Completing the Reformation

Why were the Dark Ages so dark? Everyone knows the answer to that one. It was because the church fell away from the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and tried to control the world through the fear of eternal damnation and the promise of eternal bliss depending on whether or not you agreed with the current dogma of the Pope. In the process, the Scriptures were banned from the common people, selling licenses to sin became a primary source of revenue for the church, and millions of true believers were tortured and slain in the Inquisition.

But then along came the Reformation. It was actually begun in the late 1300’s by reformers such as John Wycliffe and John Huss, who insisted that the church get back to the simple truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures. It climaxed in 1517 with Martin Luther’s famous “95 Theses,” and then was aided by Philipp Melanchthon, Ulric Zwingli, John Calvin, and many others. This major work of God resulted not only in the beginning of all the Protestant churches, but also brought many much-needed reforms to the Catholic church as well.

Most Christians will agree with me that this was the most important move of God since the first century Church. It re-established the most essential, central doctrine of Christianity, that our salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and the cleansing power of His shed blood, and not of any good works we can do. Now rather than church tradition or papal edict, the authority of the Holy Scriptures was the foundation for true faith. “The just shall live by faith!” (Rom 1:17 KJV) was the rallying cry of the Reformation. Christianity was no longer, “pay your tithes, attend mass on Sunday, confess your sins to the priest, and buy an indulgence when you commit adultery or some other delightful wickedness.” In short, the Reformation lifted the Church up from the realm of all the do’s and don’ts of the religious order of the day, into a new realm: the realm of faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for our salvation.

So was that it? Was the Reformation complete? No. Again most Christians will agree with me that another great move of God awaited. It began in the early 1700’s with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. This “Great Awakening” came in waves over much of the civilized world, up through the mid 1800’s with D.L. Moody and others. Then in the early 1900’s it sprang into full-blown revivals in places like Wales (the Welsh Revival) and Los Angeles (the Azusa Street Revival). From there it spread to over fifty nations all over the world. It is ongoing today, as evidenced by the “Toronto Blessing” which began in 1994, inspired by great revivals in Argentina and South Africa. This was the birth of the Pentecostal movement. “Holiness” churches sprang up everywhere, and even those churches which rightly decried the excesses of the Pentecostals were still changed by this powerful move of God.


Page 1 of 4 All Pages

< Prev Next >