Our world is in a constant state of change, and regretfully many of these secular changes gradually but steadily affect the church. Regretfully we are losing our moorings, our connection to the heritage of our Christian faith.
Over the past fifteen years I have been on a spiritual safari, searching for the reality of God in my life and in His church. This journey inevitably leads me to the past, to the men and women who have gone before us. I find myself drinking from the ancient wells of our fathers. The wells of Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry and many others keep attracting me and calling me to drink. The more I drink; I am convinced of two things. First, I am a Protestant Christian. The message that birthed Western civilization penned by the Apostle Paul “The just shall live by faith,” and echoed by Martin Luther 15 centuries later is still the foundation of Western Civilization today, the undergirding of His church and the anchor of my soul.
Martin Luther was lost in the snare of human effort and a system of religious works until one day he read those words from Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.” Those words brought freedom to his soul and began the revolution that drug Europe from the shadows of the dark ages. The Protestant Reformation had begun.
As a monk, Luther later wrote, he was tormented by the thoughts of damnation for sins, saying that he “hated this God who punched sinners, if not with silent blasphemies at least with huge murmurings. I was indignant against God. As if it were not enough that miserable sinners, eternally ruined by original sin, should be crushed…through the Law of the Ten Commandments…and so I raged with a savaged and confounded conscience.” He therefore turned to the Bible. The Catholic Church had always taught that grace was active, in the sense that it came into force at the Day of Judgment when the righteous would be separated from the damned. As he read Romans 1, Luther became convinced that the grace of which Paul wrote was passive, hence available to everyone. This led to his conclusion that salvation came not through penance and repentance, nor through the intercession of saints and martyrs or the prayers of the church, but by faith alone. It was an entirely new idea. As Luther re-read Romans 1:16-17, he wrote, I felt myself straightaway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise.” This led to the further belief that the Bible was the sole authority. In 1517, he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg University.
Luther also taught us a second great lesson, the priesthood of the Christian believer. In I Peter 2:9 we are called a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” This teaching birthed a great revolution in the souls of those experiencing this new faith. No longer did they need an earthly mediator; they had a mediator in heaven, the man Christ Jesus. We all have direct access into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. We are all priests unto God.
Luther also taught us the importance of the Word of God. He proceeded to translate the Bible into German for the people in his churches. As these new believers began to search the scriptures in their own language everything changed. Today we have access to many great translation, commentaries and word study books. Dig into the word of God; it is food for our soul.
Our Protestant fathers also taught us the importance of the local church. The ministries of the ministers flow out of the local church and become the centerpiece of our Christian lives.
In the revival of 1734-1735 in Northampton, Mass, the local church became the hub of everything. This is where our instruction, our relationships, and even our business found its protection. The local church is critical to our way of life in our western culture.
Ephesians 2:17-22 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Secondly, I am a Pentecostal, Protestant Christian. When Jesus left His disciples to return to heaven and told them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” [Acts 1:4]. This is a promise the Father made to Jesus in eternity. Father and Son entered an eternal covenant. If Christ would become a man and sacrifice his life for fallen man all those who believed upon Him would receive the Promise, the awesome baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is the purchase possession obtained by Christ on the cross.
Secondly I want to honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus. John prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mark 1:8,9). When Jesus ascended into heaven His heavenly ministry as our heavenly High Priest began. This heavenly ministry is the ministry of immersion in the person of the Holy Spirit. We see the first occurrence of this on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Today His heavenly ministry continues. The modern church, many times, does not recognize or honor Jesus and His heavenly ministry. Many times we want to rewrite the emphasis of church and Christian life. To honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, we need supernatural power. Our world is become more dangerous everyday. It is becoming harder and harder for Christians to live a godly life in this dark, wicked world. We need the power of God, the tangible power that comes upon us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. To live Holy in this perverse world we need His power.
We also need this power for effective ministry. Jesus told us this in Acts 1:8. He said we would receive power (dunamis-supernatural power) when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We are dealing with addictions, illnesses, and all kinds of bondages when ministering to this generation. Christian slogans are not good enough, we must have power.
Finally, I am a Pentecostal because of the blessing given to me by the supernatural language of prayer. Speaking in tongues is the doorway to the world of the supernatural.
Paul said we are edified, built up spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:2,4) when we pray in tongues. He said the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses when we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26). He taught about our intercessory anointing that sometimes comes when we pray in tongues (Romans 8:27). He also taught about the prophetic nature of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15).
The prayer language is not an after thought, or an unimportant extra. The prayer language is foundational to the supernatural Christian life.
We live in perilous times (II Timothy 3:1). We need to return to the faith of our fathers. We have drifted toward a seeker sensitive, Christian light faith for far to long. We must return to our Protestant and our Pentecostal roots. The future of our families our cities and our nation are on the line. Join with me on my spiritual safari, we are sojourning to the city, the city that has a foundation whose builder and maker is God.