The Reformation Manifesto
Share This article
Excerpted from: The Reformation Manifesto
Martin Luther was greatly troubled by what was happening in the society that surrounded him. Sin and corruption were running rampant, and they were destroying not only the lives of the people he saw every day in Wittenberg, but also their hope for eternal salvation. Immorality was destroying their families—the essential support structure of society. Forgiveness of sin had turned into a moneymaking venture through the selling of “indulgences”—pardons sold by local priests that had nothing to do with sincere repentance or renewed devotion to God. Instead, these indulgences gave dishonesty and decadence free rein. The church of Luther’s day was doing little or nothing to fulfill the purpose Jesus had proclaimed as His mission:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
So it was on All Hallows’ Eve of 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, beginning what would become known as the Reformation. Ironically, these “Theses” were not an attack on the Church as much as a reintroduction of what true repentance really meant and a call to return to it. Luther wasn’t interested in becoming the leader of a new denomination but rather wanted to see the true gospel released again to do everything God had intended it to do. He wasn’t calling for revolution, even though that is what resulted because of the stubbornness of many in power; he was calling for revival.
It was a move that shook the Christian world from one end to the other and is still affecting us today. God’s truth certainly has a way of changing things.
Is It Time for a New Reformation?
As you open the pages of this book, I am sure you are wondering why there needs to be a new reformation. Others might say, “I don’t like what happened in the last one,” or “What does this have to do with me?” or “Shouldn’t we simply pray for revival to come to the nations of the earth so that all will turn to God?”
As we stand at the dawn of the third millennium since Jesus came to the earth, we again see a world where sin and corruption are running rampant, destroying lives in whole new ways. The twentieth century was the bloodiest era in human history. We saw our first two world wars, the Holocaust, the rise of Communism and Fascism, and the reign of totalitarian regimes that turned children against their parents in the name of Cultural Revolution. The Killing Fields of Southeast Asia, attempted genocide in the Balkans and Rwanda, and the birth of Islamic extremism are just a few examples of how little progress humanity has made since the wickedness that caused the Great Flood. Twice as many Christians died as martyrs in the twentieth century as did in the previous nineteen hundred years. Will the twenty-first century be any different?
Our problem today, however, isn’t that the church has been compromised, but rather that the universal body of Christ, whatever our affiliation, has not somehow been able to infuse the relevancy of the gospel into our culture. The Bible is full of answers for transforming society! However, if we transform without putting reformational laws, structures, and a biblical worldview into our everyday lives, society will revert to its former state.
I contend that the reason many in our society believe the church is totally irrelevant is that the church has not been the salt and light it should be in order to make a difference.
Don’t misunderstand me. It isn’t that Christians aren’t still doing good things. Christian missionaries circle the earth today, and some of the greatest revivals of all time have happened in the twentieth century. With my own eyes I have seen the transformation that took place in South America, where the gospel was preached and revival spread like wildfire—lives and entire cities were dramatically changed almost overnight. Yet in the years since those events, the changes haven’t stuck. I have come to understand that as important and life-transforming as revival is, it is not enough.
Another part of the problem is doctrine. Many people have felt that the world should get progressively worse before Jesus returns to save it. I am aware that the subject of reforming nations brings up the question of my end-time eschatological stance. Truthfully, my heart is so focused on “doing business and occupying” (see) until He comes that I haven’t fully grappled with this issue. I want to see millions from across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and other lands worshiping before the throne of God because of sweeping revivals. I also believe that it is my mandate as a believer to see that the nations are discipled and taught of the Lord. My preacher daddy had this stance on the end times: “Honey,” he said with a smile, “I’m not a post-millennialist or a pre-millennialist—I’m a pan-millennialist! I believe it will all ‘pan out’ in the end!” I’m following in his footsteps on this. Others much brighter than I am and dedicated to the study of eschatology can figure that out.
In the past centuries, it is hard to find a revival that has lasted more than a few years. The effects of the great revivalists, such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney, in the First and Second Great Awakenings, only lasted decades, while more recent revivals, such as what took place in Wales and at Azusa Street at the turn of the twentieth century lasted only a few years. A major revival swept Argentina in 1954, resulting in more than three hundred thousand saved, but Argentina still had problems with widespread corruption. Today that nation is on a path of reformation and transformation because it is taking seriously the Great Commission mandate to disciple and teach others.
Reinhard Bonnke was profoundly instrumental in changing the nations of Africa, seeing hundreds of thousands saved; but believers have not known how to follow up with solutions to the poverty of the continent.
