Part II is contained on this page. Click below to view:
What is Revival?
Do We Have to Wait for Revival?
Developing a Strategy to Prepare for Revival
Footnotes for Part I
Part II (this page):
Goals and Evidences of Revival
A) Devotion to God as King
B) The Personal Knowledge of God
C) The State of the Soul of the Person in Fellowship with God
D) The Outward Manifestations of the Presence of God in the Life of the Believer
Footnotes for Part II
Pulling It All Together
Footnotes for Part III
Copyright and reprint information.
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"The coming of the Kingdom of God" is one of the great themes of Scripture. Old Testament Scripture directed the attention of God's people to the coming of God's rule over the entire universe, banishing evil and bringing rewards to those faithful to God. The Scriptures taught the Jews that the coming of God's great promise was inseparable from the coming of the Messiah. Paul preached that this was fulfilled in Christ, that after Christ's ascension into heaven, God "put all things in subjection under His feet . . ." (Ephesians 2:22 -- the context, verses 2:19-2:23, is also important).
The author of Hebrews makes the observation, "in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him" (Hebrews 2:8). Paul voices a similar thought in I Corinthians 15:27. Although Christ has earned the right to rule by conquering sin, He has not yet effected that rule completely in the world. In the New Testament, the promised coming of the Kingdom of God is postponed until the return of Christ -- but not entirely.
There is an intensely personal nature to the Kingdom of God. Up to this time in our discussion we have considered it in terms of events, much as many Christians, and Jews of ancient times, imagined it. But the Kingdom of God consists of a specific kind of relationship between God and people.
The modern world consists of territorial governments. Enter the territorial space of the United States, or Japan, or Argentina, and you will come under the laws of that nation. Leave those territories and you are outside the jurisdiction of their governments and laws. In the ancient world, government was often personal. If you were the subject of a king, you were under the rule of that king wherever you went. There were no boundaries. Leaving the territory did not convey the right to ignore the rule of the king. It is this kind of kingdom that serves as an example to help us understand the Kingdom of God. This intensely personal rule does not go away when Christ returns to set up His reign over the universe. Rather, the rule of God in the hearts and lives of people is the beginning of the rule of God's kingdom that will continue to increase forever (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The person who has been revived is not just in a state where the reality and presence of the true God is recognized or the truth of God is believed. The revived individual is someone who is aware of the Lordship of God and has a strong desire to please God in all things. It is in every way a relationship of love, a relationship defined more by devotion than obligation.
We can, therefore, look at the Kingdom of God in the life of the believer from at least four perspectives. We can view it from the standpoint of devotion to God as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we can view it as the personal knowledge of God, we can view it in the state of the soul of a person who is in fellowship with God, and we can view it in terms of the visible manifestations of God's presence in the life of the one who walks with God.
Humility before God is not debasing because it is the recognition of the reality of the order of our universe, an order that is maintained by the Creator. Although Scripture teaches that, for a while, God has allowed evil to interrupt the perfection of that order, it also clearly teaches that the end of this age brings the submission of all creatures to God's sovereignty, whether voluntary or forced (Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 14:11, Isaiah 45:23, Revelation 19:11-16, 22:3). Above all, the determining factor of whether people spend eternity in God's presence is their acceptance or rejection of the Lordship of God in their lives. And the most important part of the acceptance of God's rule is the acceptance of His Christ, His Messiah, His Anointed One.
While many people hail Christ as a great moral and spiritual teacher, the fact is that many of the teachings of Christ concerning morality were not unique in His day. We have already considered the fact that the teaching of Christ concerning the application of the Law was after the manner of the prophets who preceeded Him. Indeed, the most unique teaching of Christ concerns Himself and His identity. Our familiarity with His words prevents us from seeing His teaching about Himself in the same radical terms that His contemporaries did.
The acceptance of Jesus Christ is the first and greatest test of submission to the Lordship of God. Jesus clearly taught that the recognition of His office as Messiah and of His Lordship was the basis for membership in His church (Matthew 16:16-18, 28:18-20). The ministry of Christ is accompanied by a multitude of signs that confirm that God's blessing is upon His ministry. His ministry begins with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ in a public manner, proceeds with a multitude of miracles affecting health, life, and the natural world, includes the Transformation, and culminates in Christ's resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:1-4).
