Revival, or Reformation?

2017-07-29T15:55:25+00:00 By |Blog, Ekklesia, Fellowship & Church|
There have always been some who not only recognize the glaring deficiencies of what the church is, but are grieved and troubled by what they see, to the point that they cannot remain content to let things continue on, but are compelled to do something about it.

Of these blessed few who choose to stand up and speak out against the religious system, the response seems to fall along one of three approaches. As we will see, only one approach is harmonious with the prophetic example set forth in the history of the people of God, and it is the one approach that seems to be the last resort instead of the first recourse. But let us consider them in the proper order.

First, there are those who call for what amounts to Reformation. These are the Martin Luthers who standup to the religious leadership and rightly confront their unscriptural practices. The well-meaning intention is to fix what is wrong with the church by identifying all of its problems and coming up with Scriptural solutions. But this represents a zealous naivety on the part of all would-be reformers. First, it assumes that once the leaders recognize their unscriptural practices, they will repent and change their ways. History has proven that this never happens. Second, it assumes that the church system is something God wants to reform, when the truth is that the church system was made by man and was never authorized by God in the first place. Reforming it has the same effect as patching an old garment with new cloth, or pouring new wine into old wineskins, which results in ruining both the old and the
new.

These attempts at reformation, if they are not quashed altogether, typically result in the establishment of something very similar to compete with what was already there. When the Catholic church rejected Luther, he founded another religious system based upon his understanding of Scriptural truth. To be sure it was an improvement over the Catholic system; but it was still a religious system nevertheless. From the Protestant Reformation many thousands of denominations have sprung, each more or less based upon their own interpretation of Scripture and upon the founding principles of the Roman Catholic church embedded in their history. The end result is that we are even further away from the simplicity of Christ with each attempt to repair what God never called us to build in the first place.

Second, there are those who espouse Revival as the cure to everything that ails Churchianity. The church is sleeping, and needs to be roused from sleep (so the thinking goes). The revivals of generations past, and the preachers who seemed to be instrumental in stirring up these revivals, are idealized and venerated as great heroes of the faith; the kind of people we need to be (or find) in order to experience the same kind of revival and awakening that they experienced. The Revivalist is similar to the Reformer in that both types of people hope to repair what is wrong with the church, hoping to spark a movement or a move of God that will shake the church out of complacency and restore something of the power that the early Christians had. But the Revivalist lays emphasis more on the spiritual experience than Scriptural integrity. This naturally creates a certain hankering after signs, wonders, miracles, and visible manifestations of the “power” of God as evidences and proofs that God is moving or doing something to revive and restore to what used to be.

Again, the clear witness of Scripture and the prophetic record of God’s dealings with His people rises up to contradict the Revivalist in his enthusiastic naivety. Yes, it is true that revivals and spiritual awakenings have occurred and will continue to occur. One of the greatest revivals of the 20th Century was the charismatic movement, which formed the background of my own spiritual awakening. Even so, however much individual people may have benefited from these revivals and spiritual movements, none of these things have resulted in any fundamental change to Churchianity itself. The religious system continues on, and the deception and abuse it dispenses in the name of God gets worse with every generation.

God will not continue to pour out His Spirit or send any kind of revival to people who still remain in a religious system that God has judged and called us to come out of. Any real pouring out of God’s Spirit must result in a people being called out; God is not the author of something that requires people to go back to Babylon in order to benefit from it themselves, or to bring Life to it. On the contrary, the very idea of “revival” is frequently used by Churchianity in a desperate attempt to breathe new life into something that is clearly dead. It is dead because it is under the judgment of God. He has not called us to bring it back to life again; on the contrary, His judgment says, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead” (Mt.8:22).

While God has certainly been patient with His people and has even blessed efforts to reform or revive, it has always been with an understanding that He was calling those who had been reformed and revived to come out and be obedient to Him. The prophetic declaration is to “come out of [Babylon], My people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).

God’s ultimate intention is neither Reformation nor Revival, but Repudiation! Repudiation is a strong word. It means, “to reject the authority or validity of; to disown or cast off.” But this is precisely what followers of Jesus have had to do from the very beginning. To the elders and high priests of Judaism, the apostles stated simply, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Later, when the Christian Church took on the same religious spirit as the Jewish Sanhedrin, other men and women followed in the same tradition of the apostles and repudiated the authority of the religious establishment in order to maintain the Testimony of Jesus. They were neither Reformers nor Revivalists; they simply repudiated the religious system altogether.

There is a wonderful reformation happening right now – not within the religious system, but within the hearts and minds of people who are repudiating that system. There is a tremendous revival taking place right now, and it is a revival along spiritual lines, among those who have heeded the call to “come out of Babylon” and have been raised to new Life. God is revealing Christ to people, and people are learning how to enter into Him and how to live in Him, and how to walk in Him. They are leaving the complexities of Religion for the simplicity of Relationship. This is a quiet reformation, a quiet revival, a grass-roots movement that is governed by the Holy Spirit.

