THE ANTECEDENTS OF TRUE REVIVAL (Part 1)
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12 NKJV).
It is only carnal, immature, or undiscerning believers that will not admit that today’s Church is in dire need of true spiritual awakening or revival. It is disheartening that the Church which is supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth is now stumbling in darkness and riddled with corruption.
Rather than invading, permeating and influencing the world with Christ’s values and virtues, sadly, it is the world that is now invading, permeating and influencing the Church with its values, vices and lies.
Rather than making disciples of all the nations for Christ, many believers today have become followers of unregenerate and ungodly celebrities.
The spiritual state of the Church today is apparently similar to the state of the church in Sardis which the Lord rebuked in the book of Revelation.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
2 “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
3 “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (NKJV).
We certainly need true revival and we need it fast. However, revival does not just happen. The history has proved this to be true. Both in the Bible and in our contemporary days, there are some occurrences, events, circumstances, situations or realizations that always precede true and lasting spiritual awakenings or revivals. These are called “the antecedents of revival.”
It is a sheer delusion to expect revival without any antecedents. There are things that must happen, preparations that we must make, or things that we must know and do before revival can break forth in our lives, churches, streets, schools, communities and nations.
Sowing always precedes reaping!
Breaking up the fallow ground of our hearts always precedes revival!
12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (NKJV).
If we don’t seek God with the whole of our hearts, we should not expect Him to reveal Himself to us, or to send us rains of righteousness (true revivals).
In response to our passionate cry for revival, the Lord will always raise some crucial issues or matters that must be properly understood, attended to, or dealt with before we can experience the revival we are seeking for.
In response to the passionate cry of Martha and Mary for the Lord’s presence at Bethany to heal their ailing brother, Lazarus, on His way to Bethany, the Lord Jesus began to raise some critical issues with His disciples concerning Lazarus’ present condition and His intention to revive or raise Lazarus from the dead.
It is wisdom for those of us praying and seeking for true revival of the Church today to pay a close attention to the important issues our Lord Jesus raised with His disciples on His way to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead, for they are the same issues the Lord is raising with us today, and He is waiting for us to promptly and positively attend to them.
These are the “antecedents of revival” and if we ignore or miss them; true revival may tarry or may never burst forth in our days.
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First, the Lord would have us to identify or know the cause of our spiritual stumbling and sickness:
We must remember from where or what we have fallen and repent before we can expect a mighty outburst of revival in the Church (Rev. 2:5).
On His way to revive Lazarus, the Lord said to His disciples, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. “But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9-10 NKJV).
It is our continual disregard, neglect or refusal to walk in the light of God’s Word that has made our light to become dimmed, thereby resulting in our spiritual stumbling and sickness (1 John 2:9-11).
It is our revolt against the words, teaching or doctrine of Christ that has made the Church become spiritually weak, feeble, fearful, sick or invalid. It is our failure to abide continually in the true vine (Jesus Christ) that has resulted in our spiritual dryness.
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The Lord Jesus warns, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6 NKJV).
We are under a strong delusion to believe false teachings because we have rejected the truths of God’s Word and counted as a strange thing the teaching of Christ taught by the early apostles of Christ and passed down in the Church (2 Thess. 2:10-11, Hos. 8:12).
Until we acknowledge, admit or recognize our disobedience to God’s Word and genuinely repent, we should not expect any true revival.
The Church today certainly needs to heed Jesus’ admonition or warning to the Sardis Church.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. (NKJV).
Second, the Lord would have us to know and understand that His love for us has not diminished:
On His way to Bethany to revive Lazarus, the Lord Jesus reiterated His love for Lazarus and also revealed His intention and commitment to revive him from the dead.
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” (John 11:11 NKJV).
Although Lazarus was now dead and buried, decomposing and stinking in the cave; Jesus still loved him and called him “friend.” Jesus didn’t love Lazarus less in death than He loved him while he was full of life and vigour. What an agape love!
Christ’s love for His Church is steadfast and unwavering; it never diminishes or fluctuates. The Lord always loves His own to the very end regardless of their spiritual state or condition (John 13:1).
The Lord demonstrated His love towards us when we were yet sinners and His enemies by offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.
How much more now that we are justified by His blood?
Paul aptly presents this truth in his epistle.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
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10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (NKJV).
In spite of the ongoing terrible spiritual and moral decline in the Church, the Lord still loves His Church dearly. Though the Church might have stumbled and become spiritually sick, weak and wearied, yet she is still the beloved and chosen bride of Christ.
The ongoing corruption or degeneration in the Church has not in any way affected or diminished God’s love for His people. God’s love towards His Church is unconditional, perfect, infinite, constant and eternal (Isa. 54:8, Jer. 31:3).
Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
Apostle Paul testifies to this truth.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV).
Although many lust-driven and gain-driven hirelings have abused, bruised, fleeced, exploited and wounded the sheep of the Lord; yet the Good Shepherd still loves His sheep dearly and He is coming to deliver His sheep from the caves where they have kept her, and He will bind her wounds, revive, restore and heal her (Eze. 34:10-13).
Beloved, God’s love for you has not diminished even though you may have backslidden and become spiritually wearied, exhausted, or sick. God’s love for you is infinite, unconditional, perfect, constant, steadfast and unwavering; it will never fail or cease.
The Lord is saying to you today, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jer. 31:3 NKJV).
Like the prodigal son, repent and arise today to run into the waiting hands and warm embrace of your ever-loving Heavenly Father.
It is very crucial for everyone praying and labouring for true revival of the Church to know the depth of God’s love for His Church.
Revival is simply God’s loving response to our cries and supplications to Him to heal and revive the ailing and backsliding Church.
Friend, let us be encouraged that the Lord will not forsake His Church in her present terrible spiritual and moral condition The Lord will not fail to revive, restore, and rapture His Church from this evil world.
Discover more antecedents of revival in the second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me with an everlasting love in spite of my unfaithfulness. Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to receive, appreciate and respond positively to God’s love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.