Monday, June 25, 2018

REVIVAL SIGN #2: WE ARE DEVOTED TO THE CHURCH

By church I’m talking about people not buildings. These first Christians were “devoted to (intense & constant commitment to - see 1:14; 2:46) … the fellowship” - verse 42.

In seasons of revival we “re-commit” to each other. We …

Look forward to meeting together - verses 44, 46.

Sacrifice to take care of each other - verses 44-45.

Open our homes for worship together - verse 46.

This sort of devotion to the church is modeled for us in Philippians 1:

“God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more …” - Philippians 1:8-9

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us a deep yearning, affection, and love for each other. In seasons of revival, that commitment to the fellowship is renewed and intensified. Church takes on a new important and priority in our lives.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is something of a revival expert. She said this:

“Revival is something like the roof coming off and the walls coming down. When the roof comes off, people get right with God. That's the vertical dimension. Then, the walls come down—the horizontal dimension—as people make things right with others … some of the fruit of revival can be seen in forgiveness, clearing of consciences, reconciliation, and restitution.”

Forty-five years ago, there was a revival in the churches of Saskatchewan. Thousands were converted. Thousands more who were already saved, got things right with God. The pastor of the church where the revival began was Bill McLeod. He explains this horizontal dimension in the story of Gordon, one of the men in the church:

“During the revival on Sunday morning in our church, he came to the front, stood by the communion table and laid his heart on the table. He said, “You know, people, for three years I've been sitting in the back pew. The reason I sit in the back pew is because I don't like some of you people. I used to sit there and shoot arrows of hatred at the backs of your heads. God has dealt with me and I want your forgiveness. I want to be right with God.”

We’ll know we’re in revival when we have that kind of deeper love for our fellowship.

Monday, June 11, 2018

REVIVAL SIGN #1: WE ARE DRIVEN TO CHRIST

What happens when the Holy Spirit shows up in extraordinary power at church? The answer is found in Acts 2. This was a church in revival.

Before we go further, let's read Acts 2:41-47.

Our passage begins where Peter’s sermon ends. He preached to a large and hostile crowd of Jews. 40 days earlier, they had condemned Jesus to death for claiming to be their God, Savior, and Messiah. But Peter stood and preached with boldness: Jesus. Crucified, risen, exalted. God. And then something completely unexpected happened. They were "cut to the heart." Peter pointed them to salvation in Jesus and 3000 men trusted in Jesus as their God and Savior. And were immediately baptized.

It was an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit that opened their hearts to Jesus. Nothing else can explain the immediate transformation of their thinking about Jesus. That’s revival. Unbelievers come to Jesus - they see him as he is: Savior and God. Also, in times of revival the believing church returns to Jesus as our first love. That’s why the ministry here is all about Jesus! Jesus first, Jesus last, Jesus always. This was Paul's heart when he preached:

“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” - 1 Cor. 2:3

The Great Awakening was a revival that shook Colonial America. In the 1730s, God used the “Jesus-only” preaching of George Whitefield to bring new life into the churches of New England. Christianity had become “routinized.” Most people assumed they were OK with God by virtue of their birth into church culture, but they lived careless, godless, lives. God drew great crowds to hear Whitefield. He preached with such laser beam focus on Christ - the need to turn from sins in order to cling to Christ alone - that the people were shaken out of their sleepy false assurance and awakened to the absolute necessity of Holy Spirit rebirth and salvation in Jesus alone. Tens of thousands turned to Christ.

Here is an excerpt from the conclusion of one of Whitefield's sermons. I've adapted it slightly for use here:

“O that you would seek the Lord to be your righteousness! You will be the children of God, if you believe in Jesus. Did you never read of the eunuch belonging to the queen of Candace? He believed. The Lord was his righteousness. He was baptized. When you also believe, you shall be saved. Christ Jesus is the same now as he was yesterday, and will wash you in his own blood. Go home then, turn the words of the text into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly, into all our souls! Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen and Amen!” George Whitefield, adapted from the sermon The Lord Our Righteousness.

In seasons of genuine revival even the most godless people turn to Jesus. They trust, love, cherish, worship, and obey him - as their precious Lord, Leader, and Loving Friend.