In our last study we started to discover certain things that constitute a Biblical Revival. We saw that a Biblical Revival sees the return of believers from their backslidden heart and lifestyle. It sees backsliders restored and the confessing and forsaking of all sin. It sees the breaking down of pride before God. What else do we see in a genuine Biblical revival?
5. A Biblical Revival sees the casting away of all false hopes.
Today the Body of Christ is plagued by new age existentialism, postmodern thinking and imbued with psychology mixed in with the Bible. Many sit in their local churches today that have never been born again due to the watering down of the message of the Gospel from the pulpits. Seeker friendly churches are starting to spring up everywhere today with their own brand of Christianity. A false hope is anything or anyone we put our trust in for salvation other than in the Lord Jesus alone. A false hope bypasses repentance. Just having an emotional spiritual experience of one sort or another does not mean you have been born again from above by the Holy Spirit. A revival, if it is genuine, will first see the message of repentance clearly preached in such a way that ‘sinners’ and the religious will cry out to God to have mercy on them . This pattern is seen in the preaching of the prophets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus.
Preach the Law and then Grace
John Wesley said; “Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment.” Charles Spurgeon said; “I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the Law.” Martin Luther said; “The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin.” Evangelist Ray Comfort has said; “Biblical evangelism is always, without exception, law to the proud and grace to the humble. Never will you see Jesus giving the gospel, the good news, the cross, the grace of our God, to a proud, arrogant, self-righteous person. No, no. With the law he breaks the hard heart and with the gospel he heals the broken heart.” The Law of God breaks apart any false hope for salvation. Once a man or a woman has been faced with their sin and rebellion against God from His Law and have thoroughly repented before God they will then be able to appreciate the pardoning liberality of God. They will then experience justification by faith in Jesus alone to save them from the power and consequences of sin, and the power of His blood to thoroughly cleanse them from all and every sin followed by the receiving the Spirit of God to give them victory over the world, the flesh and the devil himself.
Doing serious Business with God
When you read about all of the revivals under Wesley, Booth, Moody, Finney and many others in Church history they all first preached God’s Law before they preached His grace. People at their meetings fell over but fell face down repenting of their sins before God. They never fell backwards into some spiritually euphoric state of mind. In the Bible when the power of God came down people fell face down in His presence, it was not a laughing matter! No rolling around on the floor, no laughing and gyrating of bodies, no dancing down the aisles but men and women down on their faces before God calling upon Him to have mercy and pardon on their sinful and rebellious hearts. You won’t find this kind of thing in a Purpose Driven or Alpha Course or in any of the seeker friendly churches. People may get emotional over their personal problems but this is not repentance. What they really need to do is to see themselves in the light of God’s law and unconditionally and without reserve cast themselves completely on Him for mercy, pardon, cleansing and forgiveness for their sin and rebellion against Him. This is doing serious business with God! He is not a ‘jelly roll’ or a kind of “indulgent father figure” or “a spiritual dispensing machine” that delivers “spiritual goodies” on demand!
6. A Biblical Revival sees the Holy Spirit renew believers in love and good works.
In the Book of Acts we read what happened to the believers in Jerusalem after the Holy Spirt had fallen upon them in power. “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47)
How is your church going?
How many churches are like this today? What is the church like you are in today? The Book of Acts is not a book of spiritual antiquity to show us what the first Christians were like but a spiritual blueprint for the Body of the Messiah in every age. The love of God had been poured out into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) consequently, after they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, that love of God was fully released without restraint. Through this corporate experience of the Spirit’s power being released in them and upon them as the Body of the Messiah, they were able to edify themselves in love with each one seeking the interests of others before their own. They continuously devoted themselves to the apostles teaching (which we have today in the Bible) to fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer. There was a sense of awe at what God was doing among them. The gifts of the Spirit flowed continuously through the apostles and they shared their possessions with those in need and had meals together every day. Their lives were filled with praises to God and every day the Lord added to their numbers those who were being saved. This is the normal Christian church Biblically.
A unique situation?
Some try to say the situation was unique to their situation in Jerusalem because they knew that the Temple would be destroyed and the city of Jerusalem ransacked in the future but even if they knew this, which they most probably did at that time because of what the Lord Jesus had said previously, it cannot be dismissed what the Holy Spirit was doing in their midst. Should we settle for anything less today in the Body of the Messiah?