All of these substantiate Christ's claim to exclusivity. There can be, in the teaching of Christ, no access to God that is not through Him (Matthew 10:40, Mark 9:37, Luke 9:48, John 3:36, 8:24, 12:44-48, 14:6 ). The authors of the New Testament knew this well and emphasized it to their readers (Acts 4:12, 10:42-43, 13:38-39, Romans 6:23, 10:9, I Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 2:18, Colossians 1:27-28, 2:8, 3:11, II Thessalonians 1:12, I Timothy 1:1, 2:5, II Timothy 1:1, I Peter 2:4-7, 5:10, I John 5:11-12, Revelation 14:4). Indeed, it was because of whom He claimed to be that He was put on the cross (Matthew 24:63-66, Mark 14:63, Luke 22:66-71, John 19:7).
The Lordship of Christ, then, is inseparable from His saving work, and from the recognition, therefore, of the Lordship of God over every detail of our lives -- a Lordship that is both real and touches every practical aspect of life. "And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" ( italics mine, Hebrews 5:9). "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother" (Matthew 12:50).
The Lordship of God is threatening except for the goodness of God.. These two concepts must remain inseparable if submission to God is to be devotion rather than grudging obedience. To be a bondslave of a someone who is even the least self-serving is to ensure suffering; but to serve One whose unlimited life and energies are devoted to your happiness is eternal bliss. To serve Him is to find yourself blessed in ways that can be experienced, but never fully explained.
The combination of these two characteristics, His sovereignty and His goodwill, is expressed by the figures of God as a husband (Isaiah 54:5-8, Jeremiah 31:32, Hosea 2:19-20, Matthew 25:1-13 with Revelation 21:2, 9) and God as Shepherd (Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:10-11, Ezekiel 34:11-23). Jesus is "the Good Shepherd" who comes not to steal or destroy, but to give life to His people (John 10:1-30). In both cases, New Testament passages indicate that Christ fulfills not only Old Testament descriptions of God, but Old Testament promises concerning the work of God.
One should not read modern egalitarian notions into these Scriptural figures. God as "husband" is a husband in the manner of the ancient, oriental world, one who expected the full obedience of His wife, one who had the ability to divorce her legally at almost any time, and held full authority over his family (I Peter 3:1-6). Likewise, the Shepherd not only leads His sheep, who respond to His voice, He judges between them with the power of life and death. These are consistent with the concept of discipleship, in which the Master teaches for the benefit of His disciples, but the disciples are under the full authority of their teacher.
Care and authority are mingled together in a combination that is frightening unless enough attention is given to the kindness, healing, and care, indeed the life, given to those who submit to God. The greatest evidence of the goodness and mercy of God is shown in the redemption of sinners at the cross of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5 of The Revelation, Christ is seen both as the Lamb of God (8) and "the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah." (5). The God of the Bible is not only a God who demands all that His people have the ability to give (Malachi 1:6-2:17, Matthew 25), He is a God who puts no burdens upon His people that they cannot handle: "A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish" (Isaiah 42:3, I Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 4:13, Deuteronomy 30:11-20).
In the Psalms and in other Scriptures, it is made clear that God earnestly seeks those who are truly seeking Him (Psalm 10:3,4, 14:2, 53:2, 69:32, Isaiah 8:19, Jeremiah 50:4, Hosea 3:5). The "search for God" involves the search for all that God alone can provide: fellowship, affirmation of eternal worth and purpose, security brought by the power of an omnipotent God, life that is interesting and worthwhile. The search for God has many aspects in common with the search for a human lover, the fulfillment of which is seen in the common Biblical theme of God and His people as husband and wife. David wrote in Psalm 63:1, "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water . . ." Biblically, the true search for God always includes a desire to please God as Lord, as described in the previous section. God described David as "a man after My heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22, I Samuel 13:14, Matthew 6:33). Paul promises that a "crown of righteousnes" awaits all who have loved the Lord's appearing (II Timothy 4:8). The full reward of God's people, of their search for God, is described in Revelation 21:3, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be among them."
