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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From Sound the Trumpet!, March 2014
We are living in an environment which draws our hearts away from the Lord and the things of God. We are tainted by a Sodom-like culture and yet we have a false sense of spirituality that deceives us and blinds us to our low spiritual condition. I think it is no coincidence that in these last days we see our lives reflected in the record of the Laodicean church of the last days.
The message to Laodicea shouts out to us. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Revelation 3:15-17)
What more accurate description could we have of the church of the present hour? We cannot honestly deny our condition. We as believers have lost our separation from the world and we seem to be unaware of it. Our indifference to the demands of God's Word has grieved the Spirit and left our hearts lukewarm no matter how much we profess our allegiance to Christ. We seem to have lost our understanding of what the church is; what it is to be and what it is to be doing. We have shaped the church after the world until the church is no longer recognizable to the Biblical pattern.
One of the misconceptions that has stumbled us is the notion that we were born to be happy, the truth is that we were born to be holy. God does want us to happy; He is the author of joy and pleasure. However true joy and real pleasure can only be found where holiness reigns supreme. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart" or happy are the holy.
God is more concerned with the state of people's hearts than with the state of their feelings. The pursuit of holiness will ultimately end with the joy of the Lord.
We stand today with Isaiah who cried out to the God so long ago, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)
Let us be honest, we need revival. We need the winds of God to sweep over our souls not our emotions. Emotional experience lasts but an hour and then our hearts are harder than before.
We need a revival that changes our lives as it did the lives of the disciples. True revival is inscribed on the pages of the New Testament.
"And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him." (Matthew 4:22) They forsook all to follow Him, they followed Him, no turning back until they willingly laid down their lives for Him.
Jesus described what a true disciple looks like. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) That brings conviction to my own heart and it is a rebuke to us all. I think over the years how weary I have grown listening to men explain away what Jesus so clearly taught here.
Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler and challenged him to give up all that he had. "Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich." (Luke 18:22-23) Do you get the impression that there is no middle ground with the Lord regarding discipleship?
The church has a thousand new methods, new programs, new music, new ideas, seminars, promotions and devices and yet none of it works, we need revival not the building of a house of cards. The most beautiful golden calf is still a golden calf.
We can have revival but we will not pay the price so we do not see souls being saved, we do not see the power of God in our lives and in our churches. Instead of being smitten with conviction the world laughs at us.
A. W. Tozer laid out the way to revival for you and I. Dare we pay the price? He has given us a sure formula:
1. GET THOROUGHLY DISSATISFIED WITH YOURSELF
Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is the stagnant soul. When speaking of earthly goods Paul could say, "I have learned to be content." (Philippians 4:11) However when referring to his spiritual life he testified, "I press on toward the goal." (Philippians 3:14) "So stir up the gift of God that is in thee." (II Timothy 1:6)
2. SET YOUR FACE LIKE A FLINT TOWARD A SWEEPING TRANSFORMATION OF YOUR LIFE
Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God.
3. PUT YOURSELF IN THE WAY OF THE BLESSING
It is a mistake to look for grace to visit us as a kind of benign magic, or to expect God's help to come as a windfall apart from conditions known and met. There are plainly marked paths which lead straight to the green pastures; let us walk in them. To desire revival, for instance, and at the same time to neglect prayer and devotion is to wish one way and walk another.
4. DO A THOROUGH JOB OF REPENTING
Do not hurry to get it over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. Until we allow the consciousness of sin to wound us, we will never develop a fear of evil. It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.
5. MAKE RESTITUTION WHENEVER POSSIBLE
If you owe a debt, pay it. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible, make the crooked things straight.
6. BRING YOUR LIFE INTO ACCORD WITH THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
New Testament Scriptures as are designed to instruct us in the way of righteousness. An honest man with an open Bible and a pad and pencil is sure to find out what is wrong with him very quickly. I recommend that the self-examination be made on our knees rising to obey God's commandments as they are revealed to us from the Word.
7. BE SERIOUS-MINDED
You can well afford to see fewer comedy shows on TV. Unless you break away from the funny boys, every spiritual impression will continue to be lost to your heart, and that right in your own living room. The devil's ideals, moral standards and mental attitudes are being accepted by you without your knowing it. And you wonder why you can make no progress in your Christian life.
8. DELIBERATELY NARROW YOUR INTERESTS
The jack-of-all-trades is the master of none. The Christian life requires that we be specialists. Too many projects use up time and energy without bringing us nearer to God.
9. BEGIN TO WITNESS
Find something to do for God and your fellow men. Refuse to rust out. Make yourself available to your pastor and do anything you are asked to do. Do not insist upon a place of leadership. Learn to obey.
10. HAVE FAITH IN GOD
Begin to expect. Look up toward the throne where your Advocate sits at the right hand of God. All heaven is on your side. God will not disappoint you.
Is there someone who will break out of the pack and lead the way to a movement of God as the end of the age draws near? Oh that we might see once again a mighty movement of God's Spirit! That we might see a movement in our own hearts, a movement in our churches and a movement that will spill out on the world around us.
The cost is high, it will cost you the world, it will cost you your all, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)