Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry



Let’s Talk Revival!!! Part 6

This week’s recap of our daily devotionals is going to be quite short. We are only talking about the church at Thyratira and this only covered two days.

Revelation 2_19-21

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Read all of Revelation Chapter 2

Thyratira-A Commendation

When we began looking at the seven churches of Asia, we were just going to look at the ones specifically told to repent;however, we are going to keep going. Today we will begin a look at the church at Thyratira, which was also a struggling church. Then we will take a final quick look at the two churches Jesus seemed the most pleased with.

Even though this church had its issues, which we will discuss later; they were also doing some things well. In addition, they seemed to be improving and growing in their work for the Lord. So, what was going well in this church?

This church had love(charity). This seems the opposite of the previously mentioned church at Ephesus, where they had lost their first love. The first commendation for love in these letters was given to this church. What we see her is a love for God and for one another. That’s a great place to start, since Jesus did tell us that love is the greatest commandment.

This church was faithful in it’s service and patience. Because of their love, they were likely intent on service and meeting the needs of others. Furthermore, this patience had produced a church that persevered in its service and works.

The final part of the commendation to this church is interesting. Many of the churches seemed to be slipping backwards, or in the wrong direction. Note this: and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.  This church was certainly not backsliding; they were growing stronger in fact. Their love was probably going stronger, along with their faithful, persistent service. In other words, this church was growing more mature in its Christian walk, and was increasing its efforts to spread and foster the Kingdom of God.

They were not without blame, however, as we will see in tomorrow’s devotional. Like most churches, even good ones, Thyratira had its issues.

Are we in a church where overall things are going well, but yet there are pockets of issues which are ignored or overlooked? We might need revival.

The Church That Tolerated Sin

 As we previously discussed yesterday, there were some good things going in in the church at Thyratira. They were growing and maturing spiritually, and were certainly doing more than just putting on a front or going through the motions. There were real, God pleasing things going on there. However, all was not well there either.

Do we all remember Jezebel? She is the idolatrous queen who enticed Israel to begin worshiping Baal during the reign of King Ahab. In modern terms, she would be an idolatrous false teacher. So, here we have a church on one hand growing in love and maturity, yet on the other hand being very tolerant of a false teacher.

Along with the false teaching, there was apparently some fairly rampant immorality going on here, perhaps being taught and even encouraged by the false teaching. This is rather like the “Doctrine of Balaam,” which enticed the Israelites into sexual sin and idol worship in the church at Pergamos we discussed earlier.

Not only were the people hear tolerating sin and false teaching, but may have been quite proud and refusing to repent. In verse 21 on our passage we see, And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 

Not everyone was guilty of that, we have already shown the many were faithfully doing the right thing in this church. Jesus, in the verses that follow, is very clear of His concern for this situation and what He plans to do about it if change does not occur.

Revelation 2:22,23 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Why such great concern? After all, this church was certainly doing some things very right; Jesus said so after all. The problem is, sin and false teachings in a church are like cancers. If they are not taken out and treated immediately, they will spread and kill the entire body. If allowed to spread, they quickly reach a point where the patient can no longer be saved.

Are there those we are know are false teachers being allowed to openly exist in our churches, but yet we do nothing? Is there much “secret” sin among our members with no efforts at correction or restoration? We might be in need of revival.

Let’s Talk Revival!!!! Part 5

Our Saturday devotional recap this morning will be the Daily Devotions concerning Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea

Read all of Revelation Chapter 3 here

Revelation 3:14-20

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

A Lukewarm Church

Again, we see very serious concerns here on the part of Jesus toward this church, In fact, He had no commendation for this church, but launched directly into corrective measures. He uses an analogy to express this which the readers would have gotten immediately, as he did with each of the letters to the churches. Apparently the Laodicean water supply traveled through an underground aqueduct to bring water from Colosse. It started there as clear cold water, and would arrive in Laodicea tepid and lukewarm. Also considered was water from the hot springs in Hieropolis, which was so hot it steamed, but if brought to Laodicea again would be tepid and lukewarm. For those readers who are either soda or coffee drinkers, how do you prefer those drinks? Most of us like our sodas ice cold, and our coffee piping hot. For either to be lukewarm would, literally make us want to spew them out or our mouths over the distaste they would produce.

When Jesus said to this church, I know thy works, He was not in this case referring to good works, but evil works. Another important thing to note is that Laodicea was a wealthy city, being a center of banking and finance in Asia. This church was likely far from a poor church. In fact, Jesus alludes to that, saying, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;. But yet, Jesus clearly felt differently, as he pointed out many failings in this church.