This is not fully the case on earth prior to Christ's return. In the Old Testament, the "knowledge of God" is the intimate, personal knowledge of personal relationship. So intimate is this knowledge, that the word "to know" that is used to describe "knowing God" in the Old Testament (yada) is also used to describe sexual relations between a man and a woman. But the "knowledge of God" in the Old Testament also included a knowledge of separation from God. Soon after the Israelites arrived at Sinai they were given instructions for the building of a tabernacle, the general form of which became the Temple, the central object of Jewish religious life until 70 A.D. The most striking aspect of the tabernacle design is that it defines the place of the people apart from the presence of God. The most holy place of all was accessible only to the high priest, and that only once each year. This is even more striking in the Temple at the time of Christ, where various courts kept certain groups farther from the inner Temple than other groups. When certain Jews wanted to stir up people against the apostle Paul, they did so by claiming that Paul had brought Gentiles into a part of the Temple that Gentiles were not allowed to enter (Acts 21:28). Those same Jews were prohibited from the most holy place of their own Temple! For all who worshipped there, the issue was not separation, but the amount. Separation remained an issue for all until Christ's death at Calvary, when the rending of the Temple veil marked an end to the separation between God and man caused by sin (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45).
The separation between God and man can be and has been misinterpreted by many Christians. If God is the one in whom "we live and move and exist" as Paul preached on Mars Hill (Acts 17:28) -- and we believe that He is -- and if the hairs of our heads are numbered and God knows about every sparrow that falls to the ground and each person is worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31) -- and we believe that Jesus' teaching about this is true -- and if all things "hold together" or "endure" because Christ wills it so -- and we believe that this is true (Colossians 1:17), then it cannot be that any person is unknown or ignored by God. Paul told the Greeks, "He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27). And Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leaves the 90 and 9 to seek out the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12).
Any attempt to portray the separation between God and man as a gleeful rejection of the wicked by a justifiably angry God is not true to the teachings of the Scriptures. The separation caused by sin is real (Isaiah 59:2) and has eternal consequences that are extremely severe. But the "wrath of God" that Jesus taught abides upon those who continue in disobedience to God (John 3:36) is a wrath that God is actively holding off until that disobedience represents the final decision of the individual and grace has been ignored or rejected (I Timothy 2:3-4, II Peter 3:9).
The prayers of the saints are answered because their prayers are consistent with His nature and His will (I John 5:14). In view of God's love for the lost, His "deaf ear" to the lost (Isaiah 59:2) may be more accurately seen as the inability and unwillingness of God to do what the wicked ask because it is inconsistent with His nature and with what is best for His creation than as the spiteful disregard of their needs. It is a misrepresentation of God to state that He has "turned His back on sinners" when the truth is that He has come forward into the world to seek and save them at great cost to Himself (Luke 19:10, I Peter 1:18-19, I Timothy 1:15, Philippians 2:5-11, John 3:16-17). In addition, when Isaiah said, "your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God" (Isaiah 59:2) he was speaking, not to the heathen, but to those who called themselves His people, who had the Law of Moses to guide them, and yet who were deeply committed to sinfulness.
Nevertheless, the separation of man from God in this life carries the potential for a more severe, permanent separation after death. Separation from God is the inevitable result of sin. In terms of God's sovereignty, sin is a rejection of God's Lordship over His creation. In terms of the knowledge of God, sin is a personal rejection of His fellowship: idolatry, simply being the substitution of the love of creation, including the love of self, for the love of God (I John 2:15-16).
Sin carries with it the consequence of corruption. Therefore, not only in a legal, judicial sense, but also in the sense that God cannot allow that which corrupts, the sinful individual marks him or herself for eternal separation from the presence of God. So deep is this corruption that even when God lowers the standards to be certain not to impose undue judgment upon those incapable of submission because they never knew God's Law, they still show themselves corrupt and unworthy of God's presence (Romans 2:9-16).
Also, this corruption is so severe that from the moment the parents of the human race, Adam and Eve, sinned, they ensured that all of their offspring would be adversely affected, and inherit a tendency to rebel against God (Romans 5:12-19). However, the grace provided in Jesus Christ, the new Adam, founder of a new race, is sufficient to bring salvation from all the corruption of sin for the individual who is part of the new creation (Romans 5:1-21, I Corinthians 15:45) -- although the transmission of an inherited tendency toward sin continues until Christ's return.
