Reformation & Renewal

During its 2,000 year history, there have been three major movements to reform the church & bring it into closer union with God.

In the 11th century, after years of disagreement, churches in Greece, Turkey & the rest of eastern Europe separated from churches in Italy, France & the rest of western Europe (the Schism).  The main issues which divided the churches concerned the authority of the Pope & the source of the Holy Spirit; the eastern churches rejected the authority of the Pope & insisted that the Holy Spirit came from the Father, while the western churches affirmed the authority of the Pope & insisted that the Holy Spirit came from the Father and the Son. Each side thought they were being more faithful to the teachings of Jesus.

Orthodox churches have occasionally continued to pursue spiritual renewal over the centuries by continuing to separate into smaller denominations promoting distinctive doctrines, albeit to a much lesser extent than Protestants.

In the 16th century, churches in parts of northern Europe separated from churches in the rest of Europe (the Protestant Reformation).  The main issues which divided the churches concerned the authority of the Pope and importance of faith & works in the relations of believers to God.  The northern European churches rejected the authority of the Pope & insisted that faith was the one vital key to continuing relationship with God, while churches in the rest of Europe affirmed the authority of the Pope & insisted that faith without works was useless.  Each side thought they were being more faithful to the teachings of Jesus.

Protestant churches have occasionally continued to pursue spiritual renewal over the centuries by continuing to separate into smaller denominations promoting ever-more distinctive doctrines.

Also in the 16th century, the Catholic church instituted reforms (the Catholic Reformation or the Counter-Reformation).   Some of the reforms had been emerging from within the church for a long time; others were in direct response to errors highlighted by the break-away Protestant churches.  The principal reforms involved: requirement of rigorous training for priests, reform of religious life in monasteries & convents, encouragement of deeper spirituality among church members, and Jesuit worldwide missions.

The Catholic Church has occasionally continued to pursue spiritual renewal through events like the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s, in which a wide range of church policies were modified & adapted to the modern world.

God, please help me to love differences in Your church as You do.

Tears Of Repentance

Peter continued sharing God’s message on Pentecost (230).  “Listen, fellow citizens of Israel! Jesus of Nazareth was a man, but his divine authority was clearly shown to you by all the miracles & wonders which God did through him. And you know this, because it happened right here among you!

“It was always God’s plan that Jesus would be handed over to you, and that you would kill him by letting sinful men execute him on a cross.  But God has raised Jesus from death; it wasn’t possible for death to keep him prisoner!


“This is entirely consistent with what King David said long ago: ‘I know that you will not abandon me in the world of the dead; I know that you will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave. You have shown me the paths that lead to life.  Your presence fills me with joy!'”

Peter continued: “My brothers, King David died & was buried & his grave is here with us to this very day. So David wasn’t talking about himself in this passage.  Instead, God had shown David that he would anoint one of his descendants as king of Israel forever.  David was actually speaking about the resurrection of Jesus when he said, ‘He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.’

“The twelve of us have witnessed that Jesus has indeed been raised from death!   We have seen Jesus ascend to God his Father.  Now Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit of God among us, just as he promised.  This is what you are seeing & hearing today!

“By all this, all people of Israel must know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is the promised Messiah!”  As the people considered all this, they were deeply troubled.  They began asking Peter and the other witnesses, “What shall we do, brothers?”

Peter said to them, “Each one of you must repent & turn away from your sins.

“Show that you’re turning your life over to Jesus Christ by being baptized.  Your sins will be forgiven and you will receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit!  God has promised this to you & your children and to all of his chosen people living in other places.”

Peter repeatedly urged them to turn to Jesus, saying, “Be saved from the punishment coming for all wicked people!”


(230) Acts 2:22-40

Jobs For Jesus

John the Witness subsequently wrote down many things about the life & ministry of Jesus (226).  But there are many other things that Jesus did which were not written down.  John once said that if they were all written down, the whole world could not contain the books that would be filled.

Later, the eleven remaining witnesses went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus there, they worshiped him.  However, some of them found it difficult to believe all that they were seeing.


Nevertheless, Jesus gave this job to all of them: “God has given me all authority in heaven & on earth. I want you to go to all people, everywhere on this earth, and call them to be my witnesses, too.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have taught you.”


