“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
A Revival is God’s Work
A revival is God’s work and can only be produced by the Holy Spirit yet they both need our co-operation as believers to bring it about. Unless we are willing to plough up the hard packed soil of our hearts to receive with meekness the seed of God’s Word then we cannot hope to experience a revival. We can have top speakers, great programs, wonderful music, Church growth programs and so called “seeker sensitive” services and outreach programs of one kind or another yet see no revival in the Church. No amount of whipping people up into some kind of emotional and spiritual euphoric state will ever produce a Biblical revival! Just before the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven he commissioned His followers to go into the entire world as witnesses to Him but to do this successfully they would need to be clothed with power from on high before they set out to fulfil their commission. (Acts 1:8) So they all joined together constantly in prayer until “the fire” fell from heaven onto the altar of their prepared hearts. (Acts 1:14 2:4)
They did not sit around drinking coffee or attend seminars or even sit in on Alpha courses or Purpose Driven talks but waited in expectation before the Lord until His promise of power from on high was fulfilled. The results of their waiting on God not only shook the religious world and society as a whole in Jerusalem but spread out into Judea, Samaria and eventually into the entire world.
Since the Day of Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ has made the power of His Holy Spirit available to the Church. (Acts 2:33, 39) The same supernatural power that fell on them is available to us today as believers. We can have theological qualifications and been through Bible School or be heading to the mission field or be involved in church programs but unless we have been “clothed with power from on high” we will achieve nothing of lasting spiritual value. In the days of the apostles church growth came about by people being saved out of the world and not by transference of church membership!
When we see the history of real revivals in the Church we see all kinds of people saved including alcoholics, prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts and people from every level and walk of society. We see all kinds of social reform and society itself turning back to Biblical truth and practice. During the revivals under John Wesley and George Whitfield people would cry out to God for mercy and fall on their faces before the Lord repenting of their sin. During the ministry of William Booth alcoholics would be suddenly and forcefully delivered from alcohol addiction and set free at the penitent rail. You never saw people falling backwards into some spiritual “euphoric state” and saying “God is doing a wonderful thing!” In the Bible people always fell on their faces before God and were fully conscious of their total unworthiness and sinfulness before Him.
God is always willing to send a revival. But are we ready to receive it? When we examine His Word the Bible we can see certain marks that characterize a Biblical revival. In this study we will look at the first mark of a genuine Biblical revival.
A Genuine Revival produces Conviction about Sin.
“When the people heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
Now the Holy Spirit will convict us of all and every sin but He always goes to the root of the problem where the unsaved are concerned. The sin that Peter’s hearers were convicted about on the Day of Pentecost was of their failure to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. In other words they were deeply convicted of their unbelief in Jesus Christ to the point where they became desperate to be saved. Desperation to be saved without any pre-conditions is almost unseen in most western churches today. At most, much of professed conversions are only emotional responses without the will being laid down. Only when our will is laid at the foot of the cross can we be truly saved and sanctified!
Unbelief in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord will always be the first and foremost sin that the Holy Spirit convicts unbelievers about. (John 16:9) The Holy Spirit Himself brings about desperation in the hearts of the unsaved to be reconciled to God. The only thing that concerned the unsaved on the Day of Pentecost was how they could find a real and personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of them were actually religious people that had not encountered Jesus personally in their lives. 3000 were saved that day! Now Peter didn’t tell them to go back to church. He didn’t tell them to go to the priests for counselling. He didn’t tell them to go to their psychiatrist or psychologist. He didn’t tell them to try to be more religious or to go to confession or to try and do more good works. Peter told them exactly what they needed to do to be put right with God.
“Then Peter said to them, repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). May be you have never really encountered the Lord Jesus Christ personally but are very religious or have been in church all of your life. You may have many problems and have been going to numerous counsellors or even to a psychologist for psychotherapy but have never realized that your main need is to thoroughly repent before God. Once a person has been convicted of unbelief in Jesus there are four things they need to do. They need to repent, believe, be baptised and receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. All of us in fact must do these things if we are to obtain the full salvation that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. We must thoroughly repent.
a. The Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself preached repentance as well as faith. They all taught that we must turn away from our unbelief in God and turn to Him unconditionally in faith for mercy and pardon. In the New Testament repentance was a strong feature of the apostles preaching and was the prerequisite for finding peace with God. (Acts 3:19 17:30 20:21 26:20) (2 Corinthians 7:10) When did you last hear an old fashioned sermon on repentance? Try reading George Whitfield’s sermon on repentance!