In our country, and in our time, it almost seems that the church at Laodicea represents many of the things which are not right with our churches today. Are we basically fat and happy, thinking that we have reached the pinnacle of “churchianity?” Are we satisfied with where we are and what we are doing? Do we think we have attained Christian “success” to the point where we think we have accomplished something? Have we done these things while excluding Jesus Himself from our churches?

Our travels through the seven letters to the churches of Asia have been very cursory, and just an overview. Over the course of the next few days, we are going to really explore and analyze some of the issues facing this church, and see how they are applicable to many of our churches today.

Heart Temperatures

In yesterday’s devotion we discussed how the lukewarm state of the church at Laodicea was displeasing to Jesus, so much so that the distaste was such as to cause him to literally spew, or vomit them out of His mouth. That is kind of like a soda or coffee, which should be ice cold or piping hot respectively. Either of those drinks in a lukewarm state would be met with distaste, so much so that we might be inclined to spit them out of our mouths.

The Bible does describe to us that our hearts can be in somewhat the same conditions as a cup of liquid we might drink. As Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaeus and He revealed himself to them for who he really was, they said the following

Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

These two immediately went to find the other disciples and share the exciting news about what had happened to them. Their hearts at that point were on fire!

Our hearts can also be cold to the things of God. As false teachers arrive, we see this clearly in the following passage:

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

These are hearts which have become cold

And of course, we see the lukewarm hearts of the believers in the Laodicean church.

Why had they become lukewarm? Here is a passage which details why this church had likely become lukewarm:

Revalation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;………..

There it is. This church had it all, and they, in their minds, had need of nothing. A lukewarm Christian is complacent, comfortable, and simply does not realize his or her need. This church was tepid and stale, just like a barely warm cup of coffee that has been sitting on a counter all day.

What does a tepid cup of coffee need? it needs refreshing; it need an infusion of fresh, hot coffee to bring it back to life and acceptability. When a church has become comfortable, complacent, and blind to their own needs, they might be in need of revival.

More On Temperatures

In the previous devotion we talked briefly about what the Bible says about hot, cold and lukewarm Christians. Today, we are going to cover it just a bit more, then we will move on.

Being lukewarm is the issue here. This church was not hot, nor was it cold; It was lukewarm. Because of this, The Lord was going to basically vomit this church from His mouth. Churches may make our Lord feel many things. Some may make him angry, some happy, some sad, some disappointed, and so forth. This church at Laodicea made Him sick!

What then, is the difference between hot, cold and lukewarm in terms of the hearts of people? Hot is easy. Hot believers are those who are on fire for the things of Faith. Those who desire to worship, study, witness to the lost, and whatever they may be called to do. These would be the people who show the excitement in their actions of a transformed life

Cold people, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. These are those who simply reject The Lord. The offer of salvation holds no interest for them; God holds no interest for them. They may even be overtly hostile to the idea of God.

Lukewarm people are those professing belief, but are in fact hypocrites. LIke the Pharisees, lukewarm Christians have only an empty faith, devoid of anything other than the trappings of faith. Perhaps a nice building, a nice sound system, lots of people attending church, or any of a myriad of other things.

So, what is the danger of being lukewarm? Hot believers don’t need to be reached, as they are quite obviously part of the family. Cold people can be reached, as it is at least remotely possible to show them their need for God. The problem with lukewarm people is: They think they are ok! The hardest person to reach in the world is the lost person sitting beside you in Church.

So, that is the basic problem with this church. They thought their “stuff” made them a church pleasing to God.

If we think our “stuff”, our programs, our numbers, or any outward signs of Christian success is what makes us pleasing to God, we might need revival.

The Invitation

This particular Scripture verse is often used in the context of an invitation. Preachers often use it as an example of Jesus’ invitation to the lost sinner to come to salvation. I don’t rule out that it has that application, but the reach of it is likely far broader than that.

This will be an extremely un dogmatic devotion. In fact, I may ask more questions than I answer during the course of it, and I hope readers will chime in with their thoughts. As always, be nice. We can disagree and go round and round about the meaning here, and nobody becomes a heretic, okay? Thanks!

So, some things do seem evident. This is a church with serious problems, as Jesus’ critique of them has been quite harsh. It has been the worst of any of the seven churches thus far. Jesus’ own words seem to indicate He is outside this church in some fashion. Why? Who exactly is Jesus talking to?