The corruption that comes from sin, and the "social" nature of sin concerning both God and man, renders human beings incapable of addressing sin and its consequences in any meaningful manner. The salvation of God must come as a gift from God to each individual who receives it (Romans 5:6, 15, 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, I Peter 1:3).
Therefore, because of the work accomplished at Calvary through Jesus Christ, both justification and forgiveness are offered to all mankind: justification so that the penalty of sin does not have to be suffered (John 5:24, Romans 8:31-39, Acts 13:39) and forgiveness because God, having been satisfied by the work of Christ, holds nothing against His former enemies (I John 1:9, Acts 13:39).
Those who accept God's grace are adopted into the family of God. "as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name; who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).
With this new relationship, God's presence abides with each individual. Each person, and the church collectively, become temples of God's Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 23, I Corinthians 3:16, Matthew 18:20, Ephesians 2:19-22).
Justification and forgiveness remove any reason for separation, adoption restores the relationship, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit restores presence. So complete is this fellowship that all who know Christ in this manner become priests with the privilege to come before the Lord at any time, not just once each year like the high priest of Israel (Hebrews 10:19-22, I Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). All that remains is the complete fulfillment at the return of Christ, when the risen Christ shall dwell with the people of God in human, as well as spiritual, fellowship.
The "new birth" brought by the Spirit of God upon regeneration brings eternal life. But new birth is not the only metaphor used in Scripture to describe this life. Jesus in John 5:24-25 and Paul in Ephesians 2:1-6 compare the new birth to the resurrection of Christ. Both are powerful symbols of new life.
The love of God not only provides the motivation to serve God, it also becomes the organizing factor in the life of the Christian (II Corinthians 5:14-17, I John 4:7-21). Prior to new birth, the motivational and organizational factor for an individual's life Scripture calls "lust" (Ephesians 2:2-3, I John 2:16). "Lust" is much more than the desire to be sexually immoral. In Scripture, "lust" (Greek: epithumia) is a person's desires elevated to the position of god in that person's life. Whether it becomes manifested in full-blown addiction, hedonism in its broader sense, or the more refined "enlightened self-interest" of the Epicurean, it is self-serving and God-effacing. It is important to notice that Scripture does not condemn humanity, human needs, or legitimate human desires -- rather, it condemns desires elevated to the position of lordship, of control.
Biblically, lust involves the rejection of the wider view of the universe, one that includes the "vertical" dimension of God, for a more limited view of the universe and self; in particular, for desires for pleasure and personal fulfillment. Once personal drives are magnified and God is minimized in a person's mind, God, if in view at all, becomes at best an equal, or at worst simply the means to accomplish the meeting of needs, rather than a Creator/Savior who is to be served. In this diminished understanding of God, God is often believed to be an impersonal force, devoid of perfect character, or empty of the Divine attributes such as sovereignty or omniscience. Often, God is "made over" in the image of man or animals, flawed, but with some helpful powers (Romans 1:18-23). Satan and his servants are only too happy to encourage belief in this kind of "god," Satan having preceeded the human race in this sin, and encouraging the human race to continue in it. Worship becomes not an attempt to celebrate and fellowship with God, but an attempt to harness the powers of the "gods" to serve one's own lusts.
This can be seen as the rejection of a relationship with God in favor of the self and that which seems to be like the self, namely, creation (Romans 1:22-23).
The renewed person sees God as personal, as both Creator and Savior, sees the character of God in its perfection, and sees the attributes of God in their fullness. This is seen in the praises of Revelation 4 and 5, where all of these are revealed in the praises given to God through Christ (Revelation 4:8, 11, 5:9-14).
Whereas the service of lust becomes a disintegrating factor in a person's existence, leading eventually to greater and greater dissolution and dissatisfaction, the love of God becomes an integrating factor, as a proper relationship with the Creator leads to a beneficial and correct relationship to the creation as well -- including a correct relationship with other creatures (Galatians 5:24-25, 6:7-8). This harmony does not come all at once. It begins with fellowship with God and then progressively touches each part of a Christian's existence and relationships.
The first aspect of this life is renewed fellowship with God. This renewal involves an agreement with God's view of the world and the ourselves (repentance) and confidence in God's Word and plan (faith). These follow an understanding of God's truth and God's Word, especially as revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On God's part, it involves the cleansing of lust as a driving force as well as the cleansing of other aspects of the character and spiritual life that are contrary to God (I John 1:9).
A key part of this fellowship involves awareness of the forgiveness of sin, a loss of the burden of guilt, and a loss of a sense of twistedness that follows from living apart from God. The degree to which an individual experiences freedom from guilt and a sense of freedom depends upon the personality and faith of the individual. This sense properly follows faith in God's Word. If attached to emotion, it increases and decreases with emotions. Emotions are always variable, and are attached to the body's physical condition as much as to circumstances, so that they can never properly be the basis of faith. For the same reason, the soul that trusts God is not subject to the variability of human emotions (John 14:27, Hebrews 13:8, Isaiah 26:4).
This trust in God's grace empowers the individual to live for Christ, even though there is an awareness that human service is always imperfect and inadequate (John 3:21). Grace removes the fear of punishment at the same time that it motivates the individual to conscientious service (Hebrews 10:15-25).
The cleansing of the soul is followed by the conforming of the inner, spiritual nature to the character of God. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). This is a direct consequence of the restoration of fellowship and the indwelling of God's Spirit. This is also a process, "but we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit" (II Corinthians 3:18). In the sense of growth, cleansing and conforming can be seen as two sides of the same act, cleansing involving a change away from iniquity, and conforming being a change into the positive characteristics of God.
Not only does redemption involve taking the nature of God, it involves taking the same attitude as God toward others and the world (II Corinthians 5:16). ". . . the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (I John 4:20). This change involves a new view of our most important activities and relationships, in the family, community, and at work; and therefore these become matters of concern in both the Gospels and the epistles.
Redemption also creates a unique sense of fellowship with other believers (Galatians 6:10, Hebrews 10:24-25). Finally, there is a submission to God's Word (I Peter 2:2, II Timothy 3:14 -17) and submission to the authority of God's church that correctly recognizes that while salvation is individual, we are saved to be a part of God's people (Ephesians 2:19-22, Acts 2:42, I Peter 5:5, Titus 1:4, I Timothy 4:11-16, Titus 2:15).
To express this love for God's people, each Christian is given one or more spiritual gifts to be exercised as part of the Body of Christ. This means that there is no spiritual gift, in the sense that these gifts are described in Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:7-16, and I Peter 4:10-11, that is not social in nature. The discovery and expression of this gift is, in itself, an expression of love and, therefore, can properly be used only in love. And, just as the Holy Spirit was sent to exalt Christ, the use of spiritual gifts must be to exalt Christ, not the gift nor the individual who possesses the gift.
Because spiritual gifts are to be used as part of the Body of Christ, they are to be used, as much as possible, in cooperation with and under the duly constituted authority of the church (I Corinthians 14:32-33).
The natural state of the soul of the believer is one of the joy of salvation and pleasure in finding and doing God's will (Romans 14:17, John 10:10, Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 16:11). Therefore, it is only natural for this person to find pleasure in prayer and the special fellowship with God that is found in personal prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Matthew 6:1-15).
The sincere Christian also seeks to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). To be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19) is to be as sanctified as it is possible to be (I Thessalonians 5:23-24), as "single minded" as it is possible to be (I Peter 1:2, Acts 15:8-9), and as fully prepared spiritually to serve God as it is possible to be (Acts 4:31, 6:2-5, 11:24).
It is also true, however, that, even at best, the believer is left with a continual sense of incompleteness in this age. Even the Christian who has the fullness of the Holy Spirit has to mature by growing in the knowledge of God (I Corinthians 10:11-12) and must learn how to walk with God through experience (Hebrews 5:14, Psalm 32:8-9). In addition, there are still physical and psychological weaknesses to be overcome, social situations to be faced, and any problems that result from a prior life of sin to be coped with. There is always the possibility of temptation to sin. Salvation here and now becomes, not an escape from the world, but a way to overcome the challenges of this world (John 16:33). Meanwhile, the return of Jesus Christ, the end of evil, and the termination of everything that is evil or decays, becomes the hope that sustains the Christian through the hardships of life and fades the temptation to compromise with the world (I John 3:1-3, Titus 2:11-13, Romans 8:18-25).
