The Heritage of the Reformation for the Present Time

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The Reformation period was full with historical figures and an enormous amount of theological debate.  However, in the midst of all the doctrinal issues and Events, there were five biblical principles accepted among the Reformers.  In all matters of faith and morals, the final authority is the Bible alone.  Before the All Holy God, an individual is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  Following on this, all glory and praise is to God alone.

The Reformation possessed definite characteristics, many of which set it apart from any other revival in history.  One of the distinguishing features was its territorial scope.  It began simultaneously and independently in various European countries.  About the time that Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the church door in Wittenberg in 1517, John Colet, Dean of St. Paul’s in England, was reproving the abuses of the Catholic Church and upholding the supremacy of the Bible as the basis of faith as early as 1512.  Lefevre in France and Zwingli in Switzerland were at the same time preaching against the evils of the Roman church and pointing to Christ for salvation.  Although Luther is called the originator of the Reformation, the other Reformers discovered and preached the same message that he did, without having received knowledge of it from him.

There was a power, however, that brought the Reformation into existence and made its progress possible—and that was the Scriptures.  The Greek New Testament prepared by Erasmus was a help to scholars all over Europe in learning the way of truth and life.  After the Reformation once got under way, there existed a great friendship and fraternization among the Reformers.  There was frequent interchange of ideas, and hospitality was freely extended.  One of the surprising features of the Reformation was this extent of contact and cooperation among the Reformers as they encouraged each other in their efforts.  The Reformation spread with great rapidity.  Of course, consolidations, refinements, and extensions needed to be made; but that so tremendous a revival, on such a vast scale, could be executed in so short a time, bringing with it a complete change in thought and peoples lives still remains one of the amazing events of history.

The Reformation actually began in Europe’s citadels of learning:  her universities.  There were scholars, such as Luther and Melanchthon at Wittenberg; Erasmus, Colet at Oxford; Bilney, Latimer, and Cartwright at Cambridge; and Lefevre and Farel at Paris.  Almost without exception, the leaders of the Reformation were highly trained men of that generation.  In some instances, as Beza and Tyndale, they ranked high as men of letters.  Others, like Cranmer and Valdes, carried responsibilities at court.

Why was this so necessary at that time, when in other ages men of lesser abilities and education have been used effectively to preach the gospel with such power?  At least three answers can be given.  First, only the educated knew the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek necessary to read the Bible, as it then existed.  Second, it was essential that the Bible be translated into the vernacular of each country so that the common people could have the privilege of reading the Scriptures in their own tongue.  This task demanded scholarship.  All the preaching of many Luthers, Latimers, Zwinglis, Knoxes, and Wisharts would have failed to accomplish the Reformation if, at the same time, the Bible in the vernacular had not been provided for the common people.  If at the moment Latimer was preaching at Cambridge it had not happened that Tyndale, who had fled to the Continent, was smuggling back thousands of copies of the English New Testament so that every Englishman could read the way of salvation for himself, there would have been no Reformation in England.  A similar situation occurred in Germany, France, and other countries.

The third and indispensable reason why the scholars were needed at the time of the Reformation was the fact scholarship and erudition was needed to translate the Bible into the languages of Europe.  Thus, it was with the invention of printing such scholars within a ten-year period many of the nations of Europe had received translations of the Bible in their own tongue.  Luther had translated it for Germany in 1522, Lefevre for France in 1523, Tyndale for England in 1525, Bruccioli for Italy in 1532.  Within the next ten years Francisco Enzinas had translated the Bible into Spanish, and Petri had translated it into Swedish.  Another noteworthy characteristic of the Reformers was the basic agreement on important doctrines.

Most important as we already noted was the fact that all Reformers agreed on the Gospel of grace.  They all believed that works, fasting, money, or penance does not obtain salvation, but that salvation is God’s free gift.  This doctrine formed the cornerstone of the Reformation.  Agreement also existed on the supreme and sufficient authority of the Scriptures, Communion in both kinds, and the disavowal of saint worship, images, relics, purgatory, Mass, celibacy, and the Pope as head of the church.

