Our Moment to Stand

Luther's Moment  
Three and a half years after nailing his ninety-five points of theological departure from Rome, it was Martin Luther’s moment to stand. He stood before the greatest of Europe's rulers. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sat amidst the regalia of his august office, his stern gaze cast now on this recalcitrant monk. Representing Pope Leo X was the brilliant churchman, Johann von Eck, there to shred Luther's reportedly shoddy thinking. The room was filled with other luminaries of the Church and many of the most powerful of German nobility.

The day before, when Von Eck confronted Luther with a table full of books and pamphlets, asking him if he stood by all he'd written in the assembled documents, Martin hesitated. He wasn't sure he'd authored all of them. And some of his original ideas had evolved, grown more nuanced with more study and reflection. When pressed to respond, Luther asked for time to ponder his reply. The Emperor gave him till the morrow. Alone in his room, Luther slept little but prayed much and came to the firm conviction that even at the cost of his life, he could not waffle in the face of opposition. Truth was truth, regardless of whether or not others saw it. He did and would remain a faithful witness to it, come what may.

The next day, as the trial resumed, when Von Eck repeated the challenge, Luther replied,
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

Cycles of Declension & Revival
This was neither the first nor last time followers of Jesus have taken a stand in and for their faith. Many thousands have. Some to martyrdom. Others, like Luther, to lead movements of major reform.

The point is, because the Bible is true, there is a real spiritual contest underway in which the hearts and minds of men and women are the battleground. On one side is God and the Gospel, on the other is the devil and deceit. History is the long tale of this contest as it flows first one way, then the other. Periods of spiritual declension are followed by remarkable revival and a resurgence in spiritual vitality. But the opposite is also true. Periods of renewal are followed by decay.

One thing is certain. The Bible forewarns that the End Times, the Last Days, will be marked by widespread lawlessness and sin. Spiritual darkness will prevail until it reaches a crescendo of wickedness Jesus returns to halt and save the human race from accomplishing its obliteration.
“And unless those days were shortened,
no flesh would be saved;
but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” –Jesus 

Matthew 24:22
That means in the long cycle of Declension-Revival, there will be a “Last Revival.” Some revival, whenever it is, will be history’s last. The question before us is – Is the Last Revival behind us or ahead of us? Has it already happened, or do we await it?

Students of revival know it is a sovereign move of God’s Spirit working profound conviction in His people. Sincere and deep repentance leads to the presence of God in manifest and palpable ways, bring even more repentance like a spiritual contagion that brings health rather than harm. Another feature of revival is that it is always birthed in and continued by concerted, committed prayer. Sometimes that prayer last years before revival comes. Other times it’s a matter of days. But there is no revival without prevailing prayer for it.

The kind of prayer that sees revival comes from people who align themselves with what they ask for. They don’t wait to act like they’ve been revived. They conduct themselves as though they’ve already been moved on by the Holy Spirit. They practice “revival without tarrying for it” though they do in fact, wait on God for what only He can do; send refreshing waves of His Spirit. But they have set themselves to receive the Spirit by aligning themselves as close to Him as they are able.

Our Moment
No matter what your eschatology (belief regarding End Times), because we know God is not willing that any perish (2 Peter 3:9) and that His people walk in the empowering of the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18) we must pray for and live as though The Last Revival is yet to come. We must. How else can we be the godly influence Jesus said was normal for those who follow Him? (Matthew 5:13-16)

Jesus issued a challenge that comes squarely to us as to no generation before.
“When the Son of Man comes,
will He really find faith on the earth?”
– Jesus
Luke 18:8
Surely Jesus intended this question to stir His people in every age to be found faithful, walking in the way of the Lord. It finds a special poignancy to those living in the Last Days.

As Luther stood on trial before his generation’s powerful elite, we face a culture recently co-opted by an ideology hostile to our Faith. The “culture war,” once a frequent topic of books and columns, is over. Secularism won. The Judeo-Christian worldview that birthed the modern world has been declared the loser by a media industry pretending neutrality while all the while allied with a secular ideology, working for its success. As much as Christians may lament their marginalization, they ought to remember, that’s where they began, as outsiders. Jesus’ words must steel our resolve.
“I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:18