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About the Author:

CHIP BROGDEN is a best-selling author, teacher, and former pastor who shares "real, simple, truth" about a Christ-centered faith that is based on relationship, not religion. Learn more »

23 Comments

  1. Camie Reyes June 26, 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

    This post is so encouraging as I’ve been out of church for about 12 years and missing being connected to a body. But the Lord has just not allowed my going back to any church or group. I have been feeling as if I was wandering in the desert never to find my way. Evenso, the Lord has been right there by my side encouraging me every step of the way, as He’s done this morning through your post. Thank you! keep up the great work you are doing. Your teachings have been keeping me going through all these years and I am blessed to have seen your ministry grow by leaps and bounds.

    Blessings to you,

    Camie Reyes

  2. Lynn June 26, 2012 at 11:11 am - Reply

    I’m so grateful for you Chip..to have someone put a voice to what I know and believe only do it waaay better than I could..That’s such a blessing.
    My Husband died recently and because i was desperate for human fellowship, I visited a church. I found out that even if they are seeking the Lord , I could never sit under an organized church system again!

    • Becky June 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      Lynn,
      I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that the Lord brings you the companionship you need both through the relationship you enjoy with Him and also with people in your life to encourage you and be with you. My heart goes out to you and I will be praying for you! I am so thankful for the fellowship we share in Christ! It is such a blessing to have the encouragement here to grow, learn, and support one another.
      God bless you!

  3. kenneth dawson June 26, 2012 at 11:29 am - Reply

    yes chip i am glad to be contacted with you on the internet and by your books–i have also experienced dissatisfaction with churchianity–the way the lord has guided me is thru an understanding of the difference between ontological and epistemological relations with him and your writtings have helped me to understand these philisophical viewpoints.

  4. S...R.. June 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the affirmative words in your post. I have had to repudiate ‘Babylon’ not only in the Church system but also in my family system that uses scripture to control and manipulate anyone vulnerable for security and that sense of belonging among people. In that setting, repudiating meant for me to solely rely on Christ as my authority and security for the past 10 years. His leading and counsel has been more profound than any fleshly sense of security I’ve ever had before.

    • Marian June 27, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Good thinking!! We were never created to “heck our brains at the door!” God led me out of “church” and into freedom. (Him) It was for freedom sake, that Christ set us free. It took a long time to let go the vestiges of the system,and to this day if I set foot in a church building, I think… what if… BUT the Lord doesn’t live there, He lives in the new temple- me. Outside the system there is perspective and the whole field, which is Christ, becomes apparent. I am for the ages so grateful that He chose me to come out. He did the choosing, lest i boast.
      All is after the council of His own will and after all, it is all HIS-story.
      I continue to learn to rely on His spirit in me to lead, and He does- in places I never thought I’d go. Each time I took a step, He has met me. I believe, I am richer for it and God is freer in me as well.

  5. brother jerry b baker June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Brother Chip,
    I am grateful for your ministry and insight about the Church verses Babylon. I have been outside of the “system church” looking in since I was baptised into the Holy Spirit in 1985. I was born again in 1973 in the local church movement which had the anointed teachings of Watchman Nee on the Normal Christian Church Life but was “controlled” by another leader. My desire is to see and be the bride of Christ, not to go to church, so thanks again for your labor in the Word of God and your obedience to spread it freely. It may not seem to get out to as many as you’d like but it gets to everyone that the Lord has ordained and given an ear to hear it! Sincerely, Your co-laborer, in Jesus’ service, brother jerry b baker <

  6. James Mal June 28, 2012 at 8:16 am - Reply

    Yes; dear chip, The so called church is not the Church that The Christ is building. It is just a religioous system in the name of Jesus. It is a hiding place from God. The religious people hide behind their self righteousness, their good deeds. It is the religious people who Crucified Jesus and they are doing it every day. The Church that Christ is building is unobservable. The church that we can see, touch and handle is a demonic replica, founded on the Western sophistry, founded on the socio/religious dogmas, founded on the Clock and Calendar.
    “The church is looking after the derelicts of This World, looking after their flesh, supporting old Adam, supporting Satan. Noel Stanton
    The church is all too ften a pool to fish in rather than boat to fish from. David Watson

    James

  7. Faye June 28, 2012 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    I sent your writing today to the people in my former congregation with an explanation of the journey the Lord has taken me on to get to this point of understanding. I pray they will at least think on these things! I had a vision recently of Jesus returning for His people, and there were churches full of people just staring at the pulpit, totally unaware of what was happening! And when they realized, they are the ones who were saying to Jesus, “Didn’t we say Lord! Lord! Didn’t we cast out demons in the name of Jesus?!” and He turned to them and said “But I never knew you.” It made me sad. What a false sense of security and massive deception in the name of the Lord.

