Revival…It’s Life or Death!
Revival is something that we all pray for and most often miss because we do not know what it looks like so we are not looking for it, nor are we ready for it. The greatest need for revival is to recognize what it is and to get ready for it rather than waiting for the results of it.
A Life or Death Issue
Before we can recognize revival we must be able to recognize what is dead because revival means “to live again.” Several years ago, I asked a pastor a question and was not ready for his answer. This pastor had recently retired from a long and successful pastorate and had been traveling around the country speaking in several churches and pastors conferences. My question was, “Since you are in many different churches, what do you see God doing in the church today?” He quickly responded, “Not much of anything. The churches are dead.” I asked, “What is the main reason?” Immediately he said, “The pastors are dead and the churches are simply following their lead.” Wow. I was rocked back on my heels. Then he said, “Whatever is dead in you better not be more than three days old!”
The greatest need for revival is that there are dead things in our lives that are more than three days old. We are quick to look at society and identify the deadness to the things of God, but this is not the greatest need for revival. One of the ways of God is that He gives through rather than directly. This is something that can be developed in another article, but for now, just know that this is one of the ways of God; He gives through. His plan is to reveal Himself to the world by living His Life in you, with you, through you, as you, before the watching world around you. And He will not do that without resurrection in you.
We see the lostness of society and desire revival but are unwilling to pay the price for revival in our own lives. The price is to be willing to see the deadness in my own mind, my own feelings, my own choices, my own body and to desire the indwelling Spirit to breathe Life in those dead bones! It may sound crazy but in order to desire revival we must desire something other than revival; we must desire to see the deadness of our own thoughts, choices, and actions. The only way for that to happen is by desiring the light of the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. Forget about the results of revival and start asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the death you are living with and trying to manage.
Full of Life
Think of a pair of soft, nice, deer-skin gloves. Now imagine someone holding the wrist-ends of those gloves and trying to pick something up with them. They are limp without hands in them. They just hang there, unable to pick up or do anything. But stick your hands in those gloves, and now they have life in them. Now they are full of fingers and hands and strength. Now they can do something. On their own, they may look good and smell good but looking good and smelling good is not their purpose. Hands don’t use gloves; hands go in gloves. So it is with our lives. We were created to be filled with God’s Life; His invisible attributes being clearly seen in us, with us, through us, as us, in the world around us. Apart from Him, we can do nothing; like a glove without a hand in it. The need for revival begins with the need to see the emptiness, limpness, deadness within me and the Life and Light that is waiting to fill and flow into that dead-darkness within me.
But the question you must answer is the same question the man who had been laying by the pool of Bethesda for thirty-eight years heard, “Do you want to be made well?” Blaming someone else, or something else is not the answer to that question. Blaming others or blaming conditions for the lack of revival is refusing to see and to change your mind about the deadness in your own life. Covering up the problem by blaming others is as old as the Garden of Eden. It reveals deadness rather than excusing it. The Bible uses the word repent for the change of mind you must embrace.
You must be willing to receive the truth knowing that once you do a radical change will take place. You must be willing to accept the truth that the change will done to you and completely out of your control, which means you must completely trust the One who will do it, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. And you must know that He will do nothing without you. Change is something only God can do, and obedience is something only you can do. You obey and then watch as God brings it to Life, in His timing, for His glory, and it flows.
Recognizing the “gloves without hands” in your life is the first step. The book of Romans describes this as the “…sin that dwells in me…” (Romans 7:17, 20), and the “…mind on the flesh…” (8:5-8). The “gloves that are filled with hands” are identified in Romans with three verbs, knowing (6:3, 6, 9, 11), presenting (6:13, 16, 19, 12:1-2), and walking/living (8:4, 5, 13).
The Path to Life
The four verbs for “knowing” in chapter six increase with intensity from verse three to verse eleven. The first “knowing” in verse three is agnoeo (pronounced ag-no-eh-o). We get our English word ignorant from this Greek word. It obviously means to know nothing. The question that is asked in 6:3 is basically this; don’t you even know your basic identity with Christ in His death and resurrection?
This leads to the next “knowing,” in 6:6, which is a different word, ginosko (pronounced gin-osk-o), which means to know something or someone in a basic, acquainted with, way. In other words, once you are no longer ignorant of your identity with Christ, then you begin to know that sin still lives in you but you also begin to know you are no longer a slave to it. You have access to a greater power in you, the grace of God, to overcome sin.
Then you are able to comprehend, oida, (pronounced oi-da), in 6:9-10, and see more clearly the resurrected Life of Jesus growing and living in more and more “gloves” in your life. Finally, in 6:11, this truth gets logged into your mind, emotions, will, and even your body, with the verb logidzomia (pronounced lo-gidzo-my), which is an accounting term for logging some figure into the record for permanent reference. By the time you get to verse eleven this truth has been imparted to you and become a part of you.
The next step is seen in the phrase, “…present yourself…” (6:13, 16, 19, 12:1-2). This is the Greek word, paristemi (pronounced par-is-tay-mee) and means to stand beside. It was the position of a bond slave in relationship to his master, right at his elbow. It also has the meaning of keeping company. We use the expression “who you run with” to describe the company you keep. Knowing and presenting go hand in hand with the next step which is walking/living. This is called disciple-making. It is best pictured with the experience that Old Testament Israel had in the wilderness for forty years. They learned, presented themselves, and walked until a whole generation of unbelief died (the flesh). They left a trail of graves until the children had grown up. Then they were ready for the promised land.
This truth (knowing, presenting, walking/living) is the process of sanctification; gloves getting filled with fingers and hands. By the way, one day the “gloves” wear out and are coming off in exchange for permanent ones! Hallelujah!!!
All of this is to say that the keys for revival are similar to math; before you can do fractions, you must learn how to multiply and divide. Before you can do algebra you must know how to do fractions. Before you can learn geometry you must know algebra. Don’t even think about calculus until you have a firm grasp on all the above.
In other words, God will not empower the flesh with revival. The flesh has only death to look forward to, which is one of the reasons it hides out as long as it can in our lives. One of the reasons so many so called “revivals” have not lasted very long is because they were “soulish” (a Watchman Nee term) rather than spiritual. True revival is the work of God and is eternal. It does not end! The river of revival that flowed out of the upper room on the Day of Pentecost is still flowing strong today.
Several years ago and intercessor came up to me with a word from the Lord. It was this: “I am about to give you what you have always desired.” I asked if there was any more. “No, that was all God said to tell you.” The problem was I did not know exactly what that was. So I prayed about it, asking God to reveal to me “what I have always wanted.” I was convicted that I could not identify my deepest desire. I finally identified it as revival; revival for myself, my family, my church, community, and world. I was excited the morning I was ready to ask for what I have always wanted, knowing that God had already promised to give it to me. I got up extra early, went to my place of prayer, and prayed, “Lord, You have promised to give me what I have always desired and now I know what that is; I want revival…” What I heard next surprised me. God said, “Then get ready for it.”
I started thinking in terms of what I would be thinking, feeling, choosing, and doing if revival was already here and discovered that there were many changes to be made in those areas (many gloves without hands). I pictured living in full-blown revival and the priority of prayer and the Word and missions came into clearer and clearer light. I began desiring God more and more rather than a revival from God. It didn’t need to be happening around me, it was beginning to happen in me.
I have learned over the years that getting ready for it, is what it is. This may not be very good English, but it is what revival is.