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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Church

Revival Is Not Primarily an Emotional Event

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We have talked about why we even need revival, why revival is not just an even and why revival is not primarily a tool of evangelism. Let’s move on and talk about how a revival should to more than just give us an emotional charge

Psalm 85:6

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? 

God is clearly all for us expressing joy, and even emotive joy over the blessings He has clearly given us. In our verse above, the Psalmist clearly asks to be revived so that the people can rejoice. We see this in other places as well:

After his sin with Bathsheba and his restoration(revival one might say) David had the following to say:

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

The congregation sang the following in song to celebrate their return from captivity in Babylon:

Psalm 126:2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.

Who can forget David dancing for joy upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6?

Obviously, joy and excitement at revival and restoration is very appropriate and highly encouraged by our Lord. Why then, do I raise this issue? What do we need to consider when we balance the emotional aspects of revival?

Did revival make me happy, or did it make me change? I can be whirling in the aisles and barking like a dog during service, but If I leave as the same person I came in as, then I was not revived.

Was the focus on the emotional aspects of revival, or on the sound preaching and admonishment of the Word of God? If the focus is on how excited I got, then I have become the focus and not God. If I, or anyone else was the focus, then we were not revived

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Revival is NOT primarily for evangelism

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Many differing thoughts exist as to what a revival within a church consists of. For many, if not most of us, a revival is simply an event; it is something we attend or go to see. It is something our church does because, well, we always have. Many of us head out to revival, with some hope that, “Gosh, I sure hope somebody gets saved at revival.” I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that is not what revival is for!

Don’t misunderstand me at all; if a person comes to a revival and gets saved, that is wonderful. Just as it is wonderful if they get saved on a regular Sunday morning, Sunday night, in their fishing boat, on the golf course, or any other place where God chooses to reach out to a lost person and convert them. The salvation of a lost soul should always be a cause for great and joyful celebration by the saved themselves; however, the salvation of lost souls is not the purpose of a revival.

Let’s look at the word itself. Re simply means “again,” while vive simply means “life.” So, what we see here is the revival literally means “life again.”  It doesn’t mean new life or the birth of life; it means the restoring of life that already exists.

Here are some other passages that seem to express the sentiment here:

Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that THY PEOPLE may rejoice in thee?

Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive THY WORK in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land

.  Revival then is not primarily an effort to give life to those who do not have it. It is primarily an effort to bring back to life those who already have it, His people so that they can be about His work.

Even though a revival is not primarily for evangelism, it will certainly produce it.

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:46,47 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

I think we have established in the previous devotional that Revival is not for the nonbelieving world primarily; it is for the believing churches of the world. It is not primarily for giving life to lost souls but is primarily reviving life in souls already possessing it.

A revived church will result in evangelism.  I found the following which captures the essence of the difference between revival and evangelism very nicely. I have lost where I found this, so good job to the one who did.

Revival is what the church experiences. Evangelism is what the church engages in.

Revival is the spiritual renewal of God’s people. Evangelism is confronting those without with the claims of Christ.

Revival is God crying to lethargic Christians: “Wake up — and get to work.” Evangelism is an awakened church crying to sinners: “Repent — and be saved.”

Revival is getting one’s own heart warmed. Evangelism is setting other hearts on fire.

Revival is periodic. Evangelism is continuous.

Those who understand the difference between revival and evangelism never say, “Oh, we didn’t have much of a revival — just a lot of church members warmed over!”

But that is revival.

A legitimate claim could be made that the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2 represented the greatest Revival in recorded history. The Disciples had, as instructed, returned to await the event which was to occur, which was the giving of the Holy Spirit to them. The group that was gathered was given the power of the Holy Spirit, given new life, and revitalized with a new mission in mind.

That mission was to turn the world upside down; that mission was to evangelize the world. 3000 souls were added to the church that day, and they continued on in that endeavor as we see in Verse 47 when “The Lord added to the church daily…”

Why Do We Even Need Revival?

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As I have said, we are just poking around a bit regarding this thing evangelical churches do that we call, “Revival.” I really appreciate the comments people have made on the topic, and many great points have been made. As I also said, I am sharing what amounts to the notes of the message I got to deliver at our place a couple of weeks before the actual event. So, it may seem a bit informal and conversational in nature.

What is a revival? One of the definitions of Revival, from the Merriam Webster online dictionary, read in part as follows:

Revival: restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.

I found the following definition in the online KJV Dictionary:

REVI’VAL, n. from revive.

  1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
  2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits.
  3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning.
  4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.

Now that we have provided a book definition of revival, let’s talk a bit about thoughts about revival.

Why do we even need Revival?

