The Means God Uses for an Awakening.

During this week, we’ll take a break from our study of the Gospel of Matthew and focus on the subject of awakening and revival. In recent months, there has been much discussion concerning what are the characteristics of a true revival? Is it simply about emotion or is there something more?

A biblical awakening means a stirring, a recognition, realization and a revival in desiring for, and following the truth of, God. The true of God is found in the Scriptures. An awakening is the believer’s initial, or renewed, passion for God: intellectually, emotionally and volitionally.

The individual’s initial awakening the Bible refers to as justification or conversion. Subsequent awakenings that follow conversion the Bible calls sanctification or consecration. All true revivals are a work solely of the Spirit of God.

What means does God use to bring about a spiritual awakening in an individual, a church, a community, or even a nation? Does the end or goal, in this case a revival, justify the use of any or all means and methods? I echo the words of the Apostle Paul, and ultimately the Holy Spirit, by responding, “By no means!” (Romans 3:6; 6:1, 15; 7:7, 13).

There are many individuals, including leaders within the church, who believe that the ends justify the means. They would argue that the salvation of anyone means that the church should use any and all methods to bring about that conversion. They erroneously use I Corinthians 9:22 to justify any philosophy of ministry. “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.”

The phrase, by all means is used to support any and all activities within the church, and para-church, ministries and worship services. The use of secular music, drama, dance, extreme emotional mosh pits, profanity from the pulpit, and even the pastor entering a worship service by zip lining into the sanctuary immediately prior to his speaking are defended as legitimate means to accomplish revival. What a tragedy.

The phrase by all means (πάντως; pantos) refers to certainty and a strong emphasis. It means undoubtedly. It is not the phrase by all means necessary. Instead, it is an expression of biblical conviction rather than a justification for any type of methodology for revival. Paul, within the bounds of God’s word, would not offend the Jew, Gentile, or those weak in understanding. Rather than changing Scripture or compromising the truth, he would condescend in ways that could lead to salvation. He would do so with great certainty, emphasis and a lack of doubt because he was committed to Scripture.

In an article entitled Restoration of Truth and Revival, Pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote the following words in 1887. “The extent to which sheer frivolity and utterly inane amusement have been carried in connection with some places of worship would almost exceed belief. There can be no doubt that all sorts of entertainments, as nearly as possible approximating to stage-plays, have been carried on in connection with places of worship, and are, at this present time in high favour. Can these things promote holiness, or help in communion with God? Can men come away from such things and plead with God for the salvation of sinners, and the sanctification of believers? We loathe to touch the unhallowed subject; it seems so far removed from the walk of faith and the way of heavenly fellowship. In some cases the follies complained of are even beneath the dignity of manhood, and fitter for the region of the imbecile than for thoughtful men.”

As we conclude today’s post, and prior to our examination of the God ordained means of revival when next we meet, consider the words by Pastor John MacArthur.

“The contextualization of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age. It has opened the church’s doors wide for worldliness, shallowness, and in some cases a crass, party atmosphere. The world now sets the agenda for the church.”

Is there any hope today for a true, biblical and spiritual revival? What are the God ordained means for such an awakening? That is what we will consider tomorrow. I encourage you to read Acts 2:42-47 in preparation. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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