Early in the history of the Church we began to see things disappear from the life and fabric of the Church. Then for about 1600 years, slowly but surely, the Church lost a drastic number of vital, life-giving ministries, doctrines, gifts, and callings. The study of the order in which these things – from the ministry of the apostle to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and so much in-between – were lost, stolen, and disappeared is an exciting journey through history and made a serious “history buff” out of me. The Church lost a great number of ministries and a depth of understanding that robbed her of much of the very life and nature of God and certainly derailed her in the pursuit of fulfilling her mandate to “go into all the world and make disciples...” (Matthew 28:19).
However, the Scriptures state that we are in a “time of restoration” (Acts 3:21) During this time (1650’s until now) God has been restoring that which was lost in and to His Church. The interesting thing is that He is restoring or adding back what was lost in the opposite order in which they disappeared. That which was lost last was restored first – and so on through to the season in which we now live. We are well on the way to seeing the Church restored to its fullness as there are just a few things left to restore and bring to full functionality and then the Lord can return. Thus the Bible states: “He (Jesus) must remain in Heaven until the restoration of al things, as He promised long ago through the prophets.”
Throughout this time the Church has continued to be the ‘light of the world’ and the ‘salt of the earth.’ The Bride of Christ has continued to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and seen people come to a glorious salvation found only in Jesus Christ. God never disappeared from the scene. Many of the things now being restored have existed in small isolated pockets of the true Church even as they were totally annihilated from most of mainstream Christianity. But, in general the Church was crippled and did not fulfill her calling to win souls and transform lives in every nation, tribe, and tongue.
As I look back into the years that I have been alive God has been hard at work restoring a great deal of truth to His Church. The key ones I want to highlight are the restoration of the full five-fold ministry. The Church for many centuries had been led by priests and pastors. These were solo leaders who carried the weight and responsibility of the local churn and the ministry of that church on their shoulders. All that began to change in the early 1940s and has continued to change decade-by-decade ever since. Let me give you a brief summary of what has been added back – only with respect to the biblical ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)
Between 1940 and 1950 God restored the ministry of the biblical pastor
Between 1950 and 1960 God restored the role, function and ministry of the evangelist and thus the evangelistic ministry
Between 1960 and 1970 the Lord restored the ministry of the teacher
The prophetic ministry and the role and function of the prophet was restored during the 1980’s
And, since the middle of the 1990’s God has been at work restoring the ministry of the apostle
The apostles are being raised up and equipped to lead the Church that Jesus is building into her glorious future. They are being given an understanding of what that Church will look like and how it will function. They are Master Builders (Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:10) and thus have the strategic master plan to strengthen and build the Body of Christ in every nation of the world in this season of the Church.
We are living in seriously exciting time…