Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Revival For a Mission!!

As I understand church history much of the charismatic movement came under fire for promoting an introspective theology that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a personal experience for a personal encounter with a personal God. That's partly true - but everything within me - my heroes such as Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus and Terry Virgo all argue that there is more to it than that. I was tremendously encouraged recently in reading a book called "Revive Us Again!" - this was a book published by Harvestime and edited by David Matthew with contributions from Bryn and Keri Jones, Terry Virgo, Arthur Wallis and David Mansell. It was David Mansell's chapter that thrilled me the most - in the chapter he presented a wonderful portrait of the Kingdom of God.

The book is out of print sadly - so here is the chapter reproduced;

"A radical goal for radical Christians" by David Mansell

"If future revival is not to run up a cul-de-sac we will need to be more radical than our predecessors".

We are looking praying and working for world revival. Anything less falls short of God's intention. Anything less would fail to bring in the kingdom and bring back the King. It would be a tragedy if this generation passed into history leaving behind only a memory and anothher book as an epitaph to a revival that came and went. The main point of Jesus' last words to His disciples and the apostolic preaching in the early chapters of Acts was an explanation of how God intended the Pentecost revival, which brought the church to birth, to progress.

Revival would lead to greater revival. Beginning at Jerualem, the fire would spread first to Judea, then to Samaria and then to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8). The outpouring of the Spirit would be like the latter rain that swells the grain ready for harvest. There would be times and seasons, each time of refreshing rain being followed by another. Season would follow season just as spring would follow summer would follow winter and all would find their destiny in the autumn harvest. Through these seasons of testimony to the Lord Jesus in all the earth, together with times of refreshing from heaven, God would restore to His people all that the prophets had promised.

A time of repentance, turning to the Lord, refreshing and restoration would engulf the entire world so that God could send the Christ, the anointed King from heaven to claim His inheritance (Acts 3:19-21).

A Call for Radical Christians.

The story of revival is both thrilling and sad. Thrilling to see what God can do when He breaks into people's lives, sad to see how every wave of revival so far has finally spent its energy on the beach of religious self-interest.

Where future revival leads will depend very much on where we want it to lead. If it is to bring God's purpose for this world to it's appointed conclusion, we will need to be more radical than our predecessors.

Revival is like a flood. It will not run in the channels cut by our preferences, prejudices and traditions. When it comes, it overwhealms, invades, takes over and sweeps away all that lies before it. It is no use preparing a way for the Lord by prayer and humbling ourselves if, when He comes, He finds the route full of road-blocks and diversions to protect our private lives, personal hobby-horses and denominational entrenchments. God will never revive a fence.

He will never revive what He has sentenced to die.

In revival there is a dying as well as a bringing to birth. The chaff burns while the wheat is gathered into the barn. Being radical is not an end in itself; it is allowing God to do with us what He likes, when He likes and as often as He likes.

Being radical is removing now what God will remove, and doing now what God Himself will do when He breaks in with revival.

What are we waiting for? If we really want what revival will surely bring to the world, why not let it begin in us today?

Divine Breakthrough.

I once read in a church report on a two-week evangelistic outreach; "Nobody was saved but the saints were encouraged". The revival we are looking for will do more than encourage the saints! A glance at an atlas of world religion shows that after two thousand years of gospel preaching, billions are still totally unaffected. The Bible tells us to expect the following areas of breakthrough in revival;

1. The Gospel Preached.

The gospel will be preached worldwide in such a way as to challenge every ideology, expose every false religion and undermine every society based on evil, corruption and injustice. In their place will arise the community of the redeemed, having the glory of God.

Justice, love and racial harmony will spring like a fountain from hearts washed clean by the blood of Jesus and empowered by the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit.

2. True Unity.

Unity of those who truly own Jesus as Lord will be a prominent feature. No ecumenism, no compromise, no cosmetic gestures, just one heart, one mind and one soul for Jesus.

3. Outpouring on Israel.

There will be a mighty outpouring of the Spirit on the nation of Israel. It's magnitude and effect on the world are described as "life from the dead" (Romans 11:5).

4. Islamic Nations Turn to Christ.

Isaiah prophesied that "In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egpyt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord God Almighty will bless them saying, 'Blessed by Egypt My people, Assyria my handiwork and Israel my inheritance" (Isaiah 19:23-25).

