Thursday, November 01, 2007

Truth: The Absolute Necessity for Reformation
...recovering sola scriptura in the proclamation of the gospel

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
Unfortunately, many today that the Scriptures heralded, obeyed, and lived in the power of the Holy Spirit are not enough. They are deficient and inadequate to meet the needs of our comple, postmodern times. Thus, new movements like the emerging/emergent church spring up to try and address the needs of our time; but ultimately find themselves falling woefully short for their emphasis is more on the pragmatic than the eternal.

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!

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."
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:
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.

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.
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:

Psa. 51:5
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,

Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Ephesians 2:1-3
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.

Romans 1:14-17
“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.”

Galatians 1:6-10
“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.”

Ephesians 1:3-14
“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.”

Philippians 1:20-21
“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.”

Colossians 2:6-15

“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.”

Titus 3:1-8
“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.”

Philemon 1:4-6
“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.”

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


donsands said...

Thanks for sharing your heart of hearts, and the Word of truth. Another encouraging post.

Rick Frueh said...

The mysterious miracle is that a holy, infinite God could communicate His Truth through sinful, finite man, albeit through the Spirit Himself. And when we are gathered before the throne of the Eternal Word Incarnate and see His complete perfection, we will realize then what a monstrous sin it was to ever tamper with or add to the written Word, which was brought to man by the orchestration of Almighty God Himself.

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Steve,

In reference to the diagram at the top of this blog post, I think their heart is in the wrong place, so to speak!!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that "Heart Changed" should come before "True Repentance".

BTW, where did this diagram come from?


Michele Rayburn said...

I really enjoyed reading the blogs this week about the Reformation.

I came across some inspiring thoughts in an article by Joel Brueseke at called "Reformation" (Nov.1,'07). Here are some excerpts:

"There are two basic ways a person can go when he understands the perfect righteousness and holiness of God...

"At first, he [Luther] dedicated his life to try to live up to this righteousness. He struggled, strived, worked, prayed, and he even entered the monastery. But in all of this, he found he just couldn't live up to it and he did not find the peace of God.

"Through his struggle, he finally came to understand that his striving and his works could never gain him favor with such a perfect and righteous and holy God. The more he tried, the more he understood just how righteous and holy and perfect God is and how far he fell short of it.

"Understanding the perfection of God should lead a person to understand that it's impossible for man to live up to it! Fortunately, all of this eventually led Luther to the grace of God.

"One other comforting and reassuring thing I heard...has to do with how God used various "reformers" in ways in which they didn't set out to be used by Him.

"...Luther...didn't set out to start a mass reformation of the church...he didn't set out to change the world as we know it. But through his actions and the actions of the other reformers, the world was changed. The church began to take on another shape.

"The reformers themselves didn't call themselves the "Reformers" and they were not involved in some huge plot to "reform" the worldwide church...they simply spoke and wrote about what they believed. (Not that they didn't face huge obstacles and opposition).

"...'It's as if he [either Luther or another reformer] stumbled in the dark and grabbed a hold of a rope...and didn't realize there was a bell attached to it!'

"May that bell sound loud and clear and for a long, long time to come!"

Just wanted to share this.

In His Love,

Only Look said...

