Can we not see the need for revival to begin in the house of God?
Continually we are bombarded with the rhetoric that if America will get right with God and each other, then people will be turned to God; if the politicians will turn to God, proclaiming Him as the One True God, then America will be saved; I have even said, and others have as well, if the President gets saved, then we will have great changes in store for America. While each of these things has merit and could possibly be explored in great detail, there is one thing to consider above all things: Where does true revival begin?
I think we need to label the word, “revival,” as renewal among the Body of Christ. What is it that we hear from the second book of Chronicles, chapter seven and verse fourteen? The words are, and these are the words of God, not of Solomon or of Fuller: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV) These are the words of GOD to SOLOMON, in the night, as he lay there contemplating the work of the building and completion of a house for God.
The previous scriptures tell us that Solomon had completed the house of the Lord, had prospered in his work and he rested from the work. Going to verse one of chapter seven, we see that Solomon had prepared an offering and God sent fire from heaven to consume the offering, thus signifying His being pleased with the work and offering which Solomon offered. The glory of the Lord was so heavy upon the place of sacrifice, that none could approach the altar, and that all the people bowed before God’s presence and proclaimed, “For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.” (2 Chronicles 7:3 KJV).
God heard the cry of the King and was touched by his humility and honesty and willingly spoke to him in his deepest moment of crushing sorrow and grief over the condition of the people and the land and the nation. But notice who God spoke to. Notice who God came to and where he began the great work of restoration. God came to Solomon. He came to the one who was willing to humble himself before a mighty God and to show fear in a God who could very well annihilate the nation and the name of Israel from the face of the earth.
God could have done that with the word of His mouth. We know of times in history past that God had already proved that to the rebellious and disobedient ones before Solomon’s time. Dr. W.A. Criswell, the great pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas Texas preached:
“And by His word, just by His word, awesome judgment falls upon sinful humanity. By His word the sodomites in Sodom and Gomorrah were slain. By His word, the firstborn in Israel—in Egypt, excluding Israel were slain. By His word, 185,000 in Sennacherib’s army died. By the word of the Lord, the judgmental word of the Lord, the northern kingdom of Israel was sold into captivity by the Assyrians and, about two hundred years later, by the same word of the Lord, the southern kingdom was brought into captivity by the Babylonians. And finally, in 70 AD, the whole nation was destroyed and dispersed over the Roman civilized world; the awesome power of the word of the king.”
Oh my, yes! God is awesome and to be feared above all other god’s! He will visit judgment where it is needed. He will straighten out the crooked and purify a people who continually turn their backs on Him!
When we read how God dealt with the sin of people in the Old Testament; when we see that the very sins of their time turned His stomach; can we not see that there is a need for turning back to God in our time, our age, in this period of history? He said there are four things the people of Solomon’s time needed to do: humble themselves; pray to God; seek Him; and turn from their wicked ways. Then God says there are three things He will do: I will hear; I will forgive; and I will heal.
Who is it that needs to be revived? Is it the politicians and leaders of our nation? Is it the nation called America, once revered and held in such high esteem among all other nations? Who needs to be revived?
The answer is found in the book of Revelation. As we read through the second and third chapters of that prophetic book and see the seven churches, as Jesus speaks to them, thus speaking to the church age throughout history, we see that revival begins in the church house, with the church people.
Look at the sixth and seventh churches, as Jesus speaks to the great Apostle John to write to those churches:
The angel of the church in Philadelphia
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The angel of the church in Laodicea is rebuked for indifference
14 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; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 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: 18 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. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 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. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Revelation 3:7-22 (KJV)
Our churches today have moved away from the days of old. We have become big, rich, technologically advanced, and educationally wise (in our own eyes at least). We have moved beyond a need for the glory of God, to a need to be enlightened and humored. Our churches today are attempting to compete with the world; we need more dynamics, more entertainment, more scripts and more things to draw and keep the crowds. Our churches today are moving into the world, instead of changing the world.
I read an interesting article many years ago, I believe that it was carried by Christianity Today, which spoke of the church as a boat. The boat is in the sea, the sea is not in the boat. The boat moves through the sea, challenged by the waves, the dark places which would assail the boat and break it apart. With the Captain-Captain Jesus-at the wheel, steering into safe waters, the boat stays on course and is safe and secure.