The Reformation proper, the break with Roman Catholic authority, was accomplished in a relatively short time.  The Reformation was a constant, all-encompassing moving of the Holy Spirit.  It was truly a glorious spiritual awakening when multitudes were freed from bondage to the superstition and ritualism of an apostate Papacy and converted by the Gospel of Grace.  The rediscovery of the sole authority of Scripture led to obedience to God and His Word, just as the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone led every true believer into direct and personal contact with the God of revival.

The Heritage of the Reformation

What then is the heritage of the Reformation, how are we to learn from it for our time?  The Reformation itself was a revival, grounded not only in the Word of God, but also in prayer as each previous and each subsequent revival has been.  As Spurgeon so graphically described the prayer that was the buttress from which arose the Reformation.  Spurgeon said, “There were hundreds who sighed and cried in secret, ‘O God, how long?’  In the cottages of the Black Forest, in the homes of Germany, on the hills of Switzerland, in the palaces of Spain, in the dungeons of the Inquisition and the green lanes of England.”  Thus prayer was the underpinning of this great movement there as the dedicated prayers of numberless hearts across Europe pleaded the Lord to send a mighty moving of His Spirit.  Iain Murray in his book on Revival and Revivalism quotes Jesse Lee as he described the year 1787,

“There was a remarkable revival of religion in the town of Petersburgh, and many of the inhabitants were savingly converted; and the Christians greatly revived.  That town never witnessed before or since such wonderful displays of the presence and love of God in salvation of immortal souls.  Prayer meetings were frequently held both in the town and in the country, and souls were frequently converted at those meetings, even when there was no preacher present; for the prayers and exhortations of the members were greatly owned of the Lord.”

Iain Murray also described the great revival in 1776, which spread extensively through the south part of Virginia.  He remarked that, the work was not confined to meetings for preaching.  Murray writes, “At prayer meetings the work prospered and many souls were born again. It was common to hear of souls being brought to God while at work in their work in their houses or in their fields. It was often the case that the people in their corn-fields, white people, or black, and sometimes both together, would begin to sing, and being affected would begin to pray, and others would join with them, and they would continue their cries till some of them would find peace to their souls.”  In that book on Revival and in his second book, called “Pentecost Today?” showed that the great heritage of the post-Reformation revivals was that of prayer was the underpinning every single awakening.

The first great awakening after the Reformation occurred in the eighteenth century in both America and Britain is associated with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.  Prior to the outpouring of the Lord’s grace we find prayer in the lives of these men, in the lives of their associates.  Also in 1859 revival in Ulster Northern Ireland and in Wales at the end of the nineteen century and in the beginning of the twentieth century prayer was the prelude to revival.  Thus we have the account Peggy and Christine Smith as they prayed for the promise of revival on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland in 1949.  They lived in a small cottage by the roadside in the village of Barvas.  They were eighty-four and eighty-two years old.  Peggy was blind and her sister almost bent double with arthritis.  Unable to attend public worship, their humble cottage became a sanctuary where they met with God.  What followed was that from 1949 to 1952 a wide spread revival swept throughout the Isle of Lewis.  Instrumental in this awakening was the evangelist Duncan Campbell.  Behind the scenes however it was later known that the revival was a result of the faithful prayers of Peggy and Christine Smith.

We must ask the question where are the equivalents to day Peggy and Christine Smith?  Are we willing in the quiet of our own homes and in small groups together in our churches, to do business with the God of revival?  Then let us seek for God’s enabling to pray and go on praying as He has always used prayer to pave the way for His revival.  Let us make the psalmist’s prayer our own, “I am afflicted very much; quicken me, O Lord, according to thy word.”  “Hear my voice according to thy loving-kindness: O Lord, quicken me, according to thy judgment.  Then may the Lord God, in His sovereign grace give revival mercy on us in our own times.  May our prayers for revival plead the promises of God, guide our desires by such promises, and ground our hopes on the faithfulness of our loving, heavenly Father to hear us.