Some good stuff by Joel from over at grace roots. I do think however, Michele, that Luther was intending reform when he nailed those 95 theses to the door and that it is a good thing this 107 theses that Steve has written and the desire of his heart to see men "AWAKE" out of their sleep and slothful apathy. I dont know about graphs though Steve and comparing experiences people may have into coming to the truth. It sort of makes a ladder out of faith and may mislead others into believing that it is harder than it has to be other than coming into simple childlike faith in the risen Son of God who died for our sins. God's spirit works in mysterious ways but the end result is faith and a new heart when we come by way of the cross. The book of Ezekiel tells us that we will look back over our life and abhor our sins 'because' we *have* a new heart given becausee of His namesake and not because of us. We should never lead men back toward the human model of trying to figure if we are earnest enough to believe in the grace of God. The cross should be central in helping mankind understand the grace of God and the magnitude of the forgiveness to the repentant sinner. Remember Joseph wept at the brothers that couldnt seem to take him at his word and believe that they were forgiven. They were projecting their evil second thoughts onto the goodness and forgiveness of God so I do think we need to be careful not to lead men into visualizing a sort of chutes and ladders before we come to true faith. When we lift Him up 'first' and put the cross on the graph first and not last then the Holy Spirit will draw men into faith and repentance for who He is and what He has done for us. We can then live a life of praise and thanksgiving while we continue to surrender our flesh and hear his call to embrace the way of death and servanthood that He did.

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Brian,

You're right, and I also think that was what Joel was saying. And I think he was saying that Luther was intending to correct (or as we say "reform") the Catholic Church, but that he was not expecting to "change the world" in the sense of starting a whole new denomination, specifically a new Protestant Church. He was just looking to change the Catholic Church (particularly regarding the use of indulgences at the time of the 95 Theses).

I like your comments about the simplicity of the cross and the gospel, and how they are not a ladder to climb, but a simple faith in the Savior.


Only Look said...

Thanks Michele, You and Terry are of a good sound mind of grace and it is a blessing to us all. We all carry so much baggage but we must rest in His grace there at the cross knowing that He is risen and our hope is complete and being completed in us as we walk in this world. So we always start with the cross. Always.

It is true what Joel was saying, but more agressive acts did follow to change the world as the Reformers knew it in there day. Very volitional acts that had both good and bad effects, but if we learn to wait on God and move when He alone says to move or follow him like Israel followed the cloud and pillar of fire, moving only when he moved and stopping when he stopped then we will have come to a greater soundness in our sanctification. So my point is that even the 95 theses seemed to carry some of the Roman baggage in it, it was still a baby cry out to the true God of the Bible and in these trumpet blasts God does use it to awaken us. He does however suffer through our folly and puts us through the crucible of His grace in order to bring us to greater soundness and balance. He uses men that are abandoned to Himself and this is the baby cry out from a Steve Camp who alone hears the anguish of our God who has to suffer through so much of our folly. He uses our foolishness to confound the wise. So using men that only know how to pull a rope is how he works. Nevertheless the sooner we rest in that grace and learn to live a life that rests in grace, the better off we all are. Yet the way of grace will often seem to weak to those of us who came to knowledge through the trumpet blast, but when we learn to see the power in allowing Jesus to continually wash our feet the more powerful our voice will become, because we will be moving on His ques instead of our mingled understanding that often brings flesh to the table and confuses His ways.

Only Look said...

To illustrate more of what I am saying is well, John Calvins City of God was a haven to some believers and a horror to other believers, yet we do have men like John Knox who came out of the confusion and men that learned from John Knoxes folly as well as His wisdom. We have Spurgeon that learned to greatly pull much together and see through the haze while having a greater understanding of the simplicity of faith than some of who proceded him and in the same way we can learn to see what they saw and be instructed by them, yet more than that look to Christ alone and look into Scripture and wait on God as He speaks to us. There were many who understood the law should crush but many who had a hard time parting from the law. Some never were able to wean themselves from the love of the law instead of dependancy on grace alone and therefore departed into hell, yet some who simply mingled their understanding after they were saved.

I am learning myself, but I have learned enough that I do not trust one ounce in the law and know that I must be careful how I use it always starting with the Cross as Spurgeon wrote in All Of Grace that repentance and faith always flow from the cross. Yes it flows from the blood that flows into our hearts as our hearts break at how his was. We dont ever want to pervert this love or set anything in the way of His love.

Bhedr said...

This guy from over at Old Red Hat

His name is Steve too, and he has a unique gift of using a few words to convey great truth with little photographs that are so perceptive yet so clearly simple.