Is this a church of saved believers who have simply backslid to the point where one would never know? Maybe. Jesus did say As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. In other places in Scripture we see Jesus chastening believers as his children. In fact, references are made that a lack of chastisement means we are not children of His. On the other hand, some commenters make a case that the terminology in our passage, rebuke(reprove in some translation), is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of lost sinners. Honestly, I am okay either way, to tell the truth.

One writer thinks the use of the phrase any man indicates that this is a church full of lost people under the delusion that they are saved. Could any man be the idea that Jesus only needs one saved person in that church in order to start a work?

Regardless of how we look at the soul situation of the people in this church, Jesus’ promises to them are ironclad and available if they simply repent and either come to Him, or repent and return to Him. See the last part of our verse: I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  That speaks of the joy and fellowship that any individual, and any church can experience with God, if they only allow Him in.

To sum up, it matters greatly that Jesus implies he is at the door of this church knocking to get in. If Jesus is not in our church, but is outside seeking entrance, then we might need a revival.

Revived? Or Not?

Well, as I stated a little over a week ago, I was planning on being absent for a bit while we had our annual Revival at my church. I must say, I am glad I took the time off, because I know now that focusing on that, and that alone, was what The Lord preferred that I do.

It’s over now. That is, the event we call revival is over. Of course, we will have one next year, just as we always do. Heck if somebody gets really fired up, we might even have TWO revivals! The event has ended, but has the Revival? Maybe the question is; Has the Revival even begun? What happened during the last week? Where are we going with what happened? Did anything actually happen? As you can see, my mind is simply bubbling with thoughts that even to me seem to make little organized sense. Since I fancy myself a writer, writing them down and tossing them out seems to be a proper response. Please bear with me if they are somewhat disjointed and disorganized.

First things first. Any week when I get to go to God’s House for worship and fellowship seven times in one week is just a good week. I love the local church, and truly believe that is where God primarily would have me to be to worship Him. The location is irrelevant, but God clearly desires that we gather in local, called out assemblies of believers to worship Him and perform His works. Now, that is from God’s standpoint. From my stand point, things just get better. I clearly understand church is not about me, but the God who loves me so much has made it so that I am blessed and filled with joy by it. That is just very cool. What’s it in for me?

I get to learn about God and HIs Word.

I get to be with the people of God who I love dearly.

I get my focus back on God instead of the world

I get to pray for others and they pray for me. There is power in corporate prayer, I believe.

I get to sing. Singing God’s praises in song is awesome, but even more so with a multitude of voices lifted up together.

I get to hear God’s Word preached. I am convicted regarding the things I need to do, and I learn how to get them done. I am exhorted, commanded, and encouraged in the direction I need to go.

The music, ah, the music. I already mentioned I love the music. Call me old fashioned, but next to prayer, picking up an old time Hymn book and singing together about things pulled directly from God’s Word is uplifting and edifying in ways that simply cannot be expressed. I love to hear others sing. Some of the individual special music touches like nothing else. I must add, we have the best music director on the planet. If a person pays any attention to what they are singing, they will quickly see that what we sing are not just random assortments of songs she likes, but they always have a point, a theme, and a message. You could almost say we get two sermons for the price of one. One is in song, and the other is in spoken words.

The message, or the point of the whole thing. The powerful, true, convicting presentation of God’s Word. This weeks messages were all preached from 1 Kings and relayed the story of the Prophet Elijah from his calling by God up until his confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. The message was entitled. “The Elijah Factor, How One Man Made a Difference.” If any readers have not really read the story, I strongly encourage you to do so. We see one man, living in an unGodly nation. We see one man called by God for a mission. We see one man who answered that call, willing to move forward in the face of daunting odds and great opposition. Over the next little bit, in our morning devotionals, we will explore this great story in some detail.

Okay. We had an event called Revival. Big deal. Now that the event is over, is the Revival over? Well, earlier in our series on this topic, I made it clear that Revival is NOT just an event; it is NOT just a thing we do once a year, or maybe twice if we get really excited. To be revived is a lifestyle, not a happening. Now that the happening is over, will we take what we heard and become changed? Or Monday morning will we be be the same as we were last Monday when we walked into the church building? Let’s take a look at some things quickly:

We live in a Godless nation, filled with sin and transgression of every sort.

We face opposition from the Godless, often it is heated and hateful.

