A TIDAL WAVE of "CHANGE" in THE CHURCH
This article is about why any coming Revival must also be a
"Great Reformation" as much as anything else. Many Christians
take the attitude that the structures and message and model
and the entire approach of modern Christianity is "mostly fine" -
and just needs a little 'tweaking' here and there. I completely
disagree with this. I believe God has plans for a large-scale
overhaul - at least as big as the largest Reformations in history.
Below are some questions that I feel need addressing:
Does it matter that virtually nothing we do today was done like that
in the original church? Our structures, our preaching, our priorities,
our systems, our training, our GOSPEL - none of them seem to bear
more than a passing resemblance to the Bible. In every way we are
UTTERLY DIFFERENT from the church founded by Jesus and the
apostles. When you take these issues one by one they may seem
insignificant. But when you add them all up - can anyone tell me
why we don't just call ourselves a DIFFERENT RELIGION and be
done with it? I mean, we are virtually nothing like them, are we?
We talk a lot about "getting back to the book of Acts" today. But
what if it involves removing all this junk? Who's going to take out
the garbage? Is anybody really prepared to pay that kind of price?
The rejection? The bitterness? The hatred?
Revival is one thing. "Reformation" is quite another. You can get
killed with Reformation. Go ask Martin Luther.
One thing I am convinced of. There needs to be a large "ground-
swell" of ordinary people desperate for 'CHANGE' for Reformation to
succeed. And I'm not sure that we see that yet. There is certainly
the beginnings of it. But I don't think it is enough. And I don't know
what will bring the breakthrough. There needs to be a widespread
sense of desperation. I think it is growing, but I don't know how long
it will take. And I, for one, am not about to sustain a one-man
crusade to keep the pot stirring until then. A 'groundswell' is God's
business - not mine.
But I am truly convinced that there must be 'Reformation' along with
the coming Revival. There must be a new wineskin, otherwise we
will just find ourselves with another 3-year Revival, like so many that
have gone before. Old wineskins leak. That is the lesson of history.
They cannot preserve a Revival. As an historian I can tell you that
the most long-lasting moves of God ALWAYS had a strong element
of 'Reformation' about them. If a 'new wineskin' was created then
sometimes they were able to last for an entire generation. Glory to
God! Can you imagine that?
I am convinced that for the last 500 years, since the Great
Reformation, God has used each wave of Revival to restore the
church more and more to its original state. The first things He
restored were 'justification by faith' and the 'priesthood of all
believers'. Then in later moves of God we see the teaching of the
'new birth' and 'baptism by immersion' and 'holiness' being restored.
Huge movements burst forth, evangelizing the earth and restoring
lost Biblical truths. Just over the last century alone, the original
"Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and all the gifts have finally been
restored to the church. And since the 1960's virtually every Revival
that has occurred around the world has been a full-on Holy Spirit-
filled Revival full of healings and miracles from God.
All the pieces are in place for a last great push - a full return to the
simplicity, the purity and the power of the early church. Despite all
the advances, we have never seen an actual 'Book of Acts' church
in all her raw beauty, holiness and power. Remember, Jesus is
returning for a church that is "without spot or wrinkle or any such
thing". I am praying that this coming Revival will see the end of the
'Reformation' process that has been ongoing now for 500 years.
I pray that this will be the one that sees the final abandonment of
all that is of 'Religion' - and a return to the pristine purity of the
When this process is complete, I believe that ONLY THEN can Jesus
return for His beautiful Bride.
But all the timing is God's. And much preparation of HEART is needed,
along with structural change. In fact, as I have always emphasized, it
is the HEART issues that are the most important things.
As I said, all the pieces are now in place. Will you pray with me for
one last great Revival and Reformation, my friends?
God bless you all.
Kindest regards in Christ,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
QUESTION that CHANGED MY LIFE
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school
of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly
searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with
Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across
a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short
version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:
Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece
and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution;
it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and
became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19
years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand
and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding,
"An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha,
the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not
imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was
self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless,
I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked
such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be
a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going,
and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued,
"But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or
spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the
presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were
on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was,
"Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought
aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about
her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a
business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her
question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically,
is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we
love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him.
.. I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not
know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates
in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what
we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would
bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him
for His money, and we don't care if He lives or dies as long as we
can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business,
merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded
to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that's pretty
intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love
someone we don't even know? And even if we do know someone,
is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or
I was pondering Martha's question again one day, and considered
the question, "What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute?"
I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does
what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but
only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, "What would
happen if God stopped paying me?"
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover
my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of
God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He
never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please
understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The
issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is
the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings
in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have
earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any
conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.
Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by
my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed
with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in
my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved,
but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?
There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for
that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both
places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no
substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I
mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another
look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.