In the Old Testament repentance meant to sigh and to groan over ones sin to the point where that person desperately desired to break with it and to put it away. In the New Testament the word repent means literally to change ones mind. The word “mind” involves the intellect, the emotions and especially the will. It means that we must firstly be willing to turn from our Jesus hating, Jesus rejecting way of life to a Jesus loving, Jesus accepting way of life. It means that we must be willing to change our thinking about God, about the Bible, about sin, about the devil and above all else about the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. We cannot thoroughly repent unless we cry out to the Lord to enable us to do it and not holding anything back. Repentance is God’s gift but we must be willing to receive it. (Acts 11:8) First and foremost we must be convicted about our sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ. This is where true repentance begins in all of us who want to be saved. True Biblical repentance involves confession and confession means agreeing with what God says about our sinful condition. When we truly repent we have no excuses but thoroughly agree with what He says about our sin in His Word. Once we have thoroughly repented He then enables us to believe and makes us a brand new person on the inside through the Holy Spirit. The Bible calls this experience the New Birth. (2 Corinthians 5:17) (John 3:3)
c. Repentance is an act of our wills and not primarily an emotional experience although our emotions will be involved to some degree. While we may experience an emotional release when we repent it will still be primarily an act of our wills. Repentance means that we decide to make a complete turnabout and change the whole course and direction of our life. We do not have the capacity to repent but if our will is laid down at the foot of the cross then the Holy Spirit will graciously enable us to completely repent before the Lord. God is not willing that any of us should perish but that all of us should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
d. Repentance not only involves a turning away from sin but turning to God for pardon through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21) Many do not receive the Spirit’s power because they have never truly repented. They still hold on to one area of their life that they don’t want to give to God and even though they may feel emotional God cannot give them true repentance until that area is unconditionally yielded up to Him. Before we can really know God’s power in our lives we must stay honest before the Lord about everything in our lives and when the Holy Spirit puts His finger on something that displeases Him we need to give it up to the Lord for crucifixion. (Galatians 2:20)
Firstly, then conviction of sin leads to repentance concerning unbelief in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. The Day of Pentecost was not a “seeker sensitive service” but a call to repent and turn to God while they had the opportunity to do it. Peter said, “Save yourselves from this crooked and perverse generation!” Heaven or hell what will it be? This is at the heart of repentance, the reason God wants us to repent is to spare us the eternal damnation, unimaginable horror and torment of hell and ultimately being cast into the lake of Fire for time and for all eternity!
2. We must have Genuine Faith:
“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
a. True repentance always involves faith. In the work of Salvation repentance and faith are the spiritual power twins. They are two sides of the same coin. One does not operate without the other one. They go together. Repentance causes us to give up any hope of saving ourselves and confessing thoroughly to God all and every sin especially our unwillingness to believe in Jesus and His Word. Through repentance the Holy Spirit shows us our total sinfulness and lost condition and that without the protection of the blood of the Lord Jesus and His righteousness we are bound for hell and the lake of fire for eternity. Not only does the Holy Spirit show us our true spiritual condition before God, not only does He enable us to repent if we are willing to do so but He shows us the perfect provision God has made for our salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. Jesus shed His blood to atone for our sins and to cleanse us from them. (Romans 3:25-26 5:9) (1 John 1:7) By faith in His blood we can escape the coming wrath of God. The children of Israel sheltered under the sacrificial animal blood when the destroying angel passed through Egypt. When God saw the blood on the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites He passed over them. Everyone else in Egypt who did not shelter under the blood suffered the judgment of God.
The animal’s blood in the basin needed to be applied to the doorposts before it was effective for the Israelites. We not only must believe that the blood of Jesus can atone for all of our sins but invite Jesus to actually cleanse us from them. We must count in Him to do it. (1 John 1:9) Only through faith in His blood can we be delivered from the coming wrath. (Romans 5:9) Not only must we see the total efficiency of Jesus blood to atone for our sins and cleanse us from them but also the need to be clothed with His perfect and righteous life. The Holy Spirit shows us our need of Jesus’ righteousness because by God’s standards we have none! (John 16:10)
c. Our own righteousness is like a filthy discarded menstrual rag in God’s sight. (Isaiah 64:6) Our own righteousness is like the smell of a decaying corpse in God’s sight and full of rebellion and evil in every way. (Romans 3:10-18) Our hearts are tainted with the corruption of sin and spiritual deception. (Jeremiah 17:9) (1 Corinthians 2:14) By nature and birth we are all great rebels in God’s sight and under His wrath. (Psalm 51:5) (Romans 8:7) (Ephesians 2:3) We must not only have faith in Jesus blood but also faith in His righteousness to replace our own unrighteousness. (Philippians 3:7-9) Only the blood and righteousness of Jesus received by faith can save us from God’s wrath on sin and bring us to heaven. Anything or anyone else cannot do this. Jesus righteousness is the only standard of righteousness acceptable to God and our faith in Jesus not only makes us righteous in God’s sight but actually allows God to impart that righteousness to us and credit it to our account in heaven. (Romans 3:21-24)
d. Faith itself is more than just believing, it includes that but it also implies faithfulness. It has been said that God’s grace is free but it is not cheap. Only those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, will be filled. Only those who know they are great rebels and sinners in God’s sight and hell-bound yet go to God for mercy and pardon through Jesus Christ will be spared from the wrath to come.
e. Faith includes obedience to God’s Word. (Romans 1:5) If we really love Jesus then we will want to obey the Bible because He is the Living Word of God incarnate and the co-author of the Bible with God His Father and the Holy Spirit. If we do not love the Bible then we do not love Jesus Christ! (John 14:21-24)
f. Real and genuine faith obeys the Word of God through the help of the blessed Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to keep God’s Word and to put it into practice in our lives. (Romans 8:1-4) So then repentance and faith go hand in hand. In repentance we turn from our unbelief and sin and turn to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and as a result we receive pardon, mercy, cleansing and righteousness from God Himself.
3. We must be baptised.
Baptism signifies that we have died to the world with its lures and appetites and have been resurrected with Christ to a new way of life. (Romans 6:4) (Galatians 5:16-24) Baptism itself does not save us but if we have been saved then we need to be baptised because it is commanded by the Lord Himself and is an act of obedience to Him. Baptism must be a result of a living faith and encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. To refuse to be baptised after you believe will prevent the Holy Spirit from falling upon you in power! Obedience to believer’s baptism is one of the fundamental pre-requisites to receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit!
In the Old Testament Egypt is a type of the world and Pharaoh a type of the devil. Moses is a type of Christ leading us through the waters of Baptism (symbolized by passing through the Red Sea) effectively cutting us off from the world and bringing us into the promised land of a victorious life and ultimately to heaven itself. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) Baptism ultimately means the resurrection and rapture of the Church. Baptism follows faith in Jesus Christ for Salvation. (Mark 16:16) If we have died to our old way of life and have been spiritually reborn into a new way of life then we must be baptised, as this is our public declaration of our commitment to walk with Jesus Christ. Our baptism in effect cuts us off from the “Egypt” of the world.
4. We must receive the Power of the Holy Spirit.
After we have repented, believed and been baptised with water we need to be baptised with the Holy Spirit. According to Peter’s words all of these things should follow one another. The New Birth is the Spirit indwelling and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the Spirit outpoured. (John 7:37-39) (Luke 24:49) (Acts 1:8) (Acts 2:14)
On the Day of Pentecost the 120 were already saved and indwelt by the Spirit but were baptised with the Holy Spirit for witnessing. Repentance and faith should be simultaneous with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit as we see in the case of Cornelius and his fellow gentiles but with the Samaritans they were born again and later baptised with the Holy Spirit when Peter and John prayed for them to receive His power.
Paul was saved on the Damascus road but later on filled with the Holy Spirit and then baptised. The disciples at Ephesus were saved men but had not been baptised with the Holy Spirit. Paul asked them whether they had received the power of the Holy Spirit after they had believed? He obviously recognised that something was missing in their Christian experience. They confessed that they had received no such experience. Then Paul told them that they needed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit he then prayed for them and the Holy Spirit came upon them in power.
Not every ones experience will be the same, however, if the gospel was really preached according to what Peter says in Acts then people would repent, believe, be baptised and prayed for to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is what Peter told his hearers to do. Should we accept anything less than that!
a. Just as we receive salvation by faith we also receive the Holy Spirit’s power by faith. The force of the word Peter uses for “receive” in Acts 2:38 is “to take hold of” implying “to take by faith that which is already poured out.” We no longer have to wait because the Lord Jesus Christ has made His anointing by the Holy Spirit available to us as well. (Acts 2:33) The anointing becomes ours when we truly repent and believe in Jesus and obey Him in Baptism.
Now we can be born again and baptised with the Holy Spirit before we are baptised with water as in the case of Paul and the household of Cornelius but if this is the case then we will need to be baptised as an act of obedience to Jesus. Sometimes if a believer for some reason is not willing to be baptised then they cannot really be baptised with the Holy Spirit even though they are saved because water baptism is one of the prerequisites for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. This experience is for every believer in every age. (Acts 2:39)
b. Multitudes of believers today have the Holy Spirit living in them but the Holy Spirit does not have all of them consequently they have no power to witness for Jesus. They sit in church and are involved in its activities but have no testimony for the unsaved because they have never received the mighty Baptism with the Holy Spirit for this purpose. (Acts 1:8) The New Birth makes us soldiers but the Baptism with the Holy Spirit provides us with the armour and weapons we need to fight the battle.
d. God’s word is the weapon the Spirit uses in His convicting and converting work. “The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Without the anointing of the Spirit on the Word, even though faithfully preached, will have no spiritual power to change anyone. On the day of Pentecost Peter was preaching the Word and uplifting Jesus Christ but it was the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon him that brought about the conviction and conversion of his hearers.
5. In a Biblical revival the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word as the instrument to bring about conviction of sin.
“The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)… “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (Romans 10:17) “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
b. On the day of Pentecost Peter’s entire sermon was scripture from beginning to end. He was using the Word of God to uplift the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit was backing everything he was saying as Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do. (John 15:26) The Word of God coming out of Peter’s mouth was being controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit as He applied the truth to the hearts of the listeners. In one day 3000 were soundly converted!
c. The first century believers always used the Word of God in their witnessing and ministry for Jesus. (Acts 8:4) Philip the evangelist was using the Word of God under the anointing of the Spirit and saw wonderful results as people were saved, healed and delivered from evil spirits. He was not preaching a signs and wonders gospel but preaching the Lord Jesus Christ from the Word of God and the signs, miracles and wonders followed the preaching of the word. (Acts 8:1-8) After the Samaritans had received the Word of God and been born again Peter and John came down to Samaria and prayed for them to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:12-17) In our witnessing we cannot bring about conviction of sin no matter how much we might even pressure people to believe. Conviction of sin does not depend on certain types of music, famous speakers or church growth strategies. In fact conviction of sin does not depend on us at all! Only the Holy Spirit can convict people of their personal sinfulness before a Righteous and Holy God.
d. We have a responsibility to preach God’s Word and to witness to Jesus Christ but only the Holy Spirit can bring results. We are not responsible to bring about conviction of sin. We can whip people up into some kind of spiritual euphoria and even get them to make a decision for the Lord but if the Holy Spirit is not at work then there will be no deep spiritual work in their hearts. If we want to see people saved then we must give them God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the energy of our own human strength. This is why the Lord Jesus poured out His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. (Luke 24:48-49) (Acts 1:8)
e. Until we have been baptised with the Holy Spirit we will not have real liberty and power in the Holy Spirit. Just being a good preacher or an effective speaker does not mean that the anointing is present. A person may preach very quietly and even unemotionally but if they are yielded completely to the Holy Spirit and Baptised with Him they will have power to move the hearts and minds of their hearers.
6. In a Biblical Revival the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to set people free from evil spirits and occult practices.
When the Holy Spirit goes to work in peoples lives He not only deals with their unbelief in Jesus but also deals with those who are affected by evil spirits. This is what happened in Samaria. There had been a magician named Simon who had a following of thousands and had even affected the government officials. This man was a practitioner of the occult and very good at it. When he encountered the power of the Holy Spirit working through Philip he lost his followers. He was so impressed by what he saw that he professed to be a believer but the Holy Spirit revealed his true motives to Peter and his whole operation was completely shut down. (Acts 8:1-25)
The same thing happened when Paul preached the gospel at Ephesus. People were not only saved but also delivered from evil spirits. Not only that but those who had been saved brought all of their occult scrolls and objects, which added up to a lot of money, and burned them in the public square. When the Holy Spirit is really at work witchcraft will be exposed and defeated. (Acts 19:11-12, 18-20)
The way Paul and all the apostles drove back the occult was not by running up to an idol and saying “I bind you in Jesus name Amen” and then thinking the work was done. No they preached the gospel and prayed as they preached and the Holy Spirit overthrew the powers of the occult before them. Only prayer and the proclamation of God’s Word under the anointing of the Holy Spirit will defeat occult powers! Especially on the Mission field this is true when you are up against shamans, witch doctors and practitioners of the occult!
