Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Ultimate End of Revival - The PRESENCE of God!

The danger in speaking about revival is that it can become a catchphrase and indeed become a word that is misunderstood and misused (like many other words in the Christian vocabulary such as grace). My best friend Pete Day's latest post is spot on when he writes;

Note that - he wrote; "I want us to be saturated with the Presence of God". A cursory reading of revival church histories will reveal that it is the restoring of the Presence of God that is the single common factor in each case. Other phenomenon such as shaking, falling over, gifts of the Spirit do not occur in every case - at least they don't seem to be documented as occuring. But the manifest Presence of God is always there! I was very struck in reading Brian Edward's book; "Revival - A People Saturated with God!". Brian Edwards was a regular speaker at my home church in Dunstable and wouldn't pretend to be a charismatic by an stretch of the imagination. Yet this passage in his book was incredibly stirring and thrilling;

"The Presence of God. This is the key to understanding what revival is. If there is one aspect of worship that is lacking, it is the felt Presence of God. Whatever our label or style, whatever our claims or convictions Christian churches today are not generally noted for the overwhealming sense of the Presence of God. That is why we behave so carelessly in worship.

The deep work of the Spirit in revival is always noted for the experience that convinces us that God is present.

Of course we believe the promises of God that He is always present with us and especially when believers meet together; even without a sense of His Presence we are right to believe He is a promise keeping God. However revival is altogether different. God is known to be there and even the unbeliever is compelled to admit "God is truly among you" (1 Corinthians 14:25).

In revival the Presence of God becomes a tangible felt experience".

It seems to me that when the Presence of God is not so powerfully present in the church, it is then that we are in danger of replacing that lack with the modern gimmicks that we are so familiar with. I remember Dave Holden preaching at the first Brighton Leadership Conference I went to on the subject, "Worship - Charismatic or Electronic?". His point was that the presence of guitars and an overhead projector do not make for true charismatic worship! C H Spurgeon put it this way;

"But if I have gone through the general routine of the worship of my church, and then think that I have done something acceptable to God, while yet my heart has not communed with him in humble repentance, or faith, or love, or joy, or consecration, I make a great mistake. You may keep on with your religious performances for seventy years or more; you may never miss what our Scotch friends call "a diet of worship"; you may not neglect a single rubric in the whole ritual; but it is all nothing unless the soul has fellowship with God".

My point is simply this - to what extent are we going to be satisfied with nothing less than the manifest Presence of God? How long are we going to be satisfied with the status quo and adjust our theology to meet that? When are we going to seize hold of God and tell Him through prayer that "for Zion's sake we will give Him no rest until Jerusalem is made a praise in the earth"? Without the Presence of the Spirit we are nothing and all our efforts are for nothing! Let C H Spurgeon have the last word;


Peter Day said...

This is a wonderful post. Spurgeon just tells us it how it is, doesn't he?! No messing about.

The presence of God is what church is all about. In fact scripture seems to define church in terms of God's presence:

"Do you no know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3v16 - the you here being corporate).

"And thus the secrets of his heart will be revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you." (1 Cor 14v25)

"...in whom the whole building being joined together, gorws into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being building together for a habitation of God in the Spirit." (Eph 2v21-22).

We define church in so many ways by flavour of congregation - charismatic, reformed, anglican, whatever. We have many theologies of church - but church is where God dwells among His people.

That's a high calling. As you say - we need to stop being satisfied with the status quo and dumb down our theology to meet our condition. Instead, let us be bold and Biblical in our theology and cry out to God to change our condition!

Baxter's Boy said...

Thanks so much for that comment - it's such an encouragement to know that things are challenging or stirring to people!! I really do appreciate it.

You made an absolutely vital point. It's very interesting in Wayne Grudem's "Miraculous Gifts - Four Views" book that there was a torrent of views and opinions exchanged ranging from the Pentecostal/Charismatic opinion expressed by Douglas Oss to the Cessationist opinion expressed by Richard Gaffin and yet Grudem could summarise and say; "I think what people want is to be in the Presence of God".

To me - that is the vital unifying key. Cessationism seems to carry a dark, negative, "anti" banner to it that it may or may not deserve. What would be great to hear from their champions (men such as John MacArthur maybe) is a passionate expression of their desire for the Presence of God to be manifest in their meetings. Maybe then the stereotypical divides could start to come down!

For example I was thrilled to hear of the fact that there was a "holy hush" at the Banner of Truth conference a few years ago. There had been some awesome preaching of the Word and the attendees found themselves unable to get up and go. I am sure they would claim cessationism, yet their theology maintains an openness to the ability of God to invade time and space and make His Presence felt.

That to me is indeed the great unifying concept.

Jerry said...


I don't know how to set up the link to the above site, but it is an article I wrote that received much response on the Indwelling Presence. "Your Face, Lord, I Will Seek!" It might be easier to go to http://www.nahacitychurch.com and click on Jerry's Articles, check it out and give me your opinion if you desire.