The Bible tells us that God is not merely a creator who once made the world, but now remains aloof. Rather, He is a God who created the world and sustains it continually. Moreover, in His work of redemption He periodically “breaks in” with surprising and sovereign power, advancing his kingdom among us in extraordinary ways.
History is punctuated with such extraordinary periods where God powerfully intervened to bring his kingdom to bear on human society in deep and transforming ways. Theologians and historians call these periods “revivals” or “awakenings”. The Bible and history also show that when God brings revival, it is always with a view toward reforming His church, making it increasingly centered in and shaped by the values and agenda of His kingdom. This reshaping of the church, the theologians call “reformation”. Starting from the account in Acts 2 and continuing all throughout the history of the church, there have been numerous instances of revival and reformation—times and places where individuals have been refreshed by a new outpouring of the presence of God and societies have been transformed by a renewed commitment to justice and mercy in the public realm. Consider the late 18th century revivals in the Great Britain that led to the abolition of the slave-trade in the British Empire. Or the Protestant Reformation that brought ecclesiastical, educational, economic and vocational reforms all across Europe.
It is the premise of this sermon series that the church needs both revival and reformation. But what does this look like? And what are we supposed to do, if anything, to promote this? There seems to be so much confusion about revival and reformation. This confusion leads to two extremes. The one extreme rejects the notion of revival all together, in effect claiming that God doesn’t intervene nowadays. The other extreme wants to believe every hyped-up claim that “God is at work” must be true, and that to question it is to question the “power of God”. But the biblical account calls Christians to be neither skeptics nor suckers. Both extremes are not only wrong, but unhelpful—and only lead to further cynicism and spiritual burnout.
In this series on “Revival and Reformation”, we consider what true revival and reformation are, and how they must always work together, in order to create lasting and deep transformation—in individual lives, in the church’s corporate lives and in our social/public life.
This sermons in this series were preached between September 2011 and May 2012. They are available for listening or download in the Revival & Reformation Series Category.