief
times-5550. Chronos - a space of time (in gen., and thus prop. distinguished from G2540(kairos), which designates a fixed or special occasion; and from G165, which denotes a particular period) or interval
WE Vine - Quantity
WE Vine - To set in order again
Restitution is the restoration of something taken illegally or its equivalent
reconstitute-To provide with a new structure
The phrase “times of refreshing” appears first in this text. The word times (kairos) is defined as an occasion of refreshing obtaining relief for the saints.The wind of the Lord is blowing across the land causing us to catch our breath in the “Spirit”.We are being revived by the dew and the rain of the presence of the Lord.This refreshing is an event much like a birthday, anniversary, or Christmas.It will come and then it will go.There is no question that we are in a very special season and it is bringing encouragement and much needed relief to the Church.
Then we see the phrase “times of restitution of all things”.The word time in this phrase is “chronos” defined as a space of time in which the Church will be set in order again.A cataclysmic change is in the air.Suddenly, those who have not known or considered one another because of structural, doctrinal, and denominational differences are beginning to see, recognize, and receive one another as the “Body of Christ”.Things that have been stolen from the Church – including it’s identity, government, and form – will be returned.Then and only then will there be the resurgence of sustained authority in the earth and a manifestation of the “glory of the latter house”.
A Tribe of Reformers
While some are being used to bring refreshing, there is a tribe of reformers in the earth.God has tucked away, men of his own, in obscure places, born for this hour.The ordination of God for them is the “Reformation of His Church”.They have two purposes.The first is to bring the Church back to Him as it’s sovereign.It is the returning of the Church to God, from the bondage of fruitless religious activity.God will once again, dwell among His people.The second purpose is seeing that the reformation is the restructuring of the church.The Church must be returned from institutional(informational, organizational, educational) mindset to a relational form (living, intimate, and organic).They must “set the House in Order”.This is an unpopular and tedious work because it will disrupt and destroy many of the religious norms that exist.
The Commission Of This Hour: “Return and Rebuild”
This is the last great season (chronos) of the church before the return of the Lord Jesus.What is the herald of heaven for this hour?
Babylon is judged.Her glory is fading.Her demise is in sight.Catastrophe for all in Her is imminent.
He is calling His church back from Babylonian captivity.What is Babylon?Babylon is the institutionalization of His Church.Babylon is the judgment of God on generations of disobedience.Babylon is the religious machine held in place by the traditions of men.It is the mother of religious form and duty apart from the presence of God(YHWH).Babylon is a hodgepodge of theosophical ideas, a little of this, a little of that.Its ways are pleasing and palatable to the religious minded.It’s a whore with lips of honey, seducing and sedating every one but the most wary.Babylon is an institution, informing and educating, providing an attractive counterfeit for personal intimacy with God.Here, believers become “church centered” instead of “Christ Centered”.Babylon is an environment of indifference where believers pass and re-pass one another overlooking the thought of being a true spiritual family. It is the aloof independent spirit that keeps brother alienated from brother.
We are called to bring believers out of this false security.We must press to destroy the barriers that divide us while making room for the great diversity God has put in His Body.Only then will we fulfill the Lords prayer in John 17:20 - 21 (KJV) 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Theosophy – Religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God.
Born in Babylon
The Church of our day has been in Babylonian captivity.I was born again there. My paradigm, my point of reference, concerning the church is only about 40 years old.I have only known the Lord for some 40 years.Therefore, I tend to measure today’s success or “Spiritual Move of God” by what I saw only yesterday.I have referenced my own small window of experience to evaluate the progress of His eternal church.I know that I am not alone in this error.Praise God, His intent is to change our point of reference.We need a fresh perspective and objective.He is calling us to see Zion.He wants us to see His church as He desires it to be.
In The Beginning
How was it in the beginning? He took an obedient remnant, unified in purpose, unselfish in heart, and launched the Church into history.Even so, His eyes are searching for those who will lay aside every form of religious encumbrance, to come together and press the heavenlies for the “glory of the latter house."Let's not be charmed by the exploits of a Church, housed in a form that God has allowed but is not His best.There is a “Glorious Church” on the horizon for those who will not compromise.We must look at the beginning to have an accurate model for rebuilding.Let us lay aside the filthy robes passed to us by the fathers and receive this change of raiment.Then we will no longer be just religious people, but we will walk in power of a genuine relationship with a real God.Those who represent Him we will no longer be a derision or laughingstock in the land. We will become the anointed, full of power, full of His presence.
Who Are We?Men who are Sent!
The cry is going out to the Ezras, the Nehemiahs, the Zerrubabels, the Joshuas, the Haggais, and Zechariahs of our day.God is calling a group of men to be reformers: the Luthers, Hesses, Calvins of this hour.God is calling for changers and shakers who will challenge religious models we have been given.Church as usual is not enough.We must not be deterred until we become a unified family.We cannot be satisfied until God dwells in the midst of His people, and His character is reflected in our faces.
Steps and steppers of the Past
Reformers of the past have given some of the steps.Luther brought us salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.The “Azuza Street” outpouring gave us another step, the infilling of the Spirit, and the empowering of God's people to do His work. The “Word of Faith” movement in the 60's and 70's opened our eyes to our identity in Christ.Faith in God for the miraculous and the Gifts of the Spirit became our bread.The “Kingdom Movement” opened our eyes to the Dominion of God and currently we are seeing the restoration of the final two “Doma” gifts ofEphesians 4:11 - Apostles andProphets.
Apostolic Government in Sight
This is the time of the re-ordering of His house.God has a very specific form of government.“Theocracy” or “The rule of God” is coming to His Church.Apostles and Prophets are beginning to emerge from the cloak of anonymity.Gradually, they are taking their places in the functional, relational, government of the Church.
Prophets are zealous for the holiness of God’s people.They are consuming flames exposing hidden iniquity while reminding us of our destiny.They are the auto-pilots of the Church helping us to alter our course into the purpose of God.They teach us how to hear and zealously obey the voice of the Lord.Prophets are jet packs of motivation and hope.Without prophets we spiral away into complacency.We (The Church) cannot make the trip without the influence and equipping of the Prophetic gift.
Apostles are sent to bring the Church into order.They carry the “mystery of the Church” in their hearts.They are connectors, linking the body of Christ together while they remind us that we are not alone.They have the wisdom of surviving and thriving in adversity.Apostles are lambs; humble, loving servants of the Church bringing peace and stability.Apostles are lions with authority to confront and deal with problems and the hard issues that face the Church.They are nurses-nurturing and fathers imparting identity and value, while requiring us to grow up.We ( The Church) will never come into maturity without the influence and equipping of the gift of Apostle.
Just as past steps of restoration brought change, I believe the Church is in the beginning of a major structural and governmental transformation.Some are joyfully positioned with their feet on the threshold of this step while fear and uncertainty bar the way for others.The pace is quickening.Warning:Where other phases have taken hundreds of years to fully establish, now it may take only a few.
A New Wineskin
Godly structure and government must come to His church.Not an inflexible religious form but one that is flexible, pliable and responsive to the Lord Himself.This new wineskin adapts and complies with the “Living Head” Jesus.Old wine conforms to its container but the “new wine” of God forces the container to adapt to it, or be destroyed.The old wine is the residue of a move or stir of God, from yesterday.New wine is the arousal, stimulation, and invigoration of God Breathed instructions and the Spirit to embrace His present purpose.Only a new wineskin has the capacity and will yield to the demand and pressure He places on it: for change, for repentance, for direction, for obedience.