The first outward expression of the life of God in the soul is confession. This confession before the world does not need to be completely detailed, but it does need to be complete. To be consistent with what Scripture describes, there are to be both negative and positive aspects of this confession.
The first part of this confession is negative, and consists of a confession that we have sinned against God. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (I John 1:10). Scripture does not insist that we must confess our individual sins to anyone but God unless we need to seek the forgiveness of another or unless the sin has been a public one. However, it does insist that we confess before the world that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Messiah, Christ). Further, there must be a public renunciation, through practice if not in words, of those things that are contrary to God's Law. This indicates that repentance, the changing of one's mind toward God and life, has occurred. Most, if not all, of Christ's disciples took part in the revival under John the Baptist. In turn, on the day of Pentecost, they called upon their hearers to repent publicly in order to open the way to receive God's grace (Acts 2:38, 3:19). The person who truly seeks God prepares his or her heart and life to receive God's work (John 1:23, Luke 3:3-14, Isaiah 1:16-17, 40:3-4, I John 1:9).
The second part of this confession is positive. ". . .if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9). Jesus said, "Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Therefore, a public statement of belief in God and His Christ, or at least the willingness to make one (if circumstances such as sickness, imminent death, or persecution prevent this), is necessary to salvation.
Genuine Christian confession is accompanied by actions (James 2:14-26, Titus 1:16, I Corinthians 15:33-34). A confession is sealed by a public commitment to become one of Christ's disciples. Publicly joining a local church and participating in the life of that church confesses faith in Christ before the world (Romans 1:8, I Thessalonians 1:2-10). The sacraments are a further means by which Christians confess their faith publicly to one another and to the world (I Corinthians 11:26, I Peter 3:21, Colossians 2:12-13). Both baptism and the Lord's Supper involve negative and positive confession: both indicate that the participant is declaring the need for a Savior, both indicate that the work of Christ, willed by the Father and effected through the Holy Spirit, is sufficient for salvation.
In addition, Christians meet together on the "first day of the week" to declare their faith in the resurrection of Christ, to fellowship with God, and to remind themselves of the teachings of God's Word. The confession of each one's faith is meant to encourage others within the Body of Christ. The manner in which Christians relate to one another within the Body of Christ is also a way in which Christians declare their faith in Jesus Christ, to one another and to the world (John 17:20, Hebrews 10:25).
One important distinction between the true Body of Christ and Christian cults is their orientation towards the rest of the Body of Christ. The true Christian has a sense of fellowship with other Christians not only throughout the world, but throughout history. Those in the cults reject the rest of the Body of Christ for their own unique group, condemning anyone outside their group as being of the devil, and accepting teachings that are either contrary to the established teachings of Christianity or declared to be "new" by the cult.
Whether in private life or in relationship to the Body of Christ, the manner in which Christians live declares the character of God to others (I Peter 2:9-10). Giving, both to support the ministry of the church and to relieve the sufferings of those who have suffered misfortune, is a natural part of the Christian life (II Corinthians 8:1-5, Acts 20:35). The use of the spiritual gifts within or on behalf of the Body of Christ, is to demonstrate the love of God. Although this love is first seen in the Body of Christ, it also reaches out from the church to all mankind in the same manner that the love of God reached out to His enemies through Christ (Galatians 6:10, Romans 5:8, 12:16-21). True commitment to Christ broadens over time to affect every part of life, as Christians apply God's teachings to their culture and government as well as to their private lives.
Emotions in religion are no different from emotions related to other parts of human existence. Extraordinarily long periods of strong emotion represent bondage, as is the continual attempt to overcome depression that follows the pumping up of emotions to emotional "highs." In addition, emotions are not to rule the church, which should be an example of order and peace (I Corinthians 14:33, Luke 8:35).
