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What Time is it: Part 7: The Restoration of the Church

  • What Time is it? Part 7: The Restoration of The Church

    What Time is it? Part 7: The Restoration of the Church from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Transcript: Today I want to talk about the restoration of the church. Jesus has built His church for battle, and He intends to win. His Bride will make herself ready. His church is not made of bricks and boards, it is made up of God’s people, and the church is going to complete the mission that Jesus Christ began.

    Now Luke 3:23 tells us that Jesus began His ministry at about thirty years of age, and His ministry lasted about three and half years. So Jesus walked on the earth as a real man for about thirty-three years. During that time He poured knowledge into His disciples and trained them to work in the ministry.

    Then Jesus went to the cross and finished His mission here on earth. After His crucifixion, He rose from the dead and spent some time with His disciples over a period of forty days before He ascended to heaven. One of the last things that He told His disciples, before He left is known as the great commission:

    The Great Commission:
    Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

    That is the mission of the church, it always has been: To reach the lost, to baptize them, to teach them the word of God. The word “Nations” there is “ethnos” meaning ethnic groups, and all of them are included. A mixed interracial church was His plan from the beginning.

    Ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the 120 disciples in the upper room and filled them with power. They began to speak in tongues, and move in power, 3,000 people were added to the church the first day.

    The church grew in amazing ways. The shadow of Peter passing over people in the streets healed them. After that Paul was raised up and God did unusual miracles through him, Acts 19:11 tells us that even handkerchiefs that were sent from Paul to others healed diseases and sickness. That was the beginning of the prayer cloth. It was something new that God did through the next generation of believers, and not through the original Apostles that had walked with Jesus like Peter and John.

    This is important to understand and key to this message. Please remember this. See Paul was not one of the original disciples that walked with Jesus on the earth for three and a half years. Acts 9:4 tells us that He was converted later on the road to Damascus, oddly enough while on his way to arrest some of Jesus’ disciples. He had a personal experience with Jesus outside of the church and the original disciples were not involved in Paul’s conversion at all. They had never met.

    That means that if Peter, John, and the original disciples of Jesus would have all sit down together and written all that they knew that God had done so far, laid out all of the experience and knowledge that they had, and then made that into a creed, or a denominational belief system, that being healed by a person’s shadow would have been included, but prayer cloths would not because it was raised up outside of their circle of knowledge.

    See no one knows it all. We all have our small part to play, and we all have some truth, but when we begin to think that we know it all and everyone else is wrong, then it is us that are wrong. Pride leads to deception and goes before destruction. No one can contain all of the knowledge of God, nor does He share everything with you. The body of Christ is made up of many parts and the heart has a different purpose than the feet, but both are an important part of the body.

    God moves in waves and there is a pattern in church history that never wants to accept the ending of a wave, nor the beginning of the next. God usually has to use someone else. Jesus told us in Luke 5:39: And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’

    Each time that God does something new, it begins as a Revelation, it becomes a movement, it finally stops moving and becomes a monument to what was, then a denomination is built around it. Then we have “spiritual” borders, we will believe this far and no more. This is repeated over and over in history. “If it is not included in our denominational belief system then God would never do that. It must be the work of the devil.” That is why some believe in the gifts of the Spirit, and some do not. Just remember that the prayer cloths did not come through Peter and John. God can use someone else outside of your circle because no one has all the truth.

    The first church grew in power and spread like a fire, though it was heavily persecuted. The fresh, life giving message of the gospel, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, cut through the dead religions of the time like a sword cutting through butter. The persecuted church thrived and grew for a long time. Paul wrote to some people that were concerned that the day of the Lord had already came in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4 (NKJV). It is called “the Great Apostasy”:

    Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

    Paul wrote that Jesus would not return to earth until a great falling away had happened, the great apostasy. Now I have been teaching a series on end time events called “What Time is it?” We have covered the church coming through that great falling away, what we appropriately call “the dark ages.” It was a horrible time of persecution, darkness, ignorance and spiritual blindness. The Bible had been taken away from the common man and put into the hands of the wealthy upperclass.

    The scriptures were translated into Latin, which only scholars could read. Even though this was not the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, when others tried to translate the scriptures into the common languages of the day, they were put to death as heretics. The church had a lock on the knowledge of God, and only the priests could tell you what the Bible meant. It gave them power over the people. The whole world was at their mercy and it led to horrible delusions. The church became rich from selling salvation to the unknowing sheep.

