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The Interceders Encourager No. 9

The Purpose, Priority, Prospect, Preparation, Price, and Promotion of Revivals

For the main ideas of this issue of the Interceders Encourager, I am indebted to Lars Widerberg of Intercessors Network.

The Purpose of Revival

As we seek revival, we need to have a vast purpose in mind, a purpose rooted and centred in God Himself. Revival is far greater than getting people to throng our meetings, exciting though that would be; greater than seeing people convicted of sins, and confessing them openly, marvellous as that would be; greater than people having an acute awareness of the presence of a holy God, incredible as that would be; greater than seeing the crime figures fall, and people living honest, upright and righteous lives, wonderful as that would be. The purpose must be far greater and deeper, for it has to be centred on a concern for the glory of God and the revelation of His life, His power and His transforming presence, with the evidence seen in fidelity, in faithfulness, in perseverance, in truthfulness, in godliness in humility, as the law of the Spirit of Life is outworked in His people and in His world. (2 Cor.5:18, Rom. 8:1-2).

The absence of the majesty and glory of God and their outworkings being seen on the earth should be major incitements driving us to prayer for revival. We need to be ashamed of our lack of concern for the honour and glory of our Creator and Redeemer. We need to loathe ourselves for our iniquities, the iniquities of the churches, of which we are a part, and the iniquities of this once great nation, for which we are responsible. As this nation has declined morally and spiritually, it is the God who made this nation great, whose name has been profaned among the nations of the world. Do we really feel the shame of all this? It is only when God vindicates His holiness that the nations will know who the true God is.(Ez.36:23) When God pours out His Spirit and changes us and changes our land, it will not be for our sake, but for the sake of His name and His glory, which we have profaned. (Ez.36:22&32)

The revival to be expected is one which focuses on God`s throne being established, and God`s will being done, in which the Spirit forms a people to declare His praise.(Is.43:21) This revival will be a call to grow up into the fulness of Christ, in which minds and hearts will be renewed, and righteousness and holiness will be displayed. It needs to be an identification with the fundamental purposes of God, in which the glory of God is seen and experienced. Every effort we make towards revival for the sake of reaching divine goals will come from Him who is the originator of all thing good, and the goal will centre on Him alone. This will require us to follow hard after the Lord with sacrificial willingness and perseverance.

The Priority of Revival (or The Necessity of Revival)

We need to feel "the perennial burden of the Lord; the tragedy of ears shut to His voice , eyes blinded by contemporary culture, consciences insensitive to heavenly perspectives, perception blurred and twisted by worldliness, hearts of stone, the word falling on shallow soil, an unrepentant people, a straying nation," " a church content to live without revival, which is addicted to mediocrity and sensationalism, crippled by compromise, indifference, lethargy and lack of conviction."

"The revival so desperately needed is one of exchanging the prevalent addiction to mediocrity with an uncompromising stance of seeking the Lord, and asking him to vindicate His word."There must be "a serious seeking of true spirituality".(1 Pet. 4:7), so that "the Church becomes aware of its pretence, its vanity and its deception by the world." The greatness, the majesty and the dignity of Almighty God need to be recovered and emphasised. "The pragmatism of today`s Church, which leads to compromise and shallowness", and to the unwillingness and the inability to confront the world, must be replaced by honest dealings with God. "The ministry of the interior must come, so that the games played in the outer court will end."

