"Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations"
(Deuteronomy 32:7). This admonition, given to Israel through Moses,
required the children of Israel to examine their past and gain understanding
about the Lords ways.
This same admonition has even greater value today as we challenge ourselves
to understand our Christian heritage and learn about Gods sovereignty
and His dealings with man. While we do not want to live in the past,
we can examine and extract from the past, nuggets of wisdom concerning
Gods ways with His church.
Since the days of the Reformation, the Lord has brought a progressive
revelation of Himself to the church. This revelation has been line upon
line and precept upon precept continually unfolding fresh revelation
of Himself and His Word. This process is for the purpose of restoring
the church to her former apostolic authority as realized in the first
century church. As we consider the prior generations, we can relish
the revelation given to them and also learn from their mistakes in order
to avoid those same mistakes in our generation.
True Apostolic Ministry
Apostolic ministry can be defined as Jesus Christ manifested and abiding
in His church doing the same works through His church that He did while
living on the earth in human form. True apostolic ministry is a fulfillment
of John 14:12, with the Holy Spirit performing the same works through
the church that He did through the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus
There is a ministry of perfection coming to the church that will prepare
her for the return of the Bridegroom. However, before we can begin to
move toward this ministry, we must first "return back to our future"
and realize the complete restoration of biblical apostolic ministry.
This ministry will call out and separate the church from the world so
that she can be prepared in perfection for the Bridegroom.
In Joel 2:25, the Lord makes a wonderful promise to restore all that
the palmerworm, cankerworm, caterpillar, and the locust have destroyed
(KJV). These four stages of a maturing locust are used to prophetically
symbolize the way that the spirit of the antichrist would attack the
church. The early apostolic church is like a tree that the Lord planted
and nurtured to full fruit- bearing maturity. The spirit of the antichrist
is compared to a locust which devours first the fruit, then the leaves,
the bark and finally gnawing into the very heart of the tree in order
to destroy it. In church history, this final stage culminated in the
era known as the Dark Ages.
The Lords promise to restore the apostolic church began through
the ministry of Martin Luther and has now matured to a level so that
this generation can expect the complete restoration of biblical apostolic
ministry. This is our quest: to return back to the future.
When our Lord was on the earth, He chose the 12 apostles to groom and
prepare for the birth of His apostolic church. For three and one-half
years, He planted the seed of the Word of God within their hearts. When
the day of Pentecost had fully come, the Holy Spirit descended upon
them and watered the seed within their hearts, producing the life of
Christ and the apostolic church. This same process must be realized
in this church age as well.
Tokens of Apostolic Ministry
Throughout church history, there have been examples of true apostolic
ministry raised up by the Lord within the church. These individuals
attained a mature stature qualifying them as a dwelling place for the
Spirit of God through whom the Lord was able to function and do His
works. They were men and women so thoroughly filled with the Holy Spirit
that they exercised the Lords dominion over demons, disease and
death. These saints were true expressions of the life of Christ with
His divine nature radiating through them--men and women who were crucified
with Christ and lived by the faith of the Son of God.
Tremendous lessons can be learned by examining the lives of these spiritual
champions in order to determine the secrets of their success with God.
One example of true apostolic ministry can be found in the life of John
An Apostle of Faith
By every biblical definition, the life of John G. Lake demonstrated
the nature and characteristics of true apostolic ministry. John G. Lake
was a man who experienced apostolic ministry according to first century
standards and changed the world everywhere he went. He was a vessel
yielded to God as a habitation for His manifest presence. Through him,
the Holy Spirit was able to heal the sick, cast out demons, save the
lost, and manifest the very nature and character of Christ, displaying
that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews
13:8). The Great Commission was a reality, not a theory, in Lakes
ministry. Careful examination of his life will help the church to prepare
for the coming visitation and restoration of the apostolic ministry.