Cities such as my own Dallas, Texas, have a large Christian population, but we have not seen the government of the city shift to godly principles. In fact, in the last election, numbers of godly judges were swept out of office when pro-abortion politicians were voted in.
So it is time to ask ourselves the hard questions: “Why are our cities in such terrible moral condition, when we have been preaching the gospel through every means possible?” “Why aren’t our communities getting better?” “What can we do to reform our cities and nations, to see thousands swept into the kingdom of God as well as change their structures back to biblical patterns?”
Revival, Transformation, and Reformation
What I have seen is that when revival happens, areas often seem transformed because so many individuals have been changed through the power of God’s Word. However, such spiritual transformations often get put into a “spiritual box” and stored away. What happens in church on Sunday doesn’t always carry over to life Monday through Saturday. We don’t let spiritual change affect our normal, everyday life.
A businessman may get saved but continue to follow the same shady business practices he did before he went to the revival; teachers may get converted but still must teach from the same secular textbooks and curriculum; government officials may be born again but still have to work in the same corrupt systems that honor bribes and cronyism. Lives may be temporarily transformed, but if the overall culture isn’t affected, what everyone else is doing will soon overpower newborn faith, and the tares and “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” enter in so that daily life goes back to the way it was pre-revival. We should not only be asking “Why does revival tarry?” but “Why doesn’t revival last?”
Think of it this way: When revival happens, a huge number of people enter the kingdom of God. Everyone is suddenly excited about God and the possibilities of what life in Jesus can mean for their future. Church memberships swell, and huge numbers of Bibles and Christian books and pamphlets are sold and distributed. Lives are transformed, and the more lives transformed the more Jesus becomes the talk of the town. He is the answer to everything, and as people turn to Him with their problems and concerns, miracles happen. It is an incredibly powerful and exciting thing to be a part of! It is literally heaven on earth.
However, as time moves on, the influence of society and culture moves back in. People get comfortable being Christians but return to their old ways of getting answers to their problems, and suddenly miracles aren’t as common anymore. People stand around at the gates of the kingdom and never venture in. Rather than transforming the culture around them, they allow the culture to conform them back to the way they were before, and within a few years everything starts to look as it did pre-revival.
Some would say we need to live in a constant state of revival. Being a revivalist is deeply relevant to my own personal calling, so allow me to make a few comments: Revival occurs when God pours out deep conviction of sin, souls are swept into the kingdom, miracles occur daily, and the power of the Lord saturates the hearts and souls of Christians. We would like to see this happen on a regular basis in our churches. But there are steps that we need to take beyond this that will lead to seeing whole nations changed by the power of the gospel. Once people are swept into the kingdom, we need to disciple them on how to live transformed lives. This involves equipping and teaching.
The third step is integrating changed lives into society that needs to see the transforming power of God. We teach people how to be salt and light in their workplace and other areas of influence. Each believer should be trained on how to become a reformer wherever God has placed them in their everyday lives. This means that a mother will raise her children with a biblical worldview and teach them how to be nation changers. Dads model this to their sons and daughters. Churches raise up generations of children and teenagers with an understanding that they have a mandate to be agents of reformation in society. Believers see their vocations as a vehicle to release God’s principles and kingdom manifestation into each workday, whether they work at the grocery store, in the classroom, or in a political office. The reformation mandate is infused into every part of the nation through the praying, teaching, working “army of the Lord.”
I believe with all my heart that God is going to add a new evangelism thrust to infuse our nations with righteous believers. Then, we will not only save people’s souls, but show that the Word of God really works in our nations. In addition to that, through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit’s working, we will see people healed of plagues like AIDS as well as raise up scientists who come up with the cure of the disease!
If we are to see nations transformed, we must go beyond a mandate that only sees souls saved to seeing Christians grow in the Lord and seeing the kingdom of God invade every sector of society. God wants His kingdom will to be done on earth through us! If a nation is transformed without being reformed, it will soon fall back into its original state of decay.
What do I mean by reformation? I would define reformation as an amendment or repair of what is corrupt, to build the institutions of our governments and society according to their God-ordained order and organization. It means to institutionalize God’s will in how we do our daily business, deal with the poor, administer justice, make our laws, teach our children, and generally live our lives. It is to give people a license to do good and not a license to sin. It means turning our communities into places where God’s blessings flow from person to person just as God sees them flow in heaven.
