Alf James interviews Torben Sondergaard, a Danish author and leader of ‘The Last Reformation’, a discipleship training movement that is making an impact around the world. He also talks to a South African couple who train disciples in New Zealand and a South African man who attended a recent Kickstart training weekend in Cape Town. (see links below to their stories).
The Bible shows us, in the book of The Acts of the Apostles, what the Christian life should be as disciples of Jesus Christ — healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons, and making disciples of all nations, baptising them to Jesus Christ, and teaching them to observe all things that Jesus commanded, according to Torben Sondergaard, author of The Last Reformation.
He says the Church is due for a new reformation that will be “the last reformation”, which will be a revival centred on Christians actively carrying out Jesus’ great commission, being His disciples by making disciples for Him as His followers did in the first Church we read about in Acts.
This last reformation is not a case for Church members to leave their congregations, but is an encouragement to return to the biblical way of making disciples for Jesus as in the Church of Acts.
“I am one of those who believes in a revival and seeing people turning to God. I do not believe, however, that we are missing something new that the world has never seen before. I do not believe we need a new kind of Christianity, but a return to the old one. We need to come back to the beginnings of Christianity that we read about in the Bible. We have to return to God’s intention and see how God comes near and works among us, as we can see on all the pages in Acts,” writes Torben in Christian, Disciple, or Slave.
He maintains that all the truths of previous reformations of the Church are going to come together in the last reformation that will see all the boxes of existing denominations fall and members of the body of Christ unite as His disciples through reading God’s Word, doing it in our daily lives, and focussing on our relationships with Him.
“Jesus is coming back very soon”, writes Torben in The Last Reformation, “and I am convinced that we are the ones who will see His return”.
“Before His coming, He wants to prepare His Church like a bride who is being prepared to meet her bridegroom.”
He says when we look at previous revivals, it seems like the only thing we still lack is a reformation of the structure of the Church.
“It has never been God’s intention for these revealed truths to result in independent church denominations that, after a while, quench the fire of revival. God did not intend to create separate churches and denominations with their own disconnected ‘little’ truths, while ignoring the other parts and, thus, hindering their members from gaining the whole truth.”
Torben says this is a reformation where God is going to put together all the pieces and prepare the church to meet her Bridegroom.
The reformation “will go deeper than any reformation before: away from church traditions, suffocating structures and countless meetings in church buildings”.
“We believe that it is a reformation that will restore the Church back to what we read in the Acts: a simple disciple-life led by the Holy Spirit, where the kingdom of God comes near in homes, on the streets, in shops — yes, all places where people are,” says Torben.
Church is not a building
He says the Church is not the building; the Church is you and me.
“God does not live in a temple built of stone. He lives in us — Christians, His disciples. Jesus wants to be part of our everyday life in a practical, direct relationship with Him, without intermediaries.
“I have so many testimonies of people who have been sitting in a Church for 20 or 40 years and have never led anybody to Christ, never cast out demons, healed the sick or experienced the supernatural life, and don’t have testimonies like we read about in the book of Acts.
“The book of Acts should be the normal Christian life — being led by the Holy Spirit and used by God to build His Church, whereas most Christian churchgoers do not lead a life as described in the book of Acts,” says Torben.
He contends that although Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, we should ask ourselves if the Holy Spirit is living through us in the same way He lived through the followers of Christ in the book of Acts.
God confirms His Word
Torben says the book of Acts is revival Christianity that influenced the entire world, however, our religion, church culture, and traditions have taken the power out of the Word of God, for God does not confirm religion, culture or traditions, He confirms His Word, which He loves.
He also loves it when we obey and act on His Word by doing His Word; doing what He has commanded us to do.
Instead of building religion out of God’s Word we need to live God’s Word by doing God’s Word.
“We need to act on God’s Word, because once we act on His Word it becomes life and truth in us through the Holy Spirit using it to transform us,” says Torben.
“We need to take the first step in faith and act on God’s Word, because if we do not act on God’s Word it will not be alive in us,” he adds.
Making disciples for Jesus
Torben started the Pioneer Training School to train and equip Christians to be disciples of Jesus and make disciples for Jesus.
He says in a short period of minutes or days our lives can be changed so that we become effective disciples of Christ, whereas many Christians have been Church members for many years and are still longing to be effective followers of Jesus.
He contends that effective disciples of Jesus make disciples of Jesus. He encourages us to ask ourselves, as members of the Church, whether we are making disciples of Christ.
