Revival will both destroy and build up. Do we understand what we are signing up for?
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Much of what people affirm in today’s church is going to be destroyed as revival breaks out. The call to consecration and extreme cost as opposed to personal comfort and ease will cause the majority to refuse participation in revival at even the most elementary phase.
Jeremiah 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
The good news? We could see revival launch almost overnight—if we contended for it with passion and surrender.
REVIVAL IS NOT NEAR
If we cast the wrong vision for revival, which is quite common, we will experience disappointment or false starts. Even worse, we can become satisfied with something far inferior to what God has planned.
The easiest way to say it is this: The coming move of God won’t be defined by happy meetings where we enjoy an experience. That may be a very small part of what is coming, but it is not the goal.
Now, I will admit that I love great meetings. However, all to often they are self-focused instead of God focused. We have become drunk on experiences in the church and the pursuit of enhancements to our lifestyle.
I’ve hosted many amazing, anointed events over the years, and have enjoyed them immensely. But, we do have a problem. Time and again, I’ve watched seemingly zealous people flock to the experiential worship and personal ministry meetings, and then shrink back when the cross is preached. This is not a mark of revival, but rather of immaturity that can in no way bear the weight of the trouble revival will bring.
EIGHT REASONS REVIVAL IS NOT AS NEAR AS IT COULD BE
ONE: Negative messages are resisted.
Again, when revival breaks out it will not all be happy. In fact, we will most likely be in the midst of extreme crisis in our nation and the revival remnant church will be broken and grieved it intercedes for America. Sharp prophetic messages of correction and warning will be the backbone of the move, and it will be resisted and rejected by those who are not willing to bear the burden. Check out the first sermon that was preached in the outpouring in Acts 2:
Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Peter refused to be nice. He ministered by accusing people of murdering Jesus, and the people were cut to the heart. The Acts 2 baptism of fire resulted in boldness and the ability to minister harsh truth in love. Today this is not the case. Revival ideas for most excludes troubling, heavy messages of the cross of Christ.
The warning about refusing to speak painful truth is severe:
Jeremiah 23:16-17 (ESV) 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
TWO: Repentance and teaching on sin are unpopular.
Related to the first point, but important enough to warrant further discussion, focus on sin and repentance is nearly non-existent today. Historically, repentance has been the hallmark of every revival, and until we hit our faces in a culture of brokenness and repentance, we can’t presume to be anywhere near revival. Revival doesn’t only result in an awakening to the life of God, it’s provides a clear revelation of our own human condition.
Acts 3:19 (ESV) 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
“My heart aches for America and its deceived people…The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance.” ~Billy Graham
“When he says America is in trouble, we have to repent…He’s (Billy Graham) gone through global wars as a spiritual shepherd. He’s seen a bunch of stuff and he’s saying America, ‘We have to repent.’ This may be our last chance to repent. We’ve turned away from God and God is just, loving and right to bring judgment.” ~Louis Cataldo
THREE: Prayer is nearly non-existent.
What does revival look like? Everybody praying. The primary purpose of the church will be reestablished in revival. For me, the first step and the goal in revival is the same—a prayer meeting. The church is to be a house of prayer for all nations, which means in revival we will all be fervent in intercession continually. Have you noticed how rare it is to find Christians who burn with a spirit of prayer? This is a problem. In Acts 2 the prescription for revival was simple—wait and pray. To think revival will break out when prayer isn’t the main thing simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t follow biblical protocol.
This is one reason I know we could experience revival nearly overnight if we wanted to. Since revival is a regional event, the regional church must participate—at least the remnant. What would happen if every church in the Detroit region cancelled every program, every ministry, every sermon for a year…and prayed in the Holy Spirit in its place? We’d have revival.
Acts 1:13-14 (ESV) 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
FOUR: Personal experience is the goal.
