Selling Self-Driven Revival to the Church
I once asked myself, “What if everything was…as it should be?” In other words, I was doing theology and making myself consider the predetermined plan of the sovereign, eternal God, who created everyone and everything, and who sustains it all by the Word of His power (Heb 1:3).
Christians put forth an enormous effort to compete with the world, in order to change the world, to be a better place. There are also initiatives to change the church, to make it more appealing to the world, or to keep in step with the world.
Church gurus and life coaches make a good living setting themselves up as experts. Experts have to prove themselves, in order to market themselves, to consumers of their contrived philosophies, usually packaged in media form and promoted at Christian events.
Revival experts seem to come and go through the years. Of course, revival is not a new subject. It was a hot topic for Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), even to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981), who both wrote on the subject.
God has an end for His plan and for this creation. He uses means to bring us to His end. Now if it is His predetermined plan and He knows the end from the beginning, then, the execution of His eternal decrees must also be known to Him. We can only conclude: God is omniscient at all points. His almighty power assures us that nothing can thwart His plan.
Everyone must play his or her part in this cosmic drama. Cain, Lamech, Nimrod, Pharaoh, Judas Iscariot, and the future Antichrist all play their villainous roles. Abel, Noah, Moses, David, and Paul serve as saved sinners.
Two gods, the god of this world and the God, who is Lord of heaven and earth, are at odds. The spirit of the world is set against the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:13). The wisdom of this world competes with wisdom of God. These opponents are not equals, however, which is affirmed by Romans 8:28, where the promise of God is that He will work everything for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.
If everything is predestined to occur, then, Christians should rest in Christ, who has overcome the world (2 Thess 2:14). Believers trust in God, whether the prescription for the day is plague or peace. After all, if it is His plan, He will demonstrate that He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).
Our assurance of His providential care of all things is a matter of faith, which is given to us, as a matter of grace, and His grace toward His people is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12:9). The fact that we know these things from the Bible is a grace, and His outworking of these things is by grace.
Revival is no different. Revival is a visible and apparent surge in God’s work amidst His church. Although its attributes can be calculated and categorized, it should be enough for us to know that we cannot manipulate revival from God. It is entirely His prerogative to stimulate an outpouring of His Spirit, where, when, and to whomever He wills to do it.
Church history is filled with isolated cases of this phenomenal work of the Spirit, but when our focus is placed on Revival itself, we are tempted to make it an idol. Idols were common problems in Israel and through church history. We should consider our manipulations for revival, to be just as idolatrous as our forefathers’ activities done in their own wisdom and power.
Christian, your prayers to God — when rightly aligned with the will of God and because the indwelling Spirit inspired you to pray for certain things — are God’s gracious way of including you in His predetermined plan. When your good works, prepared beforehand in His predetermined plan, are executed in the wisdom and power of Him, who is willing and working in you for His good pleasure, then, you are a joyful Christian, experiencing personal revival.
Jesus taught on revival, saying, “And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses….” Revival does not need to be sold to the church; but it must be told to the church, and when it is faithfully told, you must surely be in the midst of revival.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 31, 2022