In the book of Esther, Mordecai has been requesting of Queen Esther to go before the King to petition to save her people. Esther knows that coming before the King uninvited may have disastrous consequences, but Mordecai responds: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14b). Over the last year, the subject of Revival has been burning in my heart. I’ve wanted to understand more about the historical roots of Revival, just as much as I have felt that the embers of another Revival are glowing.
Revival has not only been on my mind, but I have heard it come up in conversations and with the recent Azusa Street Revival celebration (and those simultaneously around the globe)… clearly it’s a global burn. The timing of the Missions and Revival course couldn’t have come at a better time. To grasp what a future Revival is going to look like, we must examine the Revivals of the past… from Pentecost forward to the isolated geographical Revivals that are already happening. There was a portion from the class presentation by Dr. Bruce Ballast that gave me cause to pause, and ask myself… are we living in “such at time as this”?
An excerpt from Dr. Bruce Ballast’s book:
“Is there a means that God uses in His sovereignty to bring about a revival in this country that is quantifiable? In the next few chapters I want to focus on a few commonalities from which we can learn. There are at least four factors that recur in these periods of history:
- They are preceded by a time of religious decline, sometimes referred to as declension, in the country.
- God’s people then feel called to pray;
- Prayer leads the church to confession and work t hat allows the Holy Spirit to break out in power;
- The revival then produces leaders who continue the revival spirit and create new methods of evangelism or refine old ones.”
In the last few years, a particular piece of scripture keeps popping up. Whether it shows up in a group Bible study, or in my own personal time with the Lord, 2 Timothy 3 is ever present. When leading a group in Bible study, the reaction to 2 Timothy 3 is the same: “That sounds like today, doesn’t it?” Women in my study groups recognize that the warning issued in the scripture is a parallel to the world we are living in today.
2 Timothy 3 (copied from BibleGateway.com)
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will manifest to all, as theirs also was.
The Man of God and the Word of God
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I do not believe it would be bold of me to suggest that most of the church would agree that there has been a spiritual decline in the United States. Churches are closing doors, Christians are pitted against each other on subject of social justice and political correctness. Abortion rates are at 25% of all pregnancies, children are changing genders, people are more concerned about their rights than the overall health and happiness of the population. Drug addiction, pornography addiction, and violence is too common. The family unit has begun to change face as we have embraced single parent homes by choice. Even within the pews of the church we have those who harbor bitter roots of unforgiveness, seek financial prosperity over personal edification, we can not tithe because we are in debt beyond our capacity to repay, and false promises/gods/idols are creeping their way into our homes.
The church is called to persevere, and keep running the race… but just as the scriptures warn us evil gets worse, deception grows. If we can see ourselves in the words of the Scriptures, then I believe we fulfill the first point in Dr. Ballast’s conditions. We must be in a state of spiritual decline. Are we not in such a time as this?
As the faithful become more aware of the parallel between the world today and the warning of 2 Timothy 3, more and more congregations are turning to prayer. Movements are happening within larger ministries that are bringing prayer to forefront of our priorities, and books are being published to direct our faces to Christ through deeper and purposeful prayers. Such as, Priscilla Shirers book Fervent and movie War Room, Revive Our Hearts’ Cry Out prayer event, local churches putting aside denominations to stand in prayer for Revival to come, building prayer ministries and churches setting up prayer rooms, as well as individuals being called to intentional prayer in their lives are becoming more and more prevalent.
One thing that I have noticed in all of the historical accounts of great Revival is a precursor of ramped up prayer life, particularly noticeable among the women of the body of believers. Women starting prayer groups, women praying for specific leaders to come forward, women praying for Revival, or women who are crying out to God to do a mighty work and inviting the Holy Spirit into their towns. Prayer is an integral first step into ushering in Revival, by preparing the hearts of those the Holy Spirit is going to move through. I feel confident is saying that I am witnessing this call to prayer in the lives of women in my local community as well as abroad. The second condition of Dr. Bruce Ballast’s list is being actively met. We are crying out in a time such as this, for the Holy Spirit to bring Revival to His people.
In his third condition, Dr. Ballast suggests that through prayer the church is called to repent. On April 9, 2016 there was an event called Azusa Now, which was on the 110th anniversary of the original Azusa Street Revival. By the blessing of technology, I was able to watch almost the entire Revival event. What I witnessed was breathtaking. The organizers of the event were adamant that the Lord could not bring the Spirit of Revival upon the nation until the church was ready to repent. We needed to repent of the division we had created, we needed to forgive, we needed to reconcile.
When I look through the great Revivals of history, they each had a focus. It is my belief that the theme of the next Revival is going the be Reconciliation of the Church unto Him! We are a people divided, stiff necked, each with their own opinion of what is right, and many listening to those who would tickle their ears with what they want to hear. Man has molded faith to his liking versus molding himself to Christ likeness. At Azusa Now, I witnessed a Christian Pastor, Catholic Priest, and Messianic Rabbi each present an olive branch of reconciliation. Each asking for, and giving, forgiveness to one another in such a humbling and contrite manner that it brought tears to my eyes and convicted my heart of forgiveness that was long over due. Are our hearts being broken, for what breaks His, in such a time as this?
The final condition Dr. Ballast suggests is that there will be an emergence of leaders who are going to usher in the starting point of Revival. It is within reason to suggest that some of these leaders are already positioned on a global scale. However, what we know about Revival is that as much as there will be leaders who have a larger, public, platform (like that of Billy Graham); there is also a need for local leaders who are going to step forward and continue their work in the local congregations. The Lord has granted us technology that allows those larger than life leaders to gain an audience all over the globe. However without local leaders to continue the discipleship process, we would leave these new converts in a lurch.
Without a doubt, the Lord is going to raise up strong leaders who are going to be part of the Revival process. However, there is a responsibility for those of us who are already leading in the church to begin to equip our lay leaders to pick up the baton and lead those new converts as they enter our church doors. We also need to be equipping leaders who can go forward and assist the leaders God brings forward, as they reach out into the community to bring people to Christ. We need mature leaders who can help those that the Lord has brought into repentance, as they find themselves coming back into the fold from which they have wandered. We will need leaders and teachers who have sound doctrine and understanding of the scriptures to teach in the years that will follow the Revival.
With an ever growing population, we are going to need enough leaders and teachers who are ready to disciple and mentor in place (or at least working toward being ready). This means that our current churches need to be preparing for Revival by discerning leaders in the body and coming up with development plans for their spiritual growth. Impressing upon our existing body a desire for Biblical literacy, disciplined prayer life, discipleship/mentor relationships with our seasoned believers, and encouragement to those in the body who feel a call to pastorship or ministry leadership. A great start for this intentional movement toward preparation would include a more direct path toward identifying the spiritual gifts of the congregation, and then applying those gifts into the church now. Is the Lord readying His people for such a time as what is about to come? Is a time such as this drawing nearer?