We are speaking here of restoration in the church; a restoration of lost faculties; of the bringing once again into being the wonderful powers and potentialities of the Kingdom of God as manifest realities.
The desire of the Apostle Paul for the Ephesians is expressed in Eph 3:19 when he said, “that you might come to know practically through experience for yourselves, the love of Christ which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience. That you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God, that is, may have the richest measure of the Diving Presence and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself.”
Here the Bible differentiates between knowledge with experience and knowledge without experience. Knowledge with experience means being filled with the manifest Divine Presence. We might come to know the physiology of a man by dissecting a dead body, by taking it apart and examining it in all of its analytical parts, but we could only know the real nature of the man as he was a living entity, manifesting his life through his faculties. Likewise, it is impossible to be flooded with the Divine Presence of God without there being a manifestation of the nature of the life of God. The life of the eternal Father which was revealed in Him, the Christ individually would be no different than the expression of the same Life in the church in the corporate sense.
We find in the Bible that God wants to bring this present consciousness that we have eternal life in the Christ; it becomes a settled fact and that’s what we mean when we speak of salvation. We don’t mean that we are working toward being saved, but that we have received a salvation that completely takes away the consciousness of sins and gives one a right standing before God through the salvation and justification that’s peculiar to the cross of Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection.
Now it is a great joy to know that Jesus Christ holds the keys of life. But how about us? How about the people who find themselves bound in time and subject to the vanity of the world? Here the wonderful mystery of God’s redemption begins to unfold when He said, “I will give to YOU the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. I will share my heritage with you. I will lift you from the dust into deity and make you a part of My very own throne.
Now a key is a symbol of power and of authority, a delegated right to use the powers of the realm of God. The Bible speaks of this as partaking of the powers of the age to come in the sixth chapter of Hebrews. Meaning that we do not have to wait for the world to come to participate in its powers, but that we can participate in its powers here and now by the operation of the Holy Spirit. This authority extends into all spheres. It is the power that unlocks the depths of human personality and straightens out all the crooks and snarls peculiar to the fall of man. It is a power that goes down below the very threshold of a human life and straightens it out and breaks down the middle walls of partition in the place where they need to be broken down, and brings a glorious unity and harmony in the Spirit, physically, psychologically and physically. It is a power that on occasion has controlled the very elements of creation. It has walked on the water; stilled the storm; caused the sun to stand still. It has parted rivers and seas; not by defying the laws of creation, but by an operation of a higher law of causation, even the law of creation itself. This same power has put the forces of corruption into reverse and replaced the rotten flesh of the leper with the healthy flesh of a healthy person.
These keys of the kingdom cause the believer to become sensitive to the realm of the Spirit of God. The amazing this is God designed the church to be the people through whom these powers would be expressed. The book of Acts is the record of the extension of the ministry of Jesus Christ into the church, the body of Christ. It marks a people who were moved upon by the Holy Spirit; a people who imparted healing to the sick; a people who even, on occasion, raised the dead; a people who translated the scriptures into terms of manifest reality.
Throughout the book of Acts, and throughout the epistles of Paul, in fact it is impossible to read the New Testament, or even the Old Testament as far as that goes, without finding the fact of God’s manifest reality and His Divine Presence. A quotation of Psalms 16 and 8 in Acts 2 28 expresses the purpose of God in these words when it declares: “You have made known to me the ways of life. You will enrapture my soul with joy with and in Your Presence.” By this we see that the keys of the kingdom are designed of God to bring a twofold revelation to our understanding. One, a revelation of God, the extent of His power, what is or is not His will in the exercise of that power in the affairs of man.
Now I mean by that, is it God’s will to heal us if we are sick; is it His will to deliver us if we are bound? Is it His will to bring us up our of frustration? Is it His will to bring us out of religious strivings, dead works? Is it His will to bring us up out of the rituals and symbolic things peculiar to the church of today into the glorious liberty of the children of God, where He becomes a manifest reality even in the presence of His divine nature. Yes, I declare to you, it is His will to bring us out of the first grade into the second, and on up into the maturity of the understanding of the Word. It is His will to bring us up out of the thinking of childhood into the thinking of mature Christian, manhood in the Living God.
Now, second, we find that the keys of the kingdom were designed to bring a revelation of man. Sometimes we recognize that God wants to reveal Himself, but we don’t recognize that God wants also to reveal man. By this I mean: what part does man play in his relationship with God? What an man expect to become as an operative reality in and through his life as an instruments of God?
Now by these statements we don’t have to look very hard to see that our generation does not even know the meaning of the word “church.” The word church today means steeples, images, crosses, a cast system of clergy and laity, priest and people. The truth of the ministering body is completely veiled and overshadowed by symbols and ritual, and by a lack of experimental, demonstrated knowledge of the living God. So, therefore, when the prophet of old spoke of a revelation, he spoke of God once again, in the end of the age, bringing forth His presence in the midst of His people as a demonstrative fact before humanity, that He is the God of redemption, and that He has performed a complete redemption upon the cross; body, soul and spirit.
When we think of ministry today we thing of that vocation or profession that results from a long process of secular training. The power of the divine Gift has been pushed completely into the background but, thanks be to the God of restoration, He is moving today to restore the celestial song in the midst of His people, and is calling them to take their harps off the willow trees and to come out of a strange land, and to once again sing the song of the Lord. He is restoring apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers whose very passion is to bring all the people into their spiritual ministry. He is restoring the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the mighty fruit of the same Spirit. This is the premise upon which the age will be consummated.
God has declared the old order obsolete because it has lost its usefulness, and is restoring an anointed body in the earth. This body of believers is the meeting place of all people. In it there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, as far as God having preference for one above another. The powers of this age are doomed to pass away as we see the day of man closing and the light of the day of the Lord breaking through the earth’s gloom. The Lord shall renovate the earth of evil and shall manifest a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness.