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The revival is a continuous subject among the believers. The believers yearn for multiplying and growing of the church. We see many attempts and efforts in this matter among the Christians:
- there are many who are praying for years for the revival,
- there are people who emphasis the steady evangelism,
- in the US started a movement of emerging church based on scientific foundation, partially intertwined with a new apostolic-prophetic movement, where the revival is expected from the anointed apostles,
- there were again people, who desiring to gain the cities started a spiritual fight against the spiritual powers, creating a new science thereby.
We know the in China, India and Iraq in spite of the great persecution the prohibited churches were assembling in homes and growing immensely, simply exercising their faith. (I don’t want to consider the trendy movement of the “home churches” as a key of the solution, as a showy result.)
There are many who are searching the key of the revival and would be like a starter or part of the renewal. Many people came to that conclusion that all the revival of the history begun with the prayer of some devoted believers. There are even today a lot of those, but on the western part of the world we cannot see any revival. No one should be deceived by the mega-churches, which are in the last time growing immensely. The investigations in the US proved that the numbers of the nominal Christians didn’t grow, just rearranged, namely the members were moving from the smaller and traditional churches to mega-churches.
I don’t want to judge the attempts and I don’t try to define the key of the revival. After the many scientific analysis and investigations, practical experiences I would like to call attention to some biblical principles, especially to the life of the churches and the individuals.
In the Acts we can see some true and great revival in the life of the church in Jerusalem, later in Antioch, which can give us a little guidance. First of all I don’t intend to talk about the 3000 people who repented on the day of Pentecost, because I think, it was in a sense an unique event in the history, which was the outcome of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the church.
We cannot leave it out of consideration that the first Pentecost begun with the prayer of some devoted believers, which was the result of the conversion of the 3000 people and the foundation of the church in Jerusalem.
Reading carefully the book of Acts we could compose, that this book shows us the work of the Holy Spirit by the work of the Apostles and the churches.
We can note one thing. We, as human beings, cannot create revival. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit is able to perform the renewal work of God. The question is next, we believers what can do at all for the revival, except to pay attention to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s see some growth in the life of the churches, where it is very important to consider and segregate
- what have the church and the believers done.
- and what has God done.
The life and daily growth of the church in Jerusalem
We know that in the day of the Pentecost 120 people were filled by the Holy Ghost in the upper room, and as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit converted 3000 men and so started the church in Jerusalem. This cannot happen today otherwise. Without disciples filled with the Holy Spirit and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit we cannot expect any revival. To those disciples anointed by the Holy Spirit joined those 3000 men, who
- became distressed for their sins, and really repented of their sins, converted
- giving into death their old nature were all of them baptized by immersion and anointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
This was an “evangelical work”, which was preceded by the predict of Peter before the great multitude.
Now let’s see how this church practiced his daily life, of which was a consequence, that God multiplied the church daily by the believers:
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
We can see clearly two things out of this passage:
- the church was doing his duty. This was a very devoted, faithful fellowship, which were in a total unison, which really feared God and took care of the poor people.
- God did His own task too: increased the church.
We ought not to fall into that error that the church doesn’t do his duty which God expects from him in His word, replacing God he tries to multiply the church by different human methods. The matter of the church is a life according to God; the increasing is the task of the sovereign God, through the work of the Holy Spirit. If we take note and keep of this two things, we took steps in the growing’s behalf.
Now let’s see that the true and holy God, the Holy Spirit when will send into the church those that should be saved. How should be the church, into which God will send those believers who are called and regarded right by Him multiplying by this the church.
We can make it absolutely clear that God and the Holy Spirit know their task and are doing that perfectly. They are absolutely not blamable for the lack of growing.
The question is now, if the church is doing everything that God expects of him by the manner written in His word?
Let’s see in details what has characterized the church in Jerusalem, what pleased God, and because of He regarded suitable to send there the multitude of those who were saved:
- all the believers were really converted and repented souls,
- all of them gave their old man into death and were baptized in the water,
- they received the present of the Holy Spirit,
- they daily took part of the doctrine of the apostles,
- they had daily deep fellowship and were in total unison (had their heart and mind united)
- they gathered together daily in public and in homes,
- they broke the bread daily in homes (received the Lord’s supper)
- they prayed constantly,
- everyone had the fear of God, therefore feared to sin: they were holy,
- the apostles have done many miracles and signs,
- each of them had true faith,
- no one of them regarded anything as his own, all were common,
- they sold their property that were above their need and shared the income among those that were in need,
- they were of pure heart
- they praised God,
- they were pleased before all men.
It is worthwhile to consider that the life of the today’s churches – in all details – how much is comparable to this?!
Now let us see a later account from the life of the church in Jerusalem, the case of Ananias and Safire which reveals a very important thing related to the growing of the church:
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” (Acts 5:1-16)
To sum up the essence of the story we can realize the following: when in a church are exposed secret sins and men die for their secret sins, it fills the believers with holy fear of God, so that the people of the world doesn’t even dear to mix among them, but are praising them. But God sends the true believers, who have nothing to fear of, for they really repented and have forsaken their sins, and thus many joined to the church.
According of the principle of the two or three witnesses let’s see the third event, namely what happened to Antioch, just among a little different circumstances:
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:19-26)
To summarize the event we can see that on behalf of the persecution after the martyr-death of Stephen the believers were fled from Jerusalem into Antioch. They begun to preach Christ first among the gentiles and the hand of the Lord was with them there, and a great multitude turned unto the Lord. The grace of God was upon them visible. Those of the gentiles seeing the church they begun to call them Christians, that is Christ-like, since out of their newborn life was visible the nature of Christ.
It appears of these events very clear that it is not to expect that without the holiness of the church and the believers, their devoted life and fellowship, care of the needy and the sovereign deed of God the multitude of believers would join to the church. God is holy, the Holy Spirit is holy as well, and He will send truly repented and holy men only to holy congregation. This is the spiritual law of God. Every other human attempt is failure! It is not to wonder – according to the same spiritual law – that if the churches compromise with the holiness of the church than those members who desire to live a sacrificed life will leave those churches where even the visible sins are tolerated. This is even the will of God, for God is holy and just!
It seems like we are witnesses of an adverse selection in the western world. In the name of a false love and toleration is the sin tolerated, and therefore those people who don’t want to give up their carnal desires fear not to enter into those churches and there mix with those who are inside, because there is almost no difference. Such churches attract those who don’t want to repent, but God doesn’t want to send true converts into such congregations, but rather will lead them out of there. On the eastern part of the world the situation is slightly better because of the persecution (see the book “Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun). We have to see one thing clear: the church according to God can only function based upon the law of God. God will only than call and send the multitude of the new believers into the churches, when the church is suitable for the expectation of God. This is God’s spiritual law, which cannot be replaced by any human efforts, because of that will just “Ishmaelites” born and will bring peril upon the people of God. True revival can happen only according God’s rules and His will, as we can see from the above mentioned things, for which is not enough just wait and pray, but first we have to do what God expects of us.
To Him be the glory for everything.
Transleted by Tibor Diriczi
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