Having the Lords Potential
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into
the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears
much fruit" (John 12:24). When the time came for the Lord to be
glorified through the sacrificial offering of His life, He compared
His life with a grain of wheat. When a grain of wheat dies, it is for
the purpose of bringing forth multiplied grains of wheat like the original
The Bible teaches that when the Lord returns, we will be like Him. The
Holy Spirit residing in us will reveal the same attributes through us
that He did in the Lord Jesus Christ. This belief formed the cornerstone
for John G. Lakes life and ministry.
Lake believed that the Lord would not have commissioned us to do the
works that He did without adequately equipping us to do those works.
Lake commented, "We need to set our sights high and refuse the
traditions of men who say that it is impossible to do as Jesus instructed
True apostolic ministry is simply the extension of the ministry begun
by the Lord, our ultimate example. The power of redemption is so great
that sinners saved by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit are given
the opportunity of carrying on the very ministry of Christ, doing the
works that He did. John G. Lake is a token of this reality given to
the twentieth century. Our sights should be set equally high.
His Definition of the Apostolic Church
During the years preceding and following the turn of the twentieth century,
John Lake made a notable and revealing observation. There had been a
tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit with great manifestations of
power, signs and wonders. A generation of Christians was given an extraordinary
opportunity of witnessing the return of genuine apostolic ministry.
Lake discerned that his generation missed the mark by not realizing
the true definition of apostolic ministry. Some attempted to build an
apostolic church around the doctrine and manifestation of healing power.
Others attempted to establish the apostolic church around the restoration
of the gifts and speaking in tongues, while some attempted to create
and establish the apostolic order around the doctrine of holiness. All
of these qualities are attributes of the Holy Spirit and essential to
the church, yet not one singularly sustains apostolic ministry. Lake
observed that the people were absorbed in the phenomena of God and not
in the person of God.
According to Lake, the truest definition of the apostolic church could
be expressed in the awesome and reverential experience known as the
baptism of the Holy Spirit. He believed that the church did not regard
the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the reverence due an experience
so sacred and so terribly costly. In order to secure this gift for His
church, the Lord Jesus lived in the world, bled on the cross, entered
into the darkness of death, hell and the grave, grappled with and strangled
the accursed powers of darkness, came forth in resurrection life and
ascended to heaven.
Lake believed apostolic ministry was defined and realized through individuals
becoming the habitation of God. The Holy Spirit literally manifested
Himself in the spirit, soul and body of the believers, taking total
possession of His church and bestowing on her His qualities and attributes.
This process was not merely a reformation--it was a renewal. Men and
women were renewed by the Spirit of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit
and becoming one Spirit with Him. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was
not merely a gift of power, but of God Himself.
Out of necessity, Lake became acquainted with the healing power of God.
During the later years of the nineteenth century, he was miraculously
healed of a terminal illness, along with his wife, his sister and his
brother. This introduction to Gods miraculous power caused Lake
to begin a quest to not only know the healing of God, but to know the
God of healing. His desire was fulfilled, he describes, when he became
the habitation of God in a powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit.
His Baptism Experience
At the age of 16, John G. Lake came to know the saving power of Christ.
His salvation experience was very real as displayed by his changed life.
Many around him observed this change and said, "You are baptized
in the Holy Ghost."
While friends around him were saying that he had been filled with the
Holy Spirit, Lake experienced an almost unbearable hunger in his heart
for more of God. He began to pursue God and came to know the sanctifying
power of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of a layman named Melvin
Pratt. This precious brother introduced Lake to the washing of water
by the Word, and this process increased the richness and anointing of
Lakes life. Those around him acknowledged that surely he had received
the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet, Lake hungered for more.
Several years later, Lake was introduced to the healing power of God
through Alexander Dowie. After moving to Zion, Illinois to associate
more closely with Dowie, Lake received a tremendous impartation of the
healing power of God from the Holy Spirit. Many miracles and manifestations
of the Spirit followed. Those around Lake again tried to convince him
that he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
By the turn of the century, John G. Lake had undergone a powerful salvation
experience, an even more powerful sanctification experience, and an
impartation of the gift of healing. At each juncture, those around Lake
tried to convince him that he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit,
yet his heart burned for more of God than ever before.