The Second Heritage of the Reformation is the Finality of Authority and Truth in the Bible

The Reformers in the sixteenth and saw that Christ Himself, the Apostles, and the Scriptures all declared that God’s written Word is the absolute authority, not in place of God but rather as the Word itself declares as the expression of the very mind of God.  For all of them the absolute authority for mankind was not to be placed in any subjective interpretation of what God Himself has purportedly said.  They carefully showed that Bible is full of statements upholding the signal fact that God’s written Word is the final law for mankind.  They verified this by hundreds of references in the Old Testament as, for example, Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony:  if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  Likewise in the New Testament, they showed that the Lord refuted the errors of the Sadducees by saying, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”  They demonstrated that that the Lord totally accepted of the authority of the Old Testament as He proclaimed, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  On the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed to His Father with the clearest words, “Sanctify them through Thy truth.  Thy word is truth.”  In fact they showed that the Bible testifies to its own essential truth as it declared, “The sum of Thy word is truth and These words are faithful and true.”  The Reformers show God’s own standard that Bible is infallible and inerrant in all areas, earthly as well as spiritual.  To deny the inherent truth and inerrancy of the Bible is to call God a liar.  Thus they demonstrated that to place human reason or any theological system higher than the authority of the Bible is tantamount to calling God a liar.

This legacy of the finality of knowing that all authority and truth is in the Bible is urgently needed at the present time.  Firstly, because the foundational mindset of Papal Rome is the acceptance of their tradition as being equivalent to Scripture.  Officially, the Vatican states, “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, Para 82).  Secondly, many New Evangelical churches at the present time work from a similar basis.  These churches are flooded with strategies borrowed from tenets of psychology and methods of the business world to make up for what they see as an insufficiency of Scripture.  Thus, the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture is undermined by the presupposition that the Bible is insufficient in our postmodern culture.  In these churches, experience is treasured over the absolute truth of Scripture.  Assent is given to belief in the Scripture; however, the New Evangelical standard line that doctrine is not necessary because it is divisive negates this belief.  The traditions of New Evangelical churches are different than Rome’s.  The mindset, however, is basically the same.

Thus this heritage of the Reformation is foundational for our times.  It is not possible to own the Lord Jesus Christ as Master but refuse basis for truth that He has given to us.  There are no halfway houses here in which the vacuous pretence of an anti-biblical piety can find a safe-haven.  It is a clear choice.  If you love God, you love His written Word alone, not His Word plus the words of men.  You cannot say you love God and despise finality of the authority of His Word.  The marks of authentic spiritual affection are patent in the Word itself, “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).

The Third Heritage of the Reformation—The Principle of Salvation by Grace Alone

The Reformers showed that the Scripture wonderfully declares that sinners, “dead in trespasses and sins” are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).  They proclaimed as does the W
ord of God itself, “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).  This was the dynamic principle of the Reformation to magnify the fact the Lord God graciously saves sinners by the absolute perfect redemption that Jesus Christ purchased by His perfect life and sacrifice.  The Reformers proclaimed this principle as the power of God unto salvation of which the Apostle wrote as is “the righteousness of God revealed.”  For them God’s righteousness credited to the believer at Christ’s expense was truly awesome in the root meaning of that word.  The believer should be filled with awe, worship, and praise to the holy God Who Himself has provided the permanent finished work of justification for sin.  The believer is justified by the imputation of Christ’s everlasting righteousness” to him, and hence forever.  Thus the Reformers boldly proclaim, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

In total contrast to this biblical principle proclaimed by the Reformers salvation for Catholics comes about by grace that is merely help and that is supposedly given through the church’s sacraments.  Thus, the Catholic Church officially states,

“Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons.  It introduces us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life” (Para 2021).

Thus, human beings are presumed to be good enough to respond to the help that God gives to them.  Grace is not a manifestation of God’s action in salvation but merely a “help” given to humans.  The Catholic teaching contradicts the very concept of grace.  As the Scripture states, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace” (Romans 11:6).  Then this so-called grace requires sacraments.  The Catholic Church states,

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.  ‘Sacramental grace’ is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament” (Para 1129).

This teaching is quite appalling.  Salvation in the Bible is by the absolute power of God’s grace and, yet, the Catholic Church defines it merely as help and, therefore, supposedly needs physical sacraments to be transmitted.

This mindset is now common with New Evangelicals.  For them, man is free and able to obey, repent, and believe.  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association expresses it in the following words,

“Man is in sin, rebellion, and separation from God, yet he is still able to obey, repent, believe, and invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life.”

