Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Revival is Not the Word Part 2

by S. Michael Durham

Revival. The word falls so easily from the lips. It’s a common refrain in Christian circles. There are books, classes, seminars and conferences about revival. But I think many who let the word revival so easily roll off their tongue are unknowingly confused about its meaning. They anticipate a mighty move of God that will take them to a type of Christianity that Paul and Peter lived because they see Paul and Peter living far above the doldrums of normal Christianity. They plan and pray for a revival that will elevate them to spiritual altitudes they have not yet soared.

Some other good folk who desire revival see it as a once in a century or so experience. It is a supernatural phenomenon completely; Christianity at its highest this side of heaven. They read of great historical revivals that have places and dates for names: the Canadian Revival of 1971, the 1949-53 Hebrides Revival, the 1904 Welsh Revival, the 1859 Prayer Revival to name a few.

If we are speaking about corporate revivals, as I discussed in my last blog, then I would agree. These great moves of God where hundreds and thousands are swept into the kingdom are truly acts of God’s power and cannot be manipulated. It was said that during the 1904-05 Welsh revival that 100,000 people were converted in the course of a year. Nothing more can be said of this kind of revival then what doctor Luke said of the early church, “and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). It wasn’t grace, but great grace, extraordinary grace.

Nevertheless, I think both of these views of revival are mistaken for the same reason. Both views agree that revival or recovery is needed because they think Christians are living beneath the power and privilege of Christianity. They see revival as restoring the glory of Christianity to churches, Christians and country.

But, as earlier stated, the kind of revival most people are talking about does not restore normal Christianity—it exceeds it. The kind of revival that changes the masses is a “great grace.” They are not ordinary or representative of normal Christianity. They are seasons of special outpourings that remain in the Father’s hands and wisdom to give. They cannot be programmed or calculated. This kind of revival is a manifestation of the glory of Christ in a most unusual way.

But another mistake often made by the revival talkers is to equate the deplorable state of American Christianity as normal Christianity. They speak of weakness, ineptness and powerlessness as being typical of the Christian in a non-revived state. And without revival the believer cannot hope for better. But I beg to differ. There is nothing normal about a lack of holiness, little fruitfulness, or lukewarmness. Jesus said of the lukewarm that He would spew them out of His mouth. Tell me—what is normal about that? I hope that’s not normal.

Am I saying that a Christian can’t be lukewarm, that he can’t show signs of little love, little zeal or little holiness? No, not at all! I’m only stating that such signs are not evidences of normal Christianity. Jesus said that He came so that we could have not abundant living, but more abundant living. That is the normal Christian life—more abundant. A healthy person is considered normal. Why is it that we consider spiritual ill-health normal? Is it because we want to pass the buck of responsibility to another? Isn’t it quite easy to make the absence of revival the problem rather than confessing that your problem is sin?

A lot of revival talk today is a pseudo-spiritual way to excuse a lot of sin. “I know I’m not where I need to be. I need revival. So please pray that God will revive me.” Sound familiar? There’s no argument that a Christian whose love for Christ is small, as is his fruit, needs recovery. He is in need of revival. But this kind of revival, personal revival, has not been put on the shelf of God’s sovereignty out of our reach. Oh, no. He’s put it on a shelf well within our human responsibility. It’s called repentance. The true Christian need not pray, “Lord revive me” until he has first prayed “Lord, I repent. This is God’s method to personal revival—repentance. Revival is not the right word. Repentance is the word.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place——unless you repent (Revelation 2:5).

No comments:

Post a Comment