Searching for that which would satisfy the longing of his heart, he
began to fast, pray and wait upon the Lord for nine months. At the end
of this period of prayer and fasting, Lake had an awesome experience
with the Lord. He knew then that he had been immersed in the Holy Spirit
and had finally become a dwelling place of God. His heart and soul were
now satisfied that the Holy Spirit was residing in him, speaking through
him, and saturating every fiber of his being.
Finally his heart was content that he had received the baptism of the
Holy Spirit which would produce the nature and character of Christ within
him. Lake believed, as the Scriptures taught, that this indwelling experience
now equipped him to carry on the ministry of Christ as did the early
During the winter of 1913, Lake presented a teaching to
the Church of England entitled, "Triune Salvation." This teaching
revealed a key secret to his power and intimacy with God.
So significant was its content that the Bishop of London wrote about this
message, "It contains the spirit of primitive Christianity and reveals
the distinction between the Christian soul of the first and twentieth
century, the Spirit of Christs domain, by which Christianity attained
its spiritual supremacy...It is one of the greatest sermons I have ever
heard and I recommend its careful study by every priest."
In this study, Lake revealed the important significance of our complete
redemption on all three levels of human life--spirit, soul (mind) and
body. I Thessalonians 5:23 declares, "Now may the God of peace Himself
sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved
complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Lake taught that it was the tendency of the average Christian to stop
at the redemption of their spirit. He believed that it was equally as
important for the believer to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify the soul
and the body in order for the individual to become the habitation of God.
The sanctification of the soul literally involves the impartation of the
mind of Christ. John Wesley defined sanctification as "possessing
the mind of Christ and all the mind of Christ."
This level of consecration is essential for the believers thoughts
to be perfectly in tune with the Lords thoughts and the Christians
ways consistent with His ways.
Complete sanctification of soul and mind also involves the renewal of
the emotions. Many believers are trapped in the tyranny of grief over
the past, not realizing that they are a new creation and that all things
have become new (II Corinthian 5:17), past failures erased by the blood
of Christ. Grief ultimately leads to bitterness, and bitterness will defile
many (Hebrews 12:15). Consequently, it is essential that the Holy Spirit
be allowed to thoroughly consecrate and sanctify the mind, and the emotions
in order for Christians to become the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.
This triune salvation also involves the separation of the believer from
all that would defile, recognizing that the body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit and should be consecrated accordingly. Romans 8:11 states,
"The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead will also give
life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you."
This imparted life granted through the indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit will provide divine health and freedom from the lusts that are
a result of mans fallen condition.
Lake taught that the genuine Christian is a separated person--separated
forever to God in all the departments of life: body, soul and spirit are
forever committed to God. This absolute consecration to God, or "triune
salvation," is the real secret to the successful Christian life and
essential to becoming the habitation of God. According to John G. Lake,
this complete consecration to God makes the Christian a "Christ-man"
and reveals the secret of life and communion with God received into the
entire being through the Holy Spirit.
Not Without Holiness
"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which
no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Without holiness, the
complete purposes of the church cannot be fulfilled. A Holy God can only
dwell in a holy vessel. Lake said, "Think not that thou shalt attain
the highest in God until within thine own soul a heavenly longing to be
like Him who gave His life for us possesses our own heart."
A holy and sanctified condition can only be realized when the fleshly
nature is revealed. Once the tares of the human soul are revealed, Christians
then can call upon the grace of God to separate from them all that is
ungodly, thereby purging the spirit, soul and body from every worldly
tendency. As Lake once put it, "There arises in the heart the desire
and prayer for the Spirit of God to eject, crucify and destroy every tendency
of the opposition of the Holy Spirit."