Revival was a recurring event in the Old Testament. Israel had a common pattern of falling away, judgment, repentance, and restoration to God. From the very beginning, as Moses led the Israelites from Egypt all the way to the captivities of Israel and Judah, we see this very pattern.

An important factor is this constant falling away and revival has to do with the nature of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Simply put, the ministry of the Holy Spirit was not on a permanent basis then. The Holy Spirit was never given to the Israelites as a whole, and individuals were never seemingly indwelt permanently by the Holy Spirit. As a result, the fallings away and restorations were simply part of life, more or less.

In Acts Chapter 2 we see a key thing; It was then that the nature of things changed forever. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the church that day, and from that day forward we see a steady progression through the Book of Acts in the permanence of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now, we can see that believers are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon their salvation.

So, what are the points and ramifications of all of this? If the Holy Spirit is at this time permanently among the church and permanently inside of every believer, how does that relate to our need for revival?

Well, the answer is a tough one. The simple fact is, we should not need to be revived. If the Holy Spirit dwells within us permanently, then it should be as simple as walking with Him. We all know the truth, however, and that truth is we do not. We remain, sinners, until God completes His work of sanctification in us and ultimately completely glorifies us in Heaven. Until then, we remain works in progress. Works in progress fail sometimes.

We do need revival, and we need it because we do not always allow the Holy Spirit to perform his work in us.

So, to answer the question asked: Should we need revival? No. Next question: Do we need revival. Yes

Wait a Minute, You Aren’t the Preacher!

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“Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” Luke 10:2 

As we have been discussing, at our little church we recently did that thing we call, “Revival.” We do it every year; one year when the Holy Spirit seized us mightily, we did it TWICE in on year! We usually do it for 5 nights, but that year we did it twice, we only had it 3 nights on the second go around. I guess the Spirit was on a sabbatical or something. I’m not being sarcastic; really I promise I am not!

Of course, I am. We have, historically, “had Revival.” Meaning we have met for 3-5 days, heard a guy preach and exhort, then gone back to doing what we do. To my knowledge, we have never had a revival, in the sense that long-term change was produced among us. That is sad but is simply the truth.

I think some would like to see a change; I think quite a few actually would like to see a renewed working of the Holy Spirit so that we would see real change in our assembly, our families and our communities.  Our pastor certainly wants to see this, and a few of the more steadfast among the body is willing to jump in with him. So, he made a real commitment this year to do more than just “having Revival.” He laid some groundwork, along with the preacher who was to be our Revival Speaker, to help us prepare our hearts and minds for this in advance.

One of the first things had to do with me personally. The Pastor came to me about 3 weeks out and asked me to bring the message on Wednesday night two weeks out from Revival. Using the word he used was unusual. Normally, if he won’t be there, he says something like “give a devotional.” Oh, that’s the other thing; he was NOT going to be absent. He was going to be there just like normal on a Wednesday night. Then, he said something like this, “You can talk about whatever you want; Revival would be good, but whatever you want.”  He said he would open things up as normal, then turn it over to me for what he termed “A Message from the Pews.”

This is a strange occurrence. The truth is, preachers, love to preach and rarely give up the chance to preach. Also, ours only has a fill in when he will be absent. Normally, one of our Deacons fills in that case. I finally got it in my head what was going on. I had been pestering him about Revival forever, and why we never seem to change afterward. I think he just got tired of me yacking at him and figured I could just tell everybody! I seriously think that, as he tires sometimes of saying the same things to the same crew with nothing changing that a different voice would maybe help.

So, we hatched a plan and waited. I had to let a couple of people in on it; my wife and a friend knew because I picked them to sing a special song for us(that was almost insanity for us on a Wednesday night, because we NEVER have special music on Wednesday night!) They sang the song, “My House is Full, But my Field is Empty,” which would later become part of the evening message. Also, normally on Wednesday, it’s jeans and boots for me. When I showed up in slacks and a collared shirt, some seemed to wonder what was up.

At any rate, everything went off fine and dandy. God’s like that isn’t He? Here are the points I covered for this message, and over the next few days, I will break them down a bit.

 

Why do we even need Revival?

 

Revival is NOT primarily for evangelism

 

Revival Is Not just an Event

 

Revival Is Not Primarily an Emotional Event

 

It’s Time to “Go.” My House is Full but My Field is Empty

What the Heck IS a Revival, Anyway?

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As I pick up blogging where I sort of left off a few weeks back, I find myself not sure exactly where I feel led to take this thing. So, just bear with me while I make the trip. I really like the very straightforward devotional stuff, but also seem to have all this STUFF rambling around in my head that needs to get let out. I think I may start letting some of those things out, and see where they go.

A couple of weeks back at our church, we had, “Revival.” Yep, revival. Meaning we had this “thing,” where we meet for 5 weeknights in a row and listen to some guy from out of town hurl exhortation at us until he turns purple. Then, we go back to business as normal. That’s what it’s all about eh?