    As the true word of God became difficult to come by, the power of the first church declined and was lost to history. God has always had His faithful, but they became rare and there is little to read about them during this time. If you read Jeremiah, you can see a similar pattern. Jeremiah alone was God’s messenger while there were many false prophets prophesying that everything was fine. That was the dark ages in a nutshell: The church was saying that everything is fine, while they were burning real Christians like John Huss and William Tyndall on stakes. It is obvious that everything was not fine.

    In October 1517, Martin Luther had enough of the church selling salvation with the slogan of: "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs" and nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church. Luther was hoping to start a debate with them, but they did not want to discuss the matter, they just wanted him to stop talking about it. They knew that he was right. Where he had wanted to bring reformation to the Catholic churches policies, it led to him being excommunicated, thrown out of the church and branded a heretic.

    In April 1521, the Catholic church and the emperor, as always working together, invited Luther to the “Diet of Worms.” (Yes, that is a weird title for a meeting today…) The point was to discuss Luther’s writings and they guaranteed him safe passage. That was questionable because they had promised John Huss safe conduct when they summoned him, then they declared him guilty and burned him at the stake.

    Luther went and tried to urge his examiner into a debate on scripture, but they would have nothing of it. They had already decided that the church was right, and he was wrong. His examiner said: “Surely a single individual could not call into doubt the tradition of the entire church.”

    The examiner then declared, “you must give a simple, clear, and proper answer to the question, Will you recant or not?”

    To which Luther responded: “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds and reasoning—and my conscience is captive to the Word of God—then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. He then added: “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen.”

    While they withdrew to decide his fate, Luther disappeared and went into hiding, where he continued to translate the new testament into German.

    * Luther had challenged the absolute authority of the Pope over the Church by maintaining that the doctrine of indulgences, selling forgiveness, as authorized and taught by the Pope, was wrong.

    * Luther maintained that salvation was by faith alone (sola fide) without reference to good works, alms, penance, or the Church's sacraments.

    * Luther also challenged the authority of the Church by maintaining that all doctrines and dogma of the Church that are not found in Scripture should be discarded (sola scriptura).

    The emperor Charles V then declared Luther a heretic:

    For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favour the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, whereupon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work.

    Luther was intelligent and well educated. He had a masters degree and was going to be a lawyer when he dropped out of school and became a Catholic priest. His conversion was much like Pauls. While heading back to school on horseback, a terrible thunderstorm came on and lightning stuck around him. He cried out and promised to become a monk, quit law school and sold his books. On that decision he later wrote: "I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul." He learned the true meaning and the differences of works and grace by living both.

    The Catholic church could not prove Luther’s writings wrong using just scripture, they knew that he was correct, so they just tried to stamp the “Reformers” out and burn them as heretics. The Protestant Reformation grew in numbers and the church began to come out of the dark ages.

    The Restoration Begins:
    Now I am going to mention a lot of names and by doing that, I am not endorsing anyone’s beliefs. Our gifting can often take us further than our character can support, and then we fall. That does not make the gifting that came from God bad. David was one of God’s anointed who was chosen from a young child, but he later in his life he bedded Bathsheba. And then when He was done, God told Jeremiah this in Jeremiah 33:19:

    “And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers.

    See God didn’t throw David away because he stumbled, and neither should we. Remember that all of us have some truth, but none of us have it all. You have to eat the chicken and throw away the bones.

    The First Great Awakening:
    After the Protestant Reformation grew strong, during the 1730s and 40s came what is known as “The First Great Awakening.”

    It was a revival movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, especially the American colonies, beginning in the 1500s but it really pinnacled in the 1730s / 40s and it left a permanent impact on American Protestantism. It resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ. The Great Awakening pulled away from ritual, ceremony, sacramentalism, and hierarchy, and made Christianity intensely personal to the average person by fostering a deep sense of spiritual conviction and redemption, and by encouraging a commitment to a new standard of personal morality. It led to changes in Americans' understanding of God, themselves, the world around them, and religion.

    Powerful preachers like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield led thousands to Jesus with sermons like “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It is said that people would often faint or pass out from conviction when they preached.

