Question No. 2:—If the church is God’s dearest object upon earth (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 20) and if He is leading her, why the need of “a revival and a reformation”?
Since the church is indeed God’s dearest object on earth, He often has to admonish, rebuke, and chasten her so as to bring her to maintain the high standard which He has set for her. And though her history is but one long, sad record of sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, yet the Lord has borne with her in the infinite patience and longsuffering of Divine love so beautifully illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son. And finally in this love indescribable, He “gave Himself” (Gal. 1:4) for her in the person of His only begotten Son. But this supreme sacrifice notwithstanding, she has never yet fully appreciated His undying love for her. Even now, the Savior pathetically declares that He has somewhat against her, and admonishes her by strong words to repent and sit down with Him in His throne (Rev. 3:14-21), making clear the inevitable fate of all who fail to heed His counsel (Rev. 3:16). But, tragically, she has not heeded it, and so He “brings against ministers and people the heavy charge of spiritual feebleness, saying, ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.'”–Christ Our Righteousness, 1941 Edition, p. 121.
Thus God, in His boundless, all-discerning love for His church, “‘calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.
“‘A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.'” –Ibid.
In these inspired statements, three facts stand out in bold relief: (1) God sends this clarion call first to the ministers, and then to the laity; (2) He makes a positive declaration that He will spue out of His mouth all who fail to give heed to it, and to enter into a “spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation”; and (3) He makes clear that such a movement means “a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices.” Clearly, then, the church must experience a threefold change before she can ever look forth “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,” going “forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.”–Prophets and Kings, p. 725.
God is to rule in His church now as He did in Moses’ time: “The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God’s created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy.
God was the center of authority, and government, the sovereign of Israel. Moses stood as their visible leader, by God’s appointment to administer the laws in his name. From the elders of the tribes a council of seventy was afterward chosen to assist Moses in the general affairs of the nation. Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes. Under these were ‘captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens;’ and lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties.”–Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 374.
If “the same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God’s people in the time of Moses and of David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of the newly organized church of God in the gospel dispensation” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 95), and if man cannot improve upon God’s governmental rule, then why should we not pattern after it? Hence the need of “a revival and a reformation.”