A ‘Titanic’ headed for ‘the iceberg’
As for this world with its pleasures and pursuits and ambitions it is a ‘Titanic’ headed for the gigantic ‘iceberg.’ Only those with the lifejacket of salvation on will be spared and not go down with the ship. In their pride people said of the Titanic that not even God could sink it. Well they were wrong. Even after the Titanic had hit the iceberg there were those on board who continued to party on into the night somehow convincing themselves that things would be alright in the end and that the ship would never sink? Many in this world, and sadly even in the Church, have developed the attitude that Peter writes about; “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:3-7)
7. A Biblical Revival sees the Holy Spirit renew believers in faith and believing prayer.
After the believers at Jerusalem had all been baptized in the Holy Spirit the devil started a campaign of persecution against them. He had a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to what was happening because his kingdom was being plundered by the faithful Body of the Messiah. They were speaking and acting just like the Lord Jesus and this was harassing Satan and his minions from hell and freaking them out big time! He had his servants, the religious leaders, arrest Peter and John and took them to task for what they had been saying and doing in the name of the Lord Jesus. Well the Church went to prayer and after Peter and John had given a powerful testimony to the saving and healing power of the Lord Jesus they were released. When they had returned to the fellowship they all prayed together with expectancy and based their prayers on the promises of God and we read what happened; “…And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31)
Seeking God’s Glory
When they prayed they did not ask for protection but sought God’s glory. The first thing they asked was that they might have boldness to preach God’s Word knowing intuitively that “faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.” After this they asked the Lord to work His signs and wonders following the preaching of His Word. They not only asked Him to do it but counted on Him to do it and believed Him for it! Once again they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. After that we read; “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)
Past history is future history
When we read the book of Acts we are not just reading about the past history of the Body of the Messiah but future History as well. What we see in Acts will be the face of the Body of the Messiah in these last days just before the Lord Jesus comes back. Institutional denominational Christendom by enlarge will become a white elephant spiritually. Faith and believing prayer will be the normal experience for the faithful Body of the Messiah with tremendous results but it will be in the midst of affliction and even persecution. Very soon after the day of Pentecost the persecution started, firstly from the unsaved religious leaders and then from the secular authorities. What we see in Acts is already happening in countries like North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, China and in many other third world nations to a greater or lesser degree.
8. A Biblical Revival sees the Holy Spirit renew a burden in believers for those who are not saved.
After Saul had been persecuting the Body of the Messiah the believers were scattered. We read what they did; “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4) They did not have a ‘bunker mentality’ but went out and preached the gospel of the Kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit because the love of God had been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They had a burden to see people saved. When believers are baptized in the Holy Spirit God will give them a burden for the salvation of their unsaved friends, business colleagues, for family members and for all who are lost. This is not something that comes naturally to us because by nature we are selfish people and at war with our sinful nature, but our testimony and witness is brought about when we are in a right relationship with and to the Holy Spirit.
If we are not daily filled with the Spirit we will not have a testimony, we will not witness, we will not hand out tracts, we will be silent Christians, which the Bible does not recognize, The main reason the Lord Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit is to empower His Body, the faithful Church, to witness and to work for Him. (Acts 1:8) Without the mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit we cannot witness or work for God. As the prophet writes; “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD!” What a wonderful friend we have in the blessed Holy Spirit. He wants to work in us and through us and alongside of us but will we let Him do it? If we are not continuously filled with the Holy Spirit them our witness has no power, God is dishonoured and the work of God in saving souls and sanctifying the saints is hindered.
9. A Biblical Revival sees the Holy Spirit breaking down worldly attachments in the lives of believers.
A famous preacher once said; “A ship in the water is alright but water in the ship isn’t.” Now owning possessions in themselves are not wrong and we are told to owe no one any debt except the debt of love. God gives us many things to enjoy in this life. If we seek first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness that comes from Him then everything we need for life and Godliness will be given to us and at times in abundance. The real danger is that the possessions we have can end up owning us and inadvertently start us on the downward slide back into the world and a love for the things of this world. Added to this once we allow our possessions to own us it opens the gateway for the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life to gain a foothold in our affections and desires which eventually cause us to lose our first love and to start backsliding spiritually. At first we may not detect this as wealth is a very subtle enemy of spiritual fidelity to the LORD. The problem does not lie in possessions but within us. James writes; “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
In love with money
Riches can be a very subtle enemy of the soul spiritually. There is nothing wrong with possessions but there is something wrong with us. God can trust very few believers with money. There is a gift of philanthropy in the Bible where God gives wisdom and the grace to handle money to a man or a woman. It is not the norm but rather the exception. We must be aware of the love of money as it can spiritually shipwreck our faith. Paul writes; “Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6:9-10)
To confirm His covenant
If the LORD gives us the power to gain wealth it is for the sake of the Gospel and to confirm the New Covenant in His blood to bring sinners to Him and to sanctify His saints and to support His servants in full-time work or engaged in missionary service overseas. As it is written; “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:18) Money will enable us to own our possessions but once they own us we are in trouble spiritually.
