Survival of the Revival (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II
O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
In 2004 I preached a series of messages to our Adult Bible Class concerning the subject of repentance and revival. Our church had been visited of God in a marvelous way giving rise to numerous rededications to the Lord and over 30 water baptisms. There was an urgency among many that danger was on the horizon. Not just danger of judgment, but the very real danger that the churches would backslide into a deeper hardness and worldliness than they already had. Although I never heard God say it, it was almost as if we were facing the same fate of the church at Ephesus, “Repent and do your first works, lest I remove thy lamp stand out of its place.” Snow storms had forced church closings in an unprecedented way that winter. Each cancellation caused the urgency to grow stronger. Many were getting the message loud and clear. The prophet said it this way, “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid…” One translator put it, “I have heard Thy report.” The prophet is alarmed. There is a great urgency. His prayer? O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
As God was moving…
One of the great challenges of that time was that so many people had their own definition of revival. At that time we were still in the shadow of the so-called ‘holy laughter’ of Tortonto, the ‘Holy Ghost Bartender’ blasphemy and a host of other weird manifestation infestations among works that very well may have started off well. Eventually men like Todd Bentley would be kicking people in the face with their biker boot and calling it ‘Holy Ghost direction.’ A few people claim to be healed and delivered and suddenly everything that happened in these meetings was validated. The people cast discernment to the wind and the Church received another hefty black-eye for the nonsense. It happened as Derek Prince, one of the most respected figures in the Charismatic Movement, warned some years before when he wrote:
“Now, the Bible speaks about signs and wonders. It says some things about them that are good, and some that are very frightening. I want to turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and read a few verses there, beginning at verse 9. The coming of the lawless one [that is the title of the Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
So, Paul says here there are such things as lying signs and wonders. There are true signs and there are lying signs. True signs attest the truth. Lying signs attest lies. Satan is fully capable of supernatural signs and wonders. Unfortunately, many in the Charismatic movement have the attitude that if something is supernatural, it must be from God. There is no scriptural basis for that assumption. Satan is perfectly capable of producing powerful signs and wonders to attest his lies, and the reason such people are deceived is because they did not receive the love of the truth. On such people God will send strong delusion. That is one of the most frightening statements in the Bible. If God sends you strong delusion, you will be deluded. I think that is one of the most severe judgments of God recorded in Scripture, sending these people strong delusion. They will be condemned, these people, because they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”(D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)
Notice how he stated that the Charismatic movement is particularly vulnerable to deception because they think that everything that happens supernatural is of God. It is not. It was not until Todd Bentley was caught in adultery that many people left off believing he was legit. Even then some wanted a ‘quick restoration’ so he could get back in his ‘ministry’. It is madness. How do things like this happen? It happens when the supernatural becomes front and center in the churches. When people start following signs and wonders instead of signs and wonders following them, they are ripe for deception.
The Danger of ‘Spiritual Experiences’
Things have changed a lot in the last 8 years. A whole generation of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians have entered Christendom that express their faith primarily with music. Notice I did not say praise and worship, but music. Many believe that the presence of the Lord is the strange feeling they feel when the electric piano is set to strings or when the tempo carries the people off into a frenzy. They think that the presence of the Lord comes and goes as they worship and praise. This is simply false. When the cloud and fire sat over the Tabernacle it was there day and night. The only thing that ever caused the presence of the Lord to depart was sin and compromise. This is played out in Ezekiel chapter 8 and following. Emotions come and go- but the presence of the Lord will remain so long as He is made welcome. (Isaiah 66:1ff, Acts 7:1ff, Ephesians 5:18, etc.). Paul told the Corinthians:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
The Corinthians apparently did not know that the Holy Spirit ‘dwelled’ in them. ‘Dwelleth’ is a present reality. We spend a lot of time asking God to come to a place where He already is. What many are really saying is that they want a deeper spiritual experience. But when we say that we have to ask what we mean by that. Are we saying we want a close consciousness of God? Are we asking for a double-portion of Holy Spirit conviction? Because when the Spirit is come He will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. When the Holy Spirit is near the fear of the Lord is upon the people. When John saw Jesus He fell at His feet as dead. Paul was knocked clean off his mule and was blinded when he saw Jesus. Is this what we are asking for? Do we want an Isaiah 6 experience where we cry out woe is me for I am undone? This is an important question to ask. Once our desire turns towards a quest for an inward experience of some kind of Spirit manifestation we are moving in dangerous territory. Emotional people desire emotional experiences. The Holy Spirit must not be confused with an emotion that accompanies His presence; otherwise anything that can create a similar feeling may be confused with the Holy Spirit. Derek Prince continues his warning:
“I do not want to appear critical, but I have to say, to my understanding, most of what is called worship in the Charismatic movement is not worship at all. Often it is very self-centered: “God heal me. God bless me. God, make me feel good. God do this and God do that.” It is ego-centric; it is soulish. Only the spirit can focus directly on God. Much of the music that we have in church today appeals to the soul, stimulates the soul, It is very much the same kind of music as is used in the world to stimulate the soul. I am no expert in music, absolutely not at all. I cannot sing a note in tune. But I have a certain sensitivity to the impact of music. Having lived five years in Africa, I am aware that certain repetitive themes and rhythms can deaden your sensitivity. If you sit under that long enough, especially when it is very loud, you lose the capacity to discern. And in Africa those rhythms are used to call up demons.” (D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)
Hanging around too long…
During the Revival in 2004 I published and preached these words, “This is where many revivals blow up. People start seeking a “deeper experience” in the Lord in some mystical way and end up ready for the funny farm. Instead of allowing the Spirit of God to empower them for service they keep seeking more and more and more “spiritual blessing” until they just flat lose it all together! The pressure and drive to minister becomes so volatile that they nearly explode like an atomic reaction from the pressure. Anyone seeking an experience with Christ apart from knowing Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings- being made conformable until His death- is headed for flakesville”. Why? Because the anointing of God is for service. It is not for our entertainment. An experience with God that is genuine causes us to want to share the faith with others and conform to pure religion. A lot of things have been blamed on the Holy Ghost that were not God at all! People don’t bark in the Holy Ghost. They don’t contort their bodies like epileptics or any other demonic thing. When people don’t use their anointing to minister and they keep seeking more and more and more power and blessing—they open themselves up to devils.” (Survival of the Revival, courtesy sermonindex.net 2004) As Andrew Strom said preaching in Kansas City during this same time of revival, “revival is not the top blowing off of the church- it is the bottom falling out.”
Protecting the Ground God has Given Us
So what does it mean to be revived? Simply means we come into a place where we are full of the Holy Spirit. What does that look like? A good example is found in the life of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. I have a few thoughts along this line:
1) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not desire greatly to minister to the lost (Acts 4:31).
2) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and continually struggle with sin (John 16; Mark 16, Romans 6:2, etc.).
3) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself (1 John 4:8).
4) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and be speaking by the Holy Ghost and speak of Christ irreverently. Jesus said in John 16:14 that when the Spirit is come “He will glorify Me.” (see also 1 Cor. 12:3) The Holy Ghost exalts Christ to the highest place of all.
5) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Spirit of grace and not deny ungodliness and worldly desires. The Spirit of grace teaches us to be sober, righteous and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11- 12)
When God sends revival into our lives and into our church serious changes take place in our priorities. People begin to feel the heart of God. God’s concerns become their concerns. The fear of the Lord comes over the churches so as to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. Christ must be exalted, not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.