Of course, it is not! But, then what is it all about? I have about a billion thoughts in my head on it and want to just sort of toss some of them out over the next bit if readers don’t mind.

I do know that this year, we took a different approach to the whole thing because we(some of us, anyway) actually recognize that what we have done for literally decades has accomplished….a big fat nothing. We did some neat stuff, and I think we may actually see some change this time.

Meanwhile, I’d welcome thoughts from you out there on the topic. What have you seen? What does it mean to you? Is it needed? Is the idea even Biblical. It’s all fair game, so have at it if you wish.

 

 

Revival Time Part 2 – Revival Certainly Produces Evangelism

Psalm 85_6

Acts 2:1-4

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:46,47

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.


I think we have established from yesterday that Revival is not for the non believing world primarily; it is for the believing churches of the world. It is not primarily for giving life to lost souls, but is primarily reviving life in souls already possessing it.

A legitimate claim could be made that the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2 represented the greatest Revival in recorded history. The Disciples had, as instructed, returned to await the event which was to occur, which was the giving of the Holy Spirit to them. On that day, the group that was gathered was indeed given the power of the Holy Spirit, given new life, and revitalized with a new mission in mind.

That mission was to turn the world upside down; that mission was to evangelize the world. 3000 souls were added to the church that day, and they continued on in that endeavor as we see in Verse 47 when “The Lord added to the church daily…

A revived church will result in evangelism.  I found the following which captures the essence of the difference between revival and evangelism very nicely. Sadly, I somehow lost exactly where I got this, so if you are out there, and it belongs to you, let me know!

Revival is what the church experiences. Evangelism is what the church engages in.

Revival is spiritual renewal of God’s people. Evangelism is confronting those without with the claims of Christ.

Revival is God crying to lethargic Christians: “Wake up — and get to work.” Evangelism is an awakened church crying to sinners: “Repent — and be saved.”

Revival is getting one’s own heart warmed. Evangelism is setting other hearts on fire.

Revival is periodic. Evangelism is continuous.

Those who understand the difference between revival and evangelism never say, “Oh, we didn’t have much of a revival — just a lot of church members warmed over!”

But that is revival.

Revival Time Part 1 – Is Revival Evangelism?

Psalm 85_6

Well it’s revival time again at our place! We have had two this year! So, for the next few days, I am just going to post some thoughts about that subject; I hope readers find them useful in some way.

Many differing thoughts exist as to what a revival within a church consist of. For many, if not most of us, revival is simply an event; it is something we attend or go to see. Many of us head out to revival, with some hope that, “Gosh, i sure hope somebody gets saved at revival.” I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that is not what revival is for!

Don’t miss understand me at all; if a person comes to a revival and gets saved, that is wonderful. Just as it is wonderful if they get saved on a regular Sunday morning, Sunday night, in their fishing boat, on the golf course, or any other place where God chooses to reach out to a lost person and convert them. The salvation of a lost soul should always be a cause for great and joyful celebration by the saved themselves; however, the salvation of lost souls is not the purpose of a revival.

Let’s look at the word itself. Re simply means “again,” while vive simply means “life.” So, what we see here is the revival literally means “life again.”  It doesn’t mean new life, or the birth of life; it means the restoring of life that already exists.

Here are some other passages that seem to express the sentiment here.

Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that THY PEOPLE may rejoice in thee?

Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive THY WORK in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If MY PEOPLE, who are called by My name……

His people…His work. Revival, then is not primarily an effort to give life to those who do not have it. It is primarily an effort to bring back to life those who already have it!

I’m going to try something I think. We commonly greet our visiting preacher with something along the lines of, “Thanks so much for coming to be our evangelist.”

I wonder what would happen if somebody said, “Thanks so much for coming to be our revivalist?”

Next: Is there a relationship between revival and evangelism?

Church Discipline Part 10 The End? Or is it?

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Matthew 18:15-18

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Well, here we are. We have arrived at what frankly is the most uncomfortable part of our series we have been doing in the process we often call “Church discipline.” I am not such a fan of that commonly accepted phrase, even though it fits. A better name would be, “Restoring a wayward brother.” Discipline nonetheless fits as a term.

Even though the process may be disciplinary, the objective remains restorative. Period, no exceptions. It’s similar to a child or employee. The intent of discipline with either is to correct behavior, point to the right path, and bring that person back into fellowship with the whole, whether it be a family or a work place. The intent in our families or workplaces is not to “get back” at the offender, and it should not be in our churches. If one did that in their family, they would be called an abuser. If one did that in their workplace, they would be called a jerk. If we do it in our churches, we should be called unBiblical.

