The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins that we might be rescued out of the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father (Gal. 1:4). This present evil age is not merely the outward material secular world, which is definitely evil, corrupted, immoral, and bad, but the present religious age of Christianity.
For Paul, the present evil age was Judaism; he was born as a Jew, he was raised up as a Jew, he was trained and schooled to be a proper Jew, and he practiced Judaism fervently until he met Christ – then, his life took a turn, and now he pursued to know Christ and considered all other things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
Paul repudiated Judaism and put aside the law, and he was made clear by the Lord that, even though Judaism was based on the word of God, it has become a present evil age which kept God’s believers from the full enjoyment of Christ and the building up of the church.
Therefore, Paul wrote the book of Galatians and right from the beginning he said, I marvel that you are so quickly removing from Him who has called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel… (Gal. 1:6).
Soon after the apostles preached the gospel to those in the churches of Galatia, some Judaizers came and preached a different gospel, teaching that the believers need to be circumcised and keep the law if they want to be saved. Even though the Lord Jesus never taught such a thing, because of the heavy influence of Judaism in the church life, the gospel these Judaizers preached was not the pure gospel of Christ but something else.
In the first century of the church life, the Lord has been much limited, oppressed, and hindered in what He wanted to do and speak because of the Jewish religion, which has pervaded the churches in Judea and Jerusalem. Therefore, the Lord had to eventually wipe out the city of Jerusalem and thus eradicate the Judaistic influence on the church so that the gospel would be preached in a pure way according to God.
Today, the present evil age which limits the Lord in fulfilling His purpose is the deformed and degraded Christianity, who has the name of God and the word of God but at the same time it has a lot of evil, unclean, diluted, and polluted things which transmuted the nature of the church into something that God did not intend it to be. Oh Lord Jesus, may we see the present evil age and be purged of any element of religion in Christianity!
The Eschatology of the Church involves the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, and the Original and Recovered Church
“Eschatology” refers to the history of the end times, the final destiny of the world; there is not only an eschatology of the world (the study of the end of the world) but also an eschatology of the church (the study of the end of the church – see Rev. 11:15; 12:10; 21:2, 10-11; 22:16).
We need to realize that the Lord has a recovery: the church is not according to God’s original intention, and throughout the ages the Lord has raised up many believers to recover aspects of the truth and proper practices according to the divine revelation, and today we have the Lord’s recovery with the crucial points of the major items.
However, the recovery the Lord is carrying out is in a certain context, which is the present evil age of Christianity with all kinds of organisations, religions, and institutions. The present evil age of Christianity is huge, powerful, and influential.
The genuine church that the Lord is recovering and maintaining until He returns exists not only in the world but also in Christianity; we are surrounded by the religious system in Christianity, and the Lord will not remove this present evil age until He returns.
The eschatology of the church – the study of how the church and the present evil age ends – involves the Catholic Church, the Protestant church (including all the other Christian religions, denominations, sects, and free groups), and the original and recovered church.
The original church is what the Lord Jesus formed and the apostles established after the Lord’s ascension; however, even while the apostles were still living, the church fell from its original state to a degraded state, a deformed state, and even a transmuted state.
This is the reason why Peter, Paul, and John wrote their second (and sometimes third) Epistles: they wanted to deal with the degradation in the church and cooperate with the Lord so that He would recover the church back to God’s original intention.
However, degradation continued until there was such a thing as a “Catholic Church” with the Pope as its head, and then the Bible was locked and put away for many years. One day, however, the Lord showed Martin Luther the truth concerning justification by faith in Romans, and since then a reformation, a further recovery, has started. However, Martin Luther’s followers formed yet another religion, the Protestant churches, which will continue until the Lord returns.
At the same time, however, the Lord is continuing His work of recovery; He raised up many men who recovered the main truths in the Bible, and in these last days He raised up brother Watchman Nee and brother Witness Lee to recover us back to Christ and the church on the local ground of oneness.
These three churches, the Catholic Church, the Protestant church, and the original and recovered church, will all continue until the Lord returns, and they are part of the eschatology of the church.
Lord Jesus, continue Your recovery work in us. Save us from being in a systematized religion or part of the deformed and degraded Christianity. Lord, rescue us from this present evil age and keep us on the genuine ground of oneness with the saints in the church life in Your recovery! Lord, fully bring us back to God’s original intention concerning Christ, the church, the Christian life, and God’s economy. Keep recovering us until You can fully fulfill Your purpose and accomplish Your economy among us in the church life!
