An Apostolic Understanding – Part Sixteen
Blog for November 22, 2017
Constantine, the Roman Emperor, made a number of basic, foundational changes to the Early Church so that by the year 500 A.D. it no longer resembled the Early Church and no longer moved in power. (see the previous blog)
By the Middle Ages, Christianity has become a different religion altogether. It had no resemblance whatsoever ever to the Church we read about in the New Testament. If you were a church member in the Middle Ages you would not have been allowed to read the Bible. You would not know that God loves you. You would have no understanding of the power of God or the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. You would probably not even know how to get saved.
The thing that was called the church was not the Church. The Church was dead! The Church that the apostles had founded no longer existed. For more than 1,000 years the Body of Christ was under the power of man and the secular world.
But God had not forgotten His Church. After 1,000 years of bondage and a secularized / paganize church, God began to restore His Church back to health. Acts 3:21 states that “heaven must receive Jesus (He cannot return to Earth) until the time for the restoring of all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.” He is restoring the lost truths in the opposite order to which they were removed from the Church. That which was lost last was added back first. Beginning around 1500 A.D., through a whole series of great moves of the Holy Spirit, God began to restore His Church.
Around the year 1500, God put His hand on a German monk named Martin Luther. Luther had been given a rare gift, a Bible, and he started reading it. As he read he discovered that salvation comes by faith in Jesus, not by the church’s rituals or sacraments. Martin Luther got saved!
To this day, many denominational churches still believe that the church’s sacraments bring a person into right standing with God. The denomination of which I was a part of for 30 years directly stated in its material, “There are two sacraments necessary for salvation, holy baptism (of babies), and the Lord’s Supper.” When a baby was baptized by sprinkling, one of the prayers offered said, “…that this child is born again and regenerated by the waters of baptism.”
Martin Luther began to teach anyone who would listen about salvation by faith. The organized church tried to burn him at the stake for specifically this teaching. Luther also translated the Bible into the language of the people so ordinary Christians could read it. That was really revolutionary. The result was the Protestant Reformation.
In Luther’s day an understanding of salvation and access to the Bible were restored to the church. But there was much more to come.
In the 1700’s God awakened the Church to the need for holiness and sanctification. In the early 1900’s God began to resort the power of the Holy Spirit, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the nine supernatural gifts of the Spirit.
The 20th Century saw a whole series of spiritual movements each restoring a different aspect of the Church’s life. There was the Pentecostal movement, the Healing movement, the Charismatic movement, the Prophetic movement, the Apostolic movement, with several more still to come.
But all of this restoration is really simply preparation for what is coming upon the Church that Jesus is building. God is bringing the Church back to His original plan and pouring His life, once again, into the dead and dry bones of the institutional church. He is preparing the Church to be a new wineskin to receive the fast approaching move of the Spirit so that we can respond and participate in what is about to happen in the Kingdom of God.