Saturday, November 5, 2016

The coming reformation?

Most people are familiar with The Reformation, the historical event that nominally began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to a church door. Even that specific event, and the centuries of consequences, had a long preceding history. Church history is not a simple, linear path. Mostly because it involves real humans and a God that refuses to be put in a box. In any case, it is generally accepted the Reformation started with Luther, “ended” at some vague point in history, and now today we have Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants, with something like 30,000 denominations world wide.

At the same time, there is a growing sense of discontent concerning the church. There are repeated calls for the church to “wake up” or “be revived” or get more truth, better doctrine, more meaningful practice, better art, music, and preaching, have more service projects, engage culture better, conserve traditions and values, progress to get with the times, be more innovative, get back to the book, etc.

Did the Reformation end? Is it over? Is it finished? Can it ever even be finished?

We at Sun Ministries are convinced that God is at work in America today, bringing reformation. He is, as He has always done, calling people to Himself and His ways, to declare His glory and minister to the world. This Reformation is not a collection of right answers, nor a more refined process. It is simply an act of surrender and obedience to the Maker of the universe and choosing to live by His designs.

There isn't much mysterious about this reformation, other than the Holy Spirit who moves like the wind wherever He pleases. God has given us His Bible, and His Spirit, and promised to be with us always to the very end. Along the way, man has corrupted these things. He has invented ways of living out our faith. In fact, the history of reformation is one of a repeating pattern: a person or group of people start to see the corruption of the time within the institutional church, go outside the church in some manner and stress values that have been forgotten (sometimes to the point of inventing new errors), are persecuted by the established, corrupted church system, and either the group fizzles out, or mutates over time to look a lot like the thing it left. Division runs rampant.

We have a deep conviction that God has called us to be involved in this reformation. We are not perfect, nor do we have all the answers. But He has been teaching us, both as we gather and pray, and as we lay down our lives and minister in a real world. Dr. Terry Goodwin, our executive director, has written about this in several books. The first one is “Disciple Driven Church: The Coming Reformation.”

Here are some excerpts from the book:

If you want to see the instructions for what the church should look like, you must first see the priorities of a Christ follower. Once you see the instructed priorities of a Christ follower you can then place the leadership structures of God over these priorities to help individuals to fulfill their purposes in Christ. What are some of these priorities? The greatest two are given by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39 as the things on which all the Law and Prophets hang. You must love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the first goal of any follower of Christ. Beyond these basics we are instructed to go and make disciples, care for the widows and orphans, care for the poor, and use our spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ, which is the church. As you can see, the ministry focus of the church was to be both the world and the Body of Christ. Leadership was established to oversee the administration of these ministries, protect the flock from false doctrine, and to equip the saints for these works of service. Over the course of history, men have grabbed more control and have moved the ministry to places of more control. Many church leadership structures oversee and control things that they are not instructed in scripture to control.”

God sees the church as a living declaration of His glory. It is designed to live in the Holy Spirit, be defined by the Holy Spirit, and declare God’s glory to the spirit realm. The purpose of the church is to meet together to equip the saints for the works of service that express God’s glory. If the people that gather as the church do not possess the Holy Spirit, are not gifted with spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit, and do not understand what they are there to do through the Holy Spirit, then how effective is the church? Only as we gather the disciples together does the gathering declare to the spirit realm that God is God. Only as we teach disciples to obey does the spirit realm believe that we truly believe that God is God.”

The call for the disciple is clear. We are to obey Christ and join Him in tearing down the works of the devil. We are to do what we see in Isaiah 61:1-3. We begin by consecrating ourselves first...The part of our life that we withhold from God is the seat of our future troubles...Once we are free we will go and repair the devastated places. We will repair the damage that Satan and his army have accomplished. Through this, we will declare that God has dominion over all the earth.”

We fall to our enemy when we lean on our own understanding. We fall to our enemy when we fail to rest in the finished work of Christ.”

You can download the book for free at our online store.

You can also purchase a physical copy if you'd like.