The burden of the Lord includes a people who are still basically selfish, seeking every blessing without repentance and sanctification, "expecting restoration without holiness," wanting the crown without the cross, avoiding the authority of an Almighty, Just and Holy God, "which requires the reverential fear of mortal man and his sacrificial submission". The churches have gone so far away from this and so influenced by the world that they elevate their leaders and "performers", just as the world does. (See most of today`s Christian television programmes, the TV For Life magazine, the front of "Christian" CD`s, the advertisements for "Christian" soloists and music groups,etc.) So many speak of "rights rather than responsibilities", "of blessing rather than burdens", and when concern is mentioned, it is never concern for the glory of God. Sin is not confronted, nor admitted, nor even mentioned in some churches. I went to a Methodist church recently. to a service to mark the anniversary of John Wesley`s conversion. Before his conversion, Wesley felt "under condemnation", "truly sold under sin", with nothing good in him, "deserving only the condemnation and the wrath of God.". Then, "an assurance was given to him that Christ had taken away his sins, even his, and saved him from the law of sin and death." Yet at the commemoration service there was no reference to assurance, to the wrath of God, to the condemnation of God, nor to death, nor to sins being taken away. In fact, the word sin was not used at all!

You may have heard that a new set of 95 Theses was put up on the cathedral door in Wittenberg, where Martin Luther nailed up his 95 Theses nearly 500 years ago. But this time there was a profound difference. Instead of being based on the Bible, the theses objected to the conservatism of the present pope, and sought to make the Roman Catholic Church more liberal, more worldly and more compromising. The burden of the Lord is increasing by the day.

The Prospect of Revival

The prospect of revival is as bright as the word of prophecy, which we need to pay attention to, as a light shining in a dark place.(2 Pet.1:19) Revivals are regulated by law, "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus". An awakening is the law of life in operation. A desire for revival opens up a person`s life for the Life of God to penetrate his mind and heart. "Revival is the brightest promise in the word of God," for it is the impartation of the Life of God Himself. God alone can do it, and therefore we must desperately ask God to do it according to His promise. Revival is "a sudden change in people, whereby their lives are changed and adjusted to the law of the Spirit of Life". They realize the true meaning of their existence, which is "to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever". That is why revival is God`s desire and design. "To recover what has been lost is a fundamental pursuit of heaven," and we become one with God as we seek it. We become part of his glorious purpose, to give life to the dead bones, to transform society, to restore the earth to what it should be; and all for His sake.

The Preparation for Revival (or the Conditions of Revival)

a) The first fundamental condition for revival is an admittance of the bankruptcy of our self sufficiency. "No flesh will ever succeed in surviving the fire of the altar."

b) The second condition is that "the demarcation line between the Church and the world must be relaid. The wall between what is holy and what is secular has to be rebuilt". "Heaven will not form a compact or alliance with what is earthly." . .

c) The third condition is a return to the fundamentals of the Cross, "the great and final sacrifice of the Lamb of God, offered as the eternal propitiation for our sins, and by whose precious blood atonement was for ever provided for all who repent and give themselves to God". The Cross must be lifted high before the eyes of men, and the blood of Christ must be preached.

d) The fourth condition is that "fidelity to what is true and godly must be consistently pursued and sincerely preached," so that sinners can hear the truth spoken in love. There must be "an initiation of spiritual reality". The preaching of holiness must be only from those who have experienced its truth.

e) The fifth condition is that the true position of man as a finite, sinful creature in relation to the One Creator, Sustainer and Lord of all cannot be overemphasised. We are merely servants of the Most High.

f) The sixth condition is "a turning back to the word of God as our instructor and as a sword". "Revivals begin by praying for men who will give themselves to the Word, and who will dare to give themselves to the burning furnace of the refiner". "Such men will have spent a long time in a solitary pursuit of God", resulting in them being men of stature and maturity, able to preach in such a way that "consciences will be touched, sinners will weep and saints will pray". They have sought and found life in the Word and so are able to pass it on.

g) The seventh condition is brokenness and self sacrifice. "Man is required to take an uncompromising self sacrificial stance. Revival never comes without the Cross becoming a reality in the lives of believers, resulting in broken hearts and spirits. (Ps. 51:17) "Revival condemns our flesh." It means evangelism must challenge people far beyond and very much deeper than a "mere acceptance of Christ in an overheated sensual atmosphere generated by motivational speakers and the suggestive beat of contemporary Christian music." It must be a call to self denial, a crucifixion of the flesh and a radical change of life`s goals and life style.