“There is a free online bible school called The Pioneer school with 24 lessons and for those who want more and practical hands-on training alongside like-minded believers we have a three-week Pioneer Training School in several locations around the world,” says Torben.
“We have regular Kickstart weekends, which are held all around the world for the equipping of believers to heal the sick, preach the gospel, cast out demons, and be led by the Holy Spirit each and every day in their normal-every-day life.”
Doing god’s Word and not only reading it
The Kickstart weekend is a way of encouraging Christians to do God’s Word instead of only reading it and talking about it.
“A Kickstart weekend is really a form of discipleship. We take people by the hand, show them and teach them how to hear from God, heal the sick, cast out demons, preach the gospel, and lead people to Christ,” explains Torben.
“The main focus of a Kickstart weekend is not to draw new believers, but to train and encourage existing believers to do what Jesus commissioned us to do.
“The Kickstart experience equips them to do it on their own, which can lead to many strong experiences with God, and out of that we see new believers being drawn to Jesus.
“For example, you can read about healing in the gospel and learn much about healing in many other books without actually doing it, but if you do it practically once, then you know you can do it and you can do it again and again,” says Torben.
A Kickstart weekend was held in Cape Town from March 10 to 12. Between 500 and 700 people attended.
Christian vs Disciple
“We started the weekend by making a clear distinction between the words ‘Christian’ and ‘disciple’,” says Torben.
“Jesus never used the word Christian; He only used the word disciple. In the Bible the word Christian occurs only a few times, compared to disciple that occurs more than 200 times.
“At the time of Jesus, the word disciple was in common usage and literally meant ‘apprenticeship’.”
Torben explains that he was apprenticed as a baker for about three and a half years after which he qualified as a baker. This was practical, hands-on learning under a master baker, with very little study by way of books and notes.
“In fact, much of my learning was through making mistakes. It is one thing to read about something and another thing to actually do it.
“As disciples of Jesus Christ, He is our Master and our example. He was led by the Holy Spirit, lived a holy life, healed the sick, and cast out demons. As his disciples, we should be doing the same; we should be obeying Him and becoming like Him — denying everything else and saying yes to Him!
Becoming like Jesus
“As our Master, each of us that are fully trained should be like Jesus. The goal of saying yes to Jesus is to become like Him, to live like Him and become His body on earth, so that when people see us they see Christ in us.
“It is OK if we don’t look exactly like Him, now, but it is not OK if we don’t look more like Him, now, than we did last year.
“However, unfortunately, we have a mentality in many Churches that it is OK to have been a Christian for 20, 30 or 40 years, and still not know how to do the things that Jesus did, because we let the pastor do them.”
Torben says the truth is that you cannot differentiate between “being a Christian” and “being a disciple” because they are the same thing. You cannot be a Christian without being a disciple.
“During the Kickstart weekend we show and demonstrate examples and then everybody actively participates by doing them, whether it is praying for each other, casting out demons or baptising people.
“We go out into the streets to Kickstart participants to practically apply and do what they have learned,” says Torben.
“It was beautiful to see how many people at the Kickstart weekend [in Cape Town] experienced healing, prayed for each other, got set free in different areas, and were baptised in water and in the Holy Spirit,” he adds.
About 80 of those who attended the Kickstart weekend were baptised at the event.
“During the baptisms there was deep repentance, strong confessions, and forgiveness regarding issues like paedophilia and homosexuality, and in one instance murder,” says Torben.
He says the importance of baptism is reflected by the fact that you cannot find an instance in the New Testament where someone is led to Christ, but does not get baptised immediately.
“Baptism is necessary to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and is closely linked with repentance; a recognition of your sins and a turning away from the sinful life”.
Baptism is a transition from one state to another. You are buried with Christ and raised to a new life in which you belong to Christ. It represents the renouncing of your own will to be governed by the will of Christ.
Baptism is not merely a symbol, it is part of salvation: it is the cleansing of sins (as the body is cleansed by water so the soul is purified of sin by the grace of Christ), making a clean break with the past, and union with Christ — as a person is submerged, he dies with Christ and as he emerges from the water he rises with Christ.
“When people are baptised with a heart of repentance it is really a washing away of sins and a rising with a clean conscience toward God, free from the law of sin and death.
He says plans are afoot to set up a Pioneer Training school in South Africa.
For more information visit https://www.thelastreformation.com