The greatest revivalist since the apostolic times (to the mind of this writer) was Jonathan Edwards.  There were several outbreaks of revival during his lengthy stay at Northampton.  How could Edwards, who read his sermons and preached sermons (today they would be considered academic sermons) without using lengthy stories or telling jokes, be God's instrument for revival?   In one of his post-revival sermons Edwards said:  "When any professing society is as a city set on a hill 'tis a great obligation upon them to honor religion in their practice."  The obligation comes from TRUTH.  It is the opinion of many that God granted revival because Edwards was an expositor of BIBLICAL TRUTH.  It is the recovery of biblical truth (Reformation) that leads to the practice of biblical truth (Revival). 

     What truth does the church need to recover?  First and most important they need to recover (or for some it may be a discovery) the authority upon which doctrinal or theological assertions may be debated.  Martin Luther called it "sola scriptura" a Latin phrase which means "by Scripture alone."  Scripture is the ultimate authority to teach professing Christians what they must believe about God and what God expects of them.  We are standing on the precipice of a neo-dark age because "Scripture alone" is no longer the final authority in the Protestant church.  The liberal theologians teach their students one gospel while the fundamentalists teach another gospel.  The antinomians preach one gospel, while the legalists preach another gospel.  The Calvinists preach one gospel, while the Arminians preach another gospel.  And the list is endless!  Then ask the question:  What is your authority to preach this gospel?  The answer is the Bible! 

     Until the differences are resolved, reformation will never take place and therefore revival will not take place.  First, the individual Christian must resolve any internal struggles with the truth of the gospel (the gospel must be understood in the context of the whole counsel of God).  Once the truth of the gospel is recovered to the mind of an individual Christian, then reformation recovers the truth and revival may spread throughout the church. Reformation is not merely an academic enterprise, although it does require the Holy Spirit to enable the reformer to understand the Word of God. Revival is not evangelism, although most revival meetings  I've attended are treated like and evangelistic meeting.

     This process is not easy.  Ordained ministers will be the most resistant to reformation and revival.  It takes work, hard work, to draw out truth from the Word of God. However, it takes physical and spiritual courage to put it in practice.  It was through serious and agonizing inquiry into the Word of God that provoked Dr. Martin Luther to stand against the most powerful church in the world.  The Roman Catholic Church had replaced the central teachings of Scripture with church tradition and the imaginations of men. "They worship the work of their own hands" (Isaiah 2:8). Jesus addressed the religious leaders of His day: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).  The modern evangelical church has fallen prey to the same error but the agenda in the church today lays great emphasis on the imaginations of men (i.e. The New Apostolic Reformation movement, emerging church movement, charismatic movement, the church growth movement, para-church movement, et. al). If these movements are under the authority of the church, they are no longer movements. However, if they teach man-made doctrine, the church will bring them under discipline.  The basis for reformation must begin by Scripture alone.  

     Then it takes conviction, an abundance of it, to preach biblical truth because as in the days of the Apostle Paul many "will not endure sound doctrine." It must be more than laziness that keeps pastors from preaching sound doctrine.  There may be a subtle attempt to reject biblical authority without manifestly making that claim.  It is not only easier to preach "how to" sermons, it is also safer.  If a preacher tells a person how to have a happier marriage or how to manage the empty nest or how to control spending, there will not likely be any repercussions even if the scheme doesn't work.   The prevailing notion today is that church growth and unity in the church is more important than the truth of biblical doctrine. 

     Will reformation and revival come to the evangelical church?  It took nearly a thousand years of gradual decline in the Church of Rome before the 16th century Reformation recovered the truth of the law and the gospel.  God didn't use the likes of the Campus Crusade for Christ, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Billy Graham Crusades, or seminaries to recover biblical truth (Reformation).  God used courageous men who were equipped for the job, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and energized to stand against the considerable foes both in the church and out of the church who would kill the reformer and the work of reformation if possible.  God may send a man or men who have a passion to see a new Reformation to the glory of God. However, God may declare to the apostate church: Ichabod.