What God desires to gain in this age is the church, and this week we want to see the original condition of the church, the degradation of the church, and the recovery of the church.
According to Ephesians and to the experience of all those who seek God, there’s something hidden in the heart of God, which He desires to gain; this is the church. Because the church is hidden in God’s heart and it is His goal, we can’t take this matter lightly; we need to have a further seeing, a deeper seeing, and a more controlling and governing revelation when it comes to the matter of the church.
We need to be crystal clear that the church is God’s unique goal – God has no other goal, no other aim, and there’s nothing else in His sight but the church.
However, what has happened during the past two thousand years is the gradual disappearance, deviation, and complete removal from the mark of God’s economy, the church, and from God’s purpose.
Because the Christians did not see and were not governed by God’s economy to gain the church, they drifted away, were corrupted, and ended up in error with all kinds of apostasies.
There have been many genuine believers throughout the ages, many of whom were greatly used by God; however, while these were defending certain things and while they were being used by the Lord to recover certain matters, at the same time, due to the lack of seeing that the church is the final goal, they either didn’t get to that point, or they got stuck in other things.
Many have seen and recovered truths from the Bible, but because they didn’t see what God really wants, they were stuck in the emphasis of the things that God has used them to recover and defend, and the result was yet another Christian group or denomination.
We must see what God wants, and we must cooperate with Him for the recovery of the church. Yes, the Lord needs to recover the truth, life, and God-revealed Biblical practices, but the ultimate thing that He wants to recover is the church; truth, life, and Christian practices are all for the church.
The enemy has successfully veiled the believers throughout the ages with many veils, even good and biblical matters, that they would not see God’s desire and purpose to gain the church. God wants us to come back to His original intention, back to the way He ordained things in the beginning in the church.
There’s much degradation in the church, and throughout the centuries the church was degraded, so today we need the recovery of the church for God to obtain a corporate expression on earth.
The Lord’s Recovery of the Church brings us back to the Beginning for the Fulfillment of God’s Purpose regarding the Church
Our history in the Lord’s recovery is not that of an organization or of a movement; the Lord’s recovery is not a movement or an organization, but it is the Lord’s recovery of the church, His heart’s desire and purpose (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1).
The principle of recovery is seen in the Lord’s words in Matt. 19:8, “From the beginning it has not been so”. In this case, God ordained marriage between a man and a woman, but because of man’s hardness of heart, He allowed or tolerated divorce – but from the beginning it has not been so.
Recovery means to go back to the beginning; we need to go back to the beginning, receiving the Lord’s grace to go back to God’s original intention, back to what God has ordained in the beginning.
We are not here to be a super-church – we just want to be here by the Lord’s mercy going back to the beginning, back to what God has ordained, because in the beginning it was not as we see it is today.
The word recovery means that something was there originally, and then it was degraded, damaged, or lost; therefore, there’s the need to bring that thing back to its original state and to its normal condition (see Dan. 1:1-2; Ezra 1:5; 6:5). We simply want to come back to the original standard of God when it comes to the matter of the church.
When we speak of the recovery of the church, we mean that the church was there originally as God intended, but then it became degraded; therefore, there’s the need for the recovery of the church – there’s the need to bring the church back to its original state.
The church in its reality has never changed: the church is heavenly, Christly, and resurrectionly; however, the church as the expression of Christ on earth, in time and space, this has become degraded, deformed, deviated, and corrupted.
We are here to bring the church back to its original state. The Lord’s recovery of the church brings us back to the beginning for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose and original intention regarding the church (Eph. 1:4-5, 22-23; 3:9-11).
Our commission is this: the recovery of the church. Nothing else is as central as recovering the church and the church life to fulfill God’s purpose.
We see this in type in the Old Testament with the people of Israel, the greatest type of the church; they didn’t only experience deliverance from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, eating the manna in the wilderness, enjoying God’s leading, entering into the good land, and building the temple in the good land, but they also experienced losing the good land and the temple, and then returning to rebuild the temple.
They were in a certain original condition, but due to the corruption and idolatry and doing evil things in God’s eyes, Nebuchadnezzar came and captured them, took them away, and brought the vessels from the house of God into his own house.
But seventy years later, God stirred up the spirits of some of His people and the spirit of the king, and many returned to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. That return is the recovery in type; we are here for the recovery of the church, so that the church would come back to its original state, its normal situation in God’s eyes.
Lord Jesus, bring us back to the beginning, to Your original intention concerning the church. Save us from being in the degradation of the church; bring us back to the way You want the church to be. We are here for the Lord’s recovery of the church. We don’t want to be super-believers or a super-church – we simply want to be the church that You desire, the church according to Your original intention and purpose. Amen, Lord, bring us back the beginning for the fulfillment of Your eternal purpose and original intention regarding the church!
