Because the Lord is relentless about the Bride of His Son “learning righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9), REVIVAL is ALWAYS ALSO JUDGMENT from the LORD.
The two grand New Testament examples of this truth are John the Baptist (the greatest revival in history) and Acts 2 (the second greatest revival in history) Both entailed consequences and rewards for receiving what the Lord was establishing in that generation.
Again. Isaiah 26:9 declares that “when the Lord’s judgments are on the earth, the inhabitants learn righteousness” That happened on a massive scale during both John’s ministry, and during the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Examples abound in both cases.
The rewards for both “revivals” were off the charts: in John the Baptist’s case it was what John the apostle described in 1 John 1:1-4. And in Acts 2 it was what Jesus described in John 14-16 re: the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In terms of rebuke and punishment for opposing the outpouring of revival John speaks of it in Matthew 3:7-12; and Luke describes the death of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-11 with v.11 concluding: “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”
A more modern example of this COULD BE (there are more complicating factors than what I can pull together here) the Jesus-people movement of the 70’s. Those who opposed this work of the Holy Spirit largely became ensconced in a new, deepening liberal strain of critical theology that swamped our mainline seminaries. (I was caught up in it in 77 through 79). As the Jesus People movement morphed into signs and wonders in the 80s and John Wimber and others, celebrity Christianity (Swaggert, Baaker etc.) became a mutant strain to God’s authentic expression of His work on the earth. It was rebuked, and we’re still being rebuked for this aberrant expression of God’s Kingdom.
In 2023 the unquestionable, authentic outpouring of God’s Spirit, the hunger for the Lord that characterizes what we’ve seen at Asbury, Lee, and elsewhere, is running smack dab into resistance on several levels:
1. The failed attempt of high profile preachers to co-opt this move of God for their own ministry aggrandizement;
2. The über-phariseaical, hyper-critical response to the tender working of the Lord (no different than Simon’s objection to the woman weeping at Jesus’ feet in Luke 7)
3. This “awakening” is already about to be beclouded by another election cycle. The closer we move to the primaries and election ’24, the more we’ll see the Holy Spirit “troubling” the Body of Christ over the incongruity of idolatry: cheering for “revival” while uncircumspectly championing a man, or men of unrighteousness.
4. A fourth element of resistance is the normal weight of “status quo” Christianity; whereby the people go out to see John, or go out to be fed by Jesus, but will not undergo the (Matthew 20:23) baptism that they are certainly calling us to in this hour.
All four of these attitudes (and more) are, and will continue to experience the “judgment of the Lord” in this season. Again. This is a “good thing / bad thing”.
It bears repeating here: We American Christians need to dispense with our utopian vision of what revival is. It’s certainly NOT when my version of the Bible and morality becomes more popular and powerful. That was the expectation of most of the Jews in Jesus’ day. This mistaken attitude was also what was behind Peter “rebuking Jesus”(egad!) in (Matthew 16) when Jesus said He was about to be tortured and executed…
If this movement of God is to continue, “Asbury” will (and MUST) run into resistance from various elements of the “status quo” Christian/evangelical culture. This is part and parcel of EVERY TRUE REVIVAL EVER. And it’s also one of the reasons why we can say with confidence that REVIVAL is ALWAYS about JUDGMENT.
Regarding His own day, and His own “revival” – THE uber-revival of His own incarnation, life, death and resurrection Jesus warned His disciples in (Luke 17:1 – ff)
“It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
One of the big things Jesus was saying to the followers of His Way was, “individuals, and even brothers are going to challenge you and oppose the work of God in you. Believe that their opposition will not go unnoticed by My Father. Forgive them. A lot!”
One of the chief ways forward into “revival”; to abide in the Presence of the Lord; is to look at your detractors with love; compassion; truth; and relentless grace. This is also us “learning righteousness”. The Lord is also using opposition to our renewed hope in Christ to train us and test us unto the perfect way of the King.
Like I said, the Father is relentless in preparing a righteous Bride for His Son.
JSB • March 7, 2023
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