ref·or·ma·tion noun. The act of reforming or the state of being reformed.
re-form’ verb. “To put or change into an improved form or condition.
The Kingdom of God is always advancing; therefore, our understanding of God’s changeless Word is always advancing. I say this because what I am proposing is not adding anything new to the Word of God but, hopefully, bringing more understanding and substance to the changeless Word of God, and His Church in particular. It’s true, God does not change, but we do, and should.
I am not attempting to make a theological statement as much as an observation. So, in this light, I believe that we are currently in a third reformation, if you will (I don’t know what else to call it, so there you are). This reformation is a reformation of the Father’s love. It’s a shift in thinking and relating to God as “Father” so profound that Christianity and the way we view our relationship with God will never be the same. Hence, I believe it qualifies to be a reformation. No doubt, other people have already said this is some similar fashion, maybe even referred to it as three reformations, but I have never read or heard about it before. But even if this is so, it bears repeating because this perspective is vitally important to see what God is doing with His church in this hour.
I see three seismic shifts in the body of Christ, beginning with THE “Reformation,” in how we relate to God, how we see ourselves as believers, and how we are to accomplish our mission on the earth. And I believe that each one builds on the foundation of the one before, so we can see them as a continual progression or maybe as one big reformation.
The First Reformation
Every evangelical Christian knows and agrees with this one. It started when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door in 1517 and, thus, began the Protestant reformation (more like a revolution!). The Church, as we know it, was changed forever, and for the better in many ways. The revelation was “justification by faith.” The full authority of Scripture was re-established. Salvation by grace through faith was restored.
What was actually restored was a personal relationship with Christ. It was all about Jesus as Savior; I see it as a type of the baptism of water.
The Second Reformation
This reformation, as I am calling it, is a little more contested and misunderstood in the body of Christ. I believe this began in the late 1800’s, but the catalyst was when Charles Parham and his little group in Topeka, Kansas began speaking in tongues on January 1900. Of course, the Azusa Street revival in 1907 made it worldwide. This is referred to as a Pentecostal movement, later, the Charismatic movement. The revelation was that the gifts of the Spirit, healing, miracles, are all for today. The authority of the believer over sickness and disease, principalities and powers, was restored.
What was actually restored was the personal relationship with Holy Spirit. It was all about the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit; I see it as a type of a baptism of power.
The Third Reformation
Even less understood and possibly more contested than the first two reformations, is this third reformation that I alluded to earlier. It has to do with the Father love. I believe it started in the 1990’s with people like Jack Winter, Floyd McClung, and Jack Frost, but the “Toronto Blessing,” as it was dubbed by the British newspapers, launched it into worldwide fame beginning in 1994. Let’s call it a Father’s love and “son-ship” movement. The revelation of the “Father Heart of God” (re: Floyd McClung) was that we have a home in our Father’s house, that He loves us as His adopted sons, and that we don’t have to live like orphans anymore.
What was restored was the personal relationship with Father. It was (and is) all about our identification as sons. I see it as a type of a baptism of love.
Two quick observations I want to make here.
First, you can quickly tell which “reformation” believers and churches have camped around by what is emphasized, and more noticeably, by what they are against! Of course, we know full well from Church history that the former move of God generally persecutes and demonizes the current move of God, so there’s nothing remarkable about that. Nobody really likes to change…
Secondly, notice that no discernible denominational tag coming from this movement. It seems to affect all denominations, all movements throughout the body of Christ. Unlike the “Protestants,” the “Pentecostals,” the “Charismatics,” this “Father’s movement” apparently brings us into genuine unity across denominational lines that would normally divide us. It’s almost like, when we finally come home, no longer living like “orphan Christians,” we no longer need to divide ourselves by our doctrines. “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Cor.8:1). Perhaps, we’re growing up!
And while Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb.13:8), I am being changed forever. And that is such a good thing!