Personal death must be the goal if we want revival to come. The enemy is just fine with us going after an encounter without being disciplined in the Word. He knows those who are undisciplined will settle for what feels good, even if it’s contrary to truth. We need to be mature enough to know that revival may not look like a dance party, but rather it may result in a remnant on their face in tears with burdens and troubles burning in their spirits. True revival will see the true Christians in tears of both joy and grief.
We must be students of the Word, endure hardship and take up our cross. If we aren’t intentionally grounded, we will be tossed around by whatever feels good to us.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I’m more convinced than I’ve ever been that the coming revival will actually be an underground movement of intercession minded people who are advancing the Gospel in the face of extreme crisis. It may be a terrorist attack, occupation of our nation by foreign armies or another traumatic event that results in consecration at a level we’ve never experienced. If happy meetings are your picture of revival, I challenge you to consider your position. It’s about to get extremely difficult.
Additionally, there is an ever increasing segment of Christianity falling for the deception that God no longer judges—and this means that those people will have no idea how to respond when judgment and revival come hand-in-hand. We will experience both God’s loving judgment and Satan’s hateful assaults against God’s people at the same time—and this will result in an awakened, revived church.
I was reading the book The Hiding Place by Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom, and God suddenly spoke to me, “Get ready.” It pierced me. Will there be an underground movement like hers in concentration camps? Will it be like the exploding Chinese church? I implore you—get ready. Now.
FIVE: Calls to consecration and holiness are rare.
Today, Christians are entertained by the sins that required the one we say we love to be tortured and murdered on a tree. To think we will have any part in revival with such a lifestyle is an indicator that we truly do not know who God is. He is holy. It’s time for a consecrated remnant to truly separate themselves from the world. Look nothing like it.
Joshua 3:5 (ESV) 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
If we want wonders, consecration comes first.
SIX: We underestimate the scope.
First, we don’t understand just how deeply the pursuit of revival must impact our daily lives. The cares of life must be finally defeated as we allow God to tear into every part of our heart and call us into costly, time consuming devotion. We will be in church continually, in prayer and ministry, when revival hits. This means we must be in prayer and ministry continually now! I watched a video on the underground Chinese church that’s exploding, and they wake up every morning at 4:30am to gather together with the rest of the church and pray for two hours! I met a minister from Africa and he said the entire church walks for miles every Friday to gather together to spend the night in intercession! The cost is extreme!
Acts 2:44-46 (ESV) 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Second, we don’t understand the scope of the impact of revival. When revival truly hits, it won’t be a local event. It will impact the region. There are over 19,000 cities in the nation and NONE of them are experiencing the biblical normalcy of revival. Not one. Anything short of city impact can’t be defined as revival, or at least, it can’t be the goal.
In Detroit I will be encouraged but not satisfied when stadiums are filled with fiery intercessors. It will be a good start to full blown revival in this region.
SEVEN: There is confusion about salvation.
An offensive element will be connected to the next great outpouring. We are about to receive, through fire, a revelation of the coming reformation of the understanding of salvation. Gone are the days of easy salvations—the true cost of following Jesus will be made known. Most who would quickly sign up to follow Jesus will instead quickly reject him when the true cost is made clear. We have churches filled with Rich Young Rulers who have decided to follow Jesus—at their own pace—and have been affirmed by well meaning but terribly deceived leaders as being truly saved. Today there are millions who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Without intervention, they will be utterly shocked and confused to find themselves in Hell one day.
Matthew 19:16-26 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of professing Christians are in fact truly saved. If you have a church of 100, that might mean that five are saved!
The next revival will not allow for mass false-conversions. The call will be to come and die so that you may live.
Few leaders have the guts to preach in such a way that would result in casual church goers rejecting the message. However, the truth must and will be made clear before revival can come. A desire to burn in prayer will be one indicator of a legitimate conversion. Those who don’t desire to be with the God they presumably decided to follow can’t be affirmed in their position. Revival will result in prayer meetings replacing most everything, and those who are not in relationship with Jesus will be made known.
I boldly and without apology agree that a live devoid of prayer is a life that is, at best, in an at risk position in Christ. The first stop for new converts in the upcoming revival will be the prayer room. It will be their baptism into fervency and intimacy with Jesus—and their entire lives will be marked by an unending passion to intercede with Jesus.
