God's Agenda for the 21st Century

GOD’S AGENDA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY is an important message dealing with the need for unity, what it will take to restore the foundations, and reform the Lord’s Church. During 2002 and 2003 I shared this strategic message with apostolic fathers and church leaders in Kenya during the 14 months in which my wife and I lived there. The fathers of various streams of churches throughout that African nation were united in declaring, “This is the message that we need to hear today!” I have also shared it with church fathers and leaders in Nigeria and throughout South Africa over the last several years.

Most recently, I ministered this same message in an “Apostolic Dialogue” hosted by Apostle Manfred North Peigan for the Province of Alberta at the Church On The Rock in Brocket, Canada.

GOD’S AGENDA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY


I.  God is pouring out His Spirit today!

Beginning with Azusa and continuing to the present hour the Lord has been faithfully pouring out His Spirit in order to awaken His people to the Kingdom and to cause us to rise above the things that have divided us and come together as one people in the earth. (It is obvious and noteworthy to anyone who truly cares that Christ’s Kingdom has been hi-jacked by religion and the Church divided into denominations and religious sects.)

During the later years of his ministry J. “Ern” Baxter often observed, "there has been more Holy Spirit activity in the 20th century, than in any century since the first."

Truly, the Lord Jesus continues to pour out His Spirit to revive, restore and reform His Church!

God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the great three-in-one, have an awesome agenda! It is to raise up the Lord’s Church, called by the prophets Zion, the New Jerusalem that has been founded by the Lord Himself on the heavenly Mt. Zion, as the City on a hill, so that all nations will come to the light of the Church’s rising and fill the whole earth, every city and nation, with the glory of the sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God.

A.  Contrary to what many believe today the Church is not on the brink of destruction, nor on the threshold of the Second Coming of the Lord!

Instead we are on the threshold of a new millennium of unprecedented opportunity and challenge!

B. Christ ascended to fill all things. (Ephesians 4:8)

This is the divine purpose of the present administration of King Jesus; He ascended to fill all things.Christ is not coming back to inaugurate His Kingdom and fill all things; Jesus is coming back, Christ is not coming back to inaugurate His Kingdom and fill all things; Jesus is coming back, but He is coming back to consummate the great Messianic Kingdom that he has already inaugurated in life, death, resurrection, and in His glorious ascension!

But today, just as the apostle declared, the Lord Jesus is pouring out His Spirit, and distributing gifts to men, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints to do the work of His Kingdom until His body the Church fills all things.

Yes! Jesus is coming back, but not until the job is done!

C. The 21st century will be an apostolic century!
The foundations will be restored, and the Lord’s Church will be reformed as one holy apostolic Church, so that it can succeed in it’s mission to disciple cities and nations, and fill the earth with God’s glory.

II. However, this will not happen without an apostolic reformation.

A. Christianity is an apostolic movement.
It began and will end as an apostolic movement.  Jesus Christ is Himself the Apostle and High priest of the Church’s faith. He chose the 12 to be the apostles of the Lamb, the foundations of His Church, the New Israel of God. After His ascension Christ Himself gave ascension-gift apostles to men, along with the other ministry gifts of prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. Sadly, many today mistakenly believe that apostles have ceased. (There are also many other erronious ideas today about the calling, ministry, and mission of apostles.) Many think that when the Canon of the New Testament was completed that the ministry gifts ceased. Amazingly those who believe this still believe in evangelists, pastors and teachers.

But in Ephesians 4 referenced above, Paul declared that the Lord will continue to give ministry gifts until the Church has grown up into the head and fills the earth with the glory of God. The last time I looked that still had not happened. In fact with the present mess we need more apostles today than ever before!

For several decades now we have heard much about an apostolic reformation. C. Peter Wagner and many others have written books, hosted conferences, built networks and coalitions seeking to restore the apostolic foundations of Christianity and reform the Lord’s Church. 

The “hottest” word in theology today is the word “apostolic”.

B. But whatever the case may be, it is actually foolish and counter-productive to talk about an apostolic movement in the 21st century without recovering the authentic revelation of Christ and His Kingdom that the Lord Jesus entrusted to those original apostles in the first century! This is the revelation of the mysteries of Christ and His Kingdom that Jesus called, “the keys of the Kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) and that He entrusted to His disciples during the forty days after His resurrection and before His ascension, as He opened the Scriptures and explained to them Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets.

What were those Kingdom or apostolic keys?

(See my article posted recently on this site on Peter’s Gospel. Also see my earlier article on “Recovering the Keys of the Kingdom”.  And for an in depth study of this subject see my ATS Course AD300, Recovering The Keys Of The Kingdom.)

C. Just as in the first century there were true apostles and false apostles, so also today there are true apostles and false apostles.

How do we know true apostles today? True apostles have the keys of the kingdom, the revelation of Jesus Christ entrusted to the Apostles of the Lamb and the Ascension-gift Apostles in the first century and preserved for us in the Canon of the New Testament. If a minister of Christ does not have the apostolic keys, the Messianic keys of David’s Kingdom, whatever else he may be, he is not an apostle!  He may have an apostolic calling, but until he has an accurate understanding of the revelation that Lord entrusted to Peter, Paul, and the Apostles of the first century, he has not been fully released to his apostleship.

