Where are the Reformers? -- By: Geoffrey Thomas

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 01:1 (Winter 1992)
Article: Where are the Reformers?
Author: Geoffrey Thomas

Where are the Reformers?

Geoffrey Thomas

It is difficult not to be concerned about the state of the professing churches today. It is not so much the abundance of error; that is serious enough. What is just as serious is that the spirit of reformation has departed from us. Where are the reformers? In vain we look for them. Their absence is one of the greatest singles evidences of the fact that we live in days of spiritual decline.

How will we recognize a true reformer? It will not be by some “plan for reformation” which he publishes. No true church reformer of past generations has ever announced some “program,” “strategy,” or “decade for reformation.” Each one was simply faithful to Scripture and through his faithfulness reformation came. When Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church he did not realize that he was preparing the way for reformation. He was simply being faithful to Scripture. When William Tyndale determined to translate the Bible into English come what may, he was not aware that he was laying a foundation for the birth of English Puritanism. When Thomas Chalmers did battle with moderatism and patronage for the right of a congregation to call its own minister and to resist those foisted upon it, and when he protested against any attempt by Parliament or the courts to interfere in matters spiritual or ecclesiastical, he did not know that this would result in what we now call the Disruption.

These church reformers were merely imitating the example of the Savior Himself, who did nothing more than preach in a manner that was faithful to Scripture. Jesus addressed the error in the church of His day, and was eventually cast out, and that is how it will always be here on earth. Reformation does not require a residential conference, costly experts, or advertising hype; indeed, if any would-be reformers started to draw up such plans, they would no longer be acting in a reformational spirit and would be judged for it.

When we think about the work of church reformers, we must never look at people alone. The second book which Luke wrote should have been known as “the Acts of the risen Christ” rather than the Acts of the Apostles. Church reformation is always the sovereign work of the Lord Himself. Any reformation that truly deserves the name is entirely the work of God, and is not due to a single deed of any man. 1

We are told that “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon” (Judges 6:34). That does not mean that Gideon stood up abruptly and took action, that he suddenly shook off his lethargy and defeatism, th...

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