This can be brought about only through the inward work of the Holy Spirit, producing substantial changes in both the inner life and outward behaviour. Any claim to faith must be evidenced to the world in a radical change of life that only God`s transforming power can bring about.

The Price of Revival

Revival comes only one way, God`s way. The price to be paid is to live sacrificially, with the Cross, i.e. the principle of self denial, self giving and obedience even to death, central to our relationships and service."The Cross should bring the heart of man to a halt, in all his efforts to produce what only heaven can give". It is only when we regard ourselves as nothing, that God can recreate our personalities so that they become noble and Christlike. (Eph. 4:13)

The Cross must be outworked in the believer`s heart and life, for the Life of God can flow only through a broken vessel, and only through the grain of wheat that dies. This is the law of the spirit of life "Life, heavenly life, is given, to be given away. Efforts to keep it will end in total loss".

We have to learn to be completely dependent upon God in everything, so that He is our all in all.

We have to come to an and of ourselves. This emptying and acceptance of dependence is the greatest challenge but also the greatest blessing, and only God can make us sufficient for it. "Blessed is the one who surrenders his position, and commits his life to a far greater and nobler pursuit than the protection and preservation of his own. Blessed is the man who allows himself to be spent for the sake of living a priestly life. We need to be willing in the day of His power",(Ps. 110:3), and willingness beforehand helps to create the day of His power. It is the willingness, the dependence, the surrender, the perseverance that make us ready, and therefore willing, in the day of His power.

The Promotion of Revivals

"A revival needs a man to dare to stand in the gap; a faithful priest who acts according to God`s heart and mind." (1 Sam. 2:35) "A revival will occur if such a man is raised to stand, and he stands firm."

"A revival will be brought in where the people of the Lord are brought back to a recognition of the price to be paid, and have the willingness to pay the cost."

"A revival will become a reality wherever a group of committed people decide to recover the art of crying out to the Lord, and with burning hearts gather to share the perennial burden of the Lord."

"His cry is, "Oh that my people would", so our cry must correspond to His." We must say,"Lord, we will. We cannot bear to see your heart broken any more. We want to share the burden, and see it taken away." "The church which has renounced its role as a bearer of the burden of the Lord, and taken redemption to mean deliverance from pain and problems rather than from sharing in the sufferings of Christ, is showing how grave is its need of revival."

"Revival begins when we recapture the sense of urgency, take away the complacency, and solemnly come together to take part in priestly ministry before the Lord, solely for His praise."

"Revivals require commitment. Revivals are brought about and kept alive when they are based on a covenant." Jehoiada, the priest made a covenant between himself, the king and th people, that they would be the Lord`s people. (2Chron.23:16) Hezekiah made a covenant with the Lord, so that His fierce wrath would turn away from them.( 2Chron. 29:10) "Revivals are secured by men who formulate a covenant, and enter into a covenant relationship with the Lord to stand firm in reverently seeking His face." (Mal. 2:5) "Success in bringing life and peace to the people comes solely through standing on covenant ground."

" We, who are ministers of life and peace, must go through a process of being cleansed and refined."

"We must abandon our independence, any carnal ambitions or religious satisfaction we have; and uproot our pride and boasting." "Revival requires a covenant to be made, in which we declare as worthless everything that the Holy Spirit classifies as worldly". This is absolutely essential, if we are to be made vessels fit to carry newness of life.

The consciousness of this covenant must be "at the core of our beings", so that it directs our thinking, our feelings, our motivations and our actions.

It is wonderful to see how Lars emphasises and enhances so many of the same ideas and principles as we have in The Interceders. Therefore let us resolve to renew our covenant before the Lord, to earnestly seek to share the burden of His heart, to recapture the sense of urgency, to reaffirm our willingness to pay the cost, and see His glory fill this land. Remember it is His will. He desires it far more than we do.

Will He find the one standing in the gap? Will He find the pure, clean channels?