5. Demonic Powers Overthrown.

Again it was Isaiah who prophesied, "In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below" (Isaiah 24:21). Demons achieve their evil ends by controlling the hearts of men in general (John 13:27) and kings in particular (Daniel 10:13). They are the powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms against whom we stand (Ephesians 6:12). They control the whole world system (Ephesians 2:2, Revelation 18:2, 23). "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" says Paul (Romans 16:20). The power of the Holy Spirit is the power to drive out evil spirits (Matthew 10:1, Mark 16:17). The evidence of the release from demonic strongholds will be striking. The whole realm of the occult will be exposed and lives set free from its snare. Heathen will be released from superstition to turn to Christ.

Society will be dramatically influenced. Drunkenness, addiction, homosexuality, fornication, blasphemy, greed, injustice and arrogance will be dealt a mighty blow as the spirit of repentance moves from community to community, town to town and nation to nation.

6. Nations Turning to Christ.

The Bible envisages times of national breaking in of God's Spirit (for example Zechariah 12:11 - 13:2). In the days of Jonah the entire city of Ninevah turned to the Lord (Jonah 3:1-10). Again we read in Acts 9:35 "All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw (Aeneas, the paralytic man who had been healed) and turned to the Lord".

Imagine the social impact; everyone in the town born again! Imagine this happening in nations throughout the world!

The Presence of God.

"Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down" prayed the prophet (Isaiah 64:1).

Revival is the coming of God Himself.

The prophet is sent only to prepare the way for the Lord to Presence Himself personally among His people - a Presence that will achieve what the ministry can never achieve, be it ever so anointed. Luke observes that in the early days of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 'everyone was filled with awe' (Acts 2:43). This has characterised every revival since. 'The Holy Ghost descended on us; not indeed as a 'rushing, mighty wind' yet as the gentle zephry till it filled the whole place. So powerful was the influence that none of us could speak for some minutes. We all gave vent to our feelings in floods of joyful tears'

When God draws near, there is a deep sense of the reality of divine things and a need to be right with God, a seriousness yet a lightness of spirit that overwhealms the heart. Such awareness is experienced not only in meetings but also in the street, driving in the car or in a resturant. Suddenly God draws near, and one is almost overpowered with the awareness of it. When revival comes, we expect this Presence to abide on every heart and in every home where Christ is owned as Lord. So powerful is the effect of this divine Presence that sinners are seized with conviction and converted to Christ.

Angelic Appearances.

The Bible speaks of 'signs and wonders'. Sometimes these were miracles of healing while at other times the veil was drawn back so that what is normally invisible to the natural eye became visible; angels appeared. Angelic appearances and heavnly singing occur in times of revival. In the 1859 revival Evan Jones describes a meeting in which; "A heavenly sound was heard in the song of praise ... the song of praise continued for more than forty minutes without interuption'.

The same phenomenon occured at the Dales Bible Week in 1977. On several evenings after the meeting was over and the auditorium vacated and locked up for the night, heavenly singing was heard coming from the building at two or three o clock in the morning. This was not only reported by those on site; people living in the houses near the site complained about the singing in the early hours of the morning!

During the same week there were several angelic appearances, particularly to the young. One six-year old boy lost in the crowd and anxiously awaited by his parents suddenly turned up full of smiles. When asked how he found his way, he replied 'Oh a nice ghost in a shiny coat showed me the way'.

During a time of testimony another lad of six was asked what he enjoyed most about the Bible Week. He replied; "I liked it best when all the angels came and flew around the children's meeting playing their trumpets and praising God".

Realising Our Destiny.

Destiny implies destination. To speak of ourselves as a people of destiny we must know where we are going. Duncan Campbell wrote, "How many today are really prepared to face the stark fact that we have been outmanoevered by the strategy of hell because we have tried to meet the enemy on human levels by human strategy? In this we may have succeeded in making people church-concious, mission-concious or even crusade-concious without making them God-concious".

Our destiny is to bring God-conciousness to a God-oblivious world and we do it best when we stop trying too hard and are concious only of the Presence of God abiding with us.

When John the Baptist cried, "Look the Lamb of God" it was not to make a dramatic point in his sermon but because he saw Jesus literally approaching" (John 1:29). "Look ... I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" cried Stephen as full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God. God Himself had opened heaven and broken in to make the final appeal! The hearers were cut to the heart as they found themselves standing in the presence of a man standing in the Presence of God.

The Lewis revival in north-west Scotland saw this same drawing power of God's Presence among His people. As the little group seeking revival experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit in the middle of the night they opened the door of the building where they were meeting to discover that a crowd had gathered. God had brought conviction of sin upon the townspeople one by one and each made his way from his bed to the place of prayer to seek the Lord.

Revival will lead us to the fulfillment of our destiny - and all creation waits in eager expectation for this time when the sons of God will be revealed (Romans 8:19).

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