Why America Needs Revival

Why America Needs Revival

Isaiah 5:20-23 (Revelation 2:1-7)

I want to speak on the subject of revival and why I feel America needs revival now. Look around in America today – what do you see – violence, immorality, spiritual ignorance and a lack of respect for the Christian community in general. In four of the prophet’s seven woes to Judah, Isaiah said:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man! (Isa. 5:20-23)

Could this be a snapshot of America today? I am aware that sin is rampant all around the world; however, America is our present focus.

Before we move on to why revival is needed, it is imperative to know what true revival is and what it is not. Revival is not just a good series of meetings or having a special speaker for a week. It is not just going out and inviting lost people to come in to hear an evangelistic message.

Revival is an “infusion of spiritual life” for the redeemed of God by the Holy Ghost (Lovelace 1979, 21). It is a “great spiritual awakening” in God’s people and the community in which they live and serve (Drummond 1994, 7). It is not an Edwards view (sovereignty alone) or a Finney view (second blessing), and it is certainly not an individual’s view. It is the redeemed of God “setting the sail – that should the wind (of the Holy Spirit) blow we will be borne along” (Preston 2011). Today the church not only seems to have their sail lowered, it appears that in most cases the church’s mast is not up to support the sails so the Holy Spirit of God can blow to move the church to revival. It would appear the church has lost her drive momentum, or perhaps her “first love.” Notice the church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) and why a restoration or revival was needed then and compare with American churches today. Revival truly is NEEDED in America!!

Partners together, I Cor. 3:9

Bobby

Why America Needs Revival

Part II: The Power in the Church

Rev. 2:1-3

The power in the church is clearly seen in verses 1-3 as the author speaks of the Omnipotent Christ holding the seven stars seen as either heavenly guardians ( Rev. 1:20) or human representatives (bishops of the churches) (Hemer 2001, 32). Christ is seen as omnipresent as He walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (the seven churches in Rev. 1:20). Christ is seen next as omniscient as He knows all the works of the church. Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor and patience.” Jesus knows all the good deeds and the good programs His church has. He knows about all the hungry that has been feed and all the Gospel messages that have been preached. He knows all about our patience (or lack of it) with others, He understands everything about His church. Just as He knew about the Ephesus church in their social setting, He knows about the church of America in their local setting. Ephesus was known for its false gods and pagan worship such as Artemis in Acts 19:35. Ephesus had at least fourteen deities in their first-century community making it a great struggle for the Ephesian Christian in a city of paganism (Wilson 2002, 18). America has their false gods in the twenty-first century church community as well. There are the gods of money, work, pleasure, and anything else that steals priority. However, there are many good things happening in the twenty-first century church of America just as her first century Ephesian ancestor (sister church).

The church of today has great programs, resources, and in many cases, all the needed funding. Many Christians today are doing all the right things. They have the right discernment, they hate evil, many hold to sound doctrine, and many others have not fainted. The Lord is gracious to those who love Him; and He commends them for their patience, love, durability and labor. However, there was a problem in the church at Ephesus just as in the church today. They had left their “FIRST” Love. Revival truly is NEEDED in America!!

Partners together, I Cor. 3:9

Bobby

Why America Needs Revival

Part III: The Problem in the Church: Rev 2:4

In verse four Jesus now turns His commendation of the church (as seen in verses 2-3) into condemnation. Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Regardless of all these things you have done or are doing, there is still a real problem – the church had left her first love. There is some debate on what “first love” really means (Hemer 2001, 41). Is it the love of Christ, or is it the brotherly love of the Christian? Scripture says we cannot love God if we do not love our brother (I Jn. 3:10-19). Love is listed first in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). “If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Some have referred to this love as a “virgin love” – that love we had for Christ when we first met Him as Savior (Greene 1976, 64). We were not concerned with programs or even the doctrinal debates of the church. Our eyes were focused on Jesus Christ and the joy of salvation, it was this “virgin love” that allowed us to let go of the past and celebrate love – including love for the brethren.

The church at Ephesus was doing the right things as a church. They had patience, they worked, they cared for others, they seemed to have orthodoxy (correct doctrine); however, their orthopraxy (correct practice) must have been blunted by years of striving to do the right thing in a heathen city (Wilson 2002, 19). The sails of the church were no longer up waiting on the sweet breeze of the Holy Spirit to blow. The church was definitely in crisis; however, there is no record of them doing anything about it. Soon the witness of the church would die out – we will discover more about that in verse five.