We all have been called to stand, and to take a stand. Not all will answer, but we have all been called.

One man, one woman, one family, or one church can make a difference

What are you doing next week? Next month? Till the day you draw your last breath?

Let’s Talk Revival!! Part 3

Good Saturday morning readers! It’s good to be back in the blogging saddle after a week off. We are continuing to recap on Saturdays our Daily Devotions which for now and the undetermined future will be about Revival

Indwelt But Not Filled?

Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

We have covered some ground in our discussion of revival and the need for revival in the New Testament churches. We have truly had some fascinating discussions, and I hope they continue. What conclusions have we reached? Let’s sum up quickly.

The need for revival in the Old Testament time was constant in the sense of habitual falling away, repentance, and restoration. This seemingly in large part was because the Holy Spirit was not permanently in either the Israelites or individual believers.

We have concluded that at on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given once and for all to the church and at some subsequent point all believers began to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit upon their salvation. Seemingly this removed the constant need for revival and restoration.

We also concluded that, for some reason, we still seem to face the need for periodic repentance and restoration; we seem to still need revival. How can this be?

Let me say right up front, this will not be a major theological dissertation, as I am not a theologian. My choice of words may not meet the agreement of everyone, and that is just fine and dandy. I think we will all get the gist of the discussion, though.

Let’s look quickly at some scripture that supports the assertion that we are each indwelt with the Holy Spirit at salvation and permanently:

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

But yet a case can be made that, even though the Holy spirit is in us, we are not always filled with Him. Huh?, you say…how can that be so? Well, again I must go to a commenter who has really great words to describe what we are talking about here, Julie over at Light and Life again:

” I think of the Holy Spirit in me as an eternal flame, sometimes it blazes hot and sometimes it barely smolders. When it smolders I get on my knees and refuel it. The fire is always there, but if it I don’t stoke it, I end up just blowing smoke.”

We could stop right there, as the point is finely made, but I like to write so I will keep going for just a bit. The fire is always there…but we have to stoke it. The Holy Spirit is always there, but we have to allow Him to fill us. Basically we have to be so yielded to the Holy Spirit that He can fully possess us, and in that way fill us.

What are the keys to the filling of the Holy Spirit? What stokes the embers? What fans the flames of the Spirit? What causes the flames to die out? Why do we smolder? Stay tuned!

Quenching and Grieving The Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

As we continue forward with our study on Revival, let’s recap quickly where we stand. We have arrived that the conclusion that due to the permanence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and churches, we really should not be in need of revival; we should just be alive constantly in the Spirit, and never in need of reviving. We also concluded that oftentimes we live lives which are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

We fail to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we should because we 1) Grieve HIm, and 2) Quench Him. Today we are only going to quickly cover the fact that we do these things; in the following days we will talk specifically about how we do it, and what are signs that we need reviving.

On thing is important to note when we talk about grieving the Holy Spirit is that this indicates He is a divine person of the Trinity. He gets grieved by our conduct in the same way we would be grieved about something. We grieve the Spirit by our sins, and our lack of obedience.

In the last devotional, a commenter compared the Holy Spirit in her to fire, which needs to be stoked and not allowed to smolder and die. The word quench refers to exactly that concept.When the word “quench” is used in Scripture, it is used in reference to putting out a fire. We use our shield in the Armor of God to quench the fiery darts of the devil. Jesus describes Hell as a place where the fire is not quenched.

It’s probably important to note here what is getting quenched, lest anyone think we have some kind of power to make the Holy Spirit stronger or weaker by our actions or our words. The Holy Spirit is God, so that idea is absurd. What we quench is ourselves. The Holy Spirit is in us, permanently, but we quench His work in us.

Yes, we need revival periodically; that conclusion is inescapable. We need only look at ourselves and your churches to see this.

Coming up: Signs we might be in need of Revival.

Signs That We Might Need Reviving

We are still in our study of the need for Christians to revive themselves, to turn away from where we are, and to move forward in service to The Lord. We have discussed how we fail to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, even though He is in us; we have discussed the fact that we grieve and quench His presence in our lives. The sad, but true, thing is we do fail in this area. We are going to move forward, put some verbs in our sentences, and talk about specific areas in which individual believers and churches fail and how we might fix them.

Just a few thoughts on circumstances which exist in our lives which dampen the Holy Spirits word and indicate we need repentance and revival, then we will move on to specifics as the days go on. We might be in need of revival if:

Our love for God has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our love for each other has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our prayer life has grown lukewarm or cold.

