Monday, May 01, 2006

Revival - A Glimpse at the Back of God - Exodus 33:23.

I've been really enjoying a discussion that has been carrying on between some readers that I respect most highly - namely Sheila, Don and Jul - after I posted some comments on the "Practics of Pioneering", thanks to Sheila! For those whose time is short, the discussion covered how pioneering demands change. Just as revival demands change. The two are linked - and Sheila noted this:

"As to revival, Dan....I'll tell you its getting bashed in my circles. Not by me, but by men (tired men - pastors) who my husband and I love and are in relationship with. "Living from revival to revival with nothing in between"....I've even heard men say, "I've had it with the revivalist mentality." They truly feel that they are DONE with it".

I really and truly understand this. I've only been praying for revival for ten years and already the seed of doubt sometimes crops up; "Will He EVER come?". Don, for me, laid down the challenge and the solution to "hope deferred". He said:

"The challenge is *not* to just dry up till the next revival, like some frog burrowing into the mud, but to stay in the Spirit, moist and supple so the next New Wine won't burst the container".

So with the aid of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and some of my other favourite authors, here are some of my thoughts on how we can best balance our desperate hope for revival and that God will come, but marry that with staying in the Spirit and living in Him, continually being filled to overflowing with His Presence. I would contend that one of Dr Lloyd-Jones' most powerful sermons was from his series on Revival - his text being Exodus 33:18-23 - which is, of course, Moses powerful prayer: "Show Me Your Glory!". He said:

"The first thing obviously is Moses' request ... Now this is the thing that really almost staggers one. Moses is still not satisfied. He is not satisfied in spite of all that he has just been receiving. Consider this man Moses who had been up on the mount forty days and forty nights, there in communion with God. He has already had that experience, he has already had the experiences that are recorded in this chapter, where God we are told "spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend" - a most unusual thing! Yet Moses goes further. He is not satisfied. He does not stop, he goes on and says, "Shew me thy glory". This is what we may very well describe as the daring quality that always comes into great faith".

"Do we know anything about these advancing steps and stages? As we look back across our Christian experience, do we know what it is to rise like this, from step to step, and from platform to platform? Do we know this increasing boldness in the Presence of God, this increasing assurance and the desire for yet more and more? While we thank God as Moses did for all that we have received, do we have this longing for yet something above and beyond this striving, this rising, this scaling the heights as it were?".

"What is the matter with us my friends? We, who like to boast about our superiority over the Old Testament saints, some of us even to the extent of being so foolish as to believe they were not saints at all. How do we compare with them in actual experience?".

"There is no doubt that as we advance in faith and in knowledge and in experience, we shall more and more desire God Himself, and not only and not merely, the things that are given to us by God".

"Christianity is to know God".

"Ah, but says someone, that has only happened to men in the Scriptures (the showing of God's glory). No that is not so. This is something that has gone on happening to God's people who have realised the possibilites and who, throughout the running centuries have sought God Himself. Have you ever read of Jonathan Edwards describing his experienceof it in a forest while he was there kneeling in prayer for about an hour? Have you read of David Brainerd, the great apostle to the Indians, experiencing the glory of God and literally sweating, though it was cold and though it was freezing around him? What was causing the sweating? Oh it was the glory, the character and transcendence of the glory".

"You will often find that you will read of things like this: that men and women in the Presence of this glory and of this Presence have literally fallen to the ground, have fainted".

What is Revival?
"Do you know what a revival is? Well this is a perfect description of it. It is just this glimpse of God, of the glory of God passing by. That is precisely what it is. Just this glimpse of God. The God who is there in the glory and as it were, comes down and pours out His Spirit and ascends again, and we look on and feel, and know that the glory of God is in the midst, and is passing by. It is only a touching of the hem of the garment, as it were, it is but a vision of the Back".

"WE WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE CONTENT WITH A LITTLE". (One of my favourite Dr Lloyd-Jones quotes of all time!).

"Ask Him for it. Climb the steps. Follow the example of Moses. Enter boldly in faith and say to God, "Show me thy glory".

Smooth Stones from Leonard Ravenhill.

