Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reformed Revivalism

Often men have acted as though one has to choose between reformation and revival. Some call for reformation, others for revival, and they tend to look at each other with suspicion. But reformation and revival do not stand in contrast to one another; in fact, both words are related to the concept of restoration. Reformation speaks of a restoration to pure doctrine, revival of a restoration in the Christian's life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture, revival of a life brought into proper relationship to the Holy Spirit. The great moments in church history have come when these two restorations have occurred simultaneously. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation, and reformation is incomplete without revival. May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world in which we live may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and a Spirit-filled life.


-Francis Schaeffer from No Little People. (H/T: Between Two Worlds)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good point, Brother Schaeffer! Matt,
I think we can agree that most people's intentions are good. Those who take upon themselves the name Christian are diligently trying to understand and follow our Savior's pure doctrine. In our human attempts to reform Christ's teaching, do you feel that the gospel has been oversimplified, or improperly complicated?

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey SP,

Maybe we can can agree that most people's intentions are good but as Bernard of Clairvaux said, "Hell is full of good intentions," and someone else said, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," so I'm not sure how much those good intentions are worth. When it comes to "reforming Christ's teaching," far be it from me ever to advocate the reforming of Christ's teachings. I think what you mean by saying "reform Christ's teaching" is reforming whatever the church claims is the teaching of Christ. If teaching needs reformation it is not Christ's teaching that is being reformed but the teachings of men which claim to be Christ's teaching and may also contain a degree of truth, however obscured, as were the church's teachings on the gospel prior to the Reformation.

Do I think the gospel is being oversimplified or complicated? I don't know how to answer that. I think the gospel is the gospel so I don't think man can do anything to it to complicate or oversimplify it. What I do think is that the gospel is often obscured or simply lost in the teaching of many churches. If any effort of man is seen as something that contributes to our justification then the gospel has been lost. If the cross of Christ, Him bearing our sin and His bearing the wrath of God which we deserved, is not taught then the gospel has been lost. If the Christian life is taught to be living by a set of principles in Scripture and not as seeing any "living by principles" that we might do as the "filthy rags" that they are then the gospel has been lost.

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Matt,
I cannot believe my good fortune in stumbling upon your blog. I feel like I have my own Theology tutor. Yes, please forgive my poor grammar when I say things that come off as absurd. What I am trying to ask is, how do we make peace with "If ye love me, keep my commandments." in St. John and in the very next book, The Acts, reading "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved..." You've probably picked up that this is KJV, but it's all out of The Good Book.
Are the commandments important or not? Why do we learn them as children if we will be saved regardless of heeding them?
You asked me what I think. If I'm remembering my history--and you can correct me if I'm not--Martin Luther's big deal was that Pope Leo X (aka Giovanni de' Medici) found himself in debt and began selling indulgences to God-fearing Catholics of Europe. Luther believed that salvation could not be bought (I agree). Now, in keeping God's commandments, are we also attempting to buy salvation? Or are we merely showing respect and adoration to our Lord in doing what He asks of us, fully recognizing that we are still dependent on His atonement (regardless of where it took place) to save us?

What do you think?

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Hey SP,

No problem with the KJV, it's the version I read for a while and it still sits up on my bookshelf. I think you are correct to say that perhaps the breaking point for Luther was the selling of indulgences - I know that was an important point in his 95 Theses but as I'm sure you know Luther would eventually go much further than simply attacking indulgences.

When it comes to the relation between faith and good works, I think this is an area that is often confused in modern preaching. You asked the question, "Why do we learn God's commandments?" for instance as children. I think the learning of God's commandments can serve a number of purposes, the most important of which is bringing conviction to the sinner, showing them that they can never live up to God's standard and forcing them in desperation to see what Christ has done and that salvation is only in Him. Paul writes, "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20)." Paul goes on to write about the righteousness of God being manifested apart from the law, through faith in Jesus Christ in the next few verses.

But I think the real question you raise in your post is what purposes do God's commandments serve in the life of the Christian? You quoted Christ saying, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," which obviously would apply to the Christian who loves Christ. There are many other places which I think have a similar message like Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them," and of course James' famous, "faith without works is dead."

When it comes to God's commandments and good works in the life of the Christian I agree with Article XII in the Articles of Religion of the Church of England which states, "Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit."