Let us take a brief look at a revival’s telltale signs as delineated for us by the modern father of revival, Charles Finney. I personally don’t believe that the American church is nearly prepared to handle a significant outpouring of the Spirit of God. I surely hope that I am wrong! I think that one of our great missing elements is a lack of believers who walk in the Spirit. Charles Finney emphatically stresses that a revival is not a magical, unpredicted, and haphazard event that God suddenly zaps us with. On the contrary, Finney is always careful to point out, that a revival is as predictable and certain, as the sowing of a crop to produce a timely harvest. Certain components pertinent to a revival must present, before we assuredly can expect for this effectual surge of the Spirit of God. Let us look at some of these factors.
· The wickedness of our nation, and that of sinners, must deeply grieve us. We must break forth with tears, intercession, and prevail in prayer until God intervenes and answers. Our attitude towards sinners must not be a self-righteous condemning one, but one that is willing to lay down our lives for them and love them in deed, with honesty and compassion.
· Finney warns us as to a prayer life which is lukewarm. We should not expect a revival through prayers that will not pierce the heavenlies. He delineates that there must be an unceasing and prevailing spirit of prayer that will endure in the hours, days, months, and years that it takes for a revival to finally break forth.
· The believers’ heart must be equally grieved and broken by the state of his or her own spiritual walk, that of the Christian brethren, and the church in general. (Beloved, I see the church as being greatly deficient on this very point.)
· There has to be a tremendously focused effort on the part of pastors, ministers, and Christian lay people, towards the conversion of sinners. Until we adopt this kind of an attitude we should not expect a revival.
· We should not expect a revival until we are willing to pay the price to obtain it and maintain it. Sacrifice, commitment, the use of our money, our resources, our time, and our businesses, must be all concentrated to this end. (I have always wondered if the American church has the spiritual readiness and commitment to disciple and nurture the throngs that would come to Christ? It is almost better to leave a sinner as a sinner, instead of leading him to the Lord and then dropping him by the way side. Are we truly ready to lay down our lives for the masses when they are converted? If not, why should God pour out something upon us that we cannot handle and will hurt countless others. With privilege comes responsibility.
· Finally Finney tells us that for us to experience a revival, ministers of the gospel must be wiling to lay down their control and agendas and allow God to exclusively use whom He will, and whatever method or strategy the Spirit would dictate. (Once again I ask, are our churches and ministers ready to give up this kind of control?) Excerpts from “Revival Lectures” by Charles Grandiose Finney
Christ is both the power and the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Walking in the Spirit is the only way to reveal, and manifest the very person of Christ within us. It is Christ Jesus that will draw (tug) all men unto Him. Christ, as the glory of God, makes the invisible God visible, through the effective use of spiritual gifts, callings, and ministries placed within us. Christ as God’s power, is the vehicle that secures the availability of these spiritual attributes for our use, and keeps them unimpaired and flowing within our spirits.
2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue
The phrase” according to or according as” is a favorite of the apostle Paul and shares a multitude of definitions. The meaning outlined by the apostle Paul in these following verses can define “according to” as something that is limited or controlled by a certain condition” or “regulated by”
Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Paul describes that the degree and strength of God’s power available to us will be limited by, and restricted to, the manifestation of God’s presence within us. The more of His presence, the more of His power.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, The Lord will work within our lives in the realm of the exceeding abundant, in proportion to the power that is manifested through us. This power brings forth God’s gifts and ministries. His power works opposite to our fleshly or non-Spirit led activity. .
Col 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; This particular scripture teaches us that the manifested presence of God’s glory has strength to endue us with power. The measure of God’s manifested glory is what regulates the power of God in our lives.
As I had recounted in our last teaching, today, we will finish with our study on resurrection life. Please refer back to Part # 3 of this series if you would need a refresher course. God is a God who always works through the principle of death and resurrection. Because our sinful nature is so deeply corrupted, every aspect of our lives must be put to death by the cross of Christ, so that God can raise it up in purity and freedom. If we don’t understand this spiritual law, we will not learn to move in the power of God. Secondly, if we don’t learn how give our lives over to the cross moment by moment, through persistent obedience and submission to the voice of God, we will not experience the resurrection power of Christ within us. Christ will not be manifested through our lives. Every command of God leads to us to the cross. Every time that we obey the Lord it requires faith, humility, and dependency upon Him. God desires to set us free at every turn that we make for Him, and fill us more and more. He is a God of abundance. Yet, his abundance comes in proportion to our emptying ourselves of all that is not God.
Phil 2:7 But made himself of no reputation( to empty oneself, or make oneself void), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life,(present tense:, Jesus continuously placed His life down) that I might take it again.