EIGHT: We misunderstand the purpose.
The money changers tables were overturned violently by Jesus because of their heart. By their actions, they presumed the church to be a place where their personal gain was emphasized. They used the temple as they focused on their own welfare. Jesus would have nothing to do with it as he affirmed with passion the purpose of the church is to be a place of sacrifice.
Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Most people have the same mindset as the money changers when they think about revival. Here in Detroit, even those in the church often focus on financial revival as a prime goal. Others think about awesome meetings where their personal lives get better. The pursuits are most often self-focused.
The purpose of revival is not to make our lives better. It’s to glorify God and to reveal him to the world. It’s to calibrate Christians to biblical standards. It’s to break us, humble us and cause us to return the First Commandment to first place. When revival hits, we will suddenly find ourselves paying prices we have refused to pay—no matter the return. Pure obedience without measuring benefit to us will return to the church.
The return to burning love of Jesus and radical obedience will result in such deep transformation in the church and in our lives that our schedules, plans, dreams and life goals will suddenly shift. We will pay the price of prayer every day. We will live in glorious brokenness and humility. We will boldly declare the Word of God without reservation. We will change the world—all without thought to whether we like the services, feel anything or enjoy the process. We will be dead people raging on fire for Jesus—and the entire nation will know about it.
Are we ready for an Acts 2 style outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our churches?
There’s an ongoing discussion on my Facebook wall about this issue. I felt it would be good to broaden the discussion and see what some of you might bring to the table.
I’ll paste some of the comments first, and then present my thoughts:
Original post- Have you noticed how focus on the Holy Spirit, speaking tongues, ,etc. has been minimized in the church today?
- Yep, noticed it! The enemy doesn't want us uttering the mysteries of God!
- Yes sir. It's easier to have a "seeker" driven service, than to Preach a Prophetic message under the Power of the Holy Spirit. That takes time in the prayer closet-the former can happen with a slick marketing team (sometimes hired as the "pastoral" staff).
- There definitely has been a move away from experiencing the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the use of tongues in the 80 got so beyond what scripture says. It was pretty abused.
- That may be true, but we are entering a Decade where there will be a parting of the waters. Those who have been trained AND utilize the weapons of the Spirit will thrive; others will suffer much pain.
- I just heard a George Barna stat about this recently less than 2% of the churches will hear their pastor preach a message on the Holy Spirit this year. Its alarming.
- A couple of years ago I heard leaders from a main line denomination speak at a Rocky Mountain regional meeting for that denomination. The leaders saw that the denomination that they led was becoming Spirit Filled in name only. They felt the need to see 500,000 people receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet the churches in this region still take the approach of the Holy Spirit isn't for Sunday morning approach. Its scary.
- Interesting, the Holy Spirit in benched on Sundays…until we need a big play, then he get's play time like Michael Vick…what a sad way to treat my Best Friend.
- The Holy Spirit misses His church. He's going to get it back though.
- Many pastors have been reduced to a role as MC and the show must go on, on schedule, or peeps won't come back.
- Absolutely.. If people knew the incredible power that is released in you when you pray in the Spirit, they would never stop lol. I encourage it in those I teach. God bless.
There are some realities that we need to consider:
- From what I've discovered, a significant percentage of Christians, pastors and leaders included, don't easily hear God, encounter him. This makes it difficult to even consider embracing a Holy Spirit driven environment. Prayerlessness is a key reason for this problem. The average pastor prays 6 minutes a day. Leonard Ravenhill said, "Pastors who don't pray two hours a day aren't worth a dime a dozen." It's a difficult but important point that would be well worth considering.
- In an environment driven by the Holy Spirit, these people who don't easily hear God can get quite frustrated. They will tend to find another place to go to church. So, the natural church preservation strategy is to minimize the invisible/supernatural and maximize the logical/tangible.
