It is a new day and a new Biblical year and we are still looking forward to revival. But sometimes there is stuff that must come first or may come along with it that we would rather avoid. But the word ‘Revival’ only brings to our minds the ‘good stuff’ and all of the ‘not so good’ that came along with former moves of God is usually forgotten or disregarded.
500 years ago on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther tacked 95 theses to a door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther wanted to bring revival and reform to the church but schism came instead and a few years later he was excommunicated and then the wars followed for several hundred years. But the church was reformed and change came to all of the church regardless. One wonders if he would have proceeded differently if he had known all the stuff that was going to follow.
One thing for sure, the Reformation was a Move of God. More than anything else the most important result was access to the Bible and real knowledge of the written Word of God- the Logos. Before 1517 The Word was only available to the Priests, Monks, and scholars and very little of it was allowed to ever trickle on down to the regular folks. Not only that but ‘worship’ services were in Latin which only the educated could understand.
Coming out of the Reformation, services started being conducted in the vernacular and an exposition and teaching of the Scriptures became an important part of worship. Later the Bible was translated into the languages of the people and with the invention of the printing press it became available for regular folks. The church was changed by the Logos of God.
Most of us in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches look back on Azusa Street in 1906 as the beginning of another Move of God that changed the church. This time it was the Rhema Word of God that was restored along with all of the Spiritual gifts. A good historical case can be made that the ‘gifts’ never really departed entirely from the church but few regular folks in the church had the opportunity to experience them.
Now we are at a new crossroad where a significant part of the church is questioning whether the Bible is still even relevant and whether certain plain teachings in the Word should be disregarded or ignored. Ironically it is the old ‘Reformation’ mainline churches that are in the midst of rejecting their own foundations which were rooted in ’solo scriptura.’
The point is, major change and a new move of God including some kind of new ‘reformation’ is ahead for the church and we can expect that the revival we are hoping for may be far different than our romanticized expectations. Fact is, the church is always ‘looking forward’ to the past revivals and is never fully prepared to receive the new one.
To demonstrate what I am talking about let’s take a look at Acts. Before all of the good stuff in Acts 2 we find in chapter 1 that all the church devoted themselves to prayer. Since Pentecost came 50 days after the Passover they could have been praying solid for at least a month or so. Not only that, but for only this one time in history the entire church and everyone in it was actually prepared to receive a move from God.
Now for the scary part that may be relevant for us now or in the very least for the church some time in the future. We all like the ‘good stuff’ in Peter’s quote of Joel 2:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions,and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. …
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Here’s the part of Acts 2 / Joel 2 we would rather ignore. The verses between 18 and 21 (19 & 20):
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
In light of all of the major disasters lately, these verses might be far more relevant to a coming revival than we want to admit. Also, a falling away and major persecution might well come along with it.
It is time for the church to pray. It is always time for us to pray but especially now.