Only the Lord Jesus Christ can set people free from the power of the occult. He does this is through His Word and by the Spirit of God flowing from Him onto those preaching His Word. (Acts 2:33) Those who have been saved and delivered from the power of the occult will burn their tarot cards, wedgie boards, star sign charts and all occult medallions and bracelets. In fact they will destroy everything associated with the occult!
Ironically in the Church today there are Christians and even pastors who think that it’s okay for kids to read Harry Potter novels! Not to mention the other ways witchcraft is flourishing in the Church through false teachers and prophets such as Benny Hinn. The Bible clearly warns us that witchcraft will spread like gangrene through the professing Christian Church in the last days through false prophets and teachers. (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24) (1 Timothy 4:1-3) (2 Timothy 3:1-13) Even some of our own Evangelical leaders are being spiritually seduced by the Church of Rome which itself is steeped in witchcraft. This is why we need a revival in the Church! If we have a revival in the Western Church we won’t be jumping around, laughing, making animal noises and dancing around in some euphoric spiritual state of mind but on our faces before the Lord repenting of our unbiblical doctrines and practices.
When the Holy Spirit really brings a revival all kinds of spiritual bondages will be broken in the lives of Christians such as lust, greed, jealousy, un-forgiveness, bitterness of spirit and divisions. Erroneous doctrines will be expelled along with their false teachers. Many demons will be expelled from professing Church members and many religious people will be genuinely saved. Sometimes the demons that Jesus Himself dealt with came out of those attending the synagogue who themselves were obviously very religious people.
So then in a genuine revival the un-churched will not only be saved and delivered from evil spirits as a result of the revival but many within the Church will have the same experience as those who are not in the Church. As the scripture says, “Judgment begins in the house of God” and again it says, “If the righteous are scarcely saved where will the ungodly and sinners appear?” Before the Lord Jesus comes back spiritual deception will be so prevalent in the Church that it will be a miracle that any of us make it out of here at the rapture! Lot is a primary example!
7. In a Biblical Revival the Holy Spirit challenges legalistic religion.
“Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)-Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the province of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:8-10).
a. Whenever the Word of God is preached under the direct control of the Holy Spirit religious people and those who do not understand the ministry of the Spirit get really upset. Even some well meaning and sincere Christians get upset when they see the Holy Spirit at work in power through the preaching of God’s Word with signs following. When we read about Stephen we see that he preached God’s Word and there was no focus placed on the miraculous signs and wonders. Stephen, like Philip, and like all the apostles never went around holding healing meetings and advertising miracle crusades. What they did do was to go around preaching God’s Word and genuine signs, miracles and wonders followed behind them. Why was this so? Because they were uplifting the Lord Jesus Christ and the true gospel by uplifting the scriptures and the Holy Spirit was endorsing everything they said!
After He had preached to the religious hierarchy Stephen really laid the truth on the line where legalistic religion was concerned. “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him- you who have received the law that was put into effect by angels but have not obeyed it” (Acts 7:51-53). There was nothing “seeker sensitive” about what he said and it got a Knee jerk reaction from all the religious leaders listening to him. After this they took him out and stoned him to death.
b. The spirit of religion has always resisted the Spirit of God. This goes right back to the time of Cain and Abel. Cane brought some fruit of the ground as an offering even though the ground was cursed from the fall. Cain was offering to God the work of his own hands and trying to find acceptance with God by his own works. God rejected his offering because it was not brought to God on the basis of faith but of works. Abel on the other hand had a different attitude to God and he offered up to God the first of his flock as a sacrifice because Abel knew that he could only be acceptable to God through the substitutionary sacrifice of another in his place. Abel came in faith knowing that only through a sacrifice of blood could he receive atonement for his sins and acceptance by God. Cain turned on Abel in jealousy and killed him. This is where the spirit of religion began to oppose the Spirit of God.
c. A revival will challenge all those who do not want the Holy Spirit to have His way in their churches. In the last days what happened to Stephen will happen to many believers who refuse to compromise on God’s Word and speak the Word under the anointing of the Spirit. Their enemies will not only be those in the world but also those within the professing Christian Church. It was the religious leaders that orchestrated the death of Stephen not the Romans!