Now let us please look at the following scripture in order to grasp something further of the ways of our Lord.
Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead,( who constantly brings to life the corpses) and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Who is calling out loud by its name, and character, the things yet not existing, as already existing.) . God’s character is to time and time again bring us through trials of weakness, impossibilities, handicaps, and difficulties, so as to cause us to come to an end of our efforts, strength, and agendas. “Our end is God’s beginning,” said the great Smith-Wigglesworth.
As we yield, and yield, and yield even more, God will fill us more, and more and more, until we can joyfully exclaim with the apostle Paul;
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Romans 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: When Christ lived with us on earth, He was Jesus Christ the son of Joseph and Mary. When He died and was resurrected from the dead, He was declared and decreed Christ Jesus, the “Anointed and Gloriously Risen One” who now sits at the right hand God. This declaration could have only taken place through the resurrection from the dead. God can only declare His power and glory through resurrection. He can only resurrect what has died and acquired a corpse like condition.
eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, These next verses are supremely important. The greatest manifestation of God’s power came at the time that He raised Jesus Christ from a corpse conferring the title on Him of Christ Jesus. God’s feat of power seized Jesus Christ as a corpse, brought Him to life as Christ Jesus, and launched Him far above all heavens, far above all demonic power, and far above every name that is named upon the earth and in the heavens, whether the name of death, sickness, sin, or impossibility. The more dead and impossible a situation in our lives becomes, the more God will exert His resurrection power. This is the secret of walking in the Spirit.
God inspired Watchman Nee, the great man of God from China, with a tremendous series of revelations on “Walking in the Spirit” through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Today I would like to divert your attention to the life of Isaac. If you were to study the life of Isaac, you would be surprised at how uneventful it really was.
· The little that Isaac did on his own, got literally messed up. Yet God calls Himself the God of Isaac. It behooves us then, to gleam some nuggets of truth from him.
Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
· Let us now look now at the only activity that Isaac performed and how it backfired on him.
Gen 26:18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.
19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.
20And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him
Isaac had determined to either dig afresh, or unstop some old wells that had been dug years before, probably either by his father Abraham or some of his acquaintances. The plan boomeranged on him because the wells that Isaac dug were claimed to be on the land of a man by the name of Gerar. Apart from this incident, the rest of Isaac’s life describes a man who knew how to receive, was victorious in obtaining every blessing, and had everything literally brought to him. For example;
· His father Abraham had Isaac’s wife sought out for him by his most trusted servant.
Gen 24:4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.
9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.
10 ¶ And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
· After his wife was found, God then brings her to Isaac!
Genesis 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
· Isaac does very little and yet Abraham gives to him everything!
Genesis 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
Isaac had learned one of the greatest lessons of walking in the Spirit. That of being a son of God. Only a son or daughter of God can ever truly walk after the Spirit of God.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
God has already given to us everything. We are co-inheritors with Christ. Therefore, all that belongs to Christ belongs to us. Every blessing, all power, and all authority, in the very same measure given to Christ, co-equally has been given to us.
1 Corinthians 3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
Our responsibility lies in receiving all by faith. Smith-Wigglesworth said that faith unlocks every vault in heaven. However, our inherited blessings are only manifested through the person of Christ. The more that we die to ourselves, and allow Christ Jesus to be manifested in our lives, the more that we will enter into, and enjoy our inheritance. If we stay within ourselves through disobedience, we shall not experience the fullness of God’s inheritance. Secondly, one will never be a son or a daughter if their aim is to please their earthly parents through guilt, fear, striving, and performance. A true son or daughter will obey, with a purest desire to please, when it is done from a relationship of love. The best leaders are those who inspire obedience from others through wisdom, kindness, love, and a desire to protect those whom they are leading. So it is with God. He would not have us obey Him because we feel guilty, fearful or think that we have to work to earn His approval. The cross of Christ will kill all these things in us, if we choose to let it have its full reign and course. The purpose of the cross is to make us into sons and daughters of the Most High God. The cross has the power to deeply and decisively eliminate from us all, until what remains, is our obedience to God out of love, through the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. The guilt and condemnation departs from us, because God takes all liability off from our shoulders.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
God make himself responsible for showing us all, guiding us into all things, and performing all things of us. Our employment becomes solely that of discerning what the risen Lord wants to do within us and execute it on His behalf. No more striving, no more strategizing, no more devising. This is where we become sons and daughters. Receiving every blessing by faith and obeying the voice of God! My brethren, mark my words!!! Your real ministry will only begin at this point!! Ministry comes out of our co-operation with what the risen Christ wants to do, not our will, but His!
Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. This vitally important scripture tells us that the cross of Christ has killed all of our attempts to serve God through guilt, condemnation, and striving. The law symbolizes our attempts to serve God through agendas, programs, and outreaches, outside of the leading of the Spirit. When the cross of Christ has destroyed all these tendencies within our lives, we are left with a simple obedience to the Holy Spirit. We have become one with the living Christ in us. We find out that Jesus does the works. He bears real fruit through us as we cooperate with, and obey His promptings.
I would like us to briefly look at how Jesus ministered. You will discover that Jesus never went out to look for ministry. The Father always brought to Him everyone whom He would have Jesus touch and heal. Once again we see the principle of sonship. As we grow in our faith, we shall see that all ministry which is performed outside of the Father’s leading, and His bringing to us, is sure to yield little fruit. When God brings ministry to us, we can be 100% assured that the blessings and power of God will always accompany it.
John 8:5 ¶ And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
Matthew 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
Mat 8:28 ¶ And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
The Dangers of Passivity, Laziness, and Boredom
We have now completed our fourth study on this series of “Walking in the Spirit”. There is still much for us to learn. By God’s will, we shall continue.
However, I must conclude this study with a word of caution and exhortation for all of us. There is a real and serious danger of deception by Satan and his minions for all who would endeavor to walk in the Spirit. As a young believer I fell into this very trap. Watchman Nee calls it passivity. When I was endeavoring to learn how to walk in the Spirit, I thought that I could not perform even the simplest action, if the Spirit of God was not explicitly directing me. I became deceived, and did not hold a job because I did not feel led by the Spirit. I would not eat meals, I would be indecisive on what clothes to wear, and would not even gone to the bathroom unless I felt led by the Spirit to do so. It seems funny and amusing, but it shows to us how seriously the demonic realm is able to deceive us, if we are not careful.
God is a loving Father and not controlling dictator. In almost every instance pertaining to our normal daily lives God will not regulate or control. Pertaining to our seasons of cleanliness, clothing ourselves, eating, and sleeping, these are givens that our God has already put into place. We have a free will and must use our discretion, will, common sense, and judgment to actively accomplish these things as our day progresses. We are sons and daughters of the most high God and are consequently free. We are not slave or robots. What I have discovered is that the leading of the Spirit has to do more with ministry issues, major life decisions such as employment, marriage, change of locality, and most church government affairs.
Christians must be the hardest working and most active people on the planet. We must dedicate our lives to the study and research of the scriptures. We must learn how to pray much with prayers that will prevail and break through into the heavenlies. We must not forsake our fellowship with other believers. We must hold jobs; be active, liberally share with others in need, honor our parents and so forth. Our commitment to God and our objective with Him is to learn to obey Him immediately, joyfully and unreservedly. We must become vessels of gold or silver fit for the Master’s use, and be solely led by the voice of God. Many whom will be greatly used by the Lord will be put on the shelf for number of years. To those who are waiting upon their ministry, I encourage you to continue with the greatest of activity to seek God, allowing the cross of Christ to perform its complete work, relentlessly obeying the Lord in the tiniest of affairs. Ministry will come to us; we will not have to seek it. God can do more through one man or woman led by the Spirit, than a thousand led by the flesh. Remember this please: One of the devil’s greatest tools is to make us passive, inactive, lazy and bored. He wants to stop the work of God at all cost!
I believe that the American church on the whole, is a bored church. Wonderful and gifted believers expend their energies in performing many of the same activities that have entangled worldly people. Outside of their going to Sunday church, a home fellowship group, and an occasional outreach, their lives show little difference. Many Christians are bored and wrapped up in many unfruitful activities. I can guarantee you, that the devil has led these believers to this very point through their unwillingness to go all the way with the Lord, and allow the cross of Christ to kill and raise up, where true ministry can only begin.
Finally, there are many wonderful, but lazy Christians living especially in America. Back in the 1970’s such believer’s were tagged as “fat spiritual babies still in diapers” after many years of following the Lord. Once again through a their fundamental lack of obedience to God, the enemy has paralyzed them. Tempting thoughts and feelings of laziness, selfishness, complacency, and comfort have been injected into their minds. The scripture that follows is one of the most sobering in the whole Bible.
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.( the Greek here states that our habitual acts of disobedience, energizes Satan to work in our lives. Christians or non-Christians; Disobedience to God, gives energy to the devil!!)
The church is full of people who want the instant miracle, the one hundred-fold return, and a Santa Claus God, without paying the price for the power and the fruit.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured( Greek: to the point of exhaustion) more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.