Our concern for the lost in the world has grown lukewarm or cold.

When we wallow and languish in our sin, with no efforts to correct it or restore one another.

When we are no different from the world around us,

When are churches are languishing or staying put. When they are no longer advancing forward in God’s work

When are churches are struggling to survive, or actually dying.

When we think that, because we are busy doing things for God, that we are okay and don’t need reviving.

When we are happy with things just the way they are and think our strength lies in our traditions.

We can stand idly by and see God mocked and ridiculed and feel no need or compulsion to say anything.

We think we know all we need to know about God’s Word and cease to pray, study and meditate on it.

We stop rejoicing in the blessing of others and instead resent that they received them.

We think we have become good enough, and cease striving to become Christlike.

We start to constantly doubt and question God’s Word and doubt key doctrines of Christianity and clearly taught precepts.

Our main priority in life is anything other than Jesus Christ.

That is hardly all the things we can do or fail to do to quench the Holy Spirit in our lives, but it provides a good start. Feel free to add, and perhaps we can explore your thoughts in more detail!

Let’s Talk Revival!! Part Two

Here we go! This is week 2 of our recaps of the daily devotional series on revival. As I said, I don’t know how long this

Revival for Sale?

Acts 8:18-20

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money

I did not originally plan this particular devotional, but a couple of comments by regular commenters really caught my eye and should be addressed, I think. What we see above is just part of Acts Chapter 8, specifically dealing with a man call Simon. The Apostles had been traveling and preaching in the area and laying hands on people. Upon the laying on of hands these people would then receive the Holy Spirit; at least that was what Simon thought. Simon offered the disciples money to provide him with that same ability. It is from this passage we get the term :”simony,” or the buying and selling of ecclesiastical privileges

Point one was made by by blogging friend Melissa.

This reminds me of the scene in Acts 8 with Simon the Sorcerer. “Revival” has become a marketing ploy for churches rather than another name for the gift of the holy spirit, a spiritual “replenishment” if you will. That and “volunteer weekend”, I thought we served the Lord everyday? lol

The second comment was from my blogging friend Roughseasinthemed

What do you think to Elmer Gantry (Sinclar Lewis) regarding revivalism?

Both Gantry and Falconer were fake, yet, many people believed in them. Gantry was a salesman, just turned to selling religion. And using Falconer, selling revivalism.

Given the film was a triple Oscar winner (yeah, before our time), do you think it had any effect on people’s view of religion, and revivalism?

Is that what revival has become for us? Is it nothing but a marketing ploy to bring in crowds and bolster our numbers?

Does the non believing world see our efforts at revival like the ones in the Movie Elmer Gantry?

Wow, if those questions and those comments do not make you think, nothing will.

We talked about this earlier. Revival is not evangelism, or reaching out to the lost. It is not primarily an emotional event, to get us temporarily “fired up” for the Lord. It is not just an event, or some thing we do once a year out of a sense of duty. If revival is only those things, then we may be guilty of just what these commenters asked about.

What should it be then?  Perhaps this will help? “a gift of the holy spirit, a spiritual ‘replenishment.'”

Coming up: Is Revival Biblical? Why do we need it?

The Changing Face of Revival

Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

As we continue through this study on revival, I want to note that the contribution by commenters thus far has been simply amazing. I may just start asking questions and allow the commenters to write for me! I recieved this comment today from Julie over at Light and Life, who wrote a great post on revival today also in fact.

“Confession + repentence = revival. We read about it over and over again in the Old Testament. Israel would be blessed; they would take their blessings for granted, get too cozy with the world around them and offend God; God would allow them to suffer the (unintended) consequences; Israel would be oppressed, miserable, cry out to God for help; a prophet would lead them in confession and repentance; God would bless their repentance (revive them) and then they’d get too cozy all over again…”

We see this concept clearly shown in the story in Psalm 51 above, as David repented of his great sin with Bathsheeba.

We see this illustrated in the entire Book of Judges, as Israel would turn their backs on God, face judgment, repent, and then return to God.

We see one of the greatest Revivals in history as we study the book of Jonah and see the entire city of Nineveh repent and turn to God.

Then we see the previously discussed revival in Acts Chapter 2, where the Holy Spirit was given to the church at Pentecost.

After that…what?

