This is the seventh part of my take on the results of the Virginia’s General Election (November 7, 2017). Here are the six previous posts.
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 1
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 2
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 3
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 4
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 5
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 6
What is the subject of today’s post? What does a revival involve? What does the New Testament suggest? Does the News Testament suggest anything? Yes.
A Confusion Of Concepts
We usually think of a revival as a restoration of the faith of believers who have fallen away. Yet what the New Testament describes for the most part is the spreading of the Gospel among a community of pagans, worshipers of idols, new believers.Oddly, however, much of what the New Testament says about revival is applicable to today, especially a portion of the Book of Revelation.
The Apostle John wrote Revelation as an old man. At that point John and the other apostles had had an opportunity to plant churches, and these churches had had an opportunity to take the Gospel to heart. As The Parable of the Sower (explained here) illustrates, however, not everyone who hears the Gospel believes. Some react with joy, but don’t fully take the Gospel to heart. Some who want to believe never develop a strong enough faith to take the Gospel more seriously than the cares and concerns of this life.
With the The Parable of the Sower in mind, take a moment to read Revelation 2-3. Here the risen Jesus Christ told the Apostle John to write to seven churches, seven churches in the province of Asia. Five, the churches at Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, and Laodicea received clear warnings. Two, the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, received only praise.
What Did Each Of These Churches Have In Common?
What did each of these churches have in common? Jesus held up the successes and failures of each church as either good or a bad examples.
- The Christians at Ephesus still loved Jesus, but they did not love Jesus as they had it first.
- The Christians at Smyrna had shown their willingness to suffer for Christ, and they were about to suffer more.
- The Christians at Pergamum still struggled for the faith, but they had accepted some among their numbers who followed the false teachings of the Nicolaitans (Today the teachings of the Nicolaitans have been forgotten.).
- The Christians at Thyatira were doing more than they had done at first. Nevertheless, accepted some among their numbers who followed a woman who appears to have been a Satan worshiper.
- All but a few of the Christians at Sardis were Christians only in name.
- The Christians at Philadelphia had maintained their faith in spite of persecution.
- The Christians at Laodicea were indifferent. Apparently, these Christians were more concerned about the things of this world than they were Jesus Christ. The Christians at Laodicea looked too much to their wealth for salvation.
What did Jesus tell each of the churches that were failing? He told each to repent and turn from their sins.
What did Jesus tell the churches that were succeeding, the ones He called “rich”? These He counseled to be faithful, even if faithfulness meant death.
Jesus reminded all the churches that there is a reward for those Christians whose faith endures. In addition, Jesus ended His message to each church with this refrain.
If you have ears, then, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!
Here what Matthew Henry says about those words.
A call to attention: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Observe, (1.) What is written in the scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God. (2.) What is said to one church concerns all the churches, in every place and age. (3.) We can never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to the word of God: and we deserve to lose it if we do not employ it to this purpose. Those who will not hear the call of God now will wish at length they had never had a capacity of hearing any thing at all. (from here)
Consider again the seeds in The Parable of the Sower. Consider why the Apostle Paul often returned to places he had visited before. Consider why Christians establish churches. When new Christian hears the Gospel and believes, don’t we want to do everything we can to make certain that a new Christian’s roots grow deeply the soil of faith? None of us can stand alone. We all need the fellowship of other Christians. We all need encouragement to pray and to delve into the Word.
So what does Revelation 2-3 suggest is required for a revival?
- Repenting of our sins.
- Faith in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.
- Hearing and hearkening to the Word of God.
But what about The Parable of the Sower? What happens during a revival? Does a revival reawaken the interest of sinners who have not quite taken the Gospel to heart, or does a revival revive the faith of Christians who have become half-hearted? That we will discuss in the last and final post.
- What is Christian revival? (gotquestions.org)
- Revivals in the New Testament (revival-library.org)
- We Need a Revival of New Testament Love (charismamag.com)
- 7:11 Do We Find ‘Revival’ in the New Testament? (alfredplacechurch.org.uk)
To Be Continued
- What is necessary for a revival today?