How this is lived out is repeatedly seen in New Evangelical Churches.  New Evangelicals have a fascination to count and make known the number of so-called free-will decisions for Christ for which they themselves were responsible.  In contrast, the Scripture states clearly the moral condition of a person before conversion, “and you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  Because of Adam’s sin, mankind is born spiritually dead.  Scripture unequivocally lays bare the unsaved person’s heart, “As it is written, ‘there is none righteous, no, not one:  there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God.” This is totally opposite to the mindset of Papal Rome and of modern evangelistic associations.  If we are genuine Christians, it is because God chose us in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.  He freely chose us, not because He foresaw that we would believe, but because it pleased Him to choose.  Thus, all the glory and praise belong to Him alone.  We have no ground for boasting about free-will decisions because we have all “believed through grace.”  Our coming to faith in Jesus Christ is solely by grace “otherwise grace is no more grace.”

The mindset of Papal Rome, that physical sacraments are inherent means of obtaining the grace of the Holy Spirit, has begun to permeate Evangelicalism.  In the Reformed and Presbyterian world a well-known pastor, Doug Wilson, leads a movement called “Federal Vision” or sometimes “Auburn Avenue Theology.”  He is joined by other influential Presbyterian pastors, such as Steve Wilkins and Steve Schlissel, who advocate the new birth in Christ Jesus by means of the waters of baptism.  Thus, Doug Wilson states, “Baptism is our introduction to union with Him,” and “while we do not take the connection between water baptism and grace and salvation as an absolute, we do take it as the norm.”[1]

In the New Testament there is an absolute connection between the Spirit and the Word of God but not between physical water and grace.  Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”  Coming to new birth in the New Testament is by the Holy Spirit through the instrument of God’s Word.  Thus, the Apostle Peter proclaimsBeing born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”  Consistently, and absolutely, in the teaching of Christ Jesus and the Apostles, sinful people receive the Spirit simply by the hearing of faith. What we document is just the top of the iceberg of what is now a massive movement inside Presbyterian Reformed circles and beyond of what is called “The New Perspective.”  This movement requires articles, and even books, to explain its many ramifications.  This movement and the consistent position of New Evangelicalism, that of themselves, they’re free to decide, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ, demonstrates the need for the heritage of the Reformation that a sinner is saved by God’s grace alone.  It is necessary for us who are saved by God’s grace alone to plead that even in our day and generation He might yet truly glorify Himself in revival blessings by this very principle.

The Fourth Heritage of the Reformation—The Principle of Salvation Through Faith Alone

For the Reformers the faith by which a sinner believes unto salvation is God-given and sustained. They showed that the object of faith is clearly seen in Scripture as the Person of Christ Jesus Himself, as the Apostle stated, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).  This faith they contended is God-given, as declared by the Apostle Peter:  “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).  Also they demonstrated
that the God-given faith comes by hearing the Word of God as is stated in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  This principle of salvation through Faith alone is so clear in scripture that one would doubt that it could be twisted by any church.  The Catholic Church, nonetheless, completely changes the concept of faith.  In her official teaching in her Catechism she focuses on the Church as the one that first believes, as she states, “It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith” (Para 168).  Then she has the audacity to declare that faith comes through the Church because the Church is our Mother.  Thus, she officially teaches, “Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother” (Para. 169).  The end result of the Catholic Church is that a person believes in Mother Church and not on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Her official words are the following,

“‘Believing’ is an ecclesial act.  The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith.  The Church is the mother of all believers.  ‘No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother’” (Para 181).  The position, therefore, of the Catholic faithful is that they are compelled to submit to holy Mother Church and accept her rule of faith.  If the question is ever raised as to why this is so, the only reply is that it is true because holy Mother Church says so.