8. In a Biblical Revival the Holy Spirit will challenge false teachers and prophets and expose them to everyone.
“Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men also oppose the truth-men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone” (2 Timothy 3:8-9).
Now Jannes and Jambres were the magicians of Egypt that counterfeited the miracles of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. These magicians were operating by the power of the occult but Moses and Aaron were operating by the power of God. In the end Moses and Aaron won the day and the magicians could not match them. In this chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy Paul is describing the conditions of the last days especially in the professing Christian Church.
a. Today we have so called prophets and teachers who are bringing in false teaching and producing signs, miracles and wonders and many are going for what they are doing. Paul tells us that in the last days many will have a form of godliness but be denying its power to change them. (2 Timothy 3: 5) Paul also goes on to describe these men as impostors. (2 Timothy 3: 13) Literally he uses the word “enchanters” signifying that they are being motivated by occult power. These men are evil and go from bad too worse not only deceiving others but themselves as well. Many of these men and sometimes women are being used by Satan to deceive the elect but when the Spirit of God is really operating within the Church these false teachers will be exposed.
Peter the apostle exposed Simon the Magician and effectively shut down his whole operation. (Acts 8:9-11, 18-23) By the power of the Holy Spirit the apostle Paul exposed Elymas the sorcerer and his false prophet Bar-Jesus and shut down their operation. (Acts 13:6-12) Today there are numerous false prophets and teachers abounding in the Church promoting error in the name of Jesus. The Apostle Peter warned us about them when he said; “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who brought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into dispute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:1-4).
b. False prophets go together with false teachers. Usually false prophets get their prophecies wrong because their teaching is wrong. Theses people are masters of spiritual seduction and the words Peter uses for “secretly introducing destructive heresies” means, “laying truth and error side by side.” For example you can prepare beautiful nutritious meals for someone and just add a little arsenic with each meal. At first there will be little or no affect but over a period of time the poison accumulates in the body and that person starts to become sick and eventually they die. False teaching is like that. It is a gangrene that spreads corruption through the whole body. Jesus Himself said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23). Teachers are eyes for the body of Christ that let spiritual light into the body but if the teachers are bad then the light they bring to the body of Christ will be darkness and if they succeed in their teaching the body of Christ will be in ever increasing darkness.
c. Many of God’s elect are being deceived today by the word of faith, mammon loving falsr prophets. These mena dnsome womwn are just plain greedy, full of pride and exploiting the body of Christ to line their own pockets. Some of them actually make up stories to impress people. These people often make prophecies about revival and blessing but nothing ever happens yet they walk away with buckets of money. In the end they will be rewarded according to their works because they have sewed to the flesh and from the flesh will reap destruction! A real revival will expose false teachers and prophets!
Well did Jude prophesy of these money hungry men when he said, “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted-twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 11-13).
Real and genuine conviction of sin does not depend on top name speakers, special music, moving testimonies or elaborately produced programs, neither does it depend of whipping people up into some kind of emotional euphoric state. It does not even depend on preaching the Bible just to make people feel guilty. Conviction of sin depends entirely upon the Holy Spirit empowering the preaching of God’s Word and nothing else! We still have a responsibility to witness using God’s Word but we are not responsible for convicting people of their need of Christ. A person can be converted many times to many things in this life like sales pitches for new products or go for the latest courses in psychology or experience some kind of ascetic philosophy that moves them emotionally but a person can only be born again once! (John 3:3)
Human psychology or philosophy may change a person to a great degree but no human mind science can deal with the problem of sin! Many Christians go to psychologists and psychotherapists today and spend hours in counselling sessions when their real need is to repent before God. If they did this then they would find the blood of Jesus Christ more than adequate to cleanse their heart and purge their conscience from dead works to serve the Living God and they would be filled with all joy and peace in believing and overflowing with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 John 1:7-9) (Hebrews 9:14) (Romans 14:13)
If we have been baptised with the Holy Spirit then we already have all the power we will ever need to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ but we must make sure that there is no un-confessed sin in our lives. We must make sure that we are yielded unconditionally to the Holy Spirit to use us at anytime, anywhere and in anyway He chooses to use us. Our responsibility is to hold out the Word of Life to sinners but it is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sin!