How a Revived Church Honors Christ
The early chapters of the Book of Revelation picture the risen Christ walking gloriously among His churches. The Apostle John, who during Jesus’ earthly ministry was the “beloved” friend and participant in Christ’s inner circle, was so overwhelmed with the magnificent vision of his triumphant, resurrected Savior that he fell to his face as though dead (Revelation 1:17). In this holy encounter John saw:
One like a son of man clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength (Revelation 1:12-16).
Christ’s opening words to John were, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17–18). The One who is the beginning and the ending of the human story is still triumphant, present, and life-imparting in and among His people. He still demands our full attention, worship, and obedience.
His messages to the seven churches in these early chapters of Revelation were varied in tone and substance. Yet, our modern ears must be attuned to the relevance of His authoritative call to us today.
- Like the Christians in Ephesus, we must repent and be awakened to our first love for Jesus (Revelation 2:1-7).
- Like the believers in Smyrna, we should see with new eyes the reality of future suffering and potential martyrdom, then embrace a faithfulness to death given our promised crown of life (Revelation 2:8-11).
- Like the church in Pergamum, we must be aware of the work and wiles of Satan and rouse ourselves to reject the destructive deception of all forms of false teaching (Revelation 2:12-17).
- Like believers at Thyatira, we must recognize, reject, and repent of all forms of sexual immorality and hold fast in purity until Christ returns (Revelation 2:18).
- Like Christians at Sardis, we must have revelation to see that we have an appearance of life but are dead. We must answer the call to wake up and again strengthen the essential things of faith (Revelation 3:1-6).
- Like Christ-followers in ancient Philadelphia, we must persist in genuine love, trusting our all-powerful Christ to bring His enemies into subjection, as we keep His word in patient endurance (Revelation 3:7-13).
- Like the Laodicean church, we must tune in to see our repulsive lukewarm condition and wake up to hear Christ knocking on the door, eager for a transforming reentry to His church (Revelation 3:14-21).
We must be awakened, aroused, aware, and “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” The living Christ still walks among His people, ready to bring them back to the fullness of His life. In this fullness we truly honor our Lord.
The old paths of best priorities and firm conviction among church leaders create the environment for a new reality of the power of the Christ. Historically, we call this revival. Pastor Timothy Keller says a revival is “the intensification of the normal operations of the Holy Spirit through the ordinary means of grace.”[i]
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote that revival is “a period of unusual blessing and activity in the life of the Christian Church. . . Revival means awakening, stimulating the life, bringing it to the surface again.” [ii] Iain Murry gave a comprehensive clarification of revival: “Revival is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, brought about by the intercession of Christ, resulting in a new degree of life in the church and a widespread movement of grace among the unconverted. It is an extraordinary communication of the Spirit of God, a superabundance of the Spirit’s operations, and enlargement of his manifest power.” [iii] Stephen Olford summarizes, “Revival is ultimately Christ Himself, seen, felt, heard, living, active, moving in and through His body on earth.” [iv]
Revival vs. Evangelism
Martyn Lloyd-Jones pointed out that revival “happens primarily in the Church of God, and amongst believing people and it is only secondly something that affects those that are outside also.”[v] He underscored the need to differentiate between revival and evangelism. “To confuse these two things leads to much harm. There is nothing which is quite so foolish as people announcing that they are going to hold a revival. They mean an evangelistic campaign. An evangelistic campaign is the Church deciding to do something with respect to those who are outside. A revival is not the church deciding to do something and doing it. It is something that is done to the church, something that happen to the church.” [vi]
In our context, it is important to distinguish real, biblical revival from our scripted “movements”, multi-million-dollar evangelistic happenings, and other large, aggressively-promoted gatherings that we even call “revival” events. Lloyd-Jones clarified, “Believe me friends, when the next revival comes, it will come as a surprise to everybody, and especially to those who have been trying to organize it. No revival that the church has ever known has ever been an official movement.”[vii]
Yet, the fact remains that real revival will result in an astonishing impact on the lost. In Acts 6:1-7 the revived environment of the early church, led by the praying Apostles, overflowed to extraordinary conversions, even among the Jewish priests (6:7). During the revival that occurred in 1857 and 1858 through a movement of prayer, one million people were reported to become Christ-followers from a population of only thirty million in our nation.[viii] That would be tantamount to 10.5 million conversions among the current U.S. population. Professor Ed Hindson observes, “Revival among the saved will always result in an outburst of evangelism among the lost. Evangelism is the automatic byproduct of revival. One may prod an unrevived congregation to soul-winning activity with gifts and gimmicks, but such prodding is unnecessary in the revived church.”[ix] J.I. Packer underscores this: “God revives his church and then the new life overflows from the church for the conversion of outsiders and the renovation of society.”[x] As we see in the book of Acts, “For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (4:20).
A Fruitful Remembrance
On this Memorial Day weekend we remember those who gave their lives for our freedoms and reaffirm the kind of lives we should embrace in appreciation for their sacrifice. Every day, we should remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, surrender to His resurrection power, then live each day in honor of His mission. His last words to the church in Revelation call us to lives of spiritual passion and pure focus. A revived church gloriously honors His life and fulfills His calling in supernatural power.
This devotion is adapted from the new book, Old Paths, New Power – Awakening Your Church through Prayer and the Ministry of the Word, set for release by Moody Publishers on June 7, 2016.
DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT here: http://www.strategicrenewal.com/old-paths-new-power/
Copyright © 2016 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
[i] Timothy Keller, Center Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 54.
[ii] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1987) 99
[iii] Iain H. Murray, Pentecost- Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival, (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1998), 23-24
[v] Ibid, 99
[vii] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Wheaton, Ill, Crossway, 1987) 166
[ix] Edward E. Hindson, Ibid, 21
[x] J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit (Tarrytown, N.Y.: Revel, 1984), 256