START FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS MORAVIAN MOVE SERIES: HERE
Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf had a very unique upbringing. In 1700 he was born into a noble family, his father passed away shortly after his birth and he was raised and heavily influenced by his Piest grandmother. He had a mind and heart to pursue the things of the LORD from a very young age, while his family directed him into the steps of his father’s noble heritage and government occupation; he meekly achieved his royal title as a count (English nobleman) as well as becoming the king’s judicial counselor at the end of his schooling.
Nicolaus went to a Piest school causing him to seek after a personal and intimate relationship with Christ through prayer, reading the Bible, and fellowship. He then attended the University of Wittenberg, famous for the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 theses and was influenced by Lutheran theology. He carried this unique upbringing with him being a devout follower of Christ and a devout Nobleman to his country; a devout Piest and a devout Lutheran. His early years were marked with a personal heart for Christ while upholding his noble duties.
In 1722 some big events took place in Zinzendorf’s life. He got married and he purchased his grandmother’s large estate in hopes to provide a place of refuge for any and all persecuted Christians of his day. Amazingly, shortly after this purchase, some Unity of Brethren in need of a place of safety approached Zinzendorf. The count gladly gave them a place to dwell and they named the area, Hernhut, which means, “The Lords’ Watch”.
THE LORD’S WATCH
It was at Hernhut where Count Zinzendorf’s true calling sprung forth. Hernhut quickly became a haven for Christian refugees and not just for the Unity of Brethren but also for other persecuted Christians (Lutherans, Reformed, Schwenkfelders, Calvanists, separatists, and Moravians), all with differing doctrine and theology. This was exactly what Zinzendorf had envisioned but he was not expecting the conflict and disorder that would spring up from the theological debates and quarreling. By 1727 Zinzendorf had had enough of all the strife and moved to Hernhut full time to work out these theological differences among the people. He built his permanent house there and named it Bethel; it was said to be very simple and open for the community.
Count Zinzendorf started off by going to each individual’s house and entered into prayer with each member. He then assembled everyone together and vigorously taught from Scripture on how a Christian community should live, bringing the importance of loving God and one another to the forefront. His intentions for everyone were to seek out and emphasize the points in which everyone agreed. The result was shared by his close friend Spangenberg,
“On that day, the Count made a covenant with the people, in the presence of God. The brethren individually engaged to belong entirely to the Saviour. They were ashamed of their religious quarrels, and were unanimously disposed to bury them in oblivion. They also sincerely renounced self-love, self-will, disobedience, and freethinking. They were desirous of becoming poor in spirit; none of them sought a preference above the rest; and each one wished to be taught by the Holy Spirit in all things; they were not only convinced, but carried away and overpowered by the operating grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He also came up with a voluntary discipline for the community, called the Brotherly Agreement. It was this agreement that is said to have activated the Pentecostal move that took place three months later (WHICH WE WILL HIT NEXT!). The agreement brought forth love as being the grounds for their common unity, which in turn intensified their prayer and Bible study gatherings.
Count Zinzendorf being raised Piest and taking on some Lutheran doctrine was not looking to start another church at the time but was having a hard time with the intellectual state of the Lutheran Church and he wanted to see a heart to heart relationship with the Lutherans and God. Zinzendorf became the leader of what was called the Moravian Church, but he considered it to be under the Lutheran church.
Eventually Zinzendorf became well known to all the European and American religious leaders of the 18th century. Count Zinzendorf was known for his strong lifestyle of prayer and fasting, missions, writing hymns, and community. The Count eventually left Hernhut traveling as a pilgrim from place place to spread the Gospel. There were those that continued to follow him and he crossed paths with great men such as Charles and John Wesley. After visiting America he had a burden to witness to the Native Americans and had already started a great missions movement out of Hernhut after the revival of 1727.
Towards the end of Count Zinzendorf’s life he was either loved or hated. His passion for becoming one with Christ and His afflictions went to the extreme and he and his followers became rejected by many. Zinzendorf lost his son and wife and started to become road weary from all of the extended travel. Although Count Zinzendorf had his ups and downs and wrongs and rights, I believe he was a forerunner for the prayer and missions movement that we are seeing today. At the end of his life he was seen as humbled. He passed away at the age of 60 in 1760.
•••Do Not Miss Out on the Next Part of This Series: The Moravian Revival!•••
(This is what I have been building up too…finally!)
Here is one of his more well known hymns: Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.
Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.
Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.
When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.
This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.
Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.
O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.