The Holy Presence & the Word On Fire part 3

The Holy Presence & the Word On Fire (by Dr. Michael Brown) Part 3 They will find themselves swerving and veering, lacking clear direction. Soon enough, they will rebuild the walls that revival tore down and revert to the habits from which revival delivered them. Within a few years, they will be living on memories and trying to perpetuate those memories through now-dead forms. If only there had been a prophetic, piercing, challenging, truthful proclamation of the Word! If only there had not been so much entertainment and frivolity!

Matthew records that: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matt 4:23) Do we know better than Jesus? He gave Himself to teaching and preaching as well as healing — and He taught without compromise. (His words are so disturbing!) He taught with authority. What better time than during true revival to bring the uncompromising, prophetic call?

What better time to preach the cross than during times of renewal when Jesus is seen in His glory? Even in the intensity of the spiritual outpouring in the Book of Acts, the anointed Word was still central: Every Sabbath [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. . . . So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. (Acts 18:4-5, 11) Do we know better than Paul? But someone will say: “Oh, in our current ‘revival’ meetings, there is always time devoted to the Word of God” — especially before the offerings, I might add!

But putting that aside, when the Word is preached, what is the substance? One prominent leader has asked some questions about the current preaching emphasis. Does it exalt Jesus? Does it produce a real burden for the lost? Does it present the wrath of God along with the love of God? Does it challenge and convict? God used Charles Finney mightily in the first half of the nineteenth century. But his words still speak today! His sermons on revival preached in New York City in 1832 were subsequently published asLectures on the Revival of Religion, and these messages have gone around the world in multiple languages. Through the anointed word, the revival lives on. At the turn of this century, Jonathan Goforth, the Canadian missionary to China and Manchuria, began to get reports about the Welsh Revival. At the same time he began reading Finney’s Revival Lectures and he put into practice what he read. A move of God swept the cities where he ministered! The Great Awakening and the Methodist Revival ended more than 200 years ago. But the messages of Edwards and Wesley still challenge us today. They being dead yet speak. Their words still burn and set our hearts aflame.

Now look for a moment at the compromised worldly church of America. We know almost nothing of the dedication, sacrifice, fervor, or faith lived out daily by our brothers and sisters around the world. We know almost nothing of the gospel of martyrdom. We have little understanding of the cross. What does the Spirit want to say to us? Do we need froth or fire? What is the divine prescription for the sick patient?

Do we need surface manifestations or serious movings, frivolity or fervor, glitz or glory? Enough with all the fluff! We must never forget: Revival is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (not the “Happy Spirit” — although He brings great joy; not the “Hollow Spirit” — in spite of the impression given by some of our empty meetings; and not the “Hollywood Spirit” — in spite of our superstar preachers. He is the Holy Spirit).

I have heard Him described as “wild,” “exciting,” and “creative.” But have we forgotten that He is HOLY? His manifest presence is holy and His work is to make us holy. Peter wrote that we have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spiritfor obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood. (1 Pet 1:2) The Spirit is not a showman; He is a Sanctifier. He may cause us to weep or laugh or stagger or fall. But His goal is holiness. His goal is separation. His goal is to make us like the Son, shining in His glory and radiance.

What is holiness? According to Samuel Logan Brengle, “holiness is pure love.” Holiness is beautiful, not binding, and wonderful, not wearisome. Holiness is being like God — in character and inner nature, in heart and soul. What a blessed state! It is marked by Christlikeness instead of corruption, by divine attributes instead of devilish attitudes, by loyalty instead of lust, by generosity instead of greed, by devotion instead of drunkenness. Holiness is perfect goodness. Holiness is purity of life. But holiness will not be attained by spiritual excitement alone. It is not an abstract, nebulous “something” existing “somewhere,” no more than God Himself is just an abstract “something” existing “somewhere.” Holiness does not float in and skip out. Holiness means definite, concrete, radical change.

It means a whole new way of living. And it is grounded in the Word of God. Without a clear call to holiness, revival will run amuck. If the standards of the Lord are not clearly lifted up, the people will soon fall down (and I don’t mean in the Spirit). If their experience is not grounded in the Scriptures, they will have the long term stability of a feather blowing in the wind.

When the shouting dies down, disappointment will set in. Some will even turn against their initial, transforming experience. Why? It didn’t last. It had no solid foundation! Revivals have been famous for their revival preachers, and true revival preaching — not emotional ranting and raving or pseudo-spiritual rambling — must become central once again. Otherwise we will quickly lose our bearings. Otherwise we will drift!

There are at least six things the Holy Spirit will commonly do in times of revival: He will sanctify (Heb 9:13-14); convict (John 16:8-11); glorify Jesus (John 16:14); deliver and heal (Acts 10:38); empower (Acts 1:8); and refresh (Acts 3:19). He can do all these things by means of His inner, secret work on our hearts. But just think of how much more effective the working would be if it was coupled with His voice!

The Holy Spirit was upon Jesus to preach the Good News and to liberate the captives (Luke 4:16-18). In fact, it was through His anointed Word that the captives were set free. The Spirit does not contradict the Word, compete with the Word, or confine the Word. He confirms the Word (Heb 2:1-4). Seven times in Revelation 2-3 Jesus addressed His Church. Seven times John recorded the Lord’s exact words. And all seven times He ended by saying: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7, etc.) Jesus speaks to His people by His Spirit! Are we hearing His voice today?

The Spirit speaks His words. During revival, those words thunder forth. The message has not changed; we have changed. We need to get back to the Word! (Of course, most of our churches boast about their faithfulness to the Word, and some are even called “Word” churches — yet there’s a lot more to the Word than what you may hear in some of these places.) We need truly anointed, holy pulpits and truly anointed, holy preachers.

To be continued:

Question, do we see these things in our revivals?    Is the presence of Holy Spirit transforming?   Does the manifest presence of God stop us in our tracks?   Does His presence cut through the crust over our hearts?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris
    Mar 29, 2014 @ 21:57:51

    Excellent series, Manny. I look forward to the next installment…


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