“Consider the kind of men God has used in reformation. What kind of men were they? What weapons did they employ? What were their methods? We can be sure that if there is no reformation in the pulpit there will be no reformation in the pews.
By a careful look at reformations in the history of God’s people we can learn the kind of men God uses, the weapons they employed, and the methods of approach. We ask, on the human side, whence comes their success? There are always men involved. There will be no life in a church where there is no life in the pulpit.
First, there is always a dead seriousness about God’s Word and God’s Work. There must be a felt responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God.
When we examine churches that have come alive there have always been some men who lived, labored, and preached like men who were in earnest about eternity and eternity-bound souls. Men who were grave, that is, serious. Men who had their eyes lifted up to heaven. Everything they did and said was marked by earnestness. Not just religious excitement. They were genuine and earnest men who knew that necessity was laid upon them. They felt the urgency and weight of the cause of the gospel that was entrusted to them. They threw their whole soul into the conflict. There was earnestness, not indifference. Not religious politicians seeking to climb the denominational ladder.
The second thing, that always precedes, or accompanies, true reformation is, there is always some men who are bent on success. When a man enters Christ’s Army, or the ministry, he must be bent on success. If men are not bent on success they are traitors to Christ and to His cause. I said success, not statistics, there is a difference. There may be spiritual success without great statistics. If we would see our churches come alive, and stay alive, we must be warriors who have set our hearts on victory, and fight with believing anticipation of victory under the guidance of our great Captain. As shepherds we cannot sit on the mountain side in the ease of the breeze, heedless to the straying, perishing, bleating flock; but rather, there must be a watching, guiding, guarding, and feeding of the sheep committed to our care.
If we would see reformation in the church there must be some men of faith. There must be plowing and sowing of the right kind of seed (the gospel of the grace of God), plowing and sowing in hope. The word of truth must be on their lips.
There must be some going forth weeping, bearing precious seed, knowing that in due season there will be reaping if we faint not, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain, knowing that we will return, bringing our sheaves with us. There must be some pleading with God for men and some pleading with men for God. Fix your eyes on God’s promises and plead with the psalmist; “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope” (Psalm 119:49).
They must have confidence in the Savior whose commission they bear. They must have confidence in the Holy Spirit’s mighty power. They must have faith in His power to take the wax of this world from the ears of poor, deaf sinners – faith in His power to open the eyes that are blinded by the dust of this world – faith in the power of the Word of God, that is in the message, the gospel, knowing it will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). The gospel is “….the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). If we would see a church come alive we must be going forth with faith in the power of the gospel.
There must be men of labor. The ministry is infested with preachers who encumber the ground. There must be some bearing of the burden and the heat of the day. There must be some unwearied toil of body and soul (time, strength, substance). This is what the New Testament and church history reveals. There must be some of what the great apostle speaks, “in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger, and thirst, in fastings often, in cold, and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:27). No time for levity, sloth, or pleasure. There must be a laboring for eternity. There are a lot of fruitless preachers who do not labor for eternity. These men must have their backs to the world and their eyes on the goal. They must not entangle themselves with the affairs of this world, that they may please Him who has called them to be laborers in His vineyard.
There must be much patience in the work of reforming a church. There must be a willingness to labor long without seeing all the fruit that you desire. Sow-sow-sow-day after day. Teach-teach-teach-week after week. We cannot be soon weary in well doing. We must keep that passage in mind that says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You must also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8 NKJV). Many a good plan has been aborted by impatience. Many a good day of toil has been thrown away by impatience. Men cannot force reformation, or force a church to life. Yes, there must be intense longing for success, but much patience must be joined to that intense longing.”
By Ernest C. Reisinger