Signs and miracles are not necessarily present in the life of every Christian though, of course, God is not prevented from acting supernaturally whenever He chooses to do so. Even when present, they do not constitute the norm. Human beings have a great need for what I will call the "tangibleness" of God. This is a legitimate need, and stems from the fact that we were created physical beings with a deep need for physical, social, and emotional relationships. The institution of the sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, acknowledges the legitimacy of this need. This need is also partially fulfilled through fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ. Ultimately, the need is fulfilled by the return of Christ as a man, a physical person who physically dwells with His people and relates to His people as part of the human community. Taking all of God's plan into consideration as revealed in the Scriptures, it seems logical to conclude that human beings were created for this type of fellowship from the very beginning and that only the physical return of Christ will satisfy this deep longing of the human spirit.
Sin is often the attempt to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. The longing for the "tangibleness" of God often results in a desire to attribute god-like qualities to human beings we know, to "make them our "idols", to "worship" them (Acts 14:11-18, I Corinthians 1:12) or to substitute human fellowship for Divine fellowship; the desire for religious relics, objects that we can venerate or use to try to control the world around us; for tangible religious experiences, such as direct contact with supernatural beings, immediate answers to prayer, "feeling" God, or having experiences involving physical manifestations caused by supernatural beings. Much of this comes under the heading of "magic" in our society, some of it is part of the occult.
The rod of Moses became a God-given tool that enabled Moses to indicate cooperation with the commands of God. Lifting it high, Moses signaled submission to God's chosen way across the Red Sea, showed reliance upon God for victory in battle, and faith that God could bring water from rocks. When God commanded Moses to simply speak to bring water from the rocks, however, Moses tapped his rod on the rock, indicating that Moses had transferred some reliance from God to reliance in the rod itself. This transference of faith to a physical object, particularly as part of a "ceremony" (Moses had used the rod differently before), is all too characteristic of human beings.
The cult object, including the idol, make religion tangible to the worshipper. Ecstatic manifestations and feelings, though intangible in terms of physical presence, are tangible in terms of human experience, and so also tend to make religion more "real."
But Christianity, and Judaism before it, have never offered the kind of tangibility offered by pagan religions.[Footnote 4] Rather, those who are faithful are asked, on the basis of historical evidence of God's tangible work in the world, to build a relationship with God, and to trust Him for a tangible reward in the future. Thus, Mary Magdalene, encountering the risen Christ near the empty tomb, is told by Jesus not to cling to Him (John 20:17). The Jews at the time of Christ looked for "signs," even expecting the immediate overthrow of Roman rule to prove Christ's office as Messiah. But Jesus told them that no sign would be given to prove that He was the Messiah "except the sign of Jonah," Christ's resurrection from the dead (Matthew 12:39-40), which is to be at the very center of the Gospel that Christians are to bring to all mankind.
The Christian walks by faith (Hebrews 11:1, Habakkuk 2:4). ". . . for we walk by faith, not by sight," "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;" "for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one hope for what he sees?" (II Corinthians 5:7, 4:18, Romans 8:24).
However, every Christian who walks faithfully with God will exhibit fruitfulness. This fruitfulness is the life of God evidenced in the soul, but, to some degree or another, it also promotes the growth or maturity of the Body of Christ. This cannot be forced, nor is it possible for any one of us to determine exactly how much fruit will result from the life of any one Christian. In some cases, the fruit may be entirely unseen by the individual, for the individual has brought fruit more by contributing to the overall efforts of the Body of Christ than to a personal harvest. Nevertheless, that fruit is real and is the inevitable result of the life lived with and for God (John 15:1-11, Galatians 6:9, I Corinthians 15:58).
 If Satan presents himself as an "angel of light," then surely we should expect him to encourage false revivals. By doing so he tries to confirm false teachers and to confuse Christians (II Corinthians 11:13-15). Although it is no means certain that a gullible person will be taken advantage of, the person who will settle for anything in the market place is a perfect victim for those who want to take advantage by providing an inferior product. The rule in the market place is: "caveat emptor," let the buyer beware. The same is true for the Christian who doesn't care to be certain that what seems to be a revival is the real thing (I Thessalonians 5:21, Acts 28:28-31, I John 4:1).
"Laying a Foundation for Revival" is Copyright 1999 Sterling M. Durgy. All Rights Reserved.
Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.
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This page was last updated October 23, 1999.