GOD’S DESIGN FOR HIS CHURCH

In our previous article on Revival we endeavoured to remove misunderstandings as to what true Revival is.  Now we take the subject a step further.

 Its manifestation is to be in the Church of God and as a result, it will be expressed by the Church, amongst others in evangelisation and mission work.  All of the exceeding great and precious promises from the Lord are for His own people who by rebirth are living in the Lord Jesus Christ.  See II Peter 1:3 & 4 as well as II Corinthians 1:20.  The richest of blessings are all, and exclusively for, the people of God.  He has ‘blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3). Reading Galatians 3:9, 13,14,29, we see that those who are Christ’s by faith inherit the blessings pronounced on Abraham.  This is possible because Christ was made a curse for us so that we may receive the blessings and the Promise of the Holy Spirit.  When we read Genesis 22:17 etc we see how rich and abundant those blessings are.  God confirmed the certainty of these by both His Word and His oath, not just for Abraham’s sake but for our sake for we are heirs of these promises.  See Hebrews 6:17,18.

 When one reads throughout the Gospels, the Book of Acts as well as the Epistles that follow, one cannot but conclude that there are promises most amazing and glorious and yet we are not living in terms of these.  Let us look at just a few of them:

 In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us that if we had faith as a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains and ‘nothing shall be impossible unto you’.  He said something similar in Matthew 21:21,22.  In fact He made it very simple in Matthew 7:7&8 where He plainly said ‘Ask and it shall be given you…for everyone that asketh receiveth…’  We readily believe John 6:47 when Jesus said ‘…He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life’.  However in John 7:37-38 He says amongst others ‘He that believeth on Me…out of his inner most being shall flow rivers of living water’.  Then still taking this a mighty step further we look at John 14:12: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father’. 

 It is at a point like this that expositors start rephrasing their interpretation of the plain words of Jesus.  However the truth is that He offers to all who follow Him a life of complete super-abundance.  This is why He came; see John 10:10.  Paul understood this very well and therefore prayed for the Ephesian Church that the eyes of their understanding should be opened to enable them to grasp the greatness of the glory and wonder of what the Lord wants to do in His Church. (Ephesians 1:18-23).  Afterall, the Church is to be His body, receiving all of His fullness.  According to Ephesians 3:10 He wants to make the Church His ‘showpiece’ to all ‘principalities and powers in heavenly places’.  And reading Ephesians 5:27 He wants to have ‘a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such things… holy and without blemish’.  Then consider Paul’s prayer for this Church in Ephesians 3:16-21 and note the climax in verse 19 namely ‘that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God’.  And in case the mind boggles completely he then says in the ensuing verse that God is ‘able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us ‘.  And verse 21 says clearly that this glory is to be seen IN THE CHURCH OF GOD .

 We can consider the amazing experiences of the Church recorded for us in the Book of Acts.  And note that these continued for many years way beyond the Pentecostal experience.  Then we can turn to what Paul holds out to the Romans, the Corinthians, the Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians and from there further on and see that He upholds to the Churches a lifestyle that is none other that supernatural with abundant blessings.  Space fails us to give all the references but a simple reading of these Letters makes it very clear.  Then when we come to writers like James, Peter, Jude and John, they breathe the same spirit.  In fact the first Epistle of John is one that is saturated with a record of a life of victory, purity and power with a consistency of prayers being answered.  

This must bring us to the question as to why such a life is not made manifest in the Church of God .  There is a vast discrepancy between the precious promises and blessings held out to the Church of God and the inglorious, unblessed, struggling, fruitless, prayerless (and in fact disgraceful in certain places), reality we find in the Church of God.  

The point that we strive to make here is that REVIVAL IS NOT A ‘NICE TO HAVE’ ADDITION TO WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE BUT IT IS AN IMPERATIVE NECESSITY IN THE CHURCH OF GOD.  THEREFORE THE CHURCH THAT IS NOT LIVING IN TERMS OF BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION AND DEMANDS IS LIVING IN DISOBEDIENCE AND CLEARLY OUTSIDE OF THE WILL OF GOD.  There maybe blessings but nothing abundant.  Prayers maybe answered but that is few and far between.  There maybe conversions but they are so rare that we must make a show of them when they occur. There are certainly godly individuals but they are observed because they are the exceptions to the rule.  