10. A Biblical Revival sees the Holy Spirit lead the music in worship.
For the most part the whole Christian music industry is a business today. Many Christian musos are treated like rock stars and make lots of money. Now modern music is not wrong in itself. The hymns of Wesley’s time were considered by the religious conservatives of his time as extreme. The Methodists in Wesley’s day were the forerunners of the kind of enthusiasm and exuberance we see in Pentecostal worship today which has its place in the Body of the Messiah. Of course the songs and spiritual hymns they sung in Wesley’s time were theologically and doctrinally sound and in line with the Bible. Just look at the solid Biblical doctrine of Charles Wesley’s Hymns. They don’t write songs of this doctrinal calibre anymore and the reason for this is because many of the great Biblical foundational doctrines of the Bible are no longer preached anymore. If our doctrine is wrong so will our lifestyles be wrong.
The Worship of Worship
Today many of the songs sung lack in doctrinal truth and content. Much of the modern worship we see today is the worship of worship itself. It’s entertainment. A Christian concert is one thing and they have their place in edifying the wider Body of the Messiah but worship is different yet sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a concert and worship. Some Christians ‘church hop’ as it were, and many of these mega churches grow by transfer growth rather than by people being saved off of the street. Many Christians want to see the latest show in town or the latest prophet with his dazzling prophecies and signs, miracles and wonders and the razzle and dazzle that goes with all of it. Many have “itching ears” to hear what is being offered and care little about the content. Now in the Temple worship in Israel there were times of quietness, spiritual sobriety and tears of repentance and at other times shouting and praising God unashamedly.
Music has its place
Many musical instruments were actually used in the Temple worship among the Israelites and Wesley’s meetings were like this and so were the meetings of William Booth and D. L. Moody and others whom God used in revivals. The Salvation Army are known the world over for their orchestras and skill in music. The Azusa Street revival was the same and in this revival the gifts of the Spirit were clearly seen and many were saved, healed, delivered from evil spirits and others baptized in the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts we see the same thing as well. Paul writes; “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:18-20) Sadly many worship services are more like a funeral than a celebration. If the Holy Spirit is really in charge then there will be joy and exuberance but also self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7) At times the music will be loud and full of praise to God but at other times more sombre when people are getting themselves right with God. The singing of Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs will be theologically sound. If they are not then they are not spiritual even though they engage the emotions of the worshippers.
Discernment is needed
We need discernment today where the songs we are singing are concerned. There is a tendency in many of them to focus on what we want God to do for us rather than on what God has done for us or what we can do for Him. One of the sad things is that the Hymns are disappearing in many churches today and being replaced with repetitive choruses that have very shallow doctrinal content in them if they have it at all. Whatever is done in worship all things must be done decently and in order because the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of love, power and self- control. Much of what is claimed to be the work of the Holy Spirit may on the surface look like it but on a deeper examination it is at best the work of the flesh and in some cases can be the work of demons.
Satan, called Lucifer before He fell, was in charge of the worship in the Garden of Eden. He was endowed with the God given ability to create beautifully inspiring music. In the King James Bible we are told about him; “You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.” (Ezekiel 28:13) Tabrets and pipes were musical instruments and the ability to create music was given to Lucifer the day when he was created. After he fell into rebellion and sin all of his gifts and abilities were perverted and turned in on himself to work his wicked and evil will upon men. Satan uses sex, money and power to spiritually seduce men and women but also uses music. It is a very powerful aphrodisiac, as it were, that links sex, money, sensuality and power all together. Nightclubs reflect this and Christians have no business going to nightclubs. This is why music is very important in the Body of the Messiah. It can draw others to God or draw them away from Him. Where the real spiritual seduction lays is with the lyrics.
Foot tapping and a beat is okay!
Music with a beat to it is not wrong and sometimes a good gospel song will set our feet tapping and bring us a sense of pleasure and well-being and edify us spiritually and this is a good and necessary thing at times. Having said this when you look at much of the music being perpetrated in many churches today it is anything but God centred. It is man centred and theologically questionable and in some cases people just lose control much like they do at a rock concert. Some years ago now the craze of ‘head shaking’ was all the rage at rock concerts and it crept into the Church. Just watch the Christian website “The Museum of Idolatry” which seeks to expose false teachers and churches and what you see there is insanity to say the least, it’s almost unbelievable and clearly the work of the flesh and in some cases demonic. Having said this there is a spiritual gift of the Psalmist as King David had. Another example was the late Keith Green. If ever there was an evangelist gifted in music it was him. His songs were anything but a dirge and tiring. On the contrary they were uplifting and bright and Spirit-filled and brought many souls to faith in the Lord Jesus. In a genuine revival God will impart this wonderful gift to some and though them edify and strengthen the whole Body of the Messiah.