Then, Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”

From that day on, these closest friends of Jesus would faithfully do their jobs for Jesus, telling everyone they met about him.  God would frequently perform miracles through them in order to get people to pay attention to their message about Jesus.  And they would frequently meet together in the temple in Jerusalem to bless God.


(226) Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:20, Luke 24:53, John 21:25

Governor Of The Jews

Then Pilate addressed the crowd which had gathered to see what would happen to Jesus (209).

“According to your custom, I will set one prisoner free during the Passover. Do you want me to free the king of the Jews? Or do you want me to free this notorious bandit & murderer, Barabbas?”


Prompted by the priests, the crowd began chanting, “We want Barabbas!  We want Barabbas!”

Pilate’s wife was looking on with concern.  She had had a troubling dream about Jesus, so she had begged her husband not to harm him.

Pilate again addressed the crowd, “Look, I find no reason to condemn Jesus.” Jesus was brought out, wearing a crown of thorns & the purple robe.

When the chief priests & the temple guards saw Jesus, they began chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  But Pilate insisted, “I find no reason to condemn him!” Some in the crowd answered back, “By our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”

Pilate took Jesus back into the palace & asked him, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus didn’t answer.  “You won’t speak?” said Pilate. “Remember, I have authority to set you free or to have you crucified.”

Jesus replied, “You have authority over me only because it was given to you by God.   Regardless of how you exercise that authority, the men who handed me over to you are guilty of greater sin.”


(209) Matthew 27:15-23, Mark 15:6-14, John 18:38b-40

King Of The Jews

Early in the morning Jesus was taken back to Pilate’s palace (208).  The Jewish authorities wouldn’t go inside the palace; they wanted to remain ritually clean, so they could eat the Passover meal.

So Pilate went outside to them and asked, “What do you accuse this man of?” The priests said, “We wouldn’t have brought him to you if he hadn’t committed a crime.” Knowing that the high priests were jealous of Jesus, Pilate said, “Why don’t you just take him & try him according to your own law?”

pilate outside

To this the priests replied indignantly, “That won’t work, because your law doesn’t allow us to put anyone to death.  Only you have that authority!”

Pilate went back into the palace & called for Jesus. “How can you claim to be the king of the Jews?  Your own people & their chief priests have handed you over to me. What’s that all about?”


Jesus said, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.”

This made no sense to Pilate, so he asked Jesus, “Can you really call yourself a king, then?”

Jesus answered, “I came into this world for one purpose, to speak the truth about God. Whoever loves truth listens to me.”

Again, this made no sense to Pilate, so he asked Jesus dismissively, “What is truth?”


(208) Matthew 27:1-2 & 11-14, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-4, John 18:28-38a

The Way: Pray For God’s Glory

Still in the gardens on the Mount of Olives, Jesus began to pray in the presence of his chosen witnesses (200).

“Father, the hour has come for me to give glory back to you, just as you have given glory to me.

glory 4

“You gave me authority over all people, so that I could give new life to all people. You want all people to know you as the only true God, and to know me as the one you sent to reveal more of your glory to the world.

“Now, I have shown your glory on earth, I have made a way for people to know you more, and I have finished the work you gave me to do.

glory 1

“Please restore me to the glory of your presence, the same glory I shared with you before the world was made.”


(200) John 17:1-5

The Way: Truth & Choice

Then Jesus told his friends a little more about the work of the Holy Spirit in the world (197).

“I didn’t tell you these things before, because I was still here with you. But now it’s time for me to go back to God who sent me.


“I know it’s not easy for you to ask me about this, because your hearts are full of sadness. But please believe this: it’s better for you that I leave you, so God’s Holy Spirit can come to you.  The Holy Spirit of God is powerful.

“When the Spirit comes, he will show people the truth about sin & righteousness & God’s judgment – which is basically this:

  • People sin against God by hanging on to their old independent self-lives.
  • People become right with God by letting go of those old lives & embracing the new life which I offer them.
  • And all people, including the ruler of this world, will be judged for the choices they make between the old life & the new life.


“There is always much more for you to learn about God, but this is enough for now.  When the Spirit comes, he will reveal to you more & more truth about God.

“He won’t speak on his own authority; instead, he will give me glory by speaking to you what I tell him, all of which I have received from God.”


(197) John 16:4-15