- There has been a huge misunderstanding of the primary purpose of the church. Many feel it's to be a socially focused entry point for the lost. The church actually isn't to be a house of evangelism or a house of relationships. It's a house of prayer first and foremost. It's a believer's ministry. We have lost faith that God, in his wisdom, set it up this way. If we truly have a church of people who are releasing the ‘groans that can't be uttered', who intercede for the nations, who pray in the Spirit, then we will have the ‘expected outcomes' of mass salvations, a huge harvest, life-giving small groups, etc.
- There can be a knee-jerk reaction to the problem of people who abuse freedom in such an atmosphere. Trust me, I understand the issue of people who just want to be seen and heard, who are manipulative, who are emotionally unstable or who operate in charismatic witchcraft. But, the answer is not to shut down a prophetic, Holy Spirit driven environment.
- The focus on teaching. I'm a teacher, I love to teach and I value greatly the ministry of teaching. However, I think a valid question is, "Why are most church services teaching-centric?" If the Holy Spirit breaks out, if there's deliverance going on in the room, of a spirit of intercession erupts, would people be OK with forgoing the sermon? The Holy Spirit (the Teacher) can impart more biblical truth in two seconds than we ever could in two hours.
What do you think?
I absolutely love and crave a revival atmosphere where the Spirit of God moves freely and in power. I know there is a yearning within many for the same thing, and the Holy Spirit is awakening us to that desire.
It’s important and it’s God- but it’s not enough. God never intended it to be. An atmosphere like that is in some ways a conduit of the greater mission, and in other ways an overflow of the greater mission.
I often hear about people’s frustration about the lack of Holy Spirit activity, freedom and anointing in church services. I understand that frustration. However, we have to be careful not to presume that a breakout service is the ultimate goal.
If we are using the system of the church to give us what we want, what we demand, even if it’s a holy encounter, then we are embracing a religious spirit. My favorite definition of religion is this: Man’s attempt to use God or God’s systems to get what he wants. We can’t use God’s system, but we can and should avail ourselves to it, and to God Himself.
We have to understand that the yearning for anointing and freedom in our church services isn’t primarily due to a God initiated desire to experience His presence alone, it is primarily so we can experience God’s presence which will free us up to know him deeply and fulfill our ministries.
I’ve been in indescribable revival style, Holy Spirit heavy atmospheres that have transformed me forever. It’s common to come out of a service like that with a sense of having experienced the crescendo. It feels great, we experience God, we are free, and we want more! This is good… very good. However, we must be disciplined enough to ask the greater question- what does this new found freedom enable me to do for the Kingdom?
Revival Church will be intently focused on experiencing God in overwhelming and deep ways as often as we can. The tremble in the fear of the Lord must be normal in this church. However, we cannot head home on a Sunday hoping for a repeat the next Sunday as a driving focus. That can’t be our primary thought. We have to look beyond the horizon and see where this manifest presence of God can lead us.
Instead of being satisfied with local church transformation (as wonderful as that is), we must not relent until we experience city, national and international transformation. The powerful encounter with God is in itself a fulfilled mission… without question. We are to pray continually, know him deeply, experience transforming intimacy night and day. Absolutely. But, when we encounter God at this level, we cannot help but to be driven with tears in our eyes for the greater things. For greater revival. For transformed lives. For impact that’s felt around the world.
The experience in the Upper Room in Acts was life-altering to say the least. That encounter however simply could not be contained in that room! It had to explode into society.
If a revival atmosphere in our church isn’t ultimately felt in a much greater radius, you have to question whether it’s revival at all.
Acts 2:1-2 (ESV) 1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:5-6 (ESV) 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
Last night I was at an event with Barbara Yoder and she mentioned a new sound that’s coming. I’ve heard others say the same thing. I agree. I believe this sound will be multi-faceted, but it will be without question the sound of God. As in Acts 2, When the sound comes, the multitudes will gather!
The sound of God will invade the house and it will be heard in the city.
Join us for our next Revival Church service… every Sunday at 6pm!