We often hear that “revival starts with the people of God.” That statement is true but often masks what must precede revival. Before God will bring revival in and upon His people, Christians must repent, confess, and turn from their evil ways. In other words, revival is necessary for a people that have wandered off the narrow path and have come under judgment.
The idea of revival in America has a long and storied history. From traveling evangelists to week long “tent meetings,” revival was a yearly occurrence in the lives of Christians throughout the 1940’s through 1970’s. Somewhere in the process of holding annual revival meetings, Christians made them more about evangelism than about personal repentance. This means that Christians did not do much self-reflection but instead focused on inviting friends, co-workers, and family members that they believed needed to hear the gospel.
In Part 1 of this series I presented my belief that the Church has for the most part abdicated its position of moral authority in the American culture. Nature abhors a vacuum and thus the hedonists, atheists, humanists, and unconverted self-identifying Christians rushed in to fill that place with their morality. The result is that any vain and evil thing that can be imagined is advocated as normal and celebrated as liberating and natural today. The only liberty and freedom these deviants and their supporters are experiencing is liberty and freedom from conscience. Doctors include this trait in their diagnosis of sociopaths. God describes them as “worthy of death” (Romans 1:32).
As with every anniversary of the deadly events of September 11, 2001, we will likely be inundated this week with a plethora of articles on the heroes from that day and those that gave their lives that others might live. Though we, as a nation, will never forget the events of that day and the impact it had on our nation, we need look no further than the disaster that struck recently in South Texas, and the events now unfolding throughout Florida and the Southeast to understand that it is a remarkable part of the American spirit to face adversity with a steadfast courage and open heart for those in need. Though I write this article on this, the 16th anniversary of that day in 2001, I am not going to write about those events, the controversy surrounding it, or even about the events of the most recent natural disasters in our country. I prefer to write about my own experience, and those of my family, to illustrate the point that I will make at the conclusion of this article.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11
One of the most blessed things Christians are privileged to participate in is the life of a local assembly of believers. It might surprise readers to learn that the Bible in both Testaments speaks almost exclusively within the context of local bodies. The Old Testament speaks specifically about the nation, tribes, and families of the Hebrew people. Their story of failure and success in being obedient to God and in becoming the people He desired them to be is a primary storyline of the Old Testament. The New Testament reads like a manual for righteous living within the context of the local church family.
Think about this friends – Matthew wrote for a Jewish audience, Mark a Gentile audience, Luke for the benefit of Theophilus, John to Christians generally speaking, Paul to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae to name a few. One thing these letters have in common with the possible exception of Luke is that they were written to churches. One could argue that Paul’s letters to Timothy were written to an individual believer but even then Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle issues within the body of believers.