Evangelicals for the most part throughout the centuries maintained the principle of salvation through faith alone.  New Evangelicals however have departure from the principle of salvation through faith alone to accommodate mega churches and seeker friendly churches beginning in the early 1960s.  Since then, the vast majority of the Evangelical world has changed beyond recognition.  (This is fully documented in Iain Murray’s book, Evangelicalism Divided 2000)  The most drastic departure however from the principle of salvation through faith alone took place in the United States in 1994.  At the end of March of that year, a group of twenty leading Evangelicals and twenty leading Roman Catholics produced a document entitled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” (ECT). The effects of the compromise on this essential principle have changed many churches across the USA, the UK and across the world.  It has also thwarted evangelization in third world Catholic countries of Central and South America, in Africa, as well as in Spain, Portugal, and the Philippines, are clearly seen.  If this movement to accept Catholicism and reject the principle of salvation through faith alone continues unchecked it will become ruinous to the spiritual welfare of millions of souls.  Spurgeon’s timely words apply now even more than in his own day, “Since he was cursed who rebuilt Jericho, much more the man who labors to restore Popery among us.  In our fathers’ days the gigantic walls of Popery fell by the power of their faith, the perseverance of their efforts, and the blast of their gospel trumpets.”  Yes indeed the Gospel trumpet needs to proclaim the message of eternal hope to God’s unsaved people through faith alone.  This is the heritage of the Reformation; the principle of salvation through faith alone is essential if indeed we are to see a restoration of Biblical faith in our day.

The Fifth Heritage of the Reformation—the Principle of Salvation in Christ Alone

Biblically the Reformers showed that the believer’s salvation is in Christ alone.  All the blessings of the believer follow on where his salvation is located, not in himself, but rather in Christ.  This is summarized by the Apostle with the words, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”  Thus the Reformers proclaimed the long lost Pauline teaching that salvation is positioned legally objectively judicially in Christ alone, and not in any church or human heart.  As a result of the Biblical teaching by the men of the Reformation, there arose a widespread departure from religious subjectivism by which the Roman Catholic Church had held Western Europe, England, and Scotland captive for centuries.

The Catholic Church understands salvation to be within the heart of the individual.  Thus, she teaches, “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.  It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy” (Para. 1992).  Thus Papal Rome’s teaching that a person is “inwardly just” is the opposite of what Scripture consistently teaches.  Scripture teaches that a believer’s justification is solely in Jesus Christ. As for example, the Apostle Paul declared, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.  Sadly at the present time many New Evangelicals have accepted the mindset of Papal Rome that our salvation is within ourselves.  The New Evangelicals hold this presupposition because they believe that salvation is a result of an individual’s self-initiated, personal decision and desire to invite Jesus Christ to come into his or her heart.  Thus a Billy Graham Website states,

“Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20).  Jesus Christ wants to have a personal relationship with you.  Picture, if you will, Jesus Christ standing at the door of your heart (the door of your emotions, intellect and will).  Invite Him in; He is waiting for you to receive Him into your heart and life.”

Campus Crusade International ministry claims that “New Birth” comes into a person’s life by invitation.  They state, “When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth. We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation.  [Christ speaking] ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.’”  However, new birth in Scripture is totally the work of the Holy Spirit and not by the invitation of a person.  If we are to see the Holy Spirit as work with believers at the present time it will if like the Reformers we retrun to the Scriptures that teach the principle of salvation in Christ alone. The location of the Catholics’ salvation is in their good works starting with infant baptism, balanced against their bad deeds.  The location of the New Evangelicals’ salvation is in their own good works, starting with their invitational rituals.  In contrast the location of a believer’s salvation is totally secure and totally glorious; it is in Christ, as Scripture proclaims, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.

The Sixth Heritage of the Reformation—the Principle Giving Glory to God Alone

The Reformers saw that principle of giving gl
ory to God alone follows logically from the other principles.  Because justification is by grace alone through God’s gift of faith alone and in Christ alone on the written authority of his Word, to God alone be the glory!  They taught and lived this principle Indeed it is the believer’s proper and overwhelming response.  To God alone be the glory and not to Mary to the Pope nor to the saints.

In fact the Catholic Church addresses Mary as if she were God.  The official teaching of Rome calls “Mary” the All Holy One.  This irreverent teaching is an attempted theft on the very essence of the divine glory.  The Vatican teaching declares,

“By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All Holy One.” (Catechism Para 2677) The Pope attempts to steal the very essence of the divine glory as he assumes unto himself the titles of “Holy Father” and “Vicar of Christ.”

In a similar way the Catholic Church attempts to steal glory from in assigning prayer to the saints.  The words given in the state the following,

Communion with the dead.  In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead…  Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping “them, but also of making their intercession for us effective”  (Catechism Para 958).

