Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
Hebrews 2:1 (KJV)
How thankful we should be for all of the reports of people coming to faith in Christ, being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and being healed and delivered in various churches across our nation! Just recently in the local church that my wife and I attend, a “Revival” meeting was scheduled in which God’s Power was in evident demonstration. We are so thankful for the powerful moving of the Holy Ghost, bringing conviction of sin, granting true repentance, leading to forgiveness and salvation, manifesting God’s Power to heal and deliver from physical and emotional bondages. However, I must ask the question: “Have we REALLY had REVIVAL?”
There is a tremendous difference between participating in a series of powerfully anointed meetings and actually experiencing REVIVAL, individually, in our homes and families, in our local church congregations, and in our various regions. I am concerned that often we have mistaken glorious gatherings for genuine transformation. Understand that “revival” is NOT primarily for the unbeliever. Although unbelievers will surely come to Christ as a result of true revival, revival is primarily for those who already claim to know Jesus as Lord, yet have cooled in their fervor and who need to once again have the smoldering coals of spiritual passion fanned into a blazing flame. So I ask once again: Have we REALLY experienced REVIVAL? Or have we merely attended and been blessed by a series of powerfully anointed meetings? Have we been content to simply be TOUCHED by God’s Holy Fire, when God’s ultimate desire has been that we be CHANGED by His Fire and CONSUMED by His Fire? I certainly cannot answer these questions for you. But I challenge you to be brutally honest with God and with yourself. The REAL test as to whether we as individuals, as families, and as local congregations have TRULY experienced “REVIVAL” begins the day after the powerful, anointed meetings are over. Do we continue increasing in our holy passion for the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom, or do we go back to “business as usual” and await the next anointed “visitation.” Please understand, experiencing a “visitation” is preferable to “no visitation.” Yet God’s ultimate Kingdom Purpose does not end with “visitation” (or even a series of “visitations”). God’s Purpose is not merely “visitation,” but “habitation” (Eph. 2:22). To put it another way, God does not simply desire “visitation,” He wants FULL CUSTODY! As one old preacher declared, “The proof is not in how high you jump, but in how you walk when you hit the ground.”
Allow me to propose a four-fold “yardstick” whereby we might evaluate whether we, individually and corporately, have actually experienced true “revival.” May God grant us true repentance where necessary (II Tim. 2:25). While we might sometimes cry at a church altar as God deals with our hearts, we must face the stark reality that true repentance might indeed BEGIN when we CRY, but it is only evidenced as we CHANGE!
Are we continuing in prayer with the same fervency that began to burn in us as we realized the possibilities of the upcoming anointed “revival” meeting? Are we cultivating our personal, intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father with the same passion ignited in us during the anointed “revival” meeting? Are we meditating God’s Word more intensely, desiring to apply and obey it more fully? Are we guarding our hearts more diligently than we were before the anointed “revival” meeting (Prov. 4:23)? Are we more grieved by sin, more compassionate toward sinners, more convicted of complacency, and more devoted to holiness? If the answers to these questions are “No,” then we may have been blessed at a powerful meeting, but we did NOT truly embrace and experience “REVIVAL!”
Is our relationship to the local church fellowship in which God has planted us more solid and secure than before? Are we truly submitting to the spiritual authority God has delegated over our lives, or are we still merely “adapting” our behavior while inwardly justifying our carnal attitudes? Are we more committed to reaching out to others with the Love and Mercy of God that we ourselves have experienced through Jesus Christ? As Pastor John H. Osteen used to say:
“Hell is too hot, Heaven is too glorious, Eternity is too long, Time is too short, The Blood of Jesus is too Powerful, The souls of men are too precious, for us to not be committed to sharing the Gospel at every opportunity!”
Does the Love of Christ truly compel us and hold us on task (II Cor. 5:14)? If we really believe that Heaven and Hell are real and eternal, that the Blood of Jesus really saves and delivers, that physical and emotional torments find their healing and deliverance in Christ, and that God has given US the responsibility to be the earthly ambassadors of His Kingdom of Mercy, Grace, Love, and Power, then how can we put ANY human priority ahead of God’s Kingdom Purpose (Matt. 6:33)? Never forget that there is a big difference between a person of “preference” and a person of “passion.” The person of “preference” does what he can. But the person of “passion” does what it takes! If we cannot answer these questions positively, then it is possible that we simply attended an anointed meeting, but did not truly experience “REVIVAL.”
Do we value more highly the God-ordained covenant relationships that He is building in our lives? Are we more determined than before to never allow “offense” to fester within us? Has it become more real to us that God’s Love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5), and are we more committed to expressing and walking in His Love, no matter the personal cost to ourselves? Have we become more transparent and accountable, both to the spiritual authority God has delegated to speak into our lives, and to one another? Do we become defensive and self-justifying when God uses our Pastor to speak a word of correction to us? Are we more willing than before to fulfill whatever ministry God has given us, both inside AND outside the four walls of the Church sanctuary, doing so joyfully and without competition or jealousy of another’s giftings or postion? If we cannot answer these questions positively, then we may have attended an anointed meeting, but we did not experience “REVIVAL.”
Do we recognize and value those in the Body of Christ, and in our local congregations, that may have different giftings and callings upon their lives than we do? Can we appreciate and cooperate more readily with others than we did before? Are we more willing to assist others in fulfilling their God-given Purpose, even if it seems to cost us? Are we more willing to perceive and embrace what God is doing through others without jealously trying to promote ourselves? Do we have a greater ability to recognize and appreciate what God is doing in and through other believers, other churches, and other denominations, even if they don’t believe exactly as we do on every point of doctrine? And Preachers, do we value the ministries of others? Do we recognize that other Preachers may be anointed and have something beneficial to say as well? Have we been delivered from “lust for self-promotion,” or are we still in love with the sound of our own voices? Do we only cooperate with others when we see how it might benefit us? And when we are invited to preach at conferences where there are other speakers as well as ourselves, do we make every effort to attend other sessions, thus honoring the host ministry and the other ministries present, or do we arrogantly show up only when it’s our turn to take the microphone? If we cannot answer these questions positively, then we may have attended an anointed meeting, but we did not experience “REVIVAL.”
In short, if our lives go “back to normal” after an anointed series of meetings, then we may have been blessed by the Presence of God in that meeting, but we did NOT experience true “REVIVAL!” Be Blessed!