    What makes it so clear they are under deception is the fact that no one even notices when a person in the church does something horrible to someone else. They aren’t moved to right the wrong or even reach out to the hurting person! Shocking. Those who are humble and submitted to the Lord would receive a ready conviction to make things right. Religious pride and indifference instead of brokenness and the Lord’s heart…..

  8. Jim Wickens July 27, 2012 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Love your insights.

    I desire “Revelation” more than Revival or Reformation.
    Having said that many thoughts come to mind but “the’ Revelation that I am talking about is the only one that the Father is concerned about. The Revelation, Revealing
    Apokalupto, Uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up. Disclose and uncover ! Yes and Amen. Now I understand Paul in Galatians 1:16. To REVEAL HIS SON IN and forever IN me! This was Paul’s purpose and his calling. God only has one purpose and plan. It is the Son who “is” the completed work of God. He must be revealed in, through and with us.

    OH GOD, REVEAL YOUR SON IN ME.

  9. Avery Thomposn August 8, 2012 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Chip,

    Thanks for the information that you are presenting here on the site. I’ve recently become a subscriber after a 5 year battle to leave the “system”. I thought I was crazy for doing it, but finding your site and the information you present lets me know I’m not as crazy as I thought I was!

    God Bless Your Ministry!

  10. Brenda Brown August 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Chip,
    I am convinced that if Jesus preached in most churches today he would offend 99% present.

    It’s lonely on the outside; that’s true. Our Christian friends are off in all directions: conferences, seminars, prophetic schools, signs and wonders revivals…

    It can get alarming when “global” ministers are teaching that if signs and wonders don’t follow you, then you need to follow signs and wonders!

    Staying connected to The Head is vital to avoid deception in these days.

    Christ must be our focus or we will get off track. He takes precedence over reformations, revivals, whatever.
    He is TRANSFORMATION through revelation of Himself. He revives continuously, and I don’t have to pay airfare and hotel fees to have Him!!!

    I see a line being drawn where we are going to have to make a choice: Christ or Religion. This is a sobering fact.

  11. Patrick Gacosta February 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Chip how’s it going? I’m fairly new to all of this. It never occurred to me that not everyone who leaves a church, or rather a building, is backslidden or falling into sin. There are many leaving I guess due to some dissatisfaction to a system or an organization. I for one am slowly headed that direction. I love my church family immensely, but I feel like the time has come to fully seek Him and not a system. I’m still new at this, but I’m starting to learn a lot from this site. Please pray for me about this. God bless my brother!

  12. Richard January 24, 2016 at 9:34 am - Reply

    As always you have written the thoughts of my heart.
    The thought occurred to me recently that the Holy Spirit Himself is calling many out of the sepluchres of religion and back to relationship with Christ.
    This is a God birthed calling, and He gets the glory. God is personally drawing people to the Son, at this I rejoice.

    • Chip Brogden January 24, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      Yes. “He must increase.” Therefore He WILL increase, and He IS increasing. Everything else is decreasing. Rejoicing with you.

  13. ♥Jesus4Ever♥ January 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I always see Christians on Christian FB pages accusing those not in a congregation, that they have fallen away from the Lord. They have a very haughty attitude about it. Like we are all going to hell because of it. Not to mention how they love to tell everyone online how they faithfully pay their tithes. I sometimes sit here, reading those remarks and I feel no love emanating from them. Just judgment and condemnation. Telling us that we have to be under a covering (the pastor).

    Well I thought Jesus is our covering! We are accused of being disobedient to the word of God. Always quoting “do not forsake the assembly”. April will be 2 years since my husband and I left the organisation. Tired of hearing how we are cursed, every single Sunday, because we do not tithe, that we rob God of what rightfully belongs to Him. Tired of manipulation because we do not pay tithes. New rules were brought in for the dancers (I was one of them, not a tither, but we gave offerings). The new rule stated that you had to be a faithful tither to be in the dance group. 🙂 Being told by the female pastor (pastor’s wife) that if people don’t want to get with the program, they must “GET OUT”. She shouted that while standing at the Lord’s table, ready to serve communion.
    False prophets were always being invited to practise their divination on the congregation. The pastor’s ambition is to be like Benny Hinn, own a mansion, own a jet, mega church etc.
    So many things, some I can’t mention. We just got tired of it all. We “GOT OUT”.
    Immediately all contact via my church contact list on my phone was stopped by them.