So, again, here we are. We have an wayward brother or sister sinning and transgressing openly and rebelliously. We have talked to them and implored them with love in our hearts. Perhaps their friends, family, or church officers have talked to them and implored them with love in their hearts. We have taken the issue before the church, and our entire local assembly of believers has talked to them and implored them with love in their hearts. Nothing has worked, and all has failed.

First, I hope we all understand this did not all take place in 24 hours. I could never say how long it might take; it simply takes as long as it takes. We do not have a schedule for this, as our goal is not to “finish” things up, but to restore our brother or sister.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. A heathen man and a publican. We need to take a look at this phrase quickly, because it’s application is often misused when applying this passage. It quickly gets pointed out that these are just the type of people Jesus frequented during His earthly ministry. That is absolutely a statement of fact and is not up for dispute. There’s no issue there whatsoever, as even for this writer these sorts are just the ones reached out to and invited to come be with us in our church.

There is another meaning to this phrase, and it is one which applies here. In the Jewish society, the term heathens and publicans would be used to refer to those who were ostracized and outcasts from Jewish society. As unpleasant as this is, that is the application being used here.  An unrepentant member among us, must be removed from among us.

What does that mean? Of course it varies from association to association and denomination to denomination. Some might call it excommunication; some call it shunning; in our work we withdraw fellowship. From the churches standpoint, this is a public rebuke of a public transgression.  From the standpoint of the wayward one, they simply are no longer part of our fellowship. This person is no longer our brother or sister in fellowship. They are not hated, but that aren’t really part of us any more either.

What is this not?

It is not salvific in nature. We don’t revoke any person’s salvation. That is beyond our rights and our pay grade.

It is not their notice that they are no longer welcome in our church. That would be like telling other outsiders they have the get cleaned up before they come see us.

It is not their sign that they are no longer part of our families or circle. Do we refuse to associate with all of our sinning family members? We probably have sinning, lost friends as well. Having said that, one cannot deny there will be a change in relationship with this person in our circle of friends.

One last note about treating this person as a “heathen.” Although this process never revokes a persons salvation, it is entirely possible that such an unrepentant person was never saved in the first place; like any “heathen,” they should probably be part of our evangelism efforts.

So, it’s over right? No, no, no and more no! What is our objective? Restoration. When do our efforts cease? When the person repents and is restored or they die. Until then, it is not over.

Church Discipline Part 9 Taking It To the Church

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Matthew 18:15-18

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Before we begin we ought to recap quickly where we have been. We have been using the passage above as the center-point, or pivot around which we have built a series of devotions. Specifically, we have been dealing with an issue often referred to as “church discipline.” We have been taking a look at how to deal with a brother or sister who has sinned or fallen short in such a way there is no choice but to intervene in the situation. Here is a quick recap:

It’s not a “gray area.” What is occurring is clearly causing harm to the brother/sister, another person, the church, or the Kingdom in general and its testimony

A private conversation has not helped, as the offender has either denied or rebuffed our efforts to help them get back on path.

Visits by the brother/sister’s friends or perhaps church officers has not helped.

Clearly we have a situation that cannot continue without harm occurring.

What now?

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: Take it to the church. Yes, that is correct, throw the business in question right out there for everybody to know. That seems harsh doesn’t it? Why on earth would we do such a thing?

Well, we are not:

Laying the ground work to kick the no good out.

Hoping the public humiliation will just make them, and the problem, go away.

Make ourselves, and our church look good in the community. “Hey, look what WE do to no good sinners!”

Additionally, we are not throwing our authority as moral policemen around here; in fact, church discipline conducted according to God’s Word  would better be called God’s discipline. Additionally, we are not out to condemn the offender in our midst. Public condemnation is likely to only bring out the worst in a person and humiliate and drive them away.

What is the goal? We have said it before, and we will say it again; the goal is repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. OUR goals with our offending brother or sister are exactly the SAME objectives our Lord has for us as sinners. That’s it, and it’s very, very simple.

At this point, the church, the local assembly of believers should be aggressively and compassionately pursuing the offending brother or sister. We should love, beg, and plead for our loved one to repent and return to us. All of us, the entire church. I make specific mention of the church as a body, because that is who it is. Whether it be a local church of 75 believers or 1000 believers, it is the local body of believers who need to be chasing this brother or sister. It’s not a church committee or disciplinary committee within a church, and it is certainly not some ecclesiastical board or authority outside of the local assembly of believers. It is literally, the church family and body that our wayward brother or sister is part of.

We have loved, we have chased, and we have pursued. Our beloved one has continued still to live in their sin and rebellion. What’s next? I ask this, because many would say that taking it to the church is the final step in this process. I happen to think it is not. I don’t believe this is the point at which “official” church action is taken. Keep reading for more!

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