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Come Back To The Garden

We all desire revival.   Christians the world over yearn for a fresh visitation of His Holy Spirit. We look longingly at great revivals of the past, thrilling to stories of apostolic power and the presence of God. We pray and ask the Holy Spirit to infuse us with this type of 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 variety.  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.”

Isaiah 26:18

God’s very nature is creation

On the other hand, God-given revivals are spontaneous, dynamic, having lasting effects. They usually begin with a few Christians who simply believe that God means exactly what He says. 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 ways 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. The church lost Holy Spirit baptism during the dark ages.  The truth of being filled with God’s Spirit remained hidden for centuries. At a little Bible College in Topeka Kansas, God chose to restore this truth to His church. While the leader of the Bible College was away, a group of young students simply believed God for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  They thought to themselves, “If God did it like that to the first Christians, why not us too?”

As they prayed and waited, 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 restored this wonderful gift.  With that act of faith, God restored the promise of ‘the Comforter’ to the entire world.  This is an example of a God-given revival.

One step of faith

If one  simple act of faith God restored the power of His Holy Spirit to His church, what other  forgotten truths are waiting to be re-discovered? We cheat ourselves out of many blessings if we assume our current understanding is all that God wishes to restore to us.  We should be actively open to receive all that the Holy Spirit has to give, for certainly there is much more truth to be rediscovered.

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 basic knowledge of church history to verify this fact.  Most denominations were born of God-given revivals  but now are only empty shells of their past glory. What happened to these outpourings? Why did they not continue? Moreover, is there a way to sustain such revivals in the future? To understand why revivals don’t last and to help us chart a course through present and future moves of God’s Spirit,  we must first examine why revivals are given in the first place.

Understand where you began

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.”

 Matthew 4:4

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”

Genesis 2:16,17

Self-determination is sin

Yet, because Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,  mankind choose a life of self-determination rather than faith, to walk by knowledge rather than revelation. Thus God drove Adam, Eve, and all their dependents from the Garden and His 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.”

Genesis 3:24

After that, mankind spirals downward into the depths of sin, until the world is filled with violence.  The situation became so bad that God actually repented, i.e. felt badly, that He created man in the first place.  Therefore, God destroys every living thing on the face of the Earth except eight people and a boat full of animals.  The destruction of the earth in Noah’s day resulted from Adam and his descendants 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 sinned God did not leave us totally naked, but provided skins to cover our shame until such time as He could bring reconciliation. God has been progressively weaning mankind from the tree of knowledge,  replacing it with the tree of life.  Our Father desires 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 Testaments, 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 can potentially accomplish the perfection of the saints.

A 7000 year detour

Like Israel’s forty years in the wilderness we, as mankind, have been taking a seven thousand-year detour from God’s 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 obey God’s original plan.

Our Father in heaven always gets His way. The timing of when God accomplishes His plan is really inconsequential. God is immortal, so time is irrelevant.  A few thousand years here or there, though regrettable for us, doesn’t prevent His will from being accomplished.

Simply put, revivals do not continue because those who enter in to them “camp-out”, refusing to move forward with God.  As a revival progresses into deeper realms of God, an even greater percentage of those in the revival start to pull back in unbelief. Even though some individuals earnestly desire to move forward, they find it increasingly difficult to do so in the face of opposition from their own brethren.

God keeps moving, even if you refuse to budge

Therefore, leaders can only sustain revivals through a commitment to move as God moves.  It is not the form of the revival that matters, but the essence of it we must always hold dear.  The forms that God chooses to temporarily house His Spirit change over time, yet His Spirit is evident in every one of them.  Embrace this truth and commit to making the full journey no matter where God leads. As long as He moves, we move.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t care about man’s sensibilities and will do whatever He deems appropriate to accomplish His will.  This is where most ministers stumble at the power and manifest creativity of God.  For example, even Gods own law, when practiced without heart, isn’t welcomed by Him.

God says,

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.”

Isaiah 1:4

Then God says,

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.  When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?”

Isaiah 1:11,12

Therefore, even things God says to do, if done by those who are disobedient in their hearts, displeases Him.  It is not the form of Godliness that matters so much as the substance of our obedience.

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 beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

 Mark 1:1

 However, those who were the target of the revival in Israel said,

“The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.

John 10:33

Jesus is God manifest in the flesh

To the Jewish mindset, Jesus had simply gone too far.  To any sensible Jew, making yourself equal with God is just too much.  The only flaw in their logic was that He actually was God manifest in the flesh and those who 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 in order to save it.  Likewise, we must lose our religious system in order to practice true religion.

In conclusion, no matter how difficult it is for you to make the changes necessary to come into alignment with Gods plan, 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 what God asked of them so long that the cost of change is too much.  However, our master set the example by denying himself and choosing the cross for our sakes.  Can we do any less?

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Anna Hawkins