Seeing the Recovery of the Church in relation to God’s Intention and Satan’s Destruction
Why is the church today not according to God’s original intention concerning the church as revealed in the Bible? It is because, even though God has an intention and some accomplishments, Satan also has a work of destruction.
The New Testament clearly reveals that God has a definite intention, purpose, and goal regarding the church. First, God purposed to have the church, and then, He came in to accomplish His purpose to have the church (see Rev. 4:11; Eph. 1:4-5, 9, 11, 22-23).
The New Testament also gives us a clear record of how God’s enemy, Satan, came in to try to destroy what God has accomplished (see Matt. 16:18; 13:24-32). There are at least two aspects in which Satan tried to destroy God’s accomplishment: an inward aspect and an outward aspect.
Inwardly, Satan came in to damage and corrupt God’s people. Even right from the beginning of the church life, Ananias and his wife had his heart filled by Satan to lie to the Holy Spirit, and so the church was corrupted (see Acts 5:3).
We need to be vigilant today, because this kind of corrupting work is still being carried out by Satan even among us; if we are not careful, Satan can come in through the flesh, the self, the natural man, and our fallen human being and nature, to damage and corrupt the church.
The outward aspect of Satan’s work of destruction is his attempt to destroy God’s accomplishment (see Matt. 13).
The parables in Matt. 13 show how the enemy came in to sow tares in the midst of the wheat (false believers among the genuine ones), changed the pure unleavened bread into a leavened lump (by adding evil and idolatrous teachings to the church), and transmuted the nature of the mustard seed to make it a great tree.
Satan’s work is outwardly to destroy what God has accomplished. God has raised up the church with its pure nature and glorious expression, but Satan came in to change its nature and make it “the great tree” consummating in “the Great Babylon”.
May the Lord have a pure and genuine and holy recovery of the church!
Satan also produced many substitutes for Christ, he divided the Body of Christ, and he killed the function of the Body by the clergy-laity system (see Col. 2:8; Rev. 2:6, 14-15). He has a subtle strategic work to assault and destroy the church.
First, Satan made substitutes for Christ; today almost anything can be a substitute for Christ, including the study of Christ and good doctrines.
Then, he divided the Body of Christ in thousands of pieces – the many sects, denominations, state churches, and “churches” out there in Christianity today. The Body of Christ – which is the one expression of Christ, the Head – is now divided, cut up, and dismembered.
Finally, Satan killed the function of the members of the Body by the clergy-laity system. When the members’ function is killed the Body cannot be built up, for the clergy-laity system kills and annuls the function of each member.
But praise the Lord, nothing can change God’s mind or stop Him, for He is a purposeful God with an eternal purpose, and once He has determined to do something, no one and nothing can stop Him!
After Satan’s destruction, God comes in to redo the things that He has done before (Ezra 1:3-11; 6:3-5); this is the principle of the recovery, and this is the recovery of the church. Our God is unstoppable; He may be delayed or frustrated for a while, but nothing can stop God.
He will always come in to redo the things He has done before, and in the Lord’s recovery of the church He is doing just that. God is redoing what He has accomplished in His recovery; this is to bring back whatever has been lost and destroyed by Satan, and to recover the church according to His eternal purpose and original intention.
Lord, cause us to see and understand the recovery of the church in relation to God’s intention and accomplishment, and Satan’s work of destruction. May we realize what Satan has done to the church in his evil strategy both inwardly and outwardly, and may we stand one with You in Your word for the recovery of the church. Lord, we agree with You and we join ourselves with You for the Lord’s recovery of the church. Recover Christ as everything to us, the oneness of the function of each member of the Body. Gain the church according to Your eternal purpose and original intention!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Minoru Chen for this week, and portions from, The History of the Church and the Local Churches, ch. 1 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Recovery of the Church (2017 fall ITERO), week 2, The Original Condition of the Church, the Degradation of the Church, and the Recovery of the Church.
- Hymns on this topic:
# In eternal ages purposed / That His wisdom be made known, / Was the Church, His hidden myst’ry, / Where the Son could make His home; / That the saints may all in spirit / Apprehend His boundlessness, / Know His love which passes knowledge, / All God’s fulness to possess. (Hymns #823)
# Praise the Lord, we’re in the Lord’s recovery— / Home at last, here in the church. / Praise the Lord, we’re in the new creation— / One new man, the end of our search. / With the saints, builded, coordinated; / No more I, forever “we.” / We are one in the Son, standing here till He comes; / Yes, nothing can stop our God till He’s done! (Hymns #1256)
# We are for the Lord’s recovery / Of the local church; / We are for the Lord’s recovery / Of the city and the earth. (Hymns #1255)
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