Yet, once the Captain is replaced and is steered into dangerous waters, or the boat takes on water allowing the storm to engulf it, there will be sure disaster. Mutiny of the people turning from the Captains rules and regulations for a safe voyage will bring demise to the boat. Adding dangerous cargo to the boat will bring trouble to the boat. Allowing some foreign leader into the boat will bring the boat into confusion and a schism among the voyagers.
The bottom line of this article was doctrinal soundness was needed in the church to keep the water out of the boat. In recent years we have seen the warning not heeded and churches, denominations and men of leadership bending and bowing to the pressures of the masses. Take for instance, the issue of the biblical understanding of marriage. Some have left the Bible’s teaching to allow for the inclusion of those who are in same-sex relationships in church leadership, even to the point of ministerial ordination for these individuals. Or what about dangerous doctrines related to the issue of salvation, teaching that we are saved by good works and not for good works. Or there are those churches which have opted to cafeteria style of participation within the body of Christ-individuals may now choose what things they wish to be a part of and what things do not fit their needs. Or there are…so many things could be covered here; but suffice it to say that many are going to the way of the world and forfeiting their soul and the hope of the church by becoming more like the world and less like Christ.
But is this not a picture of the church as a whole today? Is this not what we see in the 21st Century Church? We are so far from what God desires of us. Paul wrote in the Book of Romans, we are sinful; “there is none righteous, no not one” [Romans 3:10].
The old leather lunged preacher called this the depravity of humankind. It is what we see today. Some would ask, “Is this true? Is this possible? So much good, so many churches today; how can you say such things?” I am only saying the truth, along with another man, much greater than I. Solomon write about such things in a book called Ecclesiastes. This what he said in verse ten of chapter eight. The wise man says, “So I saw the wicked…who had come and gone from the place of the holy…” (KJV) Now this is men, coming from the place of holiness, men who had been to the House of God, claiming to be there for the practice and participation of worship, but they were far from it in their day? Are we any different?
God’s place of worship and holiness, yet there was wickedness. God’s place where He meets with His people and the wickedness of man is manifest. Is it possible? Preacher after preacher sees it every Sunday morning. There is the house of God, people who claim the name of Jesus can sit in the presence of the Lord and listen to the Word of God, absolutely unmoved, indifferent. There they can sit there in apathy; their conscience is seared with a hot iron.
Oh, but that is just the beginning of the matter. In the very altar, and in the very pulpit, you find desecration and condemnation in the very house of the Lord and Solomon speaks of it as the place of holiness. Friends, you can go back to the book of Samuel, the first book, and we find in the first three chapters, an account that curls your hair. There in the holy place, a place sacred and set apart for the Worship of the triune God-head, you find the two sons of Eli. These have taken the temple and worship and turned it into a club scene and a brothel. They have made it a house of prostitution. The Bible tells they would, and this so impure to thing of, lay with the women who are brought into the temple with their husbands in the house of God. The husbands are there to worship, the sons of Eli are there to satisfy the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, having sexual relations with the women of these men. All of it in the House of God! What shame, what sorrow, what a sham! But it goes further; those who come to call upon the name of the Lord, they seize their offerings and enrich themselves—in God’s house we see here the depravity of man—in the very pulpit of the church.
Yes, oh yes, I would say that we need revival. And we need it today. But where does it begin? Friend, it begins with us-the people of God. We, who are called by the name of the Lord. Yes, us; those of us who have been forgiven and created into new a new creation. It is we who have been redeemed and set apart for service to the King. It begins with our willingness to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of a loving, caring, forgiven God. We are to pray and seek His face in all things, and especially in the matter of personal sin. We are to turn to Him; God allows for u-turns!
Notice what God will do for us when we follow the instructions of the previous chapter. The Bible says that He will hear! He will forgive! He will heal!
Oh, friends, it is a wonderful thing to know that the God of heaven will respond to the prayer which comes from the broken soul who comes to Him with all of the trash, the bitterness, the shame, the confession of our messed up life. He takes the pieces which have been scattered to the winds and pulls us, and puts us back together again.
Turn to Him friend! Christian friend place you hand, as little as it is, in the hand of God-that big, strong hand that holds the nations and directs the path of mankind-and walk with Him in reverence, as He leads you through stormy waters, to bring you to a dry and plentiful land, flowing with milk and honey.