3 Fundamental Commitments Needed for a New Reformation
It has been nearly five hundred years since Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation, that pivotal movement that brought about God-exalting change in the church. A half millennium removed, the church today finds itself at a similar critical juncture. The darkness of this age calls for a new reformation.
If such a spiritual awakening is to come, there must be a new generation of heralds, men like Martin Luther, who are bold and biblical in their pulpit proclamation. They must have a high view of Scripture, a high view of God, and a high view of the pulpit. Each of these fundamental commitments is indispensable.
1. A high view of Scripture.
The needed reformation will not occur in the church until Scripture is returned to its preeminent place. The Word of God must be restored to its rightful position, governing the entire life of the church. Preachers must again rightly understand the supremacy of the Bible, not only its verbal inerrancy, but also its primary authority and absolute sufficiency. There must be a decisive and radical return to the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura.
2. A high view of God.
There also must be the proper recognition of God’s holy, transcendent character. A new reformation will come only when the people of God regain a lofty vision of Him as the sovereign Ruler of all. The unhealthy state of the church at this time is due in large part to a low view of God. This, in turn, has led to a high view of man. Not until there is the restoration of an elevated view of God will the church be restored to her former glory and have an effect upon the world again.
3. A high view of the pulpit.
There is likewise a great need for a reformation of the evangelical pulpit. To reform the pulpit is to reform the church. What is needed is not simply more preaching, but God-enthralled, Christ-magnifying, Spirit-empowered preaching. If this is to occur, the church must regain a high view of the pulpit. As was prevalent during the Reformation, the preaching of the Word must be central in the worship of the church in this generation.
Never has the need been greater for such a reformation. Our Word-starved pulpits beg for stalwarts of the faith to bring the Book to their congregations. However, only God can give such men to the church. Writing more than one hundred years ago, Charles H. Spurgeon stated:
A Reformation is as much needed now as in Luther’s day, and by God’s grace we shall have it, if we trust in Him and publish His truth. The cry is, “Overturn, overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right it is.”
But, mark ye this, if the grace of God be once more restored to the church in all its fullness, and the Spirit of God be poured out from on high, in all His sanctifying energy, there will come such a shaking as has never been seen in our days. We want such an one as Martin Luther to rise from his tomb. If Martin Luther were now to visit our so-called reformed churches, he would say with all his holy boldness, “I was not half a reformer when I was alive before, now I will make a thorough work of it.”
In this critical hour of church history, pastors must recapture the glory of biblical preaching, as in the days of the Reformation. Preachers must return to true exposition that is Word-driven, God-glorifying, and Christ-exalting. May the Lord of the church raise up a new generation of expositors, men armed with the sword of the Spirit, to once again preach the Word. The plea of Spurgeon, who witnessed the decline of dynamic preaching in his lifetime, must be heard and answered in this day:
We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears. We have dire need of such. Whence will they come to us? They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the Church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, and when the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land… . I do not look for any other means of converting men beyond the simple preaching of the gospel and the opening of men’s ears to hear it. The moment the Church of God shall despise the pulpit, God will despise her. It has been through the ministry that the Lord has always been pleased to revive and bless His Churches.
May God give to His church modern-day Luthers to bring about a new Reformation in this day.
This post is an excerpt from Steven Lawson’s new book, The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther.