The Process of Apostolic Reformation
by Michael Barrett
There is a real need for understanding regarding the process of reformation generally and specifically as it relates to the apostolic. We need to gain the Lord's view of not only what this reformation is but also how this reformation will come about. We must understand that the process of reformation is at the same time supernatural and miraculous but by no means immediate. There are laws that apply in the Kingdom of God such as seed time and harvest. Jesus taught us that the Word of the Kingdom was seed, blade, ear and full corn in the ear. If we fail to understand the process we will not be able to cooperate with it or we will assume we are where we're not. There is joy in the journey if we understand the process.
Also, God uses people in the process of reforming His Church. It's like remodeling a house. The product may seem miraculous but it in fact isn't a miracle. The product of a reformed Church isn't a miracle though it really is miraculous when you see people respond to the grace of God and the outcome of that response expresses Heaven's will. The process of apostolic reformation, just as all that God does, involves the will and choice of men. Very often I find that I am waiting on people to come on line so that the thing I have seen in the Spirit can be administrated on the earth. "Don't be weary in well doing" is the admonition of scripture and the promise offered for perseverance is, "we will reap in due season if we do not faint" (Galatians 6:9).
Early Morning Hours of the Third Day
We need to be aware of the stage or phase of reformation we are currently in. By so doing we will gain understanding which will enable us to be patient and even thankful during the process. If you think in terms of 1000 years being as a day to the Lord, we are in the 3rd day since the Cross. However, it would be a mistake to forget that we are in the early morning hours of the third day. In the early morning hours of any day the light is just beginning to dawn. The condition is a mix of old and new; light and dark. In the dawning new day things are obscure and our view is limited. We have the promise of the light of the new day but we have no alternative but to wait for the light. A beautiful verse of scripture in Proverbs 4:18 from the Amplified Bible gives me hope in the new day. It says, "But the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines more and more (brighter and clearer) until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day [to be prepared]. We are in the dawning of a new day but have the promise of God for our day to reach its full strength and glory! We can be sure that our Faithful Father will finish what He has started; He will perform His whole will and have His way fully!!
There is revelation for our day that wasn't needed by former generations and consequently wasn't given to men by the Lord (see Ephesians 3:5 and 1 Peter 1:10-12). God gives us our daily bread. Bread for the day. You don't get tomorrows bread today--you will get it tomorrow. We must be careful to position ourselves as Bereans and not Athenians. The Athenians were always looking for some new thing (Acts 17:21). The Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) were noble people who studied the scriptures daily. How often in the scriptures do we find the language, "and the word of the Lord came to" or some variation of this idea. The point is that God speaks to His people when His people need to be spoken to. Oh brothers and sisters get this! God will speak to you when you need to know the thing. There is revelation for our day that is being given to us that hasn't been given to others because there was no need for them to have it. Contrarilly, there is revelation reserved for those who will follow us that we have no right to or need of. We must be careful that we don't lust for what it isn't time for us to have. At the same time, we must press in to all that the Lord has ordained to give us for our day!
Glimpse or Gaze?
In Song of Solomon there is a truth or principle that I believe will help us gain understanding. SOS 2:9 says, "My beloved stands behind our wall and shows himself through the lattice." There is real revelation contained here that will help us understand process. This scripture says that our Beloved stands behind "our wall" and shows himself "through the lattice." (Click here to see article "Through the Lattice" for more thorough treatment of this revelation). There are walls and lattice in every one of our lives. Walls of doctrine, theology, belief systems, pride, fear, and on we could go. Lattice of experience, hurt, disappointment, disillusionment, confusion, success, failure and again we could go on here. The walls and lattice obscure a clear view of our Beloved. Through the walls and lattice we get a glimpse of our Beloved. The problem arises when we have had a glimpse and believe we have seen clearly. Specific to the apostolic we have seen our Beloved in a glimpse and not a prolonged gaze. Is it time yet to write books and produce lengthy CD and tape series on the apostolic? Personally I don't think so. I don't say these things to judge those who have written books or produce materials about the apostolic, but to warn us to understand that we are just getting started with this thing. We must be patient and realize that we are very young in the apostolic. I have found a few helpful books on this subject but others I have found to be more of an extrapolation of sermons preached and lack real depth--thus they won't be particularly helpful to the Church. The risk with the later works mentioned is that leaders will take them seriously and attempt to build new models of work around the ideas contained in these works. To the leaders I want to say, we have nothing to lose and much to gain by being patient. To the saints I want to ask, please be patient with us as we continue to grow through this learning curve.
Keeping our eyes on the Prize
One of the main safeguards we should employ in the process of reformation is to maintain a clear intention to seek the Lord and not just the work of the Lord. The more we keep Jesus as first love and refuse to allow the work to slip into first place the safer we are. Keeping Jesus in and as the center will also insure that the product of the work we are doing will be as pure as possible. A brother wrote, "We're not just looking for a kingdom, we're looking for a King!" I whole-heartedly agree. We must labor to keep the priority of seeking the Lord first and He will add everything to us that is needed for our day (Matthew 6:33).
I can remember working on my uncle's farm in the summers as a young man. One of my responsibilities was to lay out the fields that were to be planted in rows. It was tricky to get the hang of this job. The older men would always say, "son, you don't look at the field to lay the first rows out." They taught me to pick out a fixed object at the other end of the field and concentrate on driving directly toward that fixed point. I can remember thinking that I was sure I could lay out straight rows by just driving the tractor in a straight line. So I would look at the steering wheel or the front wheels of the tractor in an attempt to go in a straight path. This never worked no matter how much I was convinced that it would. If I would pick out a tree or some other fixed object and focus on driving straight for it, the rows always came out straight.
Jesus is the fixed object that we must focus on during the process of the reformation of our day. Jesus is our Heavenly Apostle and we must fix our gaze on Him like never before.
I had an opportunity to visit with a brother once who had been a leader in a strong movement in our country which had fallen apart seemingly overnight. I asked him, "What went wrong?" He replied, "We learned how to have the church and forgot how to have the Lord!" Let leaders be warned that we, too, could learn how to have the church and forget how to have the Lord. Let's seek the Lord first. Let's keep our eyes on the Prize. Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. He is the Builder of the House and of His Church. God bless you richly as you continue to seek Him.
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