Revival is not a Christian idea or term. The word “revive” means to bring back to life or to restore beliefs that motivate an emotive response.
Stephen Phinney | IM Author Blog Contributor
A revival can evoke many ideologies or beliefs.
When asked to write a commentary on the Asbury revival, I knew I would tamper with Pandora’s box. If you are not familiar with Pandora’s Box, according to Greek mythology, it is a container, if opened, releases physical and emotional curses upon mankind. The modern view of this box is anything that looks ordinary but may produce unpredictable harmful results if opened.
From a “Christian” worldview, revival is supposedly about restoring the believer's relationship with Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit through repenting of what breaks our fellowship with Him. However, since the word revival is not in the Bible, we must examine the ideology OF revival.
I grew up in a generation where revivals were the norm. It was common to have tent meetings or church weekends dedicated to “Revivals.” I also participated in the first Jesus Revolution in the 70s. I actually became an indwelt believer during this time. I saw the “casting out of demons,” non-stop prayer meetings, and even a few miracles. However, within a few short months, I returned to selling drugs in the newly founded Christian coffee shops. As I looked around, I saw that the vast majority of my friends who were a part of this revival, who professed Christ, had returned to their barbaric lifestyle. Not only that, many of those individuals today have denounced Jesus altogether.
Call me a skeptic, but the movements such as the “Asbury Revival” or any other gathering who uses the term do not nudge me to place any hope in group revivals. My research proves that most of the historic revivals end in the mass exit of believers regarding their faith in Jesus. While my skepticism is offensive to most, you might want to hear me out.
While Satan is into movements, God is into revived hearts.
First, I want to remind you that I was one of those who had a life change in a revival. Secondly, there is a reality that Satan’s demons are also there to do their work where God is at work.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
Through the Grace of God, I was one who walked away transformed for life. To this day, I continue to proclaim that Jesus is God, came to us in the flesh, paid the price for salvation, and offers indwelling Life to the truly repentant. I cannot say that about most individuals who were a part of the 70s revival. Most importantly, the Jesus People from this movement are the founders of our present-day progressive church movement. History proves this. While I tampered with the cultural movement birthed from the revival, I jumped out early enough to save my hide because of the Holy Spirit within me. Today as a cultural historian, I understand that movements provoke movements.
This morning I decided to watch/listen to the morning service of the Asbury Revival. While I pay little attention to the emotive raised hands and tear “felt” music, I directed my attention to the message from the pulpit. While I heard many alarming statements, I will share one that proves my point. The leader said We are all about diversity and less about the church structure. The attendees broke out in shouts of agreement. This might sound like a positive statement to a generation that demands diversity and anti-authority, but it directly opposes the Scriptures. In fact, it erases the functional foundation OF the Church.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
It doesn’t take a historian to figure out where this movement could redirect the youth after their focus is shifted from the emotive display of music to what’s next. Any observant church leader knows that music is the perfect medium to inject a message – Biblical or otherwise. It is what music is for. In this, I find my ideal way of testing the spirits.
If we logically follow through with the ramifications of the message I heard, the youth was set up to resist the elders of the Church, and their rules of order. Secondly, the message of diversity became the campaign motto of what's next. Jesus could care less about diversity! He does care about saving the souls despite their self-proclaimed importance to races or nations. He simply wants to provide a passageway for all sinners to be born-again and filled with the Holy Spirit without agendas or favoritism.
Watch out for the Millennial Jesus!
No, it's not the same Jesus of the Holy Bible. This new Jesus Revolution christ figure is materialized through clever marketing and movements. He is portrayed as a Jesus who gets us. He is diversified, sometimes gay, other times female, nasty as it sounds, bisexual, and minimally accepts the chosen lifestyle of all sinners and their individualized views of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, AND the church. Folks, this is not the real Jesus. As Biblical John said, this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
Either John lied to us, or something horrifically truthful is being revealed here. The youth today are “feeling” based. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. At least, that seems to be the outcome of their emotive culture. Truth hurts. It is so immovable; it originally was meant to force people to their knees in repenting for resisting it – Him. So, this leaves us with the issue of authentic repentance.
Repentance is not only an expelling of confessions of sins; it is deeper still. True repentance is acknowledging that Jesus Christ, the original Jesus, is the Son of God, is God, and will bring humanity to an end by His wrath – as stated in Revelation 19:15.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
The masses today reject the full character of Jesus – His narrow pathway, immovable measures of Truth, His condemnation of those who refute His absolutes, and worse yet, the preparation of Hell for all those who partake in the revisionism who He is.
So, why did I waver after a revival?
That is an easy question to answer. I was not discipled by a church leader who understood Christ in you. After I became indwelt, I walked away with the misnomer of my growth is up to me. I worked relentlessly to integrate what I heard in the revival into my life through self-effort. The results? A quick fade into my preprogrammed ideations and beliefs of my self-serving mind. Thanks to the intercession of a young woman, now my wife, I was led into exploring what a real-deal Christian was all about. Not long after marriage, I was introduced to a Godly man who discipled me unto his death. My conclusion? Without the discipleship of an elder, I would most likely still be selling drugs. I tell my wife occasionally, without her & my discipleship with Dr. Solomon; I’d probably be in prison or dead.
Revivals or spiritual enlightenment are great for the human soul. Neither work well in a group environment. Just as a nation cannot be “Christian,” nor can a group. However, souls can experience revival and spiritual enlightenment as long as the Holy Spirit is at the core of the awakening.
Without question, some of the attendees of revivals had their lives transformed in Christ. While the world is watching the hands go into the air, some forget what is being taught to these vulnerable students. When we see a revival in the young and old, as well as in the church globally, it might be worthy of the term "revival." Remember that revivals are for each individual attending – not for the group. For now, I am watching the Lamb of God, testing the spirits in observation and not in the emotive worship of what might be a clever trick by this new Millennial Jesus.
Ironically, we will not know the answer to the authenticity of this most recent “revival” until a minimum of 5 years. Each soul of the attendees will need to be checked for the fruit of the Holy Spirit after the “feelings” of the revival have come and gone. Then, and only then, can we see with our eyes the lives that walked away from the emotive movement, are strong in the Lord and are sturdy enough to endure to the end.
If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:12-13)
As usual, it is always about authentic indwelt transformation. Suppose any movement or worship service builds better followers while missing the born-again element. In that case, the soul will fade over time into denying the Christ God Himself gave to the world for indwelling salvation.
I thank our Lord for changing the lives of those who experienced authentic repentance, and either were revived in Christ or indwelt by Him. We all should pray for individualized revival for the full Body of Christ. Better yet, those who indeed were touched by the Holy Spirit may find quality disciplers who will lead them into the practical functionality of releasing the Holy Spirit from within, while experiencing true joy in the Lord.
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