The Protestant movement owes its existence to the 16th century and the labors of Martin Luther and many others, when they discovered the New Testament scriptures, translating them in the common language of the people, so even the ploughman could read and understand more of God, than the greatest doctors in the church who were ignorant of scripture.
Today you and I have our Bibles, Old and New Testament, in our own vernacular, so the truth of Gods word is always there for us, waiting to be rediscovered and reexamined. Lately I’ve been really burdened by the question, “what is the difference between a reformation and revival? For some, it might be just a difference of terminology, depending on our church backgrounds, but I think the issue is deeper than this. Though both words are often used interchangeably when Christians are often talking about the same thing, they are not the same!
A revival presupposes that we already have spiritual life, and that we already have the true and genuine article of Christianity, but through neglect and going astray, we have let our spiritual fall into decay, where we need to revive that spiritual life that is currently floundering and going astray. But what if our need is deeper than that? Could it be, that in many of our churches in America, we have never heard the true gospel proclaimed? Could it also be that our version of Christianity is not a biblical version?
If after examining ourselves with scripture, we find this to be the case, then it isn’t just revival that we need, but a reformation! A revival presupposes the existence of spiritual life that needs reviving. A reformation goes deeper than this, and removes the false and faulty foundation, and replaces it with the bedrock of scripture. A reformation is necessary where there is a false gospel being preached, Where there is no spiritual life, and never has been!
If our need runs deeper than a need for revival, and we also need reformation, we shouldn’t lose heart! In having the scriptures, we have a written record of what true Christianity is meant to look like. There is always hope while we have the scriptures. Our hope is on the one hand, in reading and understanding the scriptures, but also as we read, in God the Holy Spirit applying these very truth to our lives. I am convinced more than ever that it is not just revival we need but reformation! May God graciously grant these too us!