Truths concerning revivals: Back to the Garden
We all desire revival, that is, we all desire a fresh visitation of the Holy Spirit that moves us into a greater personal experience with our God. We look longingly at the great revivals of the past and thrill to the stories of apostolic power and the awesome presence of God. We earnestly pray and ask the Holy Spirit to infuse us with this type power realizing that living our Christian lives in our own strength is futile indeed.
Revivals come in two basic types, man-made and God breathed. Today many churches hold the man made verity. Experience has shown that the enthusiasm generated by such planned “revival” meetings is generally short lived and the lasting effects are negligible. God describes the state of the Israel in the book of Isaiah which is also spiritually applicable to the present day church,
“We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.”
On the other hand, God given revivals are spontaneous, dynamic, and have far reaching and lasting effects. They usually begin with a few Christians who simply believe that God meant exactly what He said. They shake off the shackles of unbelief and, like Jacob, wrestle with God until He blesses them. These types of revivals move the church forward in significant areas by restoring lost truths and bringing forth new revelations.
For instance, the return of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a good example of this type of revival. By and large the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the sign of speaking in other tongues was lost to the church during the dark ages and remained hidden until the beginning of nineteenth century. At a little Bible College in Topeka Kansas God choose to restore this truth to His church. While the leader of the Bible College was away a group of young students simply believed that God would give them the Baptism of the Holy Spirit if they would but ask. As they prayed and sought God, much like the 120 did in the upper room, the Holy Spirit filled them and they spoke in other tongues. One woman spoke in nothing but perfect Chinese for days afterward. With a few who dared to believe, God eventually restored this wonderful experience and teaching about His Holy Spirit to the entire world; this was a God given revival.
Through that one simple act of faith God restored the power of His Holy Spirit to His church. One wonders how many other forgotten truths are waiting to be re-discovered and restored to Gods church by people who simply believe. We cheat ourselves of many blessings when we assume that our current understanding is all that God wishes to restore to us. We are wise to be actively open to receive all that the Holy Spirit has to give, for it is certain there is much more truth yet to be restored to His church.
Unfortunately, when we look at the history of great revivals we see that true visitations of Gods Spirit don’t continue indefinitely. One needs only to have a cursory knowledge of church history to verify this statement. Most, if not all the denominations we see today, were born of God given revivals but now are only empty shells of the glory that once filled them. What happened to these outpourings? Why did they not continue? Moreover, is there a way to sustain such revivals? To understand why revivals don’t last and to help us chart a course through present and future moves of God we must first examine why revivals are given in the first place.
To begin with, we must understand the place we came from and how far we have fallen. In the beginning the design of God for mankind, was for His creation to live by faith through revelation. As it is written,
“But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
And God gave this commandment to live by,
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”
Yet, because Adam ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil mankind choose a life of self-determination rather than faith and one of knowledge rather than revelation. Thus Adam, Eve, and all mankind were driven from the Garden and from Gods presence,
“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
In the Holy Scriptures we see mankind descend in a downward spiral into the depths of sin until the world became filled with violence and every thought of man was continually evil. The situation with man became so bad that God actually repented, i.e. felt badly, that he had created mankind. Therefore, God destroyed every living thing on the face of the Earth except Noah, his sons and their wives, and a boat full of animals. The destruction of the known world in Noah’s day was a direct result of Adam and his decedents choosing to live by knowledge rather than revelation.
The central point that I am going to make in this essay is:
“The purpose of God in outpourings of His Spirit is to restore mankind to the sinless perfection of their pre-fallen Garden state.”
Though Adam had sinned God did not leave us totally naked but provided skins (perhaps even lambs or goat skins from an initial sacrifice) for us to wear until such time as He could reconcile us to Himself. The plan of God through Christ has been to progressively wean mankind from the tree of knowledge and to replace it with the tree of life. God wants to restore man to perfect communion with Him as He originally intended. In order to do this we must put away our dependence upon our natural minds. Every act of God in the old and New Testament, in revivals past, present, and future is designed with this end in view. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit God provides for us a vehicle that has the potential to fully accomplish this miracle of reconciliation.
Like Israel’s forty years in the wilderness we, as mankind, have been taking a seven thousand year detour from Gods original plan and perfect will. Moreover, we will keep wandering in the wilderness of this world until we finally come back to the garden, reject the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are willing to obey Gods original plan.
Our Father in heaven always gets His way. The timing of when God accomplishes His plan is really inconsequential. God is immortal, and a few thousand years here or there, though regrettable for us, will not prevent His will from being accomplished.
Simply put revivals do not continue because those who enter in to them camp at some point and refuse to move forward with God. As a revival progresses into deeper realms of God a greater and greater percentage of those in the revival start to pull back in unbelief. Even though some individuals might earnestly desire to move forward they find it increasingly difficult to do so in the face of opposition from their own brethren.
Revivals can only be sustained through a commitment of those who lead them not to camp in any one spot. It is not the form of the revival that matters but the essence of it that we must always hold paramount. The forms that God chooses to temporarily house His Spirit will change and morph over time yet God will be evident and present in every one of them. Let us recognize this, embrace this truth, and make a commitment to journey on no matter what the cost. As long as we move as He moves whatever current revival we are in will last and grow.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t care about man’s sensibilities and will do whatever it takes to accomplish His will. This is where most ministers stumble at the power and manifest creativity of God. Here is a central truth,
“At some point all God given revivals will threaten to dissolve any religious system.”
The coming of Christ was the most profound revival to happen in the past 2000 Years. God said of His son,
“Then a voice came from heaven, You are My belovedSon, in whom I am well pleased.”
However, those who were the target of the revival in Israel said,
“The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we do notstone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.
To the Jewish mindset, Jesus had simply gone too far this time. To any sensible Jew, after all, making Himself equal with God was just too much. The only flaw in their logic was that He actually was God manifest in the flesh and those that opposed Him were dead wrong. In the same way, if you value your religious system above God you may find yourself in opposition to His Spirit when true revival comes. The paradox of the gospel is that you must lose your life for Christ’s sake in order to save it. Likewise, you must lose your religious system for Christ’s sake in order to save the souls that have been entrusted to you.
In conclusion, no matter how difficult it is for you to make the changes necessary to come into alignment with Gods plan for His people you must do it. Failure to act in a timely manner only increases the cost of obedience in the long run. Many have delayed doing the difficult things so long that the cost of change is severe indeed. However, our master set the example by denying himself and choosing the cross for our sakes. Can you do less for your own people?