Revival or Reformation?

Posted: October 1, 2017 in Chairman

It was good to see you again at General Council (AGM) in August. Indeed, we had the privilege of the wonderful ministry of the Word which blessed us all. The refreshing messages from Ps Iliafi, especially “Your Private walk with God” was very challenging and I trust that you have given more attention to your ‘private life’ than working on your ‘public life’ of ministry.

I would encourage you to listen to the messages again which are available online. Links given below.

We were blessed by the Ordination of 52 of our Pastors and want to congratulate those 32 who were upgraded and welcome the 28 new Credential Holders to our Council.

As I mentioned at the end of the Conference, despite of all the good things, we failed to rise to the occasion in the business session to make positive changes in the Constitution for the future of our movement. We are still stuck in a system of elections which disunite us and fails us. I must take some responsibility for not making things clearly understood and preparing the Body for such change. Well, there will always be another opportunity!

The morning after the AGM I was very tired and slept in till late and Debi had woken up early and had sent me an email (she is wise enough not to talk about important things when I am tired) with a note which said: “What AG had was Revival – but not a Reformation”

As we thought about it and prayed together, we noted that we did have Revival in the Spiritual Sessions because the Lord brought personal renewal and refreshing to our hearts through the messages. However, during Business session, we still lacked the will and trust to bring corporate reforms to the structure and procedures of our Organization.

We need more than revival, AG needs Reformation!

500 years of Reformation:

It is interesting that this year the Christian World celebrates 500th Anniversary of Reformation which was a turning point in the history of the Church. It was on 31st October 1517, that the great Reformer, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of the Wittenberg church in protest against the corrupt and false practices of the Roman Catholic Church. These profiteering Popes had abused their power and the church was selling indulgences to fund the magnificent cathedrals in Rome, deceiving the poor peasants that forgiveness could be bought for money. The Church has ceased from fulfilling the mission of Christ and instead become a political power base to appoint kings and rulers to their whims and fancies to establish their kingdoms in Europe. Education and knowledge was deprived from common people by the priestly elite who robbed people of truth of the Scriptures.

However, it took one Man to challenge this!

This Reformation which resulted in birthing the Protestant Church which emerged as a new branch of Christianity.

Although we Pentecostals find our roots in Azusa street revival in 1906, the Reformation of Luther laid the foundation for the Evangelical faith of the Church. This was: ‘sola scriptura’ – by Scripture only, sola gratia – by Grace only, Sola fides – by Faith only and Solo Christo – through Christ alone. This brought a revolutionary challenge to the Catholic Church and their practices. Just imagine if Luther never spoke out? We will be still under the rule of the Pope and bound by Catholic religion!

However, Reformation did not end only in mere protest; it laid the foundations and structures for the future of the Church. Apart from Reform in doctrine and faith, key principles such as Translation of Scripture to common language, Priesthood of the Believers, Forms of worship such as reading of the scripture, singing and music, Preaching and Teaching the Word, Training of ministers, Evangelism and Mission are some of the key practices resulting from the Reformation.

In other words, Revival of Truth alone was not sufficient – Reformation of structure and practices were needed to continue that revival.

The “New Wine”

Revival comes from a visitation of God initiated by Holy Spirit in response to human hunger and desire. It is a sovereign move of God like the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit descended and empowered people to fulfil the task of God.

We still need revival! It is the pouring out of the “New Wine”!

However, Jesus spoke of the necessity of “New Wineskins” in Matthew 9:17:

“Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

The containers are as equally important as the wine!

The Reformation of the ‘old wineskins’ was necessary to sustain the move of the ‘New wine’.

Luther’s rejection of ‘old wineskins’ led to a revolutionary and a prophetic Movement!

The revolutionary ideas of the ‘Priesthood of believers’ brought freedom to ordinary Peasants from oppressing church officials and royalty. It is noted that along with the religious consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation came deep and lasting political changes and freedoms in Europe. However, it came at a great cost; with decades of rebellions, wars and persecutions, and The Thirty Years’ War which alone may have cost Germany 40 percent of its population!

However, 400 years after Luther, God was again pouring out the ‘New Wine’ among the Protestant Churches with the Azusa revival in 1906. Yet, the ‘Old wineskins’ of Protestantism in Mainline Churches could not accommodate this “Pentecostal movement’ and another Reformation of structures was needed to sustain this revival. The AG and other Pentecostal Churches found structures to effect reformation outside the old Reformed structures.

The Old Wineskins

Today we stand 100 years later, desiring a fresh ‘New Wine’ of the Spirit’s revival.

However, without a ‘Reformation’ of the ‘old wineskins’ it is unlikely that God would let His new wine be lost – “wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined.”

Reformation is the ability to restructure according to the moving of the Spirit instead of forcing the Spirit in to our structures.

If AG in Sri Lanka is called by God to bring the ‘New Wine’ of Revival, it may be necessary that we learn from Luther’s reformation and ask what revolutionary change is required by this generation.

  • What are Old Wineskins in the AG?
  • What was relevant then and is now?
  • What systems and methods are needed today?
  • How does the ‘new wine skins’ look like?
  • Did the past AGM reflect the conflict between ‘desire’ for Revival and ‘reluctance’ for Reformation?
  • What lessons should AG Ceylon learn from Luther’s Reformation?

I would like to hear from you!

Because this is something we all need to think and work towards.

In summary, revival of truth alone was not sufficient – a Reformation was necessary.

Revival is momentary – Reformation is what can sustain a Revival.

The New Wine will be wasted if it is not sustained by a Reformation of New Wineskins.

In the coming months I will be writing to you about this Reformation and I urge you to have your hearts and minds open.

 

May the Lord Bless you  

Ps. Michael & Debi.


Audio Messages by Rev. Iliafi Esera,

Senior Pastor of Faith City Church.  General Superintendent of Assemblies of God of New Zealand

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

 

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