A commenter on my blog, The Ancients(I’d link if you had one, Brother!) had the following to say:

“My take on revival is slightly different. In the OT the Holy Spirit did not dwell within a person, but would come and go.
Now, in this new covenant, the Holy Spirit moves in and dwells in a born-again person and NEVER leaves (whether we’re aware of it or not). So when we need to get anything done we don’t have to ask God to send a revival or do a new thing because we have His Holy Spirit in us. We need to wake up to the implications of what it means to be the Kings son, and live life accordingly.”

Another blogger, I Refuse to Follow  Your Blog, made note of the fact, on his blog, that there is no mention of revival specifically outside of the Old Testament.

And, of course, we have the statement from the other day from Melissa:

““Revival” has become a marketing ploy for churches rather than another name for the gift of the holy spirit, a spiritual “replenishment” if you will. That and “volunteer weekend”, I thought we served the Lord everyday? lol”

Now…isn’t all of THAT interesting? So, the question remains: is revival really something we should need? Or should we just be in an alive state all of the time?

Ponder on it.

What’s Really Our Problem?

We have covered the fact that revival was a recurring event in the Old Testament. Israel had a common pattern of falling away, judgment, repentance, and restoration to God. We covered some of the instances of that yesterday, so we don’t need to again.

An important factor is this constant falling away and revival has to to 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.

We have also discussed the story of the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2. 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 is the point 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

That’s all for this week. It’s rather short, as I try very hard to keep the recaps sort of sorted by category.

The Harvest is Plentiful, but… [The Effective Prayer 7.28.15]

As part of our daily devotional series on revival, I keep looking for good post about related topics for evening reading. This is a great one on witnessing from Elihu and Elihuh’s Corner.

The harvest is plentiful, but…

a) it’s infested with bugs

b) it’s covered in powdery mildew

c) it’s been genetically modified

d) the laborers are few.

What’s your guess?

A little over a month ago, our congregation hosted a guest preacher who spoke on the importance of seeking and teaching the lost. The method he advocated contained the same message of salvation, but instead of trying to have weeks upon weeks of classes and struggling to get people to commit to a long-term meeting, a one-hour meeting is proposed to have an overview of the Bible and the good news of Christ.

As he pointed out during his lessons, the problem isn’t with the message. The problem is the lack of messengers.

The terms “Proselytizers” and “evangelizers” are spat distastefully from the mouths of athiests and antagonists. When we talk to people about the gospel, there is an unspoken sentiment that it had better be in neutered, relative or generic terms or else we are considered judgmental.

Read the rest here


Later in our morning revival series we will be talking at some length about the importance of prayer in any revival. This great quote is just a sneak peek of things to come.

Jonathan Edwards:

“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people; as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37 and it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication (see Zechariah 12:10).” (Thoughts on the Revival in New England),

via THE PRAYERS OF GOD’S PEOPLE | Samuel at Gilgal.

How To Revive a Dead Church

As we continue our morning devotional series on revival, I continue to search for other resources from other sources which might help in our study. Thought this article was very thought provoking.

By Tom Schreiner, courtesy of Credo Magazine:

As Christians we should be responsible citizens and vote. It is especially important to vote on the great moral issues of our day, like abortion. Historians look back on what the Nazis did to the Jews with horror, and we can easily be dulled to the relentless murder of babies in our culture. Abortion is the great moral issue of our time. And those who fail to see this reveal their own moral blindness.

But we must never put our faith in politics or any political party. The City of Man will never become the City of God. We should do our civic duty, and if you are called to politics, or to serving as a judge, that is a wonderful calling. But we do not put our hopes in the political process. We do not believe our nation will be transformed by passing laws which enshrine moral principles, even though the passing of such laws is a good thing. No, the key to our nation’s transformation is spiritual revival. The fundamental problem in our country is spiritual and not political (even if it is a good thing to be involved in political life). What we need most is revival in our churches.

We believe the local church can play a significant role in this process, for we hope and pray that many in our congregations will go out and pastor churches. Many churches out there are like the church of Sardis: near spiritual death. Though you will never read this in the newspapers, as our churches go, so goes our nation. If our nation is moving away from the things of God, it is because our churches have been compromising for a long time. But we never give up hope. Christians should never despair. We have a God who brings life out of death. We believe in a God who can turn things around. So, we get involved in the political process, and we pray for godly leaders and rulers. And some of us pursue the political life as a calling. But we realize that nothing is more important than our churches. Our fundamental goal is never to change the culture. It is to bring glory and praise to our God. We want our churches to be his beautiful bride for his name’s sake. Let’s look at a church that needed reviving—the church in Sardis. Let’s ask this question as we consider this text. How can dead churches come to life?

