What is a revival? Its a move of God which draws people to Himself with such power that it cannot be explained by human activity. Whats taking place is not the result of some well-run ministry. Past revivals saw large numbers of people return to the faith in which they were raised; they came back to the Christianity they had rebelled against or ignored. But today the situation in America is differentmuch of the nation has lost its respect for the church. Christians are generally viewed as self-righteous scolds who love to judge others but hypocritically practice the same things. And sadly that impression of us is borne out by surveys that show that on average our moral and relational health is no greater than that of our society. Evidently we lack the power to live holy lives.
Meanwhile, many in this society are becoming desperate. Theyve become addicted, their families are unable to stay together, they are controlled by anger, fear, lust, depression
compulsive forces which have grown so strong they are tempted at times to act out and do something outrageous. So people are frightened and want help but theres no real, affordable help available. People helplessly watch as their marriages, careers, friendships, or dreams decompose before their eyes and its becoming increasingly obvious that the secular world has no real help to offer. So people look to the church but we appear in just as bad a shape, the only difference is that we are in denial. Because of this much of America has grown immune to the gospel. The gospel looks powerless because Christians look powerless.
What are people looking for? A power that can set them free so they can stay married (happily), raise their children, keep their jobs and rise in a career without self-imploding or live free of depression without being constantly medicated. If there were a power that could actually set me free so I could live with energy and joy, if I could truly put the past behind me and start all over again, if God could really do that, millions of people would turn to Him.
So heres the key to the next revival: when people see family and friends who they know well and have watched be cruelly held in bondage, wasting their potential, and then find the power to change
hope will ignite and many will long for that same power so they too can be free.
Christians have to admit somethings gone wrong in western Christianity. Jesus said youll know a tree by its fruit (Mt 7:16-20) and much of our fruit is bad. Either:
1) Christianity is a false religion which raises expectations but provides no real supernatural power
2) We have distorted the gospel to the point that the powerful inner change Jesus promised isnt taking place (Jn 3:8).
I believe its option 2.
Where do we start?
To begin with we need to turn our attention to ourselves. Its not that we dont care about those who dont know Jesus, but until we rediscover the life-changing reality Jesus promised we have little to offerour credibility is lacking. And when that power returns, our lives will speak louder than words. Here are three steps forward:
1) Save the gospel: We need to return to Scripture and listen with fresh ears. What does it really say. How did those believers get such power?
2) Save the church: We need to settle the matter in our own minds. What must a person do to be saved? How does God change us and set us free? We can make our own life a laboratory and discover for ourselves how to walk in the Spirit. Once we learn that we become a credible witness with practical advice and genuine faith (because it works for me!).
3) Save the lost: Again, many people know they need help, and when they see people who were afflicted with the same things that afflict them, living in freedom, theyll listen to the gospel with a new openness.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1870s): If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap
though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
A personal journey
Maybe its because I came to Jesus in an atmosphere full of the power of the Holy Spirit, but Ive never been content to live out my faith without power. Im grateful for good teaching and good fellowship but I long for revival. I know God is able to do so much more than weve allowed Him to do... than Ive allowed Him to do. So for years, Ive asked the Holy Spirit to show me in the Word what Ive missed. I dont want a judgmental spirit towards others, or a proud spirit that distorts the faith handed down to us and produces a cult. Here are four things Hes shown me and Im trying to understand and grow in right now:
1) I didnt understand the role the Baptism with the Holy Spirit plays in personal holiness and guidance.
Mt 28:18-20 three baptisms I could never get it straight in my head what was taking place when someone was baptized with the Holy Spirit nor how this was different from regeneration in the new birth.
Eze 36:26, 27; Jer 31:31-34
Jn 7:37-39; 14:15-20 (with you/in you)
The righteousness of faith was available before the Day of Pentecost, in fact it is the only way anyone has ever been saved or ever will be saved. But Paul makes it clear Christ died not only for the sin and rebellious spirit in us, but also for the uncleanliness of the actual flesh of our bodies which have served as instruments of sin. His act of taking on our sinful flesh (Ro 8:3) meant His atonement on the cross cleansed our bodies as well as out spirit which is why our bodies are now clean, suitable temples for the Holy Spirit to indwell (1Co 6:19). Before the cross the human body was not a suitable place (Mt 11:11).
In Romans 7 Paul describes someone who is not baptized in the Holy Spirit trying to resist temptation. They want to obey but lack power. In Romans 8 Paul shows how God made it possible for the Spirit to dwell in us and says that this is the key to living a pure life free from compulsive sin. He says we must learn to draw on this new indwelling power daily, moment by moment. He assures us that this new power is greater than the force of any temptation we might face.
What Im saying is that this truth is not only the key to my own personal freedom, but I believe its the key to the next revival. This power is what people who want to be free are looking for.
2) I didnt understand how to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Ro 8:13).
All Id seen is scolding, threatening, and even disfellowshipping, but few were teaching real practical life-skills in how to draw on Gods power when tempted.
3) Id forgotten how to wait for real power.
Id tried to minister healing and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in a powerless environment.
4) I didnt understand the art of intercession.
Many churches dont even have a prayer meeting, let alone model how to do it well.
Hungry and thirsty
We cant cause revival, only God can do that, but we can hinder it. And the greatest hindrance isnt our own personal struggles, its complacency. We stop expecting, we arent thirsty anymore. We havent found power for ourselves, so we decide the promises must be inflated. They sound great, but disappoint when you try them. We can actually find ourselves fighting against even a glimmer of hope that tries to arise, considering it naïve.
But God is looking for people willing to hope again, willing to search the Scriptures, willing to press through to find out how to access this power for themselves, and then to tell other thirsty, broken people where you found water. I believe that would start a revival.
1) Holy Spirit Service - Sunday evening at 6:00pm
Come if you want to be baptized with the Holy Spirit or you need refreshing.
2) All-Church Day of Prayer and Fasting - Friday, October 7 at 7:00pm. We will:
Look to the fields (Jn 4:35)
Pray (Mt 9:36)
Go (Mt 28:19), hear Him commission us to go and make disciples.
1) Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? When did that happen? What difference has it made?
2) Have you learned to draw on Gods power when tempted? If you have, tell us how (what you do and what God does).