Monday, September 22, 2008

Revival: What Is It?

What is Revival?

It's not merely a rhetorical question. Do we have a good idea of what it is?

Many say, "There needs to be a revival in the Church." What do they mean when they say this? Do they mean that we need to get a special speaker for a few days to come and preach each night ending with a big altar call where everyone in the whole church comes down front and rededicates themselves to God? How often has that happened... really?

Perhaps we see our church is full of apathetic Christians who come to church week in and week out and we see a church across town who seem to be really having a good time on Sunday morning and even throughout the week. They have some cool programs that we don't have and we want to be more like them. A revival in MY church - so we can be more like that other church over there.

Perhaps we see our country is becoming rife with sin and perversion for the first time in our history. We think that the Church turned away from God, let the unrighteous political ones take prayer out of our schools and we will be destroyed as a country. The only way out of this mess is for the Church to turn back to God so that we can make the country the Utopian Camelot it used to be. This is called revival.

So who is at fault for the fact that people haven't stayed faithful to God and need a revival?

If the need for revival is in your home church, the pastor may be at fault. You've heard Pastor Joe from the 50,000-member Prestonwood Fellowship Tabernacle in Virginia City, Nevada. He's been on the radio for five years now and has become the most sought-after evangelistic speaker in all the Christian churches across North America. His messages are always Biblical and no one at your dead church really knows who he is. Reverend Elliot Coldwater sure doesn't. You haven't been able to stay awake in his sermons for a solid year now, they're so boring.

Or maybe your pastor, Bro Townsend, preaches just fine, but he's so full of himself. When he came everyone thought that he could really bring new life to the church. However, he is really pushing all these changes like giving more of the budget of the church to missions. The church hasn't made budget in 20 years. You certainly don't have enough for something as foreign as missions. Or maybe he actually wants people to be missionaries. Maybe he will tell you that you are called to Africa. How scary is that? Do they even have electricity in Africa? You might miss the next season of American Idol or something. That's why your church needs revival.

Perhaps your pastor really is bad. Your pastor, Dr Lybald, doesn't even think Jesus was really God. He certainly doesn't believe any of the miracles really happened. No one left in the church really has the wits to do anything about it.

What if the problem with your pastor is not that he's making bad changes or preaching lies. Maybe you really do want to be a missionary to Africa and you really love his preaching, but your poor pastor can't get anything changed because of those few old fogeys in the church that really don't want change. They gossip about your pastor all the time behind his back and about the horrible changes he wants to make that might actually bring new people into the church. "Why, the church is just fine the way that it is," they say.

What if the people who are really fueling the need for revival are those new people that keep joining? They bring new ideas. Maybe they want the church to play silly camp music with guitars and drums for worship. Or maybe they want to ditch the pews and put sofas and lazy boys in a big circle all over the sanctuary.

For the country, perhaps all of Christendom needs to be revived. The pews are empty. People need to go to church. People you don't know are doing all kinds of things that you don't know and none of it is what they shouldn't be doing. But you have seen the trends. There has to be an answer for it all and the solution is for everyone to just come back to God. And you are doing the right thing by voicing your knowledge and wisdom about the whole thing as one of the few left who really, truly know God. You don't need to share your faith because you just did: "People need to get back to God." That's all you need to say. You're not going to share your faith because people are going to hell in a handbasket all right and you're not going to have your fingerprints on it.

There's not a single one of us that has all the right answers. What can we say about the trends we see? What kinds of judgments can we level at the Church in general that will change a thing? It does no good to sit back and complain about the state of things and not do anything to change it, especially if you realize that you are operating in ignorance.

But there are some things that we can know for sure. We know that God is living. We know that He is active in his creation. We know that He intends for us to know something about Him, including what He has done for us. So we also know some of the key things He has done for us. One of these things is that He has come to each of His children and given us life in the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.

Life?

The word "revivial" means to bring back to life. To be revived means that the one being revived was once alive, died and was brought back to life. Does anyone intend to imply that people who need revival were once saved, lost their salvation and need to be re-saved? Well, often "to be revived" is intended figuratively. Someone has lost consciousness by something other than natural means and has had consciousness restored. They have been alive, but the appearance of life has waned temporarily. This can happen spiritually.

The answer is that we can rely on God to fulfill His purpose. If God's purpose involves immediate revival, it will happen. If God's purpose doesn't involve immediate revival, it won't. If we are concerned about it, then our first recourse is to pray about it, for only God can produce the results. If you want revival, your first prayer should be that He start with you. Your first act of revival is to direct your praise to God and enjoy His fellowship. If you really want change then you need to seek His will. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, trust Him not to lie to you. Test the spirits however, that you don't listen to another spirit believing it to be God. How do you do this? Read the Bible. It's God's special revelation.

There's more. If you want to be revived, expect there to be changes in your life. You can't expect God to change other people without being willing for your life to be changed.

This has an application for the church as a corporate entity. If you want to see your church revived, it must change. The Hebrews succeeded as God's people in one regard: they were the people through whom the Christ came. There was one big way they failed. Their purpose was to be God's revelation to the world. Everything from their history and God's activities among them was intended to be His revelation to the world. Their part was to proclaim this for all people. They failed.

The purpose of the Church on earth is summed up in the Great Commission. As God's people, we are left here to bring the revelation of God: His incarnation, atoning work and resurrection.

Not every church is capable of sending missionaries. Christ tells the few failthful left in The Church in Thyatira in Rev 2:24-26 that merely holding on to the truth in the face of satanic lies is enough of a testimony. But He tells them that those who remain steadfast will be given the power over the nations. The edict is to do what we can and leave the results up to God. God will provide for the flfillment of His purposes.

So, trust God, praise Him and work to help reveal Him to others. That's where revivial happens.

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