Over the years there has been crisis in the church such as that in the Ephesian church. For instance, the Montanist Movement “had the concept of decline and renewal” during the second century which sparked a better understanding that the church had drifted away from their spiritual roots, or had left their first love (Lovelace 1979, 32). Puritanism and Pietism were also powerful awakenings of renewal in the Ephesian church. From these beginnings came the two major awakenings which profoundly allowed the church to see the lack of love in their spiritual walk (Lovelace 1979, 35-46). Although there is no indication that the church at Ephesus experienced a “spiritual awakening” several have taken place that we know of; and perhaps many more that we do not know about. The twenty-first century church needs a “spiritual awakening” to overcome her lack of love and luster for the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave the church of Ephesus a prescription for her brokenness; that same prescription is available today to the church of the Living Lord.

Partners together, I Cor. 3:9, Bobby

Why America Needs Revival

IV. The Promise of Jesus to His Church: Part I: Verses 5b-7

The promise of Jesus to the church has both a negative and a positive. We shall look at the negative which deals with the church’s walk within the community and world in which they lived. According to Scripture the church was to remember, repent, and return to their first works. If they did not do so, Jesus said, “I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5b). Have you ever heard the phrase “That person is so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good?” That is what the church of Ephesus must have been like; and that is why so many evangelical churches today shut their doors. What Christ is saying is either fall back in love with me, or your lampstand will be removed.

What exactly is this lampstand? Christ is the Light of the World (Jn. 1:3-9) and the church is the lampstand (Rev. 1:20) which he uses to show His light (Mt. 5:16). Perhaps the testimony of the church is in view here. Some see this as a threat from the pagan worship of artemisuim and death-blow influence on the church in Ephesus (Hemer 2001, 53). Others believe that Christ will close the doors of the church because the church has become ineffective for Christ (Wilson 2002, 20). Stephen Miller stated, “Jesus was vowing to turn out the lights, pull the plug and close up shop in Ephesus (Miller 2010, 214).” Regardless of what our personal preference of the text is, it is sure that Jesus is promising the church judgment will come if they do not do as He says. This is not the judgment of losing one’s salvation but of losing the testimony that comes with salvation. To me, this is also known as the Ichabod of God – “His glory is departed” (I Sam. 4:21). When the glory of God is departed, there is no more testimony; and in actuality no church. When God’s glory is gone, men do what is right in their own sight (Judges 17:6).

Bobby

Why America Needs Revival

IV. The Promise of Jesus to His Church: Part II: Verse 7

The second promise – or at least the second part of the promise, which is the positive I spoke of in Part I, is found in verse seven for those who will be healed. Jesus said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7).

This is God’s promise as He speaks to the church. To the overcomers He will give eternal life. Eternal life is given to all believers who have truly overcome by the blood of the Lamb! John said, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? ” (I Jn. 5:4-5)? Jesus overcame the world and because of Him – we will to.

The tree of life is a look back to Genesis chapters two and three, and “Paradise” is the word used for Eden in the Septuagint (Wilson 2002, 19). Could it be there is a direct correlation between the “Tree of Life,” the Garden of Eden, the Paradise of God, and the Cross of Calvary (Hemer, 2001, 51-52)? Those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord are victorious both in this life and the life to come – where there shall be no more temptation, sin, or pain. All will be brand new in that day; and all will be sin free. Praise the LORD!

Bobby

Why America Needs Revival: Conclusion

Revival was needed in the first-century church of Ephesus; and revival is still needed today in the twenty-first century church. However, no revival will ever be known until God’s people realize they have left their first love and are in need of what only God can give.

As in the Asbury Revival – so it is now, revival will not come by the hand of man, but only when God’s people raise the sail in expectancy of God’s gentle breeze to blow which will escort the winds of revival and usher in God’s Holy Ghost revival. There are two questions I would ask. First, are you ready for the personal wind of revival that can restore that “first love;” and second, are you willing to remember, repent, and return in order to start God’s healing process as outlined in Revelation 2:1-7? I pray we all are ready!

Partners together, I Cor. 3:9

Bobby

Confession of sin is necessary for fellowship with God and revival among God’s people . . .

•Is there anyone against whom you hold a grudge? Mt. 6:12-14

•Is there anything in which you have failed to put God first? Mt. 6:33

•Have you failed to seek the lost for Christ?

Mk. 16:15

•Are you secretly pleased over the misfortunes of others? Jn. 13:35

•Have you robbed God by withholding His due of time, talents, and money? Acts 20:35

•Are you undependable so that you cannot be trusted with responsibilities in the Lord’s work?

I Cor. 4:2

*Just to name a few – copied Harold Vaughan