Entering the Seven Gates
What would a culture look like if it were to make Jesus its Lord and Savior? What would it mean if we reconciled not only individuals to the Lord but also our communities and countries?
says, “By Him [Jesus] to reconcile all things to Himself . . . whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”In , Jesus teaches His disciples to pray: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” When Jesus came to earth, He wasn’t only looking for converts, He was looking to recreate heaven on earth. He wanted to see His followers establish His kingdom—a place where God’s will concerning all things was easily accessible, whether through the miraculous or the demonstration of Christian love. Jesus wanted to enable His followers to win back the world on His behalf.
Democracy without the basic doctrines of the Bible eventually deteriorates into a society led by a military dictatorship or other types of non-democratic governments. This is because it doesn’t work without a basic biblical framework and worldview instilled into the founding documents. The Bible gives us the tenets of belief that allow for the greatest political freedoms because God has created us with free will. Democracy based on Scripture will produce a society of law where religious oppression is not allowed.
However, this does not mean that we can have sociological law, where the majority breaks the laws of God. A society without godly safeguards deteriorates into anarchy, where everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
Christians such as William Wilberforce raised the banner of abolition to press the issue in Great Britain and the United States to end slavery. Sir Isaac Newton and other Christians have made some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history. Most of the inventions that have led to national progress have originated from “Christian” nations. Incredible things happen when God’s kingdom is released not only on an individual basis but on a societal one as well.
The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America is infused with lines that promote such ideas as humanity being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is the kingdom we need to release into the world again—a kingdom based on God’s love, justice, and power, where corruption is the exception, the hungry and poor are fed and clothed, the courts rule justly, government is run righteously, business is operated ethically, and education is more about pursuing truth than indoctrinating the young into the popular philosophy of the day. I am talking about a society based on the freedom to love rather than to lust—a government based on morality rather than convenience and selfishness, on the freedom to do what is right rather than manipulating others, appealing to their lowest natures to build personal empires. It is the true release of the gospel to radically change our world.
Through some of the work that Peter Wagner and his associates have done, it has been suggested that if we are to reform our nations, we need to affect the “seven gates of society.” These are:
1. The gate of government
2. The gate of media and communications
3. The gate of the marketplace
4. The gate of the arts
5. The gate of education
6. The gate of family
7. The gate of church and ministry
What would each of these look like if they were truly founded on Scripture? While I am not an expert in any of these fields, I do hope to start some compelling conversations among the experts. So while the first chapters of this book will look more at what reformation is, the latter chapters will discuss entering these gates in more detail and how they might look if restructured according to the precepts and promises of the Bible.
Loving God With Our Minds As Well As Our Hearts
Something happened as I worked through these concepts; something amazing took place within me. I realized that I had come to love God not only with all my heart and soul but also with my mind as we are commanded in.
A lawyer came to Jesus to test Him, asking Him what was the greatest commandment, and Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all yourmind.”
As you study the various philosophers, reformers, and others who influenced lives in the past, allow the Holy Spirit to change and adjust your thinking. Let the light of the Scripture reveal to you where you have adopted the world’s thinking and then readjust your mind to biblical patterns of thought. I feel like I have renewed my mind and shifted my thinking as I have studied the Bible. Now I judge each thought or decision as to what is right or wrong in society through a biblically framed worldview.
Let me illustrate this. I recently attended a meeting held on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. As I spoke to an audience of a thousand people, I said, “Many of you may ask what my opinion is on homosexuality. My reply to you is that I do not have one. However, let’s read from the Bible, the manufacturer’s handbook, to see what His laws are concerning this.” After that I simply read from Romans 1, which says that God’s anger is revealed from heaven against those who do not follow His mandates, and their understanding is futile or darkened. Then I read the list of those things that break God’s law through homosexuality: women exchanging their natural use for what is against nature, and men lusting for each other.
God is the Creator and has established certain laws. It doesn’t matter what I think about them any more than what I think about whether a traffic light should be on a particular street corner or not. What matters is that I stop at the red light because it is the law.
It takes loving God with all your mind to reform a nation. In reflecting on this commandment, there was an earth-shaking moment when I thought, “When have I ever been taught specifically to love God with all my mind?” Of course I have heard many sermons on the renewing of the mind as referred to in–2, but not one on this part of the greatest commandment.
It is my prayer that you will learn to love God more fully with your mind as you read through the pages of this book—that you will love God in a greater way than you have ever thought possible!
One of my major concerns in writing this book is that readers might think the subject too far over their heads to be clearly understood. I hope you don’t think this! God is able to help you incorporate the concepts of biblical reformation into your everyday life. The gospel works, and this will become clear to you once you take the time to study and learn to love God with your mind as well as your heart and soul.