The Reformers proclaimed the biblical teaching that God alone is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.  Thus, He alone hears prayers, He is the all Holy One, He alone is the Holy Father, in a word, to God alone be the glory.  This is of utter seriousness in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”  To attempt to call a creature as the “All Holy One” or “The Holy Father” is consummate blasphemy and high hand idolatry.  This sixth heritage of the Reformation that of giving glory to God alone like the proceeding principles is need for authentic Christian living an awakening in our times.

Here then is the Reformation heritage and our contemporary scene in which the people have been betrayed by Catholics and New Evangelicals who refuses to acknowledge that they inevitably under God’s active wrath and condemnation and even in their desperate plight will not yet bend the knee in repentance, confession and a calling upon Lord God for Him to do for them what only He can do.  Like Israel of old, the present-day church in many ways has become wilderness and desolation!  The Western world is in a tailspin, burying itself deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of moral decay.  We need a revival that will shake the Christian church and cause the haughty spirits and obstinate hearts of those who profess Christ as Savior repent and begin daily living for His as Lord.

Are we willing to stir ourselves to take hold of God of the heritage of the Reformation principles?  These very principles have been used of the Lord in revivals throughout church history.  Of old, men and women waited upon God and cried and cried until He came down in power.  We pray to the Lord, as they did, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come downthat the mountains might flow down at thy presence.”  In Christ Jesus, we confidently pray for the abounding, overflowing riches of grace that He has promised.  Not only are we told of the “riches of his grace and of the “exceeding riches of His grace,” but also it is proclaimed that grace has “abounded unto many,” and that we receive “abundance of grace.”  Yes, God’s grace in the glory of Christ Jesus is superabundant.  Should we not expect to be touched by it in true revival in our day even with situation of the churches as we have outlined.   This is so because the Lord Jesus remains as the “Christ,” i.e., the anointed One.  His purpose continues as the work of obedience and death, which He received in His humanity as Mediator, the perpetual fullness of the Holy Spirit.  On the day of Pentecost, He was declared to be the exalted Prince and Savior, as the abundance of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was not for Himself, but for the Church, which is His body.  As we saw, the Apostle Peter preached, “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.”  The Word of God teaches that as believers we are to pray to God and to expect an answer from Him, and to look for the Holy Spirit to bear witness to this answer by what we see and hear.  We ought to pray with such great fervor that one day we can pray in thanksgiving the words of the Psalmist, As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts.”

The Apostle Paul speaks of the believers at Ephesus as being “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”; yet, they needed more of the same Spirit.  The Apostle prayed for them, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”  So we pray not only for the wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, but with the Apostles of old we pray, “and now, Lord…grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word.”

The Lord’s solemn promise harmonizes entirely with this word from Christ,

If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? …If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

This gives us as Christians the permanent assurance that we can expect more of the Spirit.  Our permanent duty consists of faith in Christ Jesus and in His Word.  Faith in the abundance of the Spirit abides in Him.  It is for us not only to intellectually believe, “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace,” but in true doctrine and expectation of the Holy Spirit see this verse as a fact of our daily life.  In the Words of the Apostle, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  As we have seen the alignment of New Evangelicals with apostasy is astounding.  Sin indeed abounds.  The holiness of God, the fear of God, the conviction of sin, and the Gospel message seems to be entirely
missing at the present day.  In face of all this abounding sin and deception, how do we live and reign with Christ Jesus daily?  The Apostle gives us the answer, “For if by one mans offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”[2]

Those who receive the abundant grace given by Christ are not only redeemed from the empire of death, they live and reign with Him as they are sanctified daily through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and by constant fellowship with Him.  With Him they shall forever live and reign, world without end.  Through Christ Jesus, grace reigns with sovereign freedom, power, and bounty!  How do we make sure that grace reigns with sovereign freedom, power, and bounty in our lives?  We do this as we take hold of His Word as the Lord’s promise that He made of His goodness to us.  Blessed be his glorious name for ever:  and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.”[3]

[1] Reformed is Not Enough by Douglas Wilson (Canon Press, 2003) p 168, 105

[2] Romans 5:17

[3] Psalm 72:19