Gleanings of Harvest
Renewal is a wonderful gift of refreshment from God. However delightful, it is not full-blown revival. Renewal is nigh unto revival, and that’s where I think the Holy Spirit is taking us.
Revival, classically speaking, happens only in a sovereign season when God awakens His Church but also when multitudes of salvations occur and a dramatic increase takes place in signs, wonders, and miracles. Revival is a time when society is wonderfully transformed from wickedness to righteousness and more importantly, when saints are on fire, living holy lives, eager to serve and share the gospel. Revival is what we long for passionately.
“Perhaps the biggest obstacle in moving from renewal to revival is within our self-will”
However, renewal can become a snare if we settle for manifestations without transformation. The fruit of renewal is to be increasingly conformed to Christ in character and conduct. We need to be wary if the continuing touch of the Holy Spirit doesn’t evoke a greater devotion to Jesus and a radical pursuit of intimacy with God in worship. We need to question what is transpiring if a greater submission to the Word of God and a deeper commitment to the fellowship of the Church doesn’t take place. We must examine closely the fruit of renewal if we are not more highly motivated to move from our gatherings with increased vigour and to share our faith in Christ in witness and service to the lost, the lame, the least and the last.
The praise and worship of God’s people must become a throne for His rule (Psalms 22:3 My translation). His manifest presence in our midst is always the expression of His sovereign rule. He is King, and we are the subjects. He is God, and we are not. If we don’t acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and exhibit the fruits of repentance, then what we have experienced is spurious (Acts 26:20; Luke 3:8). The greatest blessing is in receiving forgiveness and in having the Holy Spirit as God’s presence to grace us to live victoriously.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in moving from renewal to revival is within our self-will. Lucifer’s fall was driven by sins of self-will (Isaiah 14:12; Ezra 28:11-19): self-ascension, self-exaltation, self-enthronement, self-dependence, and self-deification. Self-will was at the heart of Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:1-6) as self-preservation, self-acquisition, self-sustenance, self-advancement and self-assertion.
“We move toward revival when self-will is absent”
For renewal to become revival we must deal with our self-will. We are far too prone to try to negotiate the mandates of Scripture and are fickle in our submission to Christ’s Lordship.
We move toward revival when we have absolutely no resistance to God’s rule (James 4:7). We cannot be victorious until our obedience to God is without question.
We move toward revival when self-will is absent. The devil never made us do anything we didn’t want to do. You and I make choices based on who’s the boss. God’s way is the best way. We are free to choose anyway we want, but we are not free to avoid the consequences of what we choose (Galatians 6:7 My translation).
We move toward revival when we have absolute affection for God. The great commandment to love God completely and to love our neighbour as ourselves, is best demonstrated when we’ve taken Paul’s counsel to “put off” the old life of sin, and “put on” the new life of living in Christ (Colossians 3:1-17).
I heard Paul Cain say recently, “The Lord is looking for a people without mixture upon which to pour out His Spirit without measure.” Revival tarries because we hesitate to fully sell out to God’s rule. Till we are done compromising with the world, rationalizing our sins, and indulging our desires, we will not enter fully into the grace of this sea- son of God’s visitation (Psalms 139:23-24; Psalms 51:10-12).
Ron Allen is the senior pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Fort Wayne Indiana. Ron travels and speaks frequently as a “pastor to pastors,” all over the earth concerning leadership in a time of renewal.