The Reformation Stirs
.... Before the Pendulum of Reformation could begin its cor- rective swing, the days would grow dark indeed. As the in- fluence of psychology grew within the church, in the second half of the last century, a Christian sub-culture of consumerism emerged (See Matt 25:9). Their ‘products’ included ‘me’ oriented sermons, seminars, books, etc. Their sales- men and stars were preachers and other types of performers whose message and popularity fueled selfish human desires, and who formed new beliefs that were somehow accepted as ‘Christ- ian’ (2 Timothy 4:3-4):
.... " . . .having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
(2 Timothy 3:5).
.... By necessity all forms of ministry include a ‘business’ side, but now it would grow to an unprecedented level. Through it, the foolish side of the end time church would dominate all forms of Christian media, and the true servants of the Lord would find themselves marginalized or shut out entirely as they were reduced to a voice in the wilderness. A reformation was sorely needed.
.... Although many will disagree with this estimation, it is now apparent that the first breath of relief came through the Word of Faith movement in the late 70's and early 80's. It is true that much abuse crept in as well, but we speak of faith in it's purest sense, which was certainly God's intention. And the Greek word for 'faith' envisions a relationship, just as we might hear the English word 'marriage' and understand this to be so. (In fact the same Greek word is translated 'fidelity' in Titus 2:10, which helps to illustrate this concept.)
.... Through the Word of Faith movement, a breath of fresh air came into the church and a stirring took place within our hearts. And for some, an initial awakening occurred. Here, at last, was a message of life and relationship: that we could trust the Lord and dare to follow Him, and act upon His word because He were confident He would be with us. For the first time in a generation, the dominance of psychology in the church was challenged by a moving, stirring message.
.... For a short space of time, the ‘foolish’ side of the church gave ground, but it would gradually reassert itself. To them, Christianity is a self-serving arrangement rather than a submissive relationship with God, and this perspective would infiltrate the Word of Faith movement as well. Before long, it was ‘Me, me, me!’ all over again, clad anew in the 'faith' mentality, as God was reduced to a ‘mentor’ who merely served man. Faith became impersonal rather than intimate, and so it became an end in itself, and another means of peddling God's word (2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Corinthians 2:17).
.... But God, too, was changing gears by this time. For the Word of Faith was designed as a starting point; but when a sufficient maturity had formed, other things were designed to follow:
.... " . . . useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself!"
(1 Timothy 6:5)
.... "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love . . . for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
(2 Pet 1:5-7,11)
.... This sequence of ‘movements’ began to unfold in 1981, and would eventually position the church for the end time reformation to emerge. The fact that actual events started to correlate with this sequence was carefully noted at the time. In fact, based on this very passage, it was anticipated what God would do next -- and the sequence even held true in this predictive sense. To prove this would require many personal illustrations, and if you want to hear them we can start a dialogue in the ‘comments’ section. We will also touch on them in our following posting. But for now, please allow us to go on:
.... The key to this entire sequence, and the true nature of the overall movement, is found in the emphasis on knowledge, which is the third item on the list Peter gave. Faith and virtue prepare the way for this, and everything that follows must be understood in relation to it. But what kind of knowledge does this mean? The context itself provides the answer:
.... "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."
(2 Pet 1:2)
.... This is the same Christ-centered perspective that Paul referred to in Ephesians 4:13 in describing the ‘wise’ side of the end time church. It is the last, great movement of the Holy Spirit within the church that will prepare us for Jesus’ return. Please notice that Peter’s sequence ends with an entrance into the everlasting kingdom, so again we are talking about the last days and the growth that must precede it.
.... This Christ-centered ‘hermeneutic’ was introduced to the church in 1982, but something else would happen that still effects us today. We will continue this discussion in our next posting.
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