"To the question, 'Where is the God of Elijah'? We answer, 'Where He has always been - on the throne!'. But where are the Elijah's of God? we are not men of prayer like he was! One praying man stands as a majority with God! Today God is bypassing men - not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient".

"Revival and evangelism, although closely linked are not to be confounded. Revival is an experience in the church; evangelism is an expression of the Church" - Paul S Rees.

"God never intended His Church to be a refrigerator in which to preserve perishable piety. He intended it to be an incubator in which to hatch out converts" - F. Linicome.

"Power from on high is the supreme need of today" - C G Finney.

"If Christ waited to be anointed before He went to preach, then no young men ought to preach until he too has been anointed by the Holy Ghost" - F B Meyer.

"The sign of Christianity is not a cross but a tongue of fire" - Samuel Chadwick.

"The Church has halted somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost" - J I Brice.

"Revival - the inrush of the Spirit into the body that threatens to become a corpse" - D M Panton.

"A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day" - Duncan Campbell.

"A ministry that is college-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles" - Samuel Chadwick.

"From the Day of Pentecost, there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movment has continue after such prayer meetings declined" - Dr A T Pierson.


Don said...

Wow, you're just throwin' out them jewels, Dan! Based on our earlier talks about overemphasis on the cross, I love these:

"The sign of Christianity is not a cross but a tongue of fire" - Samuel Chadwick.

"The Church has halted somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost" - J I Brice.

I also really enjoyed reading L-J's description of revival as God simply reveailng Himself. Unless there's other work to be done -- deliverance, forgiveness, etc., for many hungry/thirsty spirits all it takes is God appearing, to ignite the dry wood.

That was Job's experience of God "in the whirlwind" -- the simple experience of God's holiness trashes all our pride, ends all our questions, and makes us realize that He could squash us like an ant at any moment He chooses -- yet He chooses to show mercy and love, rather than judgement. And as in Job's case, the illogical result of such an appearance of God is PEACE -- because one must surrender in the face of such holy power that sees all the way into and through one's being.

I remember an account, in the early days of the 90s revival, by one guy who'd attended a renewal meeting and was praying in the Spirit that night at home -- the Spirit was so moving in him, there was no way he could sleep.

As he prayed, he was a aware of a presence in the room, and dared to open one eye. In front of him was a pillar of fire, from floor to ceiling, lighting the room but not burning anything. He was never the same again -- that was his Job moment.

That brings me to one of my favorite points about the revival experience and scripture. The Bible has many hints about the revival experience, but the Spirit caused the books to be written in such a matter-of-fact style, that it's only after you've experienced this revival holiness that you see them. Bits like the description of Moses asking for more; of Joshua remaining in the tent of meeting after Moses had departed; Job's experience; Jacob's wrestling with the angel and resulting limp plus newfound trust in the Lord; the many references to God wrapping Himself in darkenss or thick clouds (which preclude intellectual understanding, only spiritual perception).

After revival, I understood that in Scripture, direct encounters with God were described in external terms, as by a reporter -- left unsaid was the potentially life-changing spiritual impact of the encounter.

One of my favorites is in Numbers. If you notice, *before* the rebellious Aaron and Miriam had their life-changing encounter with God (Numbers 13, in which Miriam was stricken with leprosy), no one "fell facedown" when God spoke except in Lev. 9:24. But AFTER that heart-revealing, intimate encounter with the living God, Moses *and* Aaron fell face-down when God spoke! -- see Numbers 14:5, 16:4 16:22, 16;45, 20:6.

The revelation of God's holiness and power brought a new humility into the leaders, which was actually a GIFT. Here's why I say that:

Isaiah 57:15:
For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
"I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."

It is an amazing gift and blessing to be purged and cleansed by the fear of the Lord, and broken before Him. This is the promised gift that God spoke through Malachi, which was fulfilled in Jesus' appearing and challenging His generation with His manifestations of truth and power:

Malachi 3:
"See, I will send my messenger [John the Baptist], who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking [Jesus the Messiah] will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver."

