As we do each month, Nicolas and I dedicated some time to reflect together on the work of the church. While we do not go around looking for “new things” (new methods and things like that) to implement in the church, we do regularly devote time to meditate on the work that we are doing and how we are doing it. In so doing, we attempt to apply to the greatest degree what we have learned from our “fathers” of the Reformation: “The church is reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.”

In the past days we were meditating on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and also on the different movements of the Spirit throughout history. It was a healthy reminder, that, among other things, without the help of the Spirit of God we can do nothing (absolutely nothing!), that the Spirit is sensitive to our behavior (He is grieved; He feels comfortable and uncomfortable depending on the way we are living), and that the Spirit can sovereignly intervene and do a work that exceeds His ordinary work among the people of God and among sinners. Yes, these are simple truths, but how great is our need for these things to deeply penetrate our ears, minds, and hearts!

As we studied the history of revivals, we saw that the majority of the men the Lord used in the 18th Century Revivals had the common denominator of real belief and anxious expectation that the Holy Spirit would intervene in an extraordinary way in their lives and ministries. They prayed for it, fasted for it, and waited for it with patience and great expectation. Is it then a strange thing that such men saw great revivals? Without denying the absolute sovereignty of the Lord, I am sure that many of them saw the powerful movements of God because they were looking for them. They believed that God could do it! Sometimes we are so afraid of sounding ‘charismatic’ that we cannot see these things! As we have reflected on these themes, it has given us great motivation and seriousness in our prayers. I hope that these things can encourage you all as well!

Among the difficulties of this month, there is one that exceeds the rest, and to a degree encompasses them, which is the way that I have seen the “reformed movement” developing in Argentina. For a few years now (I would say at least 5 years) various historical truths have been discovered in our country. The biblical truths of the Reformation, such as justification by faith, the doctrines of grace, the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and other truths that are of vital importance are being discovered in many corners of Argentina.

Nonetheless, there are several things that sadden me and cause me to worry. The first, and in my opinion the most serious, is that there seems to be a doctrinal awakening, but not a Gospel awakening. That is, it seems that the doctrines shine brighter than the glory of Christ. This has been made evident in the fact that the ‘testimony’ of many people seems to be summarized like this: “Before, I was charismatic (or Baptist, or Pentecostal, or any other denomination), but afterwards I came to know the doctrines of grace and now I believe in predestination… etc.” When I hear these testimonies I ask myself with sadness, “Where is Christ in that story? When were you awakened to the beauty and worthiness of Jesus? When did you come to tremble before the Throne of God?” This is so sad brothers and sisters! In many places the “four spiritual laws” have merely been exchanged for “five points (TULIP) that God wants you to know,” and “decisional regeneration” has become “doctrinal regeneration.”

Another aspect that is worrisome is that there seems to be a discovery of reformed doctrine, but not of reformed spirituality. Or, said in other words, there seems to be a discovery of the right information, but it is not taking the necessary step toward right application of that doctrine. Many talk about the doctrine of the Puritans, but not of the spirituality of the Puritans. We repeat what Calvin said about the decrees of God, but we do not apply what he said about prayer. We claim to believe the same as Edwards about salvation and the doctrine of regeneration, but we do not apply his rigor when it comes to helping someone discern if they are truly born again.

Lastly, I am worried that among many pastors there seems to be an overemphasis on expository preaching and a lack of serious emphasis on other aspects of pastoral work, such as personal discipleship, evangelism, etc. I hope that you do not misunderstand me; I believe in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, in the priority of preaching, and that preaching should be expository. But it seems that a current of confusion has invaded our country, causing us to believe that the only requirement for a man to be a good pastor is that he preaches expository sermons. These are only a few of the issues that worry me about the reformed movement in Argentina.

Brothers and sisters, I fear that you might misunderstand me, thinking that I am being overly critical or that I am judging without mercy. Thanks to the Lord, the picture that I am painting is not true of all the pastors in Argentina. There are precious pastors, men of whom I am not worthy even to consider myself their battle companion. But, in general, the painting that I see worries and saddens me. I tell you these things with sorrow, not because I enjoy talking this way (I believe that this is the first time that I have mentioned these things), or because I believe I am better than the rest, but because these matters have been weighing upon me and cutting into my heart lately. It saddens me because, at the end of the day, the glory of Christ is being dragged in the mud as a result of these errors.