When this book was first implanted in my heart, I asked the question, “Why me, God?” Why not someone with a degree in political science instead of music education? I think I know the answer. At least one is that if I could grasp these concepts, then you can too! The Holy Spirit is the great revealer of truth. He is interested in seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven!
So don’t become overwhelmed. Ask the Holy Spirit to wash your brain with the truth of the gospel. Believe me, when I first started writing, I felt inadequate and overwhelmed. How could I begin to write on such broad sweeping subjects, let alone make sense of them? I confess that there were moments I felt so stretched that I didn’t think I could possibly complete this book. There were times when I got on my face and simply wept before God, begging Him to help me on what seemed at the time an impossible assignment. I was enveloped with self-doubt and felt sure God should have called someone much smarter than me to write this.
However, little by little I climbed the mountain of timidity, and as I worked, something amazing took place within me. While I am not an academic scholar, I do know how to listen for and hear God and how to read my Bible. God would never ask any of us to do something we were not capable of accomplishing. Nothing is too difficult for God—He has always used people just like you and me to accomplish His will on the earth. And so God enabled me and led me step by step in what I needed to write. In the process, He has given me the heart of a reformer.
As I studied the subject of reformation, something was kindled in my heart, soul, and mind—like a fire shut up in my bones. I want to see nations reformed and fulfill the true meaning of the Great Commission. God calls us not only to convert individuals but to teach nations.
It is my heart’s cry that you will also receive the heart of a reformer and that the Holy Spirit will bring God’s truths to life in your heart as you read this book. It is my prayer that the words will leap from the page and into your heart, soul, and mind, indelibly imprinting on you God’s design for the establishment of His kingdom in your nation.
In the midst of reforming nations, we must not lose sight of the fact that Jesus came to be the Savior of souls. This must remain in the forefront of our focus. A reformed society will not change the souls of human beings like a supernatural encounter with the living God. We must remember the evangelism mandate given us in Scripture: All need to be saved personally—no exceptions! But we can’t stop there either. It starts with individual souls being saved, but must go on to full reformation. We cannot have one without the other.
According to Peter Wagner, this is not the first time God has tried to release into the churches the understanding that we need reformation concerning social justice issues. He sent me the following memo:
In the late 1800s the voice of Walter Rauschenbusch of Rochester, New York, began to be heard. He attempted to bring the cultural mandate back to one of the front burners of the missionary movement alongside the evangelistic mandate. He is remembered today as one of the more prominent pioneers of what soon came to be called the Social Gospel Movement. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the liberal element of the church succeeded in co-opting the cultural mandate. Ironically, Rauschenbusch himself advocated that the evangelistic mandate should be kept primary, but he wasn’t able to stem the liberal tide. His Social Gospel followers alienated themselves from evangelicals by (1) attributing the root of social evil in the U.S. to capitalism, and (2) removing the evangelistic mandate from their agenda.
This caused a strong negative reaction among evangelical leaders as we moved into the 1900s. It caused evangelicals to reject the idea of social transformation because it became stereotyped as a liberal doctrine.
That now has changed. As best I can track it, the changes began in the 1960s. At that time the Holy Spirit started speaking strongly to biblical, evangelical Christians about their responsibility to care for the poor and the oppressed.
My friend George Otis Jr. has been used mightily of God through his Transformation DVD series that takes seriously the biblical mandate to disciple and teach nations. Many of the concepts being taught concerning transformation can be applied to reformation. It takes reformers to transform!
God is raising up a new generation of on-fire, passionate leaders in every sector of society. Part of this leadership will include revivalists who are burning with a passion to see souls won and thousands saved on college campuses, in schools, and on the streets of cities around the world. God is going to raise up an army of nation-shaking reformers who will march across the face of the earth with a new holiness movement.
No matter whether you are young or old; short or tall; thin or in need of shedding a few pounds; red, yellow, black, brown, or white, God has called you to a destiny and given you a purpose to fulfill in your generation. It is time we stand together with the reformers of old and bring His light to the new millennium.
Will you join me in learning how?
Pray and Act: Get Involved
Generals International has recently developed a communications platform, called the U.S. Reformation Prayer Network (www.usrpn.org), which is designed to communicate with 500,000 folks who will pray and act to see the reformation of the United States shift back to biblical values. The prophets with whom we relate have expressed a great concern that if the United States does not make a significant shift, we may have a very difficult time recapturing the destiny expressed by our founders of being a “city set on a hill”. You can have a critical impact in seeing that shift. You can learn more at USRPN.org.
© Cindy Jacobs. Used with permission.
Share This article