The purging and cleaning would allow them to bring acceptable offerings, God promised. Until revival actually hits a person, it's almost impossible to see this kind of breaking as a good thing. Yet Jesus promised that everyone will be broken in some way --either in blessing or in judgement -- as God reveals Himself:

Matt 21:44 (Luke 20:18):
"He who falls on this stone [Jesus] will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

God allows us a choice: either to willingly fall facedown, so to speak on the rock of Jesus in surrender and worship, and so to be broken by Him, or to have Jesus fall on us in judgement (because we refuse to fall in worship willingly), and be totally crushed.

In revival, He graciously offers us the opportunity to fall facedown in his unveiled presence (why so few can stand at those times, IMHO, though I'm not being judgemental toward those who remain standing), and allow the Spirit of the Father and Son to pierce us to the heart with revelations of His burning love and holiness.

Now, this breaking can occur in direct revelations, or it can occur in a number of encounters that relate to real-life failures or crises. The main thing is: God exalts Himself over our will and our flesh, touches the socket of our hip, and we are left lovingly crippled ever after -- to His glory and our joy.

Baxter's Boy said...

I knew that you would spy those comments by Samuel Chadwick, Don! They are extremely provocative aren't they. I love them!

I am so thrilled that you have written such great words on the often forgotten issue behind revival. This is the essence behind Dr Lloyd-Jones' awesome sermons on Revival. It's a very interesting issue dealt with in Scripture - that you see it after you experience it. C H Spurgeon said something similar about receiving the Spirit.

I've been readin R C Sproul's "The Soul's Quest for God" and he too touches on the same thought ALTHOUGH he doesn't mention revival. Some of his words are amazing!

"Something is missing. It is missing from the life of the church. It is absent from the normal Christian life. What is missing is a depth of spiritual communion with God. Worship is unsatisfying to multitudes and the Christian life is often marked more by a sense of the absence of God than a vital sense of His Presence.

A lot of knowledge with no love is worthless. A little knowledge couple with great affection is far preferable. The pursuit of the knowledge of God is insufficient. It must not serve as an end in itself but as a means to an end. THE GOAL IS TO INFLAME THE HEART".

Surely this touches at the very epicentre of revival. And I have to say this is something I have seen manifest in this war over "Colson and Draw Me Close". The fact that we may be in danger of pursuing the knowledge of God and abandoning remembering that as Sproul says - it is a means to an end.

Thanks so much for that comment Don. I could seriously collate some of the outstanding comments I get in this blog and put them in a book - they are so superb!

Don said...

Glad you used the phrase, "the knowledge of God," as I heard it an awful lot for years. As you say, it must be constantly explained when used, to ensure the hearer understands the difference between head-knowledge and spirit intimacy. This also highlights the need for real spiritual direction, in which the director teaches as much from his/her experience with God in life, as from the scriptures.

It's wonderful to read your quotes from Sproul, as when I hear him on his radio show -- teaching away and scribbling on the blackboard -- it's usually so intellectual I get concerned that he's imparting a merely intellectual faith.

That quote goes well with a tape series I'm listening to now, done several years ago by Mike Bickle: "How To Have a Burning Heart." He's talking in part to the IHOP staff, warning them against professionalism and urging them to place passion for Jesus Himself as their primary purpose.

That reminds me of the shock I received when I realized that pastors, just like other men, endure the same temptation of trying to find their identity in their jobs, rather than in their own relationship with God. Especially for some pastor, who have done nothing in their lives *but* pastor and have people look to them for advice, it must be difficult. Must be very hard, too, to process the midlife crisis, around age 40, when God allows everything to be shaken in a man's life and reveals the true foundations (guess I'm back to revival again!).

Anyway, great to read that Sproul understands and teaches the priority of the burning heart; that image is more useful to me than J. Edwards' "religious affections."

Anonymous said...

I love Leonard Ravenhill!
I also love Keith Green's music, much of it parallels what Ravenhill is so passionate about. I really love LR's book "Why Revival Tarries" which is more of a call to prayer. How appropriate.

I am a musician, and I would be honored if you would check out my site. LR has inspired some of my songs. All my music is free for download.

"All my music is free for download."