Keeping It Real
The Realities Of Revival
One of the first things we need to realize concerning the reality of revival and/or harvest is that it must be understood biblically. This may seem like a funny and rather useless statement, but the sad truth is that sometimes we base our assessment of the current “revival” on vain rhetoric rather than a biblical perspective. Church growth is a very easy thing to talk about because people in this great Church want to hear about it. Whether or not it matches God’s idea of real growth or really significant harvest is another matter! Another way of looking at this reality is by realizing that revival may be present and all around us, yet we personally are not part of it. There is an inherent “danger” of being associated with a revival-minded organization. While the body is experiencing growth, we in the local congregations might not. And there is a strong temptation then to believe that since we are part of the organization that is growing, we are therefore growing too. But is that a reasonable conclusion? A dead or dying local assembly in the midst of other churches that are growing well cannot rightly conclude that they are having growth in their own congregation. Yet, they may say, they are part of something alive and well and growing. The same danger applies to individual saints in a growing assembly. While others are using the gifts and talents that God gave them for growing His Church, some saints may sit and abrogate their personal responsibilities to others. They eventually become good at nothing more than acting like Christians, yet being personally unproductive and in danger of being pruned from the precious vine of Jesus. Again, they might say, or even boast, that they are part of a growing congregation that is really “in revival.” Unfortunately, they as individuals are not part of that revival.
In Matthew 13:52 Jesus said, “Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” What He was saying is simply this: when we dedicate ourselves to becoming real students of the Word of God, we will find great treasures within us that can be brought out and used to accomplish great things. Jesus promised His followers that they would be preachers, teachers, and witnesses for Him. But He also told them to wait until they were endued with power from on high before attempting to do what they were commissioned to do. They would first need the power and the direction of the Spirit, and then add the special anointing of love that comes with it to really be the light of the world that Jesus wanted them to be. So an understanding of the biblical perspective of real church growth is vital to the instruction that Jesus mentioned in the above scripture in Matthew. This brings us to another reality concerning the revival of today.
Several great principles of harvest can be gleaned from the fourth chapter of Mark. In this chapter we find the parable of the sower and the seed. It wasn’t a long sermon at all that Jesus taught that day. In fact, it only took a few moments to describe the actions and results of the farmer’s efforts. The reaction of the crowd, however, demonstrates the impact that this “little teaching” had on them. Though Jesus had addressed a multitude of so-called followers, by the time he finished the short account of the seed and the different types of soil it fell upon, there were only a few that remained behind and asked Him concerning the point of the message. To them He said, “Unto you is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” Jesus had used a parable to separate the wheat from the chaff. He taught this little story to those who really wanted to know more about the kingdom. When they stayed behind and asked Him about the meaning of the parable, Jesus gladly explained it to them. Those that had left already had gone their way still bound by ignorance and unbelief.
After a clear explanation of the parable, Jesus in verse 24 explains, “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.” Moffat’s translation puts it this way, “With the measure you deal out to others it will be dealt out to yourselves and you will receive extra.” Therefore, the second reality tells us that in order to understand revival biblically, we must desire to really understand without compromising. We have to be careful with what we hear and what we do with these precious truths that we have been given. Jesus’ principle is this: to get more, we must use what we have already. The desire to understand is not always easy though. Unfortunately, the temptation to compromise is always present in us. In fact, it seems that the Lord Himself actually offers us opportunities to hear and go home without a real understanding. It seems that in some ways He is still communicating in parables! Do we want to know the meaning behind it?
Not long after the birth of this great Church in Acts 2, we read about the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple in chapter 3. Not only is this a true account of a magnificent and supernatural deliverance, it also presents us with great spiritual symbolism. The poor crippled man was accustomed to being brought to the same place each day where he hoped to find the same little offerings that would sustain him for twenty-four more hours in his pitiful existence. He was quite used to it. In fact, he was so used to receiving this minimum that he nearly missed the will of God on the fateful day of his healing. As Peter and John focused their gaze on him in Acts 3:5, we are told, “And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.” Unfortunately, he was expecting to receive the wrong thing! In the presence of powerfully anointed men of God, and with the Lord wanting to heal him and change his life forever, the lame man was simply intent on finding the bare minimum as usual.
This is not so unlike much of what we experience. Have we settled on being spiritually crippled when God’s will is for us to be mightily healed and used in the kingdom? Are we used to receiving so little that we cannot recognize the intervention of God when He wants to take us to a new level of spiritual depth? How many times, in church services for example, have we settled for less than God’s best? Do we come to church expecting the very minimum or the very maximum? Sadly enough, the potential to compromise is ever before us. Too many times we may find ourselves expecting to receive the wrong things. The Vine wants to give us all things that are beneficial to our spiritual health in order that we may bring forth much fruit. We must not settle for less than what He wants for our lives and our personal ministries and we should desire to fully understand our individual parts in God’s revival scheme.
In Mark 8:22-25 we can read the curious story of Jesus praying twice for a certain blind man. Certainly Jesus did not require two prayers for a healing—He was the Almighty robed in flesh! Instead, he used the double prayer to illustrate an important point. After praying the first time, He asked the man if he saw anything. The man replied with the famous words, “I see men as trees, walking.” In other words, I can see that there are men, but they are nothing more than indistinguishable figures to me. Then and only then did Jesus pray the second time. Asked again what he saw, the poor man declared, “I can see every man clearly!” This should be the revelation that we have as well. Our aim must be more than seeing men in a vague and compromised way. We need to see every man clearly in order to understand the real need of true revival in our midst. What if the man had replied the first time, “Thanks Jesus, that will be enough for me. After all, I’m better now than before.” Or, “Thank you that I can see a little bit more than my neighbor.” What if he would have left the presence of the Healer with only a partial touch? When is enough really going to be enough? And who decides that it is enough? Have we heard enough preaching and teaching that we need no more? And when we do hear it, does it have the impact it should? How do we express our desire to fully understand the biblical perspective of spiritual harvest and revival?
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