There are two movements with a similar end goal today, and yet somewhat diametrically opposed to each other, concerning the Church.
One is called Reformation and the other is Revivalism. Both terms have been defined incorrectly and confused with each other many times.
Reformation is a result of the punishment of the Law.
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
Reformation is ultimately based on the Law and Works. In the Law, there is little Grace. The Law punishes, and with the threat of punishment the Lord begs Israel to stop their sin, lest they be destroyed. Reformation is not a bad thing, but it is not the best thing.
The above passage is the only mention of the word "reform" in the Bible.
Revival is a result of the blessing of Grace.
Psalms 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
Here, the people of God willingly humble themselves before Him. There is a relationship. The passage talks about the blessings of Grace instead of the horrible punishments of the Law. The chapter first starts with a blessing of God's favor on the land and forgiveness. In contrast, the only chapter that mentions reform starts with a commandment. Praise God for Revival!
Reformation is Traditional.
Promoters of Reformation always point to the Reformers and their theology. While they give lip-service to going back to the Bible, ultimately, the Reformer's theology is often the final word, instead of the Word.
Revival is Biblical.
Proponents of Revival, however, point to the Bible as their final authority. So make note and beware if one is claiming to be a Revivalist and yet base their revivalism on experience rather than Scripture. True revival comes along with the Bible hand-in-hand.
Reformation is for the Jews.
Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
One mark of reformed theology is covenantal theology, where Christians take place of Jews in the whole of history. A careful and literal reading of the Bible disproves this view, contrasting both, and notes that reformation is only for the Jews and Israel. This further proves that reformation only concerns itself with the Law and not Grace. (This is the only time the word "reformation" appears in the Bible)
Revival is for the Christians.
Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Revival is arising from the dead, which our spirits have done in salvation. Regeneration is revival. It is Christ that gives light.
Reformation is a result of human works.
Reformation is equal to "turning over a new leaf". Turning over a new leaf morally is not revival. Other definitions of the word render it "to be instructed", "chastised". These are soulical actions, that is the unregenerated mind and will, not spiritual.
Revival is a result of God working.
Revival is the act of making one alive, to be awakened. Only One can make something alive, and that is God. Revival results in salvation (Psalms 85:7). It is an action of the spirit of man, the part of man that is born again and regenerated.
Reformation is dead.
The Church of Sardis in the Bible is equated to the Church of Reformation in the eschatological system of Dispensationalism (Revelation 3:1-6). And rightly so. A study of the history of the Reformation reveals no great missionary movement, only the start thereof. It has a name that livest, because it did change history by the reintroduction of the Bible to the masses, but it is dead.
Why is it dead? For one, the Reformation did not fully comply with the teachings found in the Bible, but retained some of the tradition of the Catholic church and thus compromised with its leaven. For example, the reformer Luther did not remove infant baptism from his theology, even when a man pointed out that it couldn't be found in the Bible.
Reformation churches were also mostly state churches. A union of state and church produces a dead church. The practice of voluntary belief is found only in the Age of Revival. AS one remembers the letter of the Baptists to Thomas Jefferson concerning the separation of church and state.
Revival is alive.
Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
The Church of Philadelphia, on the other hand, is equated to the Church of the Revival Awakenings (Revelation 3:7-13). It was only in the Awakenings that a great missionary movement to reach the world. It was at that time great men of God came and went. Even the men that the Reformed today see as heroes came from this age, such as A.W. Tozer and Charles Spurgeon, not the age of the Church of Reformation. It was also at this era that the purified church, was its strongest, boasting the most massive congregations. The world was in a fervor of the preaching of the gospel. We look at these time as the most moral in our world's cultures, which spans from the Victorian Age to the 1950s.
Those that are spiritually living are revived.
In conclusion, the Bible and history proves that Revival is better. Reformation is not a bad thing, but Revival is simply better.
The recent Burlington Revival, while not a massive awakening we all had been hoping for, still proves that God is on the throne and still moves His people.
Editor/Author's Note: Updated and expanded from the original post.
BaptistMemes is also your source for deep thoughts, theology, and other serious discussion about the Bible, Baptists, and Fundamentalism.
The following is not structured well, I will fix that in a future post:
1. Old Testament Salvation: Faith in what God said as shown by and resulting in works (Adam to Noah to John the Baptist, as shown by James, Hebrews Hall of Faith resulting in works. It's not faith automatically in the coming Son of God, but what specifically God said to that specific person, which included statements of the coming Son of God. For example, Noah was saved not because he believed specifically on Jesus the Messiah, but he believed God's pronouncement of the Flood, faith, and built an ark, works resulting in faith. Adam simply had to obey )
2. Before Jesus was on Earth: Faith shown by water baptism of repentance by John the Baptist
3. When Jesus was on Earth: Faith in His physical Person, and water baptism (his disciples baptized)
The believing dead on times before this went to Paradise, Abraham's bosom under the Earth (Lazarus and rich man)
The believing dead on times after this went to the Third Heaven, above the Earth
4. When Jesus resurrected but before the Pauline letters were written: Faith as shown by water baptism of repentance (Acts)
5. TODAY: Pauline letters written until the Rapture: Grace through faith, works need not to be shown, no water baptism needed (Romans and rest of Paul's letters)
6. In the Tribulation: Faith as shown through keeping the commandments and refusing the mark of the Beast (most like the ten commandments,
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.)
7. During and after the Millennium: Allegiance to the physical Son of God that can be seen. There is no faith in the Millennium or afterwards, as "faith is the substance of things not seen". This only applies to the Gentile nations who are left after the Tribulation. (refer to Old Testament prophecies of the Kingdom and the judgment of Sheep and Goats, a judgment of nations, not the Church)
I Corinthians 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
Signs and Miracles and the Word (Wisdom)
1. Old Testament before the Law: God appeared Himself, with all the trappings of miracles (Creation, Flood, plagues, pillar of fire and cloud)
2. Old Testament Israel: God appeared to the High Priest in the temple and prophets did miracles
3. Intermission, Silent Years (Malachi-Matthew): No Biblical records of signs or miracles
4.. Gospels: Jesus showed miracles to Israel, and made exceptions to only two Gentiles (the woman and the centurion)
5.Pentecost: Tongues and other miracles primarily a witness to the Jews
6. Pauline Letters: Tongues and other miracles started to cease, being replaced by the witness of charity/love (I Cor. 13)
7. Once Revelation was written, and the canon set: Wisdom was fully written down
8. TODAY: The entire Bible spreading this current Church age: God's primary mode of showing Himself is through the Word of wisdom. Where the Bible is, it takes precedence over miracles. Once a society is saturated with the Word of God, miracles completely cease. That's one reason why formely "Christian" nations today turn atheistic and secular, once the Bible is plentiful, overt spiritual activity that can be seen ceases, and secularism is a threat. (2 Pet. 1:19) False science tries to replace godly wisdom (1 Tim 6:20)
9. The Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium: Signs and wonders, both holy and devilish, come back in full force primarily for the salvation of Israel, and to turn the Gentile nations into aiding Israel.