Many believers grew up with the teaching that the world was almost at an end, says John Alley. Thus it was that the vision we have had for the nations has been limited. And yet, even while the church held this view, the kingdom of God was all the while advancing in the nations.
With the passing of the early apostles, says John, there began a decline in the doctrine of the church. Some have taught that following the restoration of the five-fold ministry the return of Christ would be imminent. However, this is not accurate, for apostles (and the apostolic nature of the church) are being restored not as the end in itself, but for the purposes of God through the gospel in the earth. Ultimately, it has always been about discipling the nations, and there is a great history yet to be written, with many, many biblical prophecies concerning the gospel and the Kingdom of Christ in the nations yet to be fulfilled. In any case, whilst there has been some progress in the restoration of apostles to the church, we have not yet seen the restoration of apostolic authority, only the wider acceptance of the idea of having apostles.
According to Ephesians 4, it is clear that Christ remains in His ascended rule at the Father's right hand and continues to appoint apostles etc “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ." In other words, there is much to be done. John appealed for the opening up of our minds to see that everywhere the whole weight of scripture had in view a very long history for mankind, the earth, salvation, and the glory of the Messiah in the nations.
John concludes his message with the thought that while the world is not about to end, for each of us individually life can be uncertain – we are each to live daily ready to meet God, while at the same time planning to live a long, fruitful life and working for the extension of God’s kingdom in the earth.
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