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6

Church, Know You Are Dead!

So, how can dead churches be revived? First, they need to know they are dead (3:1). Notice the second half of v. 1. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Many churches don’t even know they are dead. They think they are doing well. The church of Sardis thought it was just fine. What is the sign that a church is alive? A church isn’t alive simply because it is large. We all know a church can attract a lot of people and not preach the gospel. A church isn’t alive simply because it buzzes with programs and activities. Don’t misunderstand me. It can be a great blessing to have a large church and lots of activity, but we should not equate numbers and programs with spiritual life. A church that is alive is pleasing to God. Jesus says to the church at Sardis. I know your works and you are dead! A dead church may be a very friendly church. Some churches think they are alive because the people are very nice. Now I am not advocating that churches be mean! But we should not equate life with being nice either! A church is alive if it has a passion for the glory, honor, and praise of Jesus Christ.

Dead Churches, Wake Up!

Second, dead churches need to wake up (3:2). The church of Sardis had fallen into spiritual lethargy. Jesus says to them, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (v 2). As the ESV study Bible says, “Twice in its history Sardis had been sacked (in 547 B.C. by Cyrus II, and in 214 B.C. by Antiochus III) when the watchmen on the walls failed to detect an enemy army sneaking up its supposedly impregnable cliffs and walls.” When Jesus says to Sardis: wake up, he reminds them of their history. They had fallen asleep before, and it turned out to be a disaster.

Many churches in the U.S. are in this situation right now. They are slumbering spiritually. They are about to die as the church of Sardis was, and they don’t even know they are on the brink of death. Many churches have already died. Some are closing their doors. I hear in England that many churches are becoming mosques. What a challenge it is for us to pray for godly pastors to be raised up to go to such churches, and to plant new churches for the sake of the gospel.

And perhaps you personally today have become spiritually dull. Maybe you need to wake up. Maybe your heart has become cold toward God, and you have been in a long spiritual nap. Jesus says: wake up. Strengthen the little life that is left in you. Certainly our nation needs to wake up before it is too late. We need a fresh infusion of spiritual life. We need to pray earnestly for our churches and our country.

Church, Get Back to Your Spiritual Roots

Third, we need to go back to our spiritual roots (v 3). “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” We need to remember the gospel. Isn’t it amazing how quickly churches forget the gospel? I have seen the same truth in my own life. One thing I have been astonished about in my life is how easily I forget the gospel. I know the gospel in my head, but I start living by works in my life. All of us are prone to start trusting in ourselves and what we accomplish in our own strength. And one reason we forget the gospel is everything we do in life is judged by performance. Am I a good husband, father, preacher, teacher, writer, etc.? How am I doing, doing, doing? We are evaluated constantly. How good is the class you teach? How good is the sermon? How are your kids turning out? So, it is very easy for us to forget the gospel.

And churches can forget the gospel as well. Fundamentalist churches forget the gospel because they focus on rules. They teach their children: we don’t do this, and we don’t do that, and on and one. And liberal churches quit talking about sin and repentance. In liberal churches there is no need for the gospel because we are good already. And actually the same problem is present in fundamentalist churches, because though they know the gospel in their heads, they begin to focus on their piety in observing rules.

Repentance means that we turn back to the gospel. We recognize that our strength comes from the Lord and not from ourselves. When we were new Christians, we knew that we were weak, we knew that we were babies, we knew that we could only be saved by the grace of God, but it is easy to forget that the longer we are Christians. So, churches that are spiritually dead must remember and repent and turn back to the gospel.

Church, Resist Compromise

Fourth, we must resist compromise. We read in v. 4, “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” To not soil one’s garments is to resist being defiled by worldliness. Jesus says that faithful believers walk in white. In other words, they do what is pleasing to God. Our churches need spiritual revival because they have often become worldly. I am not talking about observing legalistic rules here: like don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t go to movies, etc. True worldliness is much more subtle than this. Worldliness shows up when we join a church for business reasons instead of spiritual reasons.