The Recovered Church is the Original Church, the Church according to the Divine Revelation
After the apostles preached the gospel and established the churches, they set up elders in every city to take care of the saints, and they continued their gospel work. The original church was set up in a sick and unhealthy situation, and many people came in to bring in heretic teachings, wrong practices, sins, and all kinds of problems, to the extent that, even during the apostles’ living on earth, the original church has become degraded and deformed.
In Corinth there was sin, division, sects, little growth in life, and many other problems; later, there were even more problems, with some coming in to distract the saints from Paul and his ministry. Therefore, Peter, John, and Paul wrote their second epistles to deal with the degradation of the church in order to recover the church back to God’s original intention. The church was sick with Judaism and Gnosticism, and so God used the apostles to write their epistles to expose the sickness and remove it.
For example, in 1 Tim. 3:15 we have the church as the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth, but in 2 Tim. 2:18-21 the church is likened to a great house in which there are vessels both of gold, silver, and of wood, and some of them are used for honor while others for dishonor; some like Hymenaeus, Philetus, and other false believers were dishonorable vessels in the church.
Eventually Paul said, All those who are in Asia turned away from me (2 Tim. 1:15), that is, they turned away from his ministry. The original church was degraded, but at the same time the Lord was working and speaking to recover the church.
Throughout the ages, even after the formation of the Catholic Church and their persecution of the genuine believers, the Lord has raised many seeking believers to recover the truths in the Bible such as justification by faith, worshipping God in spirit, the power of the Spirit, the proper church life, the proper study and enjoyment of the Lord in His word, the Lord’s table, the deeper truths in the Bible, the Spirit, the experience of the inner life, the experience of the cross, revival, and many other items.
The Lord raised up and used people like John Wycliff, John Huss, Peter Cheltschizki, United Brethren in Bohemia, Kasper von Schwenckfeld, Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Fox (A.D. 1624-1691), Jean de Labadie (A. D. 1610-1674), Madame Guyon (A.D. 1648-1717), William Law (A.D. 1686-1761), Count Zinzendorf (A.D. 1700-1760) and the Moravians, John Wesley (A.D. 1703-1791); Charles Wesley (A.D. 1707-1788), John Nelson Darby (A.D. 1800-1882) and the British Brethren, Robert Govett (A.D. 1813-1901), G.H. Pember (A.D. 1837-1910), D.M. Panton (A.D. 1870-1955), Andrew Murray (A.D. 1828-1917), Jessie Penn-Lewis (A.D. 1861-1927), The Welsh Revival (A.D. 1906), and finally brother Watchman Nee and brother Witness Lee to recover the major truths in the Bible and bring the Lord’s recovery on to obtain the recovered church back to God’s original intention.
Especially in the last age God has raised up brother Watchman Nee to recover the ground of the church (and many other aspects) and brother Witness Lee to recover the economy of God, and in the church life in the Lord’s recovery we are being brought back to God’s original intention to enjoy Christ as our life, live Christ and express Him, have a personal touch with the Lord, fellowship with the saints in oneness, stand on the local ground of the church, and build up the Body of Christ for the fulfillment of God’s purpose.
Praise the Lord, by His mercy today we are in the recovered church, the church according to the divine revelation in God’s word!
Lord Jesus, thank You for bringing us into Your recovery, Your process to recover the church back to its original condition according to Your divine revelation. Oh Lord, we take Your word into us by means of all prayers and petition, and we want to enjoy You, be filled with You, and be in the fellowship of the Body on the ground of oneness. Lord, recover the church back to Your original intention, and keep us in this process of Your recovery!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, brother Ron Kangas’ sharing in the message for this week, and The Eschatology of the Church (pp. 1-5), by Witness Lee, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Crucial Points of the Major Items of the Lord’s Recovery Today (ITERO 2015 fall), week 9 / msg 9, The Lord’s Recovery versus the Present Evil Age and the Eschatology of the Church.
- All Bible verses are taken from, Holy Bible Recovery Version.
- Recommended further reading: see the history of the Lord’s recovery via, lordsrecovery.org – very enlightening, with many details of the spiritual history. Also, see A brief presentation of Biblical eschatology (article in Affirmation & Critique).
- Hymns on this topic to strengthen this burden:
# 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)
# Christ has called us once to Him, / But He calls us once again. / To His call we say Amen! / Overcome! / For the church has fallen low, / Thinking everything they know, / But the life is missing; so, / Overcome! / Overcome! Overcome! / Overcome degraded Christianity! / All your working lay aside, / All the teachings that divide; / Eat the Lord whate’er betide— / Overcome! (Hymns #1273)
# God has saved me from the world; / I’ll never go back anymore… I’ve come out from Babylon / I’ll never go back anymore. / …Since I found the local church, / I’ll never go back anymore. / … I’m for God’s recovery; / I’ll never go back anymore. (Hymns #1127)
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