The power of the Holy Spirit, the experience of the Supernatural, the knowledge of great grace, great fear and great growth both in numbers and in spiritual standing were all commonplace to the early Church and God holds out this to us as a common, everyday experience.  THUS IT IS TO BE THE NORMAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH.

Revival NOW

‘Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.’ (Hosea 10:12)  

During July 1997 we took a critical decision which made a drastic change in our objectives and the way we operate in this Mission .  We had had various evangelistic outreaches into the city over quite some time, followed by the final one, lasting for six weeks during May and June 1997.  Many thousands of people gathered in our premises over this period to hear of the most godly preachers we could get together to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We distributed many thousands of Gospels of John in the city as well as untold tens of thousands of leaflets.  We had teams from two colleges and different Churches help us in the operation which cost close to R100, 000.00.  In the process we had many hundreds of responses to the Gospel invitation and counseled close on 500 of them on a one-on-one basis.  Our premises were one hive of activity from morning till evening, six days a week.  We kept meticulous record of our counselees, their problems and the actual counsel given.   

Then came the time for a thorough review of what we had done, after this which was to us an ‘herculean effort’.  Statistics can tell many things depending on how we want to use them, and we know that there are many fruits we cannot account for even till today.  However, the visible net outcome of it all was to us a major disappointment.  This final campaign was run under the title, ‘JO’BURG FOR JESUS’ but in truth there was not even a minuscule fraction of Jo’burg won for Jesus.  

We sifted through our counseling materials and sought the face of the Lord for the month of July to know His mind.  Our conclusions were very simply that, relative to those who came into our meetings, using the picture of the Parable of the Sower as recorded in Matthew 13, we had to conclude that the ‘seed’ of the Word fell amongst the ‘weeds and thorns’.  These were not the pleasures of the world in the lives of these people but in fact the problems thereof.  

We realised then as we know till today, that unless the great ‘Plough’ of God, namely the Holy Spirit comes to break all this ‘fallow ground’ we shall continue to sow amongst the thorns to virtually no avail.  There was, as there is still today, only one answer namely: WE NEEDED THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON US AND THE CITY OF JOHANNESBURG. 

Using the words of the text found in Hosea 10:12, we launched our drive for Revival on 31st July 1997.  Little did we realise how costly this would prove to be, not so much to the Mission as to ourselves personally.  It brought us to deep personal heart-searching before the Lord for we knew then as we know today, that unless we ourselves are revived as we should be and filled with the Spirit, it is pure hypocrisy to pray for such an experience in the city.  God’s first dealings, and extensively as well as relentlessly so, were therefore with us at a personal level.  

Not only this, but we were challenged to take the Bible directly at face value and we have traversed Scripture, learning the deeper things of God together with many precious lessons about Revival.  It is one thing to preach about Revival or to write about it.  It is quite another to seek to put into practice consistently and honestly all that we know that the Lord has been revealing to us.  This, by His grace we have sought to do and, while the road was a tedious and costly one, it has brought to us riches untold.  We could say, that as Isaac had to reopen the wells which Abraham had dug but had been filled with dirt by the Philistines, so by the grace of the Lord we managed to see and reopen the wells of salvation that have always have been there, all found in none other than our Lord Jesus Christ.   

We were expecting to receive Revival certainly within less than one year but oh we did not realise how much fallow ground had to be ploughed up and how many precious fountains there were that we had to rediscover.  We have learnt, not to be impatient and certainly to watch against any presumptuous statements.  However, it has become evident to us that Revival cannot be far away.  We assuredly expect to see the outpouring of His Spirit in the not too distant future and therefore we can confidently say: ‘REVIVAL NOW!’  

In the months to come we shall share some blessed insights the Lord has granted us over these 8 ½ years of walking the Revival road and we shall certainly be quick to announce when we experience the true visitation of our Lord from above.  

May the heart of everyone reading this be stirred to cry to our God for this mighty renewed visitation of His people.

