An Encore Presentation
Reformation means: to right the wrong; to remedy error; to be returning to a rightful course; to rescue from erroneousness. The Greek word rendered reformation (diorphosis) means emendation, improvement, reform. It refers to putting a thing back in correct or upright condition; making it better; or raising up and restoring that which is fallen down. A "hapax legomenon", this word is mentioned only once in the N.T. found in Hebrews 9:10 which says, "but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation." This is unmistakably refering to the gospel setting all things right in Christ Jesus--our once for all sacrifice for sins compared to the old covenant (cp, Acts 3:21; Hebrews 8:8-12; 9:23).
There are a few things that historically and biblically mark or accompany true reformation and revival:
- Conviction, contrition, and confession of sin
- Repentance that is more notorious than ones transgressions
- Prayer that is urgent and unceasing
- Renewed loving of, long for, obedience to, and craving of God's Word
- Uncompromised preaching and teaching of God's Word
- Recovery of boldness in proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Refutation and correcting of aberrant teaching, skewed doctrine, and theological error
- Worship that is unfeigned in spirit and truth
- And finally, authentic evangelism - lasting regeneration, a heavenly work by the Spirit of God
John Wycliffe once wrote, as recalled by J,C, Ryle, concerning our duty to the Word of God:
"The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered!To contrast, in the market driven, research rich, church growth, seeker sensible, emergent, political language of today, I offer in 'tongue and cheek' fashion the following:
A church which does not honor the Bible is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire. A minister who does not honor the Bible is as useless as a soldier without arms, a builder without tools, a pilot without compass, or a messenger without tidings. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word."
Based upon extensive research and analysis conducted by "The Evangelical Conservative Research Institute for Postmodern Cultural Analysis and Change" has revealed the conclusive information on the following areas: the natural tendencies and impulses of mankind; global effect of cultural influences; postmodern trends and their impact on religion; the contextualization of methodological inroads to the most unreceptive of all unchurched people groups; and morality in support of family values through political alliances, lobbying, and religious pacs.IOW, what the Bible plainly says about ministry for today in the following three keys areas. May we all be driven to the efficaciousness of God's Word in ministry once again:
Those that have adhered to their findings have greatly increased their church growth potentiality and seen dramatic increases in the number of baptisms (especially in SBC churches) within a three to five year period.
This is the most advanced research ever conducted on these subjects known to modern man. It is absolutely authoritative; without cultural, political, social, prejudice or bias; and has been proven without variance over a significant period of time.
THE NATURE AND STATE OF ALL MANKIND:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Romans 3:10-18, 23
Rom. 3:10 as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
Rom. 3:11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
Rom. 3:12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
Rom. 3:13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
“THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
Rom. 3:14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
Rom. 3:15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
Rom. 3:16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
Rom. 3:17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
Rom. 3:18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Eph. 2:1 ¶ And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
Eph. 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Eph. 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
HOW TO IMPACT THE CULTURE FOR CHRIST: (HOW THE APOSTLE PAUL DEFINED BEING MISSIONAL):
“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
1 Corinthians 2:2
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
1 Thessalonians 2:2-8
“But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
1 Timothy 1:12-19a
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”
2 Timothy 1:8-9
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
THE FACE OF GENUINE MINISTRY IN POSTMODERN TIMES:
2 Corinthians 4:1-7
2Cor. 4:1 ¶ Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
2Cor. 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
2Cor. 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
2Cor. 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2Cor. 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
2Cor. 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2Cor. 4:7 ¶ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
The church around the world needs reformation, repentance and revival. We need to realize that no one (apart from the means of grace) through contextualization, methodology, innovative programs, pragmatic agendas, seeker sensible or seeker sensitive techniques, by striving to be relevant, can ever add one soul to the kingdom, can ever grow the real church, or invoke spiritual maturity in another true believer in the Lord. Apart from Him, we can do nothing beloved (cp, John 15:5; 1 Cor. 3:1-7). The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the architect of the church; He is the one who adds to it daily such as to be saved; He is one who is the chief cornerstone; He is the foundation; and He alone is the head of the church. He is our life, our peace, our hope and our salvation.
We need to get back to doing ministry His way, according to His Word, empowered by His Spirit, and doing all things for His glory alone. Genuine biblical ministry is not that complicated or difficult to understand folks. Though serving the Lord is challenging and frought with many obstacles and trials; may we always remember that it is His work we are about and, therefore, our labor and toil are not in vain.
It is not about us beloved, it is all about Him.
“Oh Lord, send us a new reformation, another Great Awakening in our day. Revive the hearts of Your people, bring us godly sorrow leading to repentance and bearing the fruits of repentance.”
Soli Deo Gloria,
2 Peter 1:3-12