Archive for October, 2022

Reformation Sunday 2022 and the Emerging Third Apostolic Reformation

October 30, 2022
Originally written in Latin by Martin Luther in 1517, the Ninety-Five Theses, which Luther posted on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenburg, are regarded as a primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

Although most Americans readily recognized October 31st as Halloween, countless people around the world acknowledge the last day in October as Reformation Day. Protestant Churches celebrate “Reformation Sunday” as the last Sunday in October, in light of October 31, 1517, being the actual date when Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, igniting the Protestant Reformation.

Luther and other reformers who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, and William Tyndale, were not only concerned with what the Scriptures taught, but they also wanted the common people to have access to read the Bible in their own language. The conditions were perfect, as the truths declared by Luther set Europe ablaze with the biblical doctrines of grace.

From the Protestant Reformation emerged five phrases that summarized the movement. Using the word  Sola the Latin word for “alone,” these basic theological beliefs stood boldly in opposition to the prevailing teaching of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) teaches that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all and that the Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself.
 
Sola Fide (“by faith alone”) teaches that justification, the act of “being declared right by God”, and assumed to mean exactly “salvation”), is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, though in classical Protestant theology, saving faith is always evidenced by good works.
 
Sola gratia (“by grace alone”) teaches that salvation comes by God’s grace or “unmerited favor” only. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ.
 
Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) teaches that Christ is the only mediator between God and man and that there is salvation through no other.
 
Soli Deo Gloria (“glory to God alone”) teaches that all glory is to be due to God alone since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

With Scripture alone as the sure foundation, the Reformers affirmed that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone because of Christ alone — for the glory of God alone. Today, Christians around the world give thanks to God for Martin Luther’s bold proclamation which occurred 505 years ago. We are also grateful for the brilliant display of God’s design for the Church, which continues to unfold. That number is laden with significance in that “five” symbolizes God’s grace.  

Emerging Third Apostolic Reformation

In reviewing the history of the Christian Church, certain historians recognize that the Protestant Reformation was actually the Second Apostolic Reformation, with the very first movement occurring in the 1st Century with the launching of the New Testament Church in the Book of Acts. The Protestant Reformation transitioned the Church from the “Dark Ages” to the beginning of the period of the restoration of the Church, described in Acts 3:21 as the “restitution or restoration of all things.” The underlying purpose of the second reformation was to restore and build the Church to the full maturity and ministry of Christ Jesus. This is accomplished through Christ’s five-fold ministers, of which the last two, prophets and apostles, are being restored to recognition, in light of the foundation of the Church being built on the doctrine of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:21).

Church historians and other observers of the times and seasons indicate that the Third and Final Apostolic Reformation is underway. During this period of time, the Church will emerge triumphant, as a glorious display of the multi-faceted wisdom and demonstration of the glorious power of God (Ephesians 3:10).  Christ will restore His Church to fulfill God’s original purpose and intent–as the Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ. The beauty, splendor, and power of the Church in all its fullness are yet to be seen, as the third and final Apostolic Reformation gains momentum to transform the world.

A new sound for a new movement:

Out of the Reformation, came forth a “new sound”, commonly called “the hymn.” We now recognize the distinctive nature of this musical form, as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” became known as “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” Luther composed the song after reading Psalm 46 which became the text for this most popular and best-known hymn.

Likewise, we note a “new sound” representative of the times in which we live. Elevation Worship  and Maverick City Music offer  a “new song” of exhortation from the 21st Century: “Build Your Church”:

Rainmakers: Seeding the Clouds for Revival

October 23, 2022
What are rainmakers and what does it mean to seed the clouds for revival?

Recently, Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly, VA hosted the 2022 Prophetic Conference with the theme “Releasing the Rivers of Revival.” Pastor Jim Laffoon was the speaker for the evening session on Friday, October 21, 2022, and he encouraged participants to become “rainmakers” who would “seed the clouds” for an outpouring of a great revival to flood and transform the world with the presence of the Lord, God Almighty.

The message inspired a poetic response incorporated in a previous blog post that I have revised and reposted in this blog entry “Rainmakers: Seeding the Clouds for Revival”

According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, “A rainmaker is a person who attempts to cause rain to fall, either by rituals or by a scientific technique, such as seeding clouds with crystals.” Pastor Laffoon exhorted us as believers with a passion to see change and become change agents that we are to pray fervently for an outpouring of the life-transforming presence of God across the globe. His words inspired this poetic response:

We Are Rainmakers

 17 Elijah was as human as we are,

and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall,

none fell for three and a half years! 

 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain

 and the earth began to yield its crops.

James 5:17-18 (New Living Translation)

We are rainmakers, and we seed the clouds once more,

That God might revive the earth as He did before.

Even as Elijah prayed and You sent the rain,

We are confident that You will do it again.

Our fervent prayers for revival You will not ignore.           

Those moved with compassion are what you look for.             

Your desire is to show us mercy and restore.    

Our prayers are that you would one more time send the rain.         

We are rainmakers.                                   

The whole world seems engulfed in chaos; we, therefore,

Call on You to fulfill Your promise and pour                                    

Out the power of the former and latter rain.

When we express a great need, you do not restrain,     

But as we call unto You, You do even more.

We are rainmakers.

In the Bible, we find rain is the life source for an agricultural people whose lives are dependent upon crops. In the Land of Israel God, indeed, sends rain in due season in two specific forms:  the former rain and the latter rain. In the Middle East, the former rain occurs in October or November, accompanying the planting of crops, while the latter rain occurs in the Spring, around March or April, just before the harvest. Prophets Jeremiah, Hosea, and Joel all speak of both seasons of rain.

In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter addresses the multitude in referring to the Prophet Joel:

Acts 2:16-18:

16 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days,’ God says,
    ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions,
    and your old men will dream dreams.

To appreciate the promise of God who will send the latter rain when He pours out of His spirit upon all flesh, think of what happened when God opened the windows of heaven and “poured” out the rain. Genesis 7 gives the account of Noah and the ark when the heavens opened, and it rained for forty days and nights. In the last days when God opens the windows of heaven to pour out of His spirit on all flesh, do you think the outpouring will be any less great than the first time God poured out?  God predates Morton salt whose motto is “When it rains, it pours.”

Anyone who is spiritually observant can sense that a great outpouring of the spirit of God is about to take place. In a similar way, one can tell when a torrential downpour is about to occur.

To answer the question posed at the end of the song, here is my advice: “Pray and get ready for rain!” As Zechariah 10:1 exhorts:

Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so, the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

The Book of James also reminds us of the importance of prayer in conjunction with the harvest.

James 5:7:

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.

James goes on to illustrate what can happen when a man of God prays:

James 5:17-18:

17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

The Old Testament account reveals that after a three-and-half-year drought, Elijah heard the “sound of abundance of rain.”  He sent his servant to investigate, but he saw nothing in the sky. Elijah told him to go check again seven times. After the seventh time, the servant saw a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. Shortly thereafter “that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” 

God still answers prayer. His desire is to bless more than ours is to ask. Let us continue to pray for rain, the latter rain, an abundance of spiritual outpouring, which God promised to send before the abundant harvest toward which we are steadily moving. “Pray, the Latter Rain is on the way!” and remember, “We Are Rainmakers: Seeding Clouds for Revival.”

Alvin Slaughter offers a musical benediction to our prayer with “The Latter Rain.”