Every move of God in every generation has carried a cost factor that has effectively stripped the church of everything superficial. To say that today’s church is not floundering in the soup of superficiality is not to have a good perspective on what is happening today. Never have so many given so much for so little.
The obvious answer or solution to this situation is revival. Revival, whatever that means, is God’s way of sweeping the church clean of things no longer needed. One of the most misunderstood words in Christendom today is revival. The word “Revival” covers a multitude of whims. And today’s church is not short on whims.
Recently, I was driving along and saw a sign, “Revival nightly at 7:30 PM.” This certainly was not a prophetic utterance because that so-called revival came and went without any impact upon the community. Christians have a bad habit of using terms that have long ago lost their meaning. Consequently, the true essence of Christianity has been lost and many are looking around for something, anything to fill the void.
This past Easter I noticed several things I am not sure I have ever seen before. One church not far from me had on Good Friday a reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. People volunteered for one hour shifts of hanging on the cross replicating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Just south of where I live there is a Christian theme park that reenacts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ six times a day. Men are hired, with salary and benefits including health insurance, to reenact the crucifixion.
When did the crucifixion of Jesus Christ become a form of entertainment? That kind of Christianity promotes such activity that, in my opinion, borders on the blasphemous.
This Easter Sunday one church in our community hired a helicopter to fly over the church building and drop candy for all the children to pick up. I am still trying to figure out what a helicopter and dropping candy has to do with the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Have Christians lost their mind? Have they forgotten what the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about? How can something so central to the Christian faith be so trivialized?
Contemporary Christians have dumbed down Christianity and made it a form of entertainment for the pleasure of quasi-Christians who think they are Christians but fall short of the biblical standard. When Christianity comes to the point of catering to the religiously bored by making it entertainment, something has gone wrong.
Without question, what is needed today is a move of God among the people of God. In reading the history of revivals, it is very clear that when God moves He starts with His people.
"If My people who are called by My name put away their pride and pray, and look for My face, and turn from their sinful ways, then I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLV).
Without question, such is needed today. Revival is not a capricious move of God, rather something that is well defined and follows scriptural laws. God never does anything that in any way contradicts anything in His nature.
Revival carries consequences that absolutely challenge the spiritual dynamics of those involved.
1. Denounce Sin.
To begin with, the church must denounce sin in every form. The church in a backslidden stance is always excusing sin and eventually accepts sin in its midst. If we are going to see God move in our generation, every form of sin within the church needs to be dealt with and rooted out.
It is rather useless to denounce sin out in the world when there’s a significant amount of sin harbored within the church. We must put our own house in order before we can dictate the conduct of the world. And, our house really is out of order.
It is difficult to find the sin out in the world that has not made inroads into the church. If we are going to see God move, it will cost us to denounce every sin that is within.
2. Rebuke Heresy.
Another cost factor would be in the area of rebuking heresy and heretics within the church. Behind every heresy is a heretic promoting it, usually for personal profit. In our generation, heretics have become celebrities and in effect are ruling in the church. Whatever does not live up to the Word of God must be called out and rebuked with all vigilance.
3. Repudiate the Culture.
Also, we must repudiate the culture in which we live. We cannot reach a culture that we have coddled and approved.
“It is the paradox of history,” observed G.K. Chesterton,“that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it the most” Where are those saints who are contradicting our generation today? They usually are pushed to the background to give way for a celebrity who is endorsing some aspect of the culture. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we given a commission to save the culture. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel and the major thing that hinders the preaching of the gospel is always the culture.
The celebrity ministers who seemingly get ahead are those who have successfully embraced the culture in its most refined fashion. The problem is, a pig is a pig regardless of the garments it might be wearing. The garment does not change the nature.
If we go along to get along, we only curse the generation in which we live. The church needs to stand up in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit and contradict everything that is in the culture today. Regardless of how refined paganism is, it is still paganism and the message of the cross is the message of redemption. If the culture is as good as some people insist that it is, why did Jesus die on the cross?
We have a commission from our Lord to reach our generation for Jesus Christ. Only the church that contradicts the culture can ever hope to reach that generation. And when God moves in you can be sure superficiality begins moving out.
4. Realignment with Christ.
Another cost factor in every revival is a radical realignment of the church with the person of Christ. When I talk about the church, I am referring to the individuals that make up the church. The church is not a building, it is not a creed, it is not a tradition, it is the individual that has embraced the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christ that we represent is the Christ of Revelation chapter 1. It was this Christ that John the Revelator saw, and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet. We need to humble ourselves before this resurrected Christ. There are aspects about Him that seemingly have been lost in this generation of Christians.
The Christ of Revelation chapter 1 is transcendent. That is, He is higher than the highest and there is nothing above Him. He transcends everything that we can see around us. He who is the Creator is far above that creation which He spoke into being.
This Christ is also majestic. There is nothing or no one to compare with this Christ of Revelation. The Majesty of Him far exceeds the ability of any of His creation to appreciate. When John saw this Christ standing in the midst of the church he witnessed the glory of God and honored His glorious radiance.
Then, because this Christ is transcendent and majestic, He is the only One worthy of our worship. Nothing else should so engage our heart as this Christ of Revelation chapter 1. He is above all and beyond all things. His glory far exceeds the glory of the kings and kingdoms of this world. And He is the only One worthy of us bowing down in adoration and worship.
We cannot appreciate the glory of this One until we have made a clean break with sin and heresy and the pagan culture around us. All of these things undermine and compromise our ability to know this Christ.
Once we have a glimpse of this One in the midst of His church, our worship will also develop into a proclamation of this One to the entire world around us. Our message is that of Christ. The only thing we talk about is Jesus Christ. We are not to go and clean up the culture but contradict the culture and present to this culture a Christ who repudiates it in all of its forms.
A prayer for Zion
REVIVE thy church, O Lord, with grace,
Forgive our sins and grant us peace;
Rouse us from sloth, our hearts inflame,
Kindle our zeal for Jesus’ name.
May young and old thy word receive
Dead sinners hear thy voice and live;
The wounded conscience healing find,
And joy refresh each drooping mind.
Albert Midlane (1825-1909)
About The Author:
Dr. James L. Snyder, D.Litt.
324 Bahia Circle
Ocala, FL 34472
Since 1997, Rev. James L. Snyder has written a weekly religion/humor column, "Out To Pastor," syndicated to over 100 newspapers and many websites. The Rev. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 27 books altogether. He has recently signed a 12-book contract with Regal Books based on the preaching ministry of Dr. A. W. Tozer.
James L. Snyder was given an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) by Trinity College in Florida.
His weekly humor column, "Out To Pastor," is syndicated to more than 100 weekly newspapers.
Through thirty-35 years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. The Snyders have three children and nine grandchildren.