Revival & Reformation is Never Officially Authorized

Acts 4:17,18
      That it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): A great revolution is rarely accomplished without the friends of the old order of things combining to resist it…The [Protestant Reformation] of the sixteenth century was not to be accomplished by the heads of the Church any more than that of the first century had been by the Sanhedrim and the synagogue. In the sixteenth century, the heads of the Church were opposed to Luther, the Reformation, and its ministers, in the same as they were opposed to Jesus Christ, the gospel, and His apostles, and as they too often are at all times to the truth.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I never thought the world had been so wicked, when the Gospel began, as now I see it is; I rather hoped that every one would have leaped for joy to have found himself freed from the filth of the Pope, from his lamentable molestations of poor troubled consciences, and that through Christ they would by faith obtain the celestial treasure they sought after before with such vast cost and labour, though in vain. And especially I thought the bishops and universities would with joy of heart have received the true doctrines; but I have been lamentably deceived.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The bulk of the common people seldom think for themselves in religious concerns, but judge it sufficient to give up their understandings and consciences to their professed teachers. They are, however, for the most part, more unprejudiced and open to conviction than their guides, whose reputation and interest are more nearly concerned to maintain every established error, and to stop up every avenue by which truth and reformation might enter.

JOHN LELAND (1754-1841): The greatest opposition (among men) that I have met with, has been from preachers; among the people, I have fared better.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Pride is the egg of persecution…Ready offence will be taken by cross-grained brethren during a revival; for things are apt to be a little out of the regular order.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): No revival that has ever been experienced in the long history of the Church has ever been an official movement of the Church. That is a strong statement, is it not? But I repeat it. No revival that the Church has ever known has ever been an official movement. You read of the great precursors of the Protestant Reformation—Wycliffe, John Hus, and others. It was always unofficial, and the officials did not like it. It was the same with Martin Luther…Then you are all probably familiar with the story of Methodism in its various branches. How did that begin [three] hundred years ago? It began in exactly the same way with the two Wesley brothers, and Whitefield, and others, who were members of the Church of England. They did not begin to do something in the Church of England, but formed what they called their Holy Club, outside the camp. They met privately on their own, just a handful of people…It was unofficial, it was outside, as it were. That is the beginning of Methodism, both Calvinistic and Arminian.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Their proceedings were neither fashionable nor popular, and often brought on them more persecutions and abuse than praise…The blind stupidity with which John Wesley was treated was a disaster to our Church.

C. H. SPURGEON: It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began field preaching―when Wesley stood up and preached a sermon on his father’s grave, because the parish priest would not allow him admission within the “sacred” edifice.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): At Usk, the pulpit being denied, I preached upon a table under a large tree to some hundreds, and God was with us of a truth.

CHARLES WESLEY (1707-1788): I stood by George Whitefield while he preached on the mount in Blackheath. The cries of the wounded were heard on every side. What has Satan gained by turning him out of the churches?

C. H. SPURGEON: It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the Papacy. True, Wycliffe for a while preached the gospel in the church at Lutterworth; Hus, and Jerome, and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-gospel addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them; but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the gospel, they were driven to find other platforms. The Reformation when yet a babe was like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but a company of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly. Throughout England we have several trees remaining called “gospel oaks.” There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the name of “Gospel Oak,” and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which John Knox is said to have proclaimed the gospel during his sojourn in England…
      From Wylie’s History of Protestantism I borrow the following:—“It is said that the first field-preaching in the Netherlands took place on the 14th of June, 1566, and was held in the neighbourhood of Ghent. The preacher was Herman Modet, who had formerly been a monk, but was now the reformed pastor at Oudenard. ‘This man,’ says a Popish chronicler, ‘was the first who ventured to preach in public, and there were 7,000 persons at his first sermon.’”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: What is it that always heralds the dawn of a Reformation or of a Revival? It is renewed preaching. Not only a new interest in preaching but a new kind of preaching…There’s this other element―the element of the Spirit―the unknown, the unction, the authority of the power.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The kingdom of heaven does not consist in fine rhetoric, but in the power of God.

C. H. SPURGEON: When the good old truth is once more preached by men whose lips are touched as with a live coal from off the altar, this shall be the instrument in the hand of the Spirit for bringing about a great and thorough revival of religion in the land.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: My great desire, not only during the last 25 years, but also during the previous quarter century, was to see a great and powerful revival. I never suspected I was destined to remain for 40 years in the wilderness. I was confident that we would have seen a great revival before now. To that extent, perhaps, one can speak of disappointment. But in this world one learns to realize that we are entirely in the hands of God, and that we must be content with this, and acknowledge that revival in the last resort is a matter for His sovereign will. Believe me, my friends, when the next revival comes, it come as a surprise to everybody, and especially to those who have been trying to organize it…It is altogether in the hands of God.

E. J. POOLE-CONNOR (1872-1962): Oh, my dear Doctor*…You always manage to say the thing that needs to be said, but which nobody else will say—How my heart went out to your words about revival! There lies our only hope. Oh, for the Lord Jesus to pray over again in heaven the prayer in John 17, 1 & 2.

*Editor’s Note: Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a talented young doctor who left his promising medical career in 1926 to become the pastor of a small church in Wales. The term “doctor” stayed with him not so much as a medical title, but rather more as a nickname of endearment (even his wife Bethan used it on occasion). Perhaps the nickname was also a respectful recognition of his thorough knowledge of Scripture and church history, and his pastoral expertise.


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