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Kings, Reformers and Transformed Lives

Special Report from the Feast of Tabernacles

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1 Oct 2015 (All day)
Kings, Reformers and Transformed Lives

“The Bible is full of stories of people who were great reformers,” declared ICEJ Executive Director, Dr. Jürgen Bühler as he opened the 2015 Feast of Tabernacles Celebration at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem on Monday.

From Old Testament kings like Hezekiah and Josiah, to post-exilic leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah, reformation is characterized by a call to “return to the Word of God,” echoed ICEJ International Director Rev. Juha Ketola in addressing the gathering of some 5,000 Christians from 85 nations the next day.

“It is a call to return the people back to God.”

It’s been almost 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg and launched the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Like all the great reformers that followed, Luther was compelled by a belief in the preeminence of the Scriptures, a belief tightly bound up in the cry of sola scriptura – faith in the Word of God alone. In the centuries that followed this conviction not only brought the Bible into the hands of ordinary people in Europe, but also birthed the explosion in Christian mission that took the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Today, that cry still echoes around the world as the focus of evangelical Christianity has shifted to the ‘global South,’ Dr. Bühler explained to a gathering of Israeli and international journalists on Tuesday morning. “The average Christian in the world today,” he said, "is not found in North America or Europe, but in Beijing, China; San Paulo, Brazil; Lagos, Nigeria or Manila, Philippines. If you travel to these nations, there is no question that Christianity is the largest and fastest growing religion on earth."

The result? Hundreds of millions of non-Western Christians who recognize that they have a “natural connection to the Jewish people,” Bühler added; a connection based upon the clear testimony of the Bible. The same Scriptures that the sixteenth century reformers first made available in the everyday language of ordinary Europeans, is now producing a new reformation: a transformation in how the global Church relates to Israel.

“This is the reformation that stands before us now,” proclaimed Rev. Malcolm Hedding, the former ICEJ Executive Director as the 2015 Feast of Tabernacles drew closer to a climax on Wednesday evening. "The restoration of Israel is evidence of God working in the nations… preparing the world for the greatest event in all of history - the return of Jesus of Nazareth.” Why? Because there, “can be no reformation without the Cross!”

“Reformation makes changes in something in order to improve it,” challenged Angus Buchan, the South African farmer-turned-preacher earlier Wednesday morning as he issued a powerful call to personal repentance.

“I’m just a farmer, so I don’t know much,” he observed jokingly. But one thing is clear, he continued, “Making a difference starts today with you and me.”

Before Buchan had finished speaking hundreds of pilgrims were streaming towards the center of the arena, convicted by his simple call for spiritual transformation; hands lifted in simple surrender, determined to recommit their lives wholeheartedly to Jesus.

“If your faith is costing you nothing, it’s worth nothing!” Buchan thundered “Reformation requires change!”

Michael Hines is a campus pastor at Crosswalk Community Church in Williamsburg Virginia. He previously served on staff in the media office of the ICEJ in Jerusalem for 5 years, and then as Media Director for the US Branch in Murfreesboro, TN, for another 5 years. He is currently volunteering for the ICEJ's media team during the 2015 Feast of Tabernacles.

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