What is True Revival?

In walking the Revival Road , there are various main obstacles that must be overcome.  These obstacles find their residence particularly in the minds of God’s people. The first of such is a sad misunderstanding of what Revival really is.

In his book ‘In the Day of Thy Power’ Arthur Wallis says the following: 

‘Revival is more than big meetings.  It is more than religious excitement.  It is more than the quickening of the saints, or their being filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is more than a great in-gathering of souls.  One may have any of these without Revival and yet Revival includes them all.

There is a wealth of difference between missions or campaigns at their best and genuine Revival.  In the former man takes the initiative, it may be with the prompting of the Spirit; in the latter the initiative is God’s.  With the one the organisation is human; with the other it is Divine…

It is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power.  It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are over-shadowed, and human programs abandoned…’

Revival is therefore essentially an experience first of all in the Church amongst the people of God.  It is restoring life where it has ebbed away.  It brings the Church to a spiritual state in which it can effectively live its God-designed life.  It enables the Church to give proper execution to the Great Commission under the manifest power of the Holy Spirit.  It is also doubtless the way in which God would prepare His Church to be as a spotless Bride, eagerly awaiting her Lord’s return.

As we proceed in these articles it shall be shown very clearly that Revival is not a ‘nice-to-have’ in addition to what the Church has but it is a Divine imperative.  Therefore the Church not walking in true Holy Ghost Bible-based Revival, is in fact disobedient to the Lord.

Dr Johannes van der Colff quite correctly says: ‘Revival…is a Divine attack on society through a restoration of God’s people’.

Jesus Christ handed over the running of His Church into the hands of the Almighty Holy Spirit.  Dr Samuel Chadsworth says: ‘No other religion has anything corresponding to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and in the Christian religion there is nothing so vital, pervasive and effective’.

Any true Biblical Revival will be one performed by the Holy Spirit and it will be Christ- centered and Calvary-based.  It is essentially a Covenantal issue, not a Covenant with us as much as it is one between Father and Son and we are simply being drawn into this as beneficiaries.  These aspects we shall pursue further as time goes on.  Sufficient to say that if a Revival is not Calvary-based as well as Christ-centered, it will be a spurious Revival.

Someone may well say: ‘I am convinced my Church has Revival.  Ever so often we see miracles happening, people are filled with the Spirit and we have a great outreach program.’  Dr Johannes van der Colff has the following to say and we endorse it: ‘If all the professed ‘baptisms of the Spirit’ and ‘fillings of the Holy Spirit’ in our Churches were real then the whole country would already have been set on FIRE FOR GOD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.  If just one pastor received the anointing Divine then the towns for kilometres around him would be swept by a mighty Revival’.  He also quotes Emil Brenner who says: ‘Fire kindles fire.  What looks like fire but does not spread is probably only pyro-technical display and should be avoided’.

Roy Hession says it very aptly: ‘Revival is just the life of Jesus poured into human hearts.  And we…have only to get into right relationship with Him and we shall see His power demonstrated in our hearts and lives and service and his victorious life will fill us and overflow through us to others’.

Revival is a distinct Supernatural intervention from above and cannot be generated by man.  Therefore, it can and always will be exclusively the work of the Lord our God.  This dispels every human effort, and spells death to the big ‘ I ‘ and all that ‘self’ can achieve with own intellect, gifts, programs and other means which are purely man-made.  It is the evidence of the Supernatural that makes the Church attractive and gives credibility to the message it proclaims.

Gideon had the correct idea when we read in Judges 6:13 where he says about the Presence of the Lord: ‘…if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us of…?’  We are living in the dispensation of ‘Emmanuel’ but we see precious little evidence thereof in the Church of God .  No wonder, Revival must start in the Church of God because after all the Lord tells us clearly that this is also the place where judgment will commence.  See I Peter 4:17.

This being so, and the Lord, in the seven Letters addressed to the seven Churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, breathes distinct threats against His Church, do we think that we shall escape if we are not walking in terms of His design for us as a blood-bought Church?  Do we not sense the absolute necessity that there must be REVIVAL NOW?