Guest Blogger Dr. Carlton Mcleod shares a thoughtful examination of reforming the church.
And it reads:
“Ecclesia Semper Reformanda Est”
This phrase is Latin for “the church is to always be reformed.” You also may have read it in a shortened form: Semper Reformanda: “always to be reformed.”
Throughout church history, these phrases have simply meant that the church is to always be changing…not towards the world…but reforming biblically: continually getting back to its mandate and prophetic prescriptions. This is exactly what it means to me. Let me explain.
Some people read the Scriptures, study the Scriptures, and maybe even preach the Scriptures…and somehow move FURTHER away from what God is teaching us in His Word. Others read, study, preach, and that study causes them, by God’s grace, to move CLOSER to what God is saying. (Not trying to get into the reasons for this in the post.) In other words, there is often a long trajectory towards compliance or compromise. That curve is rarely linear, but generally from start to finish, there is often a “moving away” or a “move towards” in a life, a ministry, or a generation. We can see this in individuals, churches, whole denominations, and even Nations. Obviously your personal mileage my vary, but I’m speaking generally.
I’ve lost count as to how many times I have heard people say, “We’ve got to get back to basics! We’ve got to go back to the Acts 2, New Testament church!” That’s all fine and dandy until…well…its time to actually go back to the Acts 2, New Testament church. 🙂
In the spirit of Semper Reformanda, I believe the church in her current state of imperfection, should always be striving to bring herself in line with what God has declared in Scripture. The further we move away, the more He is dishonored. If we catch ourselves becoming unloving, we must move swiftly back. When we find ourselves too inwardly focused, we must recover a passion for souls. When we read the Scriptures and see an area of error, we must repent quickly move back in line. When we discover we’ve adopted a worldly set of guiding principles, we must look again at what God has declared and rebuild foundations!
My personal trajectory is, prayerfully, more towards than away (Please Lord!). I began my ministry pretty young and pretty ignorant. God, in His mercy, continues to “narrow” (word carefully chosen) me concerning essential truths. There are what people consider to be their truths, then there is THE Truth.
There are ways and there is His way:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt 7:13-14)
There are also principles and patterns in the Bible, and choosing His when they are given, to me, is the best choice.
So yes, I believe the church should always be reforming…always cutting and chiseling and repenting and going back again and bringing back and fighting against cultural pulls…trying to stay true to God’s precepts, principles, and patterns.
Never attempting to add to them (legalism) or minimize them (compromise), the Lord’s church should be trying to lovingly hold to what God has said would please Him. I don’t think we’ll ever get it totally right, but because we love Him, we must try. May our Lord help us succeed more than we fail.
Are you wiling to “always be reforming” towards the Word, to the glory of Christ?