But this is a people plundered and looted;
they are all of them trapped in holes
and hidden in prisons;
they have become plunder with none to rescue,
spoil with none to say, “Restore!”
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Because God has purposed to restore the whole cosmos, he will first restore his church as the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Why? Because God has destined the church, as Christ’s Body, to be the “light of the world, the city set on a hill” (Mtt 5:14). Hence, as goes the church so goes the world. Truth falls in the streets because it has first fallen in the church.
Within the first several centuries the church fell from its high calling, particularly through its Constantinian settlement with its conflation of church and state. Nonetheless, Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mtt 16:18). And so, God’s work of reformation and restoration began. This took a quantum leap forward through the Reformation of the 16th century. However, that work is still in progress. From the magisterial Reformers (Calvin, Luther, Zwingli), the Anabaptists, down to Wesley and Whitfield, through to the 20th century Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Christian Reconstruction movements God has been restoring truth – “line upon line, precept upon precept” – to the experience of the church.
Prophetically speaking, God has been progressively restoring to the church’s experience the First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, set forth in Hebrews 6:1-3 and typified by the three Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23 (see 1 Cor 5:8):
- Passover—‘Christ our Passover Lamb’–’Repentance from dead works and faith toward God’ (Heb 6:1-3): 1517 Justification by Faith (Luther); Doctrines of Grace (Calvin).
Unleavened Bread & Firstfruits—‘Doctrine of baptisms’ (Heb 6:1-3)–Baptism in Water: 1500’s Baptism and the ‘gathered’ church (Anabaptists); 1700’s Practical Holiness (Wesley, Whitefield).
- Pentecost—‘Doctrine of baptisms’ (Heb 6:1-3)–Baptism in the Holy Spirit: 1906 Pentecostal Revival & 1960-70’s Charismatic Renewal; God’s law-Word for church & society–1960-80’s Reconstruction movement.
- Tabernacles—‘Corporate Maturity’ (Heb 6:1; Jn 17; Eph 4): ‘Laying on of hands, resurrection life, and eternal judgement’ (Heb 6:1-3)—Apostolic unity of the Body of Christ, Ingathering of the Nations & Re-grafting of the Jews, Dominion and Cultural Transformation – all yet to be fulfilled.