    I did speak up privately, respectfully to the pastors about my concerns, but I was accused of having an “unteachable spirit” if I refused a teaching by the pastor on tithing. 🙂 lol I agreed to the teaching, I’m still waiting for pastor to show me tithing in the New Testament. He admitted…it’s not in the New Testament, but it is the rules of the organisation and if you want to be a member, you have to abide by the rules. Just like that he said it. 🙂

    I cried for such a long time after that, felt like I was in mourning. Many times I wondered if we did the right thing, but thank you Jesus for always being there, leading me into all truth, being my comforter. And no, we did not fall away from Jesus. We’re still going strong with Jesus. He never left us, we never left Him. We have relationship with Him! ♥

    God led me to brother Chip and his teachings after we left the organisation. I was amazed! 🙂 Blessings to all and you and your family Chip Brogden.

    • Chip Brogden January 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      That’s awesome! Time to put all those people in your rear view mirror and look ahead to where God is bringing you now.

  14. Kendall Richard Albright January 24, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve been free from the old system for years. It’s amazing how as I let myself decrease, My relationship with Him just keeps getting better. As we deny our selves and take up our cross, and follow Him. He is actually there for us to follow. WOW!

  15. Mitch Culp July 30, 2017 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I have walked in this arena for nearly 25 years of my 45 years of being a truly “born again” believer. What I am looking for is some “local” people who are in the same situation and desire true fellowship in order to encourage and admonish one another. Talking to one another by electronic devices is O.K., but face to face to face is far more effective. I have about three people that I have been in relationship for over 30 years, but 2 of them still attend a large church. I have to believe that there are others in my immediate area that are seeking the same thing, i just can’t seem to find them.

    What Chip has addressed is so very true, we are not a popular group because we go against the “norm”. And as one of the responses stated. “it can get very lonely out there”. In saying all of this I have no desire to go back into the system and be subjected to some organizations or someones personal agenda of “self glorification” and “promotion”.

    I have never lost sight of the true calling of the Lord and I will continue to walk this walk, even if I must walk it alone. Good lesson and good comments for all of you.

    Mitch Culp

    • Chip Brogden July 31, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

      I’m not sure that “face-to-face” is necessarily more effective at encouraging and admonishing than by telephone, email, or social media. Paul wrote letters when he was physically unable to speak to his fellow believers, I would say those letters were more effective and memorable than anything he taught them face-to-face. I have found it a good practice to take what and whom God provides and use whatever means He allows to encourage and admonish. If we keep looking for a particular modality hard enough something will come along to fill the need but it is not necessarily God’s Will – or His best. Thank you for reading.

  16. Patty July 30, 2017 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Even as I sit on my patio this beautiful Sunday morning in New Jersey appreciating all that God created in heaven and earth by his hand . I feel that longing and some doubt as to whether I should be sitting in a building this morning . I do miss some of my fellow brothers and sisters from church. As so many of your online folks have said finding chips writings and website has been a very big blessing in my life . I have to say that I had been out of the church system for quite some time in all truth not for good reasons necessarily . after surrendering to the Lord again thank God he is the God of second and third and fourth chances… I dutifully went back to where I started which was a local Pentecostal Church. I didn’t embrace all of their Doctrine but I felt that it was a start . 3 years later I must say that in many ways I have felt emptier and More Lonely than before I went back to church sometimes at studies it seemed that I was struggling to hold on to the truth that I believe the Lord had revealed to me and there was no confirmation among these folks. in theory I was surrounded by like-minded believers . this was frightening and frustrating at the same time and heartbreaking there were a couple of people thank God that were close to the Truth and I did have Unity of spirit and confirmation through prayer with them. Interestingly enough one of my sisters was the person that referred me to Chips website . although she and her family are still in the organization they are also sensing that their days there are numbered. At this point I have had more communion with my Lord and Savior in the last several months then I probably ever had in my entire relationship with him. My biggest struggle is knowing how much or if to try and explain to the people in church why I have seemingly abandoned them and in their minds probably the Lord as well. I don’t want to cause anyone else to stumble or try to turn anyone’s heart from the path the Lord has them on however it may just be an excuse on my part to not open myself up to their judgment or disapproval . pray for me on that one thank you Chip for all your studies I really enjoyed Revelation chapter 3 and the letters to the churches God bless ! Patty

    • Chip Brogden July 31, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      I tell people who still struggle with being “in or out” of church to go back to church and see if you can fit in. Many find they cannot, but sometimes they have to go through a tough experience to finally become obedient to what they intuitively knew was true all along. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you don’t attend – thinking you have to defend and explain yourself is just the residue of religion. If you’re going to follow Him outside the camp and bear His reproach then it means being misunderstood and not being able to fully explain your actions. “I love you, and I love God, and this is the path He has me on right now” is the best way to articulate it, and leave it at that. Thank you for reading.

  17. Marthe BRIVAL July 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Amen !

    Non une religion ! Mais une relation avec Christ !

    Merci frère Chip !

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