The hearts of men and women must be purged by the fire of the Holy Spirit
and washed from every stain by the cleansing blood of Christ. Those who
desire to be partakers of the nature of Christ must always feel the purging
power of Christ within. Once the Holy Spirit takes up residence, there
is a release of power through the indwelling Spirit to lift the believer
above the lusts and desires of this world in order to live a holy and
This desire for the purity of Gods nature reveals a vital ingredient
in the life and ministry of John G. Lake. As he stated in 1916, "Holiness
is the character of God. The very substance of His being and the essence
of His nature is purity." The purpose of God in the salvation of
mankind is to produce in man a kindred holiness, a radiant purity like
that of God Himself.
Clothed in a Spirit of Humility
Another important attribute in Lakes ministry was his commitment
to living in a spirit of humility. Lake often quoted I Peter 5:5: "You
younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe
yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the
proud, but gives grace to the humble." If the church is to "return
back to the future" to her true apostolic heritage, Christians must
adhere to the qualities demonstrated by the apostolic fathers.
In Acts 20:19, the Apostle Paul acknowledges his commitment to humility
in his service to the Lord. That commitment to humility by the first century
apostle burned equally as bright in the heart of John G. Lake, a twentieth
Lake desired to follow the example set by Moses and sought to be the meekest
man in the land. By virtue of this commitment to humility, he was able
to say, "the Spirit of God ran through my person like a river of
heavenly fluid. Cancers withered under my touch, cripples of every type
were instantly restored and works of creation in the bodies of men took
place as a result of humbling myself under the mighty hand of God."
Like Moses, he desired to not only see the acts of an awesome God, but
also to understand His ways. As a result, he discovered that the Lords
way was through servanthood and a spirit of humility clothing the believer.
It is only through amazing grace that the nature and works of Christ can
be exhibited through believers. God gives His grace to the humble. Humility
is truly a key ingredient to the restoration of true apostolic ministry
and the return of the Shekinah glory to the church.
The Empowering Presence
As with the first century apostles, John G. Lake did not attempt full
time ministry until he was endued with power from on high. Even though
the early apostles had received an anointing from the Lord for casting
out evil spirits and healing the sick, they did not become the dwelling
place of God until the day of Pentecost. It is one thing to receive anointings
or gifts from the Lord; it is altogether another to become the literal
dwelling place of the manifest presence of God.
Lake knew the reality of the empowering presence of God abiding within
him. He was anointed and equipped not only for ministering healing and
salvation to a lost world, but also for expressing the radiant presence
of a Holy God, or, as he explained it for, "becoming a Christ-man
having all the potentials through the Holy Spirit that resided in Christ
Lake spent a season of prayer and fasting specifically seeking a special
anointing for casting out demons. The Lord graciously responded to the
request of His servant by imparting a powerful anointing and the boldness
necessary for dealing with evil spirits. As a result, people came from
all over the world to be delivered and set free from demonic opposition.
Tremendous testimonies are on record as evidence of this ministry.
This empowering presence also carried Lake to a new level of understanding
Scripture. Powerful and revelatory sermons emerged from this apostle of
faith as he allowed the Holy Spirit to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom.
He had the capacity to inspire faith in the hearts of those who heard
him. A man without compromise when it involved the Spirits revelation
of the Word, Lake utterly refused to compromise the true revelation of
the Word for a false unity which he believed resulted in spiritual weakness.
He believed that principle is better than unity, and the ultimate end
of right principles would be true unity of the faith as described in Ephesians
Lake believed the secret to Christianity was not in doing but in being.
It is in possessing the divine nature of Christ and His empowering presence
that we become the reflection of Christs character and our message
will then be characterized by the demonstration of the Spirits power.
It is by becoming one with the Father that we can know peace in the midst
of storms. It is through the Lords abiding presence that we find
the secret place of the most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
We should earnestly contend for the apostolic principles found in the
first church and demonstrated in the life of John G. Lake. This generation
has the opportunity to experience the return of our faith to the apostolic
pattern. As we consider the days of old and the generations of long ago,
we can see firsthand the application of true apostolic ministry available
in the days to come.
Many thanks to Bob Jones and Keith Davis for permission
to post this article.