    Jesus told us in Luke 5:39: And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’

    There was division now among the Protestants between who called themselves the “New Lights” who believed in revival, and the “Old Lights” who did not and used governmental authority to suppress the revivals in their towns. There was a demand for religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the freedom of the press. All of this ushered in the American Revolution. The First Great Awakening was the first time that African Americans embraced Christianity in large numbers.

    This revival gave birth to the Baptists and the Methodists denominations.

    The Second Great Awakening:
    The second great awakening began around 1790 and grew stronger until around 1820. The founders of this movement were Baptists and Methodists preachers and the membership of those churches soared. It was a revival that brought millions of people to Jesus. One of the preachers was Charles Finney, who’s life fascinates me. When Charles Finney would sit at the table and say the blessing, people around the table would fall out of their chairs.

    One day when Finney toured a sewing factory in New York and was just staring at the equipment, the people working there began to crumple to the floor in tears and repent. The factory’s owner, who was not a believer, was amazed by what was happening. He said: “Stop the mill, and let the people attend to religion; for it is more important that our souls should be saved than that this factory run.” They set up a meeting, gathered all of the employees and Finney preached on salvation. He later said that it was one of the most powerful meetings that he had ever been in. Nearly the entire factory was converted. The revivals continued until around 1850.

    The Seventh Day Adventist, The Holiness movement, and the Restoration Movements came out of this revival.

    The Third Great Awakening:
    The Third Great Awakening began in about 1850 and one of the main teachers was Dwight L. Moody. He was connected with the Holiness movement and founded the Moody Bible Institute. There was at least one million converts.

    The Pentecostal denomination came out of the Holiness movement during this time and gathered around the baptism of the truth of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. See it is a progression, with one movement giving birth to the next.

    Continued Revivals:
    During the 50s, we saw a great healing revival with men like Oral Roberts and William Branham. There were amazing miracles of healing all across the United States with millions of people affected.

    The Charismatic Renewal began around 1960 and began to restore the gifts of the Spirit to the church. They are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and are gifts that are Supernatural in nature and are the focus of and distinguishing feature of the Charismatic Movement: Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Gifts of Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, Discernment of Spirits, Speaking in different Tongues (Languages), and Interpretation of Tongues.

    In the late 1960s and 70s came the Jesus movement and the generation of love that birthed an entirely new Christian music era. Musicians with a true heart for God like Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, Petra and others made a joyful noise.

    Around 1980 the “Word of Faith” movement began an impact with anointed men like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Think positive, speak the word of God over your life and into your circumstances, believe. These are all good things that we take for granted today, but no one knew about them not that long ago.

    Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

    During the last 100 years, the five-fold ministry has been restored to the church. We have seen evangelists like Billy Graham, who is said to have preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of the church.

    We have seen anointed Bible teachers raised up, one of my favorites was Derek Prince who brought the deliverance ministry back into the church. We now have pastor’s with a true heart for God and the sheep, like Bill Johnson. During the 1980s the Prophets began to be restored with men like Bill Hamon. During the 1990s the Apostles began to be restored.

    All of this is meant to equip the saints for the end time harvest. We live in an amazing time and are here for such a time as this. There has been an endless string of movements of God since the 1500s, too many to name here and many that I don’t even know about. Awakenings, Revivals, rediscovered truths, they all point to God restoring the church back to its former glory. I believe that we will once again see just the shadow of men falling on people, heal them. In the last one-hundred years we have seen so much restored, and what was long lost, being recovered.

    I thought about calling this message “Left Behind” because if your understanding of what God is doing has not changed in the last 100 years, then you have already been left behind. Remember the story about the revelation, the movement, and the monument.

    See the Baptists are right that we need to repent and accept Jesus. The Methodists are right when they say that we are dead in sin, and justified by faith alone. The Pentecostals are right when they say that we need the Anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Charismatics are right when they say that we need the gifts of the Spirit and the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. These denominations were all built around truths, but no one has all the truth and we need still each other.

    God is preparing His church for something big. Get ready.

    References for further reading:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_of_Worms

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Great_Awakening

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Great_Awakening

    http://pentecostalevangel.ag.org/Articles2009/4971_Revival.cfm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Great_Awakening

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_movement


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Cathy Webb
Cathy Webb

Thank you, Pastor Dion, for these historical details and connecting the thread of God's hand in these movements. I agree that God is preparing His church -- having nothing to do with denominations. I want to be ready and do my part. Thank you for being faithful to God's prompting to share With us.

January 20, 2017