Churches might promote someone to leadership because of their worldly success instead of their spiritual walk with God. Abortions may be quietly practiced in the church to spare families the embarrassment of admitting that their daughter is pregnant. Or, members of the church may divorce their spouse without any biblical cause, and yet no one says anything to them about their sin. Or, the church is marked by gossip instead of by prayer. If our churches are going to be revived, they need to seek the Lord, and the members need to be accountable to one another. We need to keep short accounts with the Lord and confess our sins to one another. We must not hold grudges against one another, but forgive one another. In the U.S. there are tons of seminars on how churches can grow if they use the right strategy and use the right technique. But our churches will not truly be revived if we are not godly. Our churches will be revived when we walk humbly with the Lord.

Church, Be Filled With the Power of the Holy Spirit

Fifth, and most important, churches need to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. We read about this in v. 1. “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God.” Jesus has the Holy Spirit, and he is saying to the church of Sardis, what you need to be revived is to have the work of the Spirit renewed among you. Jesus is the one who has the Spirit and pours it out on his people. At the end of the day the revival of churches is due to the Spirit’s work. It is a supernatural and divine work. We acknowledge that we have no ability to revive a church. We can and must work for it, pray for it, and hope for it. But it is finally a work of God, a work of the Holy Spirit.

Martin Lloyd Jones constantly stressed in his ministry that we cannot plan a revival. We don’t have one by just putting a sign up beforehand. Often people confuse revival with a preacher getting excited and yelling, or with an outpouring of emotion. Now a revival may be accompanied by a preacher getting excited in such a way and with a great outpouring of emotion. But we must beware of superficiality. It is easy to have a cheap and tawdry imitation of the real thing. We may so want revival that we pretend we are having it when it isn’t happening. No, revival finally depends upon the Holy Spirit. We can’t manufacture it. We can’t produce it, but we can pray for it, and ask for the Spirit to be given to us. We are weak and needy people. How we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the lives of our churches. Let us conclude by considering the future.

First, if a church doesn’t come alive, it will be judged. We read in Revelation 3:3, “If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” This coming could be the second coming or it could be a coming in history, and it is difficult to decide which is intended here. Since Jesus uses the same imagery to describe the second coming and Paul picks up the same language in 1 Thessalonians 5, it seems that the second coming is probably in view here. In either case, the church will be judged if they don’t wake up.

Jesus alludes here to the two occasions when Sardis was conquered in surprise attacks, and he says that he will come in a surprising way like a thief. Don’t think you will finally get away with being spiritually dead. A day of reckoning is coming. Spiritual deadness is like an infected appendix, which suddenly bursts inside and releases poison everywhere. It is like what happened to Saddam Hussein’s army in both 1991 and 2003. Iraqi troops could not withstand the onslaught of U.S. power. The day of judgment will be like that. One moment there will be peace and safety, and then suddenly the judgment will be at hand.

But second there is another side. Those who are ready for the Lord’s return will be rewarded. Revelation 3:5 states, “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” I think all three pictures of the reward here promise eternal life. The one who conquers will be in white garments: that means that they will be right before God. How do we get these white robes? We read in Revelation 7:14, “.” Are your garments white because you have been washed in the blood of the lamb? Have you found the forgiveness of sins, not in your own works, but in what Jesus has done for you on the cross? If you know him and have white garments and are really spiritually alive, then he will never blot you out of the book of life. Your name will be in his book, and you will live with him forever. Jesus will confess your name before the Father. He will say: this is my child. This is my son. Or, this is my daughter. This person belongs in the book of life, because they are alive, because I have granted them life.

Thomas Schreiner is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his many books are RomansPaul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ, Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology, and Galatians.

Takin’ it to the Streets

Great post here by my friend Julie over at Light and Life about getting the glorious message of the Gospel out into the world, where it belongs.

As you know, church has been kinda’ bugging me lately, and one of the things that has been bugging me is the preaching. It doesn’t really belong in church.

Preaching belongs in the streets.

One of the most powerful sermons ever preached is recorded in Acts 2. Peter brilliantly, powerfully, clearly and anointedly laid it all out in the public square and thousands accepted his message that day and were baptized.

Thousands of people got what he said.

They heard the good news and they got it. They did not need to keep getting it.

Can you imagine how boring it would have been for them if, after they were baptized, Peter just kept reiterating the same message to them again and again?

Jesus’s parting words were, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

The word preaching does not appear in His commission to us. He didn’t tell us to preach to the church, because preaching to the church is like preaching to the choir. It’s unnecessary.

Preaching is implied, however, in the “go make disciples” part. It’s what Peter did out there in the public square. But once those three thousand new believers were baptized into the faith, they no longer needed preaching, they needed teaching.

 Read the rest of the original post here.

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