THE LINE OF THE LORD’S RECOVERY
The two terms reformation or restoration are not so adequate. The proper word should be recovery. According to the human mind, Martin Luther brought the reformation in. But actually in God’s eyes he was used by God to recover only a part or one aspect of Christ. He was used by God to recover the aspect of justification by faith. Actually that was the recovery of Christ as our righteousness. That "utensil" had gotten lost. That utensil in the holy temple had been carried away by Catholicism into Babylon. Then God used Martin Luther to bring that utensil back. Justification by faith is actually Christ as our righteousness. That aspect was one of the leading utensils in God’s temple. But it was carried away by Catholicism and lost. Then God came in to use Martin Luther to bring this utensil back.
Actually, the recovery began when Paul was on this earth. When he wrote 2 Timothy he wrote in a sense of recovery. At that time the church had been ruined already. So Paul wrote 2 Timothy to recover and inoculate the corrupted church life with the truth. That was a recovery.
The Apostle John, who wrote his books about twenty-five years later than Paul, also wrote to recover. The Gospel of John was written to recover, his Epistles were written to recover, and Revelation was written to recover. By reading the seven epistles in Revelation, you can see that they are recovery epistles. Some of the churches had become corrupted and lost their testimony, so the seven epistles were written to recover them. From the end of the first century the recovery began, and it has not stopped to this day. By reading church history you can see that the recovery has been going on in every century. From the end of the first century until today there is a line of the Lord’s recovery. This recovery has been increasing all the time. The Lord’s recovery has never been in such an intensified scale as it is today. Although the Lord’s recovery existed even before Martin Luther, it was not noticed by the worldly people because it was hidden.
History tells us that the Catholic Church killed more Christians than the Roman Empire did. This means that the Lord was doing a recovery work there, and the Catholic Church was killing people who would take care of the recovery. Through all those centuries under the Roman Empire and under the Roman Church the recovery was going on strongly and forcefully. The Roman Church utilized the secular rulers to kill the recovery people. The Church of England burned some faithful ones. Madame Guyon was in the recovery, and she was put into prison by the Catholic Church. John Bunyon, the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, was persecuted by the Church of England. These are examples of the recovery people.
THE RECOVERY OF THE CHURCH LIFE
The Lord’s recovery of the church life began to be apparent with Zinzendorf two and one-half centuries ago. He practiced the church life as part of the recovery in Bohemia. Then later in Britain the Brethren received even more light concerning the church, and they practiced the church life in a fuller way than Zinzendorf had. Now today we also are practicing the church life. Zinzendorf practiced the church life in the 1700s, the Brethren practiced the church life in the 1800s, and today we are practicing the church life in the 1900s. We consider this as three steps: Zinzendorf’s practice, the Brethren practice, and now the practice among us. Of course, the recovery is getting fuller and richer as it progresses.
(Concerning the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)