This special, once-for-all revelation was the foundation of the early Church’s faith and also its unity! It will be so today!
There can be no true apostolic reformation of the Church in the 21st century without a restoration of the foundational revelation entrusted to those original apostles in the first century!


III. Finally, there can be no true apostolic reformation of the church without the restoration of the fellowship or communion of the apostles!
Think with me for a few minutes!

A. The greatest problem facing the 21st century is not the problem of evil!
Of course, evil is rampant: lawlessness and crime, sexual immorality, pornography and perversion, divorce and spousal abuse, drug abuse, the aids epidemic, racism, tribal warfare and genocide, Islamic Jihad and terrorism. But in spite of all these things, the greatest problem facing the 21st century is not the problem of evil!

God has an answer to evil! His answer is Christ, His Kingdom, and His Church!

Not just Christ! Not just Christ and His Kingdom! But Christ and His Church!

The greatest problem then is the problem of a divided church; our division keeps Christ’s Church from effectively combating and counter-acting evil and influencing and discipling the nations!

B. And the reason the church is divided is that denominational heads, church leaders and ministers of the Gospel are divided!

In addition to the foundational revelation of Jesus, as David’s Lord and King, and His present reign on the throne of David at the right hand of God the Father in heaven entrusted to those original apostles, the basis of the early Church’s unity was also the fellowship or communion of the apostles.

The highest spiritual or governmental authority in the early Church was not: The Senior Pastor and his board of elders or trustees, or an Episcopal Bishop and his presbyters, or even a single apostle and his apostolic team.

C. No! The highest spiritual or governmental authority in the early Church was the fellowship of the apostles that Jesus Himself established during the three and a half years of His earthly ministry. We read about this divinely established fellowship, this governmental body or “apostolate”, in Acts 1:14ff. (See also John 17, the High priestly prayer of Jesus for the importance of the unity of the Apostles to the unity of the Church throughout the ages.) We see this fellowship functioning powerfully in Acts 2: 44. Luke tells us that the three thousand who where baptized and added to the Church "continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship." Paul speaks of this foundational fellowship or brotherhood in Galatians 2, declaring that after he had submitted his apostolic revelation to Peter and those who were apostles before him that they gave him "the right hand of fellowship.” And John the beloved Apostle expounds on the importance this fellowship in I John 1:1ff, declaring "and our [speaking of his the fellowship of the apostles of the Lamb] fellowship is with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

This fellowship, this apostolic brotherhood, this communion of apostles, and its “apostolate” or governmental council was actually the basis of the early Churches unity and the governmental vehicle for maintaining it! (See for example Acts 15 and the circumcision question.) The allotments of believers (congregations or what we call “local churches") in the early Church all had the same basic doctrine and the same faith. They all had the same Kingdom experience of the baptism or infilling of the Spirit with speaking in tongues and prophesying. They all had the same governmental order or Church structure because the apostles and elders together governed the one Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world!

The early Church was one because the apostles were one! Against great opposition they worked together as spiritual fathers and as Christ’s overseers to extend Christ’s Kingdom and to lay the foundations of the Church’s faith and to structure and order it’s life throughout the Roman Empire. They humbly recognized one another and honored one another; they even submitted to one another; they actually worked together with one another in the fellowship of the apostles and as one functional “apostolate” or governmental body to extend Christ’s Kingdom and build His One Church in the earth.

D. If we are going to have an apostolic reformation in the 21st century, today’s apostles and Church leaders must humbly seek God together not only to recover the revelation of the Lord and His Kingdom entrusted to the apostles in the first century, but also the fellowship of the apostles and a fully functioning “apostolate”!

Emerging apostles must first: recognize, honor and submit to one another in the Lord; second, they must learn to seek the Lord together, so that together they might truly understand and recover the foundational revelation of Christ and His Kingdom entrusted to the original Apostles; and third, they must also work together as brothers to restore the fellowship or communion of the apostles, a fully functioning “apostolate” and global “eldership”, so that together they might not only extend Christ’s Kingdom throughout the earth, but also reform His Church so that it can function together as One New Man, a Holy Nation, a Kingdom of Priests!

It is going to take the whole Church, the spiritual army of God, connected through valid spiritual “eldership”, not just our little separated and independent troops or groups, to destroy the works of the devil and to possess the cities and nations of the earth! The army of God does not come out of one allotment or congregation. Christ’s great spiritual army comes out of Zion, the Jerusalem above, the General Assembly, the One Apostolic Church, and Holy nation.

If the 21st century is going to be an apostolic century, if we are going to have an apostolic reformation, today’s emerging apostles must learn to recognize, honor and submit to one another as brothers in the Lord and as fellow overseers of His House; they must diligently seek the Lord together to recover the revelation entrusted to the first apostles; they must work together to restore the fellowship of the apostles and a functioning “apostolate”; finally, as the Lord directs, they must work together not only to extend Christ’s Kingdom, but also to restore, restructure, reorder, and reform His Church in every city, region, and nation, so that the allotments of the Israel of God, connected spiritually and functionally through valid “eldership”, might shine forth as One Holy Apostolic Church throughout the whole earth.  Then and only then will the glory of God cover the earth as the waters cover the seas!

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