Friday, November 5, 2010

Factoring in Revival

This week I have to write six essays (yes six!) for my Revivalism course. It is a take home exam so I really should not complain and given I like to write, I am actually looking forward to the assignment.

One of the essay questions asks what seven factors must be present before a revival. I am betting you did not know there are seven factors, did you? Admittedly, I didn’t either. But as you read through this list, contemplate the present state of our churches and decide for yourself if any of these factors are present today:

a.) Dissatisfied Christians
b.) Disturbing trends in churches
c.) Developing spiritual convictions
d.) Devoted prayer
e.) Dedicated servants
f.) Diligent Bible study
g.) Determined seekers

When analyzing this list it is clear that revival does not occur spontaneously out of thin air or happen in a vacuum. Christians must be prepared to receive revival and these factors showcase a life that is earnestly seeking God.

I would venture to say that in terms of the first two factors, we definitely have dissatisfied Christians today who are earnestly yearning for a display of God’s power in their own lives and within their churches and homes. We also have disturbing trends in the churches, perhaps the most alarming trends since the apostles founded the early church. The Emergent church (sometimes referred to as the Emergent movement) which propagates “conversation” theology is on the rise and seeks to deconstruct modern Christian worship, evangelism, and the nature of the modern Christian community. It is one of many cults that have hit the scene in the 21st century. Even the traditional Christian denominations of our day have denounced the Word of God as the final authority in an effort to appear more hip and in sync with today’s culture.

While we can all agree there are major problems in the churches and a large number of dissatisfied Christians as a result, what about the last five factors? All of them have to do with believers turning toward God and away from sin to know the Living God and experience His power in a profound manner. I have to confess that as I looked at these characteristics, I was convicted about my own life. I have often prayed for revival, especially recently, but have not held up my end of the equation.

If we want to experience revival again in this country, we have to not only immerse ourselves in the Word and in prayer, but also diligently seek and serve the Lord. This really is not too much for God to ask, is it? After all, why would He be interested in reviving people who are spiritually lethargic, indifferent to sin, and apathetic towards things of spiritual consequence?

Basically, God is looking to see if we are as committed to him in our life as we claim we are in our prayers. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tell us, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” This is quite a promise to consider. The Bible also tells us that God is not slack concerning His promises (2 Peter 3:9).

I firmly believe this nation can experience revival again, we just need to put 2 Chronicles 7:14 into action, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”


Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while and I enjoy it very much.
As I was reading this post, I wondered if you could clarify some things for me. You mention this "emergent church" which I had never heard of before this blog. Would you mind clarifying for me what your view is on how it seeks to "deconstruct modern Christian worship, evangelism and the nature of the modern Christian community." I would also be interested to hear what you have to say about what other "disturbing trends in churches" you think are happening.
Also, I'm curious about how one should go about being a "determined seeker." I think I have at least some understanding of spiritual conviction, prayer, being a servant and diligent Bible study; but being a "determined seeker" sounds a little vague to me. Does it mean seeking God's will? If so, how? through prayer and Bible study?
I understand that since you are writing 6 essays you may be busy with that for a while! Happy writing!
Thanks in advance

Anne Marie said...

Thank you for your comment! I am glad to hear that the blog has been a blessing in your life.

In terms of your questions, I will answer them in two comment posts as I have a 4,000 character limit for responses. In regards to the Emergent Church, its main leader/spokesman is Brian McLaren. He is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland. The movement itself began toward the end of the 20th century but has picked up more steam in the 21st century. This movement as defined by McLaren believes that faith exists without objective truth. In other words, they feel the Bible is too rigid to be followed as God’s inspired Word, so instead they have what they call “peer-to-peer” dialogues in which they discuss biblical dogma and draw their own conclusions on what is applicable and not applicable to today’s culture.

McLaren is very outspoken against evangelicals of course, because he feels they are too judgmental in their belief that the only people going to heaven are those that have trusted Jesus as their personal Savior. When discussing his theology, McLaren stated the following, "Our interpretations reveal less about God or the Bible than they do about ourselves. They reveal what we want to defend, what we want to attack, what we want to ignore, what we're unwilling to question.”

As you can probably imagine, the movement has quite a following because it has appeal to the masses given it does not preach the true of gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul in Galatians warns us, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed…For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

The Emergent church is primarily a men pleasing movement that is geared to draw in those that want to be part of a “modern” church. As with any cult, they deny that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I am not sure what other major doctrines they also denounce but I would imagine there are several others.

(response continued in next comment post)

Anne Marie said...

In terms of other disturbing church trends, I think the list is quite long especially if you compare today’s church with the first century church that the Apostles founded as detailed in the book of Acts. But in reality you do not even have to go back that far. As I have learned in this revivalism course, if you look at America in the 1700 and 1800 centuries, you see a focus on God that is sorely missing today. It used to be that God was at the forefront of people’s lives and minds. Things of eternal consequence were a high priority. Today, many believers are concerned with the here and now only. They follow God because of what He can give them instead of understanding the type of person he created them to be.

I also think in today’s church people have become very legalistic and view church as obligatory and as a result, lives remain unchanged once Sunday service is over. I think primarily the fault lies with church leadership who have moved away from the preaching of God’s Word to a more culture-friendly message where sin and repentance are no longer emphasized. Very rarely, if at all, do you hear today’s church leaders preach against the social issues of our day the way Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, and D.L. Moody did in their day. This should not surprise us in some respects as Jesus told us that before He returned to earth there would be great apostasy and lawlessness. I believe we are approaching the last days based on the prophetic scriptures.

All that being said, I still believe revival is possible because God has not changed. Revival, which is an exceptional outpouring of God’s Spirit in which whole churches or regions experience a spiritual regeneration, always begins with God’s people and their level of commitment to God which I think gets at the heart of your question on what a “determined seeker” is. I believe a determined seeker is someone who is never satisfied with their relationship with God. He/She is always seeking a new revelation of God and to know Him more fully. I always think of Moses in this regard when he asked God to show him His glory in Exodus chapter 33:18. This was after the burning bush and after Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Moses had more personal time with God than anyone in the Old Testament and still he asks God to show him His glory and God obliges. I think this is the definition of a determined seeker. You will stop at nothing to know the fullness of God’s glory. Quite simply, it is a heart that loves Jesus and is captivated by Him alone.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions or would like to just have a dialogue, please feel free to email me at: