God has been described as “one pent-up revival.” When saints live in the reviving power of God’s presence, the world takes note that there is a God, we have been with Him, and His name is Jesus.
Revival is God’s self-disclosure. It speaks of a Savior who yearns to dwell in the midst of His people. It is the positive work of the Spirit that deals with the negative character traits of sinful humanity.
Revival is the sovereign activity of God. No one can force His hand to act, or else He would not be the Almighty. Yet the Lord has chosen to place responsibility for revival in the hands of men. This is the great mystery of revival: the Lord sovereignly moves and yet acts in accordance with the prayers of His people.
For revival to come, we must comprehend that in and of ourselves, we can do nothing. Yet, our responsibility is real. This means that a cooperative effort between God and man takes place for the Spirit to be poured out. God has given us the privilege of pursuing revival through those means He has established in His written Word. The Spirit moves the hearts of men to move the heart of God—a mystery indeed.
Revival is a revelation of God’s holiness. Revival is a “person or a community saturated with the presence of God … an invasion from Heaven which brings to man a conscious awareness of God.” This awareness of God includes the revelation of His holiness. The beauty of His holiness will always illuminate our sinfulness, which subsequently produces tremendous conviction of sin. When we look at our sin through the presence of God, we begin to understand how hideous our transgressions actually are. This is Christ’s goodness revealed to a race of rebels (Rom. 2:4).
Revival produces deep, heartfelt repentance. When the Holy Spirit descends, He convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8). Heartfelt repentance produces a change in character, and a change in character produces a change in lifestyle. History demonstrates that according to the depth of conviction will be the depth of repentance, and according to the depth of repentance will be the depth of the revival. Revival is always a move of the Spirit that produces repentance and personal holiness. It cannot be otherwise.
Revival is new life. Heartfelt repentance and a passion for holiness impart new life to the saved and the unsaved. The river of living water that pours forth from the throne of God gives life wherever it flows (Ezek. 47). When that river flows through the church, there will be power and desire to reach the unsaved. When it sweeps through the streets of our cities, radical conversions will abound.
New life produces new priorities. The light of God’s brilliance illuminates the meaninglessness of worldly pursuits. Compromise falls off as love for the Savior replaces the depraved love of the world and the twisted love of self. Vibrant worship and prayer become the norm.
New life in the soul means new life in relationships. When men and women abandon themselves to Jesus, the result will be transformed lives that affect every relationship they have. Marriages and families are restored as godly virtues replace wicked character traits. When rebellious teens are genuinely converted, their rebellion ceases. The power of God delivers the fornicator, adulterous spouse, or homosexual from their sexual addictions to live in pure and holy freedom. Revival is literally new life for individuals, families, churches, and nations.
Revival is spiritual revolution. “Revival is a divine method of operation in human history . . . an instrument of spiritual revolution.” This spiritual revolution is birthed through radicals and martyrs who reproduce after their own kind. They see the world through the eyes of Christ and are willing to lay down their lives for the One who laid down His life for them. This is the place of desperate love and surrender to Jesus, where sacrifice ceases to be a burden.
An explosive missionary spirit is always a byproduct of revival. The Lord uses common saints who live in the light of eternity to turn the world upside down. They comprehend that people are eternal creatures who will live forever in heaven or hell. So they joyfully abandon themselves to the cause of Christ to rescue a self-destructing world no matter the cost.
The manifest glory of God is the greatest hope for the salvation of our loved ones, the most effective means of restraining the wickedness that is sweeping America, and the only power that can transform cities and nations.
 Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 1959, p. 139.
 Stephen Olford, Lord, Open the Heavens!, Wheaton, IL, Howard Shaw Publishers, 1969, p. 60.
 C. E. Autrey, Revivals of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960, pp. 14, 16.
Excerpted from Rend the Heavens, by Glenn Meldrum, copyright © 2005.
Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.
I fear the United States is hastening towards judgment. Where that line of no return is I do not know, but the nation’s rapid moral and spiritual decline is hurtling us towards that terrifying line at breakneck speed. Only divine intervention can turn us from our self-destructive course. We have forsaken the God which gave us a country immersed in a strong Christian heritage; we have abandoned the ancient paths to become a modern barbaric culture (Jeremiah 6:16).
Just prior to my ministering at an urban church the youth pastor taught his unsaved, street level youth group that homosexuality is sin and those practicing it will spend an eternity in hell. One 14 year old girl replied, “Then everyone in my school is going to hell.” This same young woman responded to an altar call I gave while preaching to that youth group. While my wife was ministering to her she asked a serious question: “How can I be a Christian when all my friends are lesbians and my mother is a drug addict?” Bob Just was right when he stated: “Today’s culture is a child molester.” 
How can the Lord hold back his just wrath when we are destroying our nation, beginning with our youth? Law Professor Kelly Howard declared, “According to sworn testimony before the U.S. Senate, experts reveal that by the time a female in this country is 18 years old, 38 percent have been sexually molested. One in eight women will be raped. Fifty percent of women will be sexually harassed on their jobs during their lifetimes. In fact, sexual dysfunction is on such a rampant rise that experts are calling it a sexual holocaust.” 
There are cultures and nations that are simply not redeemable. This means that they have collectively crossed a line in the practice of evil where they refuse to turn from their sin and are therefore left to God’s wrath. Because a culture becomes unredeemable does not imply that individuals within that culture cannot be saved. It just indicates that the culture has become so immersed in wickedness that the only thing left for it is destruction. This happens in part because the nature of evil is not understood to be exceedingly wicked and offensive to a holy God, so the practice of evil becomes culturally acceptable.
The fact that cultures can become unredeemable does not mean that the doctrine of limited atonement is true. The Lord gave mankind an authentic free will and desires every person to be saved. That is why He declared, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11; quoted in 2 Peter 3:9). Though salvation is available to everyone, only those who repent will be saved.
Cultures are made up of individuals who make the conscience moral choices that define the character of a nation or people group. Some cultures become so immersed in evil that they harden themselves against God. Since they reject God’s salvation, He turns them over to their own self-destructive ways (Romans 1:18-32). In essence, they cross a line in their practice of sin where evil is so ingrained into the culture that the only thing left to them is divine wrath.
Examples of unredeemable cultures are abundant in Scripture. The Lord destroyed the world with a flood in Noah’s day. He hailed fire and brimstone down on Sodom. Israel could not conquer the promise land until the evil practices of the Amorites was at its worst (Genesis 15:13-16). King Saul was commanded by God to fully destroy the Amalekites because they had plummeted to the depths of depravity in their pursuit of evil (1 Samuel 15).
The only safe way we can say that a culture was unredeemable is by looking at Scripture. Otherwise we are left to subjective claims that are based upon our small-minded opinions and highfalutin paradigms. Only God knows the hearts of men, therefore, He alone is able to justly judge them and their cultures. Since He is all-knowing and perfect in righteousness He is able determine which nation or people group has crossed the moral and spiritual line becoming unredeemable.
For mere mortals to label people and nations as unredeemable is counterproductive to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We must always believe that grace is available to everyone and faithfully strive to present them with the Gospel. Ours is not to decide who is to be saved, but to reach out to everyone no matter their lifestyle or sin.
If all this is true then what is the value of understanding that cultures can become unredeemable? So that we seek God’s face for a national awakening and prepare the way for Him to come to us. In the end, we are either going to experience revival or judgment. Yet even if we had a revival where five million people were genuinely converted, would that deliver the nation from the vile explosion of homosexuality? Would it rescue us from the evils of fornication (which includes people living together outside of marriage)? Do you think that the porn and prostitution trades would cease their practices? Would our state governments and Indian reservations abandon the decadent, yet lucrative business of gambling? Would Hollywood cease propagating the moral and spiritual filth it relentlessly vomits out of its studios?
A JONAH EXAMPLE
My fear is that we are nearing the line of no return. Nevertheless, we must remember that all things are possible with God and the story of Nineveh is the perfect example of mercy being shown to an evil culture. The Lord decreed the judgment of Nineveh “because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). After Jonah preached, the people repented, so the Lord granted mercy. If the Savior was “concerned about that great city” of 120,000 souls (Jonah 4:11), will He not be concerned about America’s millions?
There are two ways we can respond to our nation’s aggressive pursuit of evil. The first is to run away from our responsibility as Jonah did at first. This is what the majority of professing believers are doing today—hiding in their churches, keeping the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ from the mass of perishing humanity. The second is to follow Jonah’s example and repent. Here lies our only hope—that a deeply repentant church would become a catalyst for an authentic awakening that would transform secular society. The First Great Awakening in America began in the 1730’s. There were approximately 340,000 people in the country, with roughly 100,000 alcoholics. At the end of the awakening 50,000 people were saved. An equivalent awakening today would produce 50 million authentic conversions.
Jesus warned that prior to His second coming the world would become unredeemable like it was in the days of Noah and Sodom (Luke 17:26-30). This is literally being fulfilled before our very eyes. Mankind’s practice of evil will reach a depth unequaled in history. There will come the time when they will literally fight against God at Armageddon, but will suffer a fate similar to Sodom. Then the Lord will make a new heaven and earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
People, cultures and nations that cross the line in the practice of evil have something worse to fear than the destruction of their culture or of creation itself, and that’s the Great White Throne Judgment. Here the Lord will judge the people as individuals who made their own conscience choices. All who refused to own Jesus as Lord while on earth will suffer an eternity without Him in the Lake of Fire. Even the eternal fires of hell will not purge them of their love of evil. In the Lake of Fire they will be unredeemable forever.
Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.
 David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil (Nashville, TN, Cumberland House Publishing, 2005), 78.
 David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil (Nashville, TN, Cumberland House Publishing, 2005), 129.
Duncan Campbell was the evangelist of the Hebrides Awakening, which are islands off the coast of Scotland. He gives eyewitness testimony to the profound outpouring of the Holy Spirit and outlines how the revival came into being. This sermon is powerful, soul stirring and provoking. Those hungry for revival must listen to this sermon.
This is Mary Peckham’s personal testimony about the Hebrides Awakening. The Hebrides Awakening was one of the most powerful revivals in modern times. It was free from superstar celebrities and the works of the flesh that define so much of what is called revival in our time. Mary was saved in the revival towards its beginning so she is able to give credible testimony to the outpouring of the Spirit in this historic revival.
It does not take great discernment to comprehend that America in general, and the church specifically, has fallen to its lowest spiritual condition in history. Not just that, the church seems powerless to stop America from forsaking her Judeo-Christian roots and plunging deeper into an abyss of wickedness that will bring divine judgment. What makes this situation so catastrophic is that the church doesn’t realize that she is in a major crisis. Those who do recognize the crisis are often looking in the wrong places for the answer.
Though there are many reasons why the American church is suffering under these spiritual maladies there is an extremely important one this article will address—how the kingdom of God advances; through God or through man. Individuals, churches and denominations have a philosophy of ministry that determines their approach to this subject. The eternal destiny of multitudes hang upon our theological and applicative response to this issue.
One challenge we have in answering how the work of God advances is in how we reconcile verses that appear contradictory. Take for instance the seemingly incompatible differnces between Zechariah 4:6b and 2 Chronicles 7:14. Zechariah 4:6b reads, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The verse in Zechariah establishes that the work of God is done by the Holy Spirit alone, while 2 Chronicles teaches that before God will revive, man must do specific things.
BUILT BY GOD OR BY MAN
Leaders and lay people alike are naturally prone to trust in themselves, even when it comes to ministry. This is a result of our fallen nature. Churches and denominations can be built without God. Intelligent people can apply the latest marketing techniques or church growth principles to create large churches while Jesus stands outside their doors knocking to get in.
The compromise of the church stinks in the Lord’s nostrils. The smell from ten dead people can be mighty bad, but the stench of a thousand corpses is far worse. Large dead churches are no better than small dead ones. The cemetery is only larger for the one.
If our church growth methods grieve the Holy Spirit then we are left to build the church through the strength and wisdom of man. Far too often, we want Jesus’ stamp of approval upon our religious undertakings while never being overly concerned if His will is being done. The majority of churches are not growing. Of those that are growing a vast number do so only by robbing from other churches. Some may call it “marketing the church,” but if a church has grown through thievery it will never be considered successful by God.
A pragmatic approach to church growth (the end justifies the means) can be anathematized by God. Men that grab hold of the proverbial bull by the horns to build Christ’s kingdom may find the only horns He wanted them to grab were the horns of the altar in passionate prayer and repentance. Self-trust is always repulsive to God and is akin to rebellion and compromise. Arthur Wallis defined compromise as, “‘A partial surrender of one’s position, for the sake of coming to terms’ (Oxford Dictionary). For the Christian it means that he concedes something that God has given, or sets aside something God has revealed, for the sake of coming to terms with the situation he faces. . . When we are dealing with truth, to conceded is to compromise. . . . We never compromise out of ignorance, only out of knowledge.” So what works in filling pews is not always what is right in God’s sight.
Moreover, what right do we have to compromise Christ’s message? His love for humanity compelled Him to teach the truth so as to pierce sinner’s hearts and bring them to repentance. Successful preaching from God’s point of view is diametrically opposed to much of the preaching in the 21st century, especially with what is found on “Christian” TV and through big name preachers. In contrast stands the Biblical preaching of men like James Glendinning (Oldstone, Ireland, 1626):
Behold the success! For the hearers finding themselves condemned by the mouth of God speaking in His Word, fell into such anxiety and terror of conscience that they looked on themselves as altogether lost and damned. . . I have seen them myself stricken into a swoon with the Word; yea, a dozen in one day carried out of the doors as dead, so marvelous was the power of God smiting their hearts of sin.
Though such preaching may appear to the compromised church as ignorant, archaic, harsh and irrelevant, God sees it otherwise and anoints it. Results like this will never come out of a watered-down, pop-gospel that is palatable to the sinful nature.
The world will never be converted through compromise. Buildings may be filled through such methods, but heaven will never be populated by conceding the truth. “Christianity is divine life within individuals. When the proportions of the Christian drive and fervor become less than revolutionary, it ceases to capture the imagination and attention of the world.” When the Biblical faith is preached, and the Spirit is poured out, the explosive nature of Christianity will shake a dying world.
In one sense it is understandable why churches turn to pop church growth methods. The old, dead, traditionalism is not working, so why beat a dead horse; get a new one. But don’t replace a dead horse with a sterile mule that is powerless to reproduce. There is an endless stream of programs and seminars that claim they can help pastors out of their numeric plateaus. This may be little more than dead horse meat or a fresh mule. Neither can reproduce. In the end, leaders and churches grow cynical and are immobilized. When pastors grow weary of seeing little fruit from their labors they look to manmade plans, leave the ministry or go back to the upper room to get authentic Holy Ghost power.
Because something appears new and imaginative does not mean it has come from the Spirit. Singing and shouting are not proofs of spiritual life; social action is not evidence that a church is alive; busyness will never be an honest gauge of spiritual vitality. Life in the church can only be equated with the saint’s ability to reproduce new life. Dead people cannot produce living babies. Empty altars reveal that the people are spiritually barren. Many innovative or emerging churches may find that all they have been doing is feeding a sterile mule.
Scores of churches tenaciously hold to their traditions. There is nothing inherently wrong with traditions unless they are void of the Holy Spirit. The problem arises from our dependence upon rituals and programs and not upon the Spirit. Traditions are birthed and die with each generation. If each generation does not strive to have new life, rather than tradition, their practices bring death. This was the state of the church in Wales before the 1859 revival:
By and large the churches were orthodox in their beliefs, but ineffective in their witness.. . . For in spite of past revivals, powerful preachers and present orthodoxy, a general apathy and indifference prevailed. This was coupled with a spiritual bankruptcy and stagnation, a lukewarmness and aridity, which were symptomatic of an almost apostate Church.. . . By and large, however, the watchmen on the walls of Zion had fallen asleep, and they were few in number who saw her peril and desperate need.
Spiritual stagnation and trust in rituals have become the death of many a denomination, church and individual
So why do we keep beating our dead horses of tradition or continue seeking for the newest sterile mule? Because we erroneously believe that all we need is the latest teaching, the right formula, or a breakthrough. If we trust in self rather than abandoning ourselves to Christ, then there is little difference between churches that call themselves renewal, emergent, seeker-sensitive, plain, Pentecostal or traditional. Dead churches are dead no matter their size or denomination.
So what percentage of God is needed in an authentic move of God? 100%! Only God can save, convict, deliver, heal and revive. He does not need our talent or ability; He has more than enough to accomplish the work. Such power does not come from man, for it is not inherent in him. As long as we think we can do the work that only God can do we will never be Biblically successful. When Christians finally abandon themselves to Christ, they will also come to an end of self-trust. When believer’s long for the true prize–Jesus Christ—they will freely lay down self at any cost.
People who have died to self don’t want to play church any more; they want to see the face of Jesus. They don’t want a counterfeit move of God, but the real thing that will always be true to the Scriptures and glorify the crucified and resurrected Savior. Programs become almost meaningless because people finally learn that only God can save sinners and fill hearts with joy unspeakable. A passion for the presence of God begins to burn that nothing on earth can quench but Christ Himself. This is the depths of man calling out to the deep of God saying, “I cannot live without your nearness. Show me your face or I perish with longing.” David Brainerd expressed this well when he wrote, “When I really enjoy God I feel my desires of Him the more insatiable and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable. O’ this pleasing pain. It makes my soul press after God.” It is at this point where God uses people in phenomenal ways.
Authentic revival is when the manifest presence of God flows through His people transforming secular society. This is the greatest church growth movement the world has ever known. This means that man also has a part to play in revival. His part is also 100%. Nothing less will ever be acceptable to God. Man’s part revolves around repentance, prayer, seeking God’s face and total dependence upon the Holy Spirit. This is wholehearted devotion that can turn the world upside down (Jeremiah 29:13; Psalms 119:2; Joel 2:12-13; Matthew 22:37; Acts 2:42).
In closing, let me bare my heart. I ache to see authentic revival. But I am weary of manmade versions that do little more than parade the works of the flesh. After seeing genuine revival, the counterfeit appears even uglier than before. I long to see revivals such as the Hebrides Awakening or the 1857 Prayer Meeting Revival. Both of these revivals, among a host of others, were free from the arrogance of man and superstar preachers. Duncan Campbell, the evangelist of the Hebrides Awakening testified, “A force was let loose in Barvas that shook the whole of Lewis. God stepped out; the Holy Spirit began to move among the people. God seemed to be everywhere. What was that? Revival? No evangelist; not a special effort; not anything at all organized on the basis of human endeavor. But an awareness of God that gripped the whole community.”
God is glorified whenever His people get out of the way and let Him take center stage. The world has not seen the beauty of Christ because we have clouded His majesty with dead traditions, spiritually sterile church growth methods and our repugnant fallen nature. The Holy Spirit could do great things through us if only we would fully surrender to Him and passionately seek Christ’s face. God is looking for believers who desire a move of God more than their own comforts and ambitions. In the words of A. W. Tozer, “We have only to prepare Him a habitation in love and faith and humility. We have but to want Him badly enough, and He will come and manifest Himself to us.”
Arthur Wallis, The Radical Christian (Columbia, MO, Cityhill Publishing, 1987), 11.
Iain H. Murray, The Puritan Hope (Carlisle, Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), 30.
C. E. Autrey, Revivals of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960), 16.
Eifion Evans, When He Is Come (London, Evangelical Press, 1967), 23.
Eifion Evans, When He Is Come (London, Evangelical Press, 1967), 26.
Eifion Evans, When He Is Come (London, Evangelical Press, 1967), 95.
Michael L. Brown, Its Time To Rock The Boat, (Shippensburg, Destiny Image Publishers, 1993), 74.
Duncan Campbell, from an audio tape entitled, “Revival Fire,” (No editor, publisher, or date).
A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, Harper and Row Publishers, 1961), 49.
King Solomon wisely told us to avoid all extremes (Ecc. 7:18). This is good commonsense theology. Ah, but how inclined are we to heed such rational advice? Like pendulums we swing from one extreme to the other, all the while believing that our life and faith are relatively in good balance. However, does such reasoning hold up to reality and the Scriptures?
Our out of balance lives can be most acutely seen in our life theology. What do I mean by life theology? I am talking about what we live from day to day which is the true expression of what we actually believe. It’s easy for professing Christians to believe a set of doctrines that they do not authentically live out. What we really believe is what we live on a regular basis, not necessarily what we doctrinally assert.
We could develop this idea of believing one thing and living another in a tremendous amount of ways, but I want to concentrate on one area in this article—the great problem we have of finding balance between the Word and the Spirit.
People of the Word
It is reasonable to claim that genuine Christians believe that both the Old and New Testaments are God’s inspired and infallible Word of God. Why is it then that at one moment we can testify to the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the next live the total opposite? Some people maintain that they stand on the Word even while they strive to explain away those verses that rebuke the way they live or refute their pet doctrines.
If we claim to believe the Word then its time we live what it says, not what is doctrinally comfortable, socially acceptable or convenient. Paul taught Timothy to “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Tim. 4:16). He admonished Titus to, “teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” and to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 2:1. 1:9). Both Jesus and Paul warned that in the last days people would not hold to sound doctrine but follow lies that feed their sinful nature. Since Christ is the Author of Truth we ought to love the truth as He does and hate all untruths in an equal manner. It does not take a rocket scientist to comprehend that both believing and living sound doctrine is of paramount importance to the Lord God.
There is something terribly wrong with our concept of being a people of the Word if we are spiritually dead. We cannot be truly full of the Living Word and be empty of the Holy Spirit. To be full of the Word and empty of the Spirit is both unscriptural and illogical. If we really became a people of the Word then we should be full of faith and of the Holy Spirit as was Stephen (Acts 6 &7). Yet many professing believers that claim to believe the Word do not live like those New Testament saints that were truly full of the Holy Ghost.
If we believe that Jesus is who He said He is then we should literally believe everything He taught; and if we believe everything He taught then we should be willing to live out those truths at all cost. How can we be people of the Word and yet ignore Christ’s teaching on the Spirit and the tremendous importance He placed upon the subject? Are we wiser then God? Do we think that the infilling of the Spirit is a meaningless teaching that should be relegated to ages past when the Lord Christ said otherwise? Many people downplay the work of the Spirit or outright reject Him because such teaching goes against their lifestyles or church doctrine. This is a tragedy!
Everything Jesus did when His ministry began was done through the power of the Spirit (Lk. 4:1, 14-19, 31-37). John told us that, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:6). Using Christ’s example, the entirety of our life and ministry should be lived out through the power of the Spirit. To be faithful to our Lord we must return in faith and practice to His plain teaching on the Spirit and those of the remaining New Testament.
Jesus commanded the first disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, KJV). Paul commanded the Ephesians to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18b). The example of Christ’s life and the principles of these commands are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago. Jesus knew that the early church could not survive, much less triumph, without the infilling of the Spirit. How arrogant we are to think that as modern believers we do not need the Spirit baptism even though those early saints could not live without it. The book of Acts gives us a snapshot of the life of the early church which made being filled with the Spirit the norm for every believer.
People of the Spirit
One of the primary ministries of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus (Jn. 16:13-15). So the Spirit will never do anything that will not bring glory to Christ. Not just that, the Spirit will never act in a way that conflicts with the Word of God. Because the Spirit of Truth is part of the triune God, He will never do anything that is contrary to the character of Godhead. Those who are truly baptized in the Spirit will live lives that glorify God because they walk in harmony with the Word and the character of God.
Just as those who call themselves people of the Word can live contrary to the Word so those who call themselves people of the Spirit can act in ways contrary to the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit will never make us act stupid. This happens when people do not rightly know the Word, the character of God or the workings of the Spirit. If they were truly operating in the Spirit they would not act in ways that are contrary to the Word or disgraces Jesus.
It’s just as dangerous to twist the Word for our own selfish ends as it is to twist what some call the outpouring of the Spirit for selfish reasons. Either way, we are being unfaithful to the Word and the Spirit. Reject the Word and we end up in error whether or not we claim to be filled with the Spirit. We can have all kinds of programs, activities or manifestations in the church without the Spirit having any part of it; and if the Spirit is not part of it then neither is Jesus.
There is a terrifying error creeping into many of the camps of those who consider themselves people of the Spirit. It is the exaltation of experience over the Word. If we claim to be led by the Spirit but do that which is contrary to the Word then we have unequivocal evidence that we are not being led by the Spirit, but by self or Satan. The more we are led by the Spirit the more we will live the Word and see the Spirit’s fruit authentically revealed. It cannot be otherwise!
Some people have become spiritual experience junkies that go from conference to conference or from “revival” to “revival” seeking the latest experience or impartation. But they never change, nor do they become agents of godly change in their home, church or world. I have known many people that claimed to be in the “river” while their marriages were in the sewers and their characters more resembled Satan’s then Christ’s. This is the fruit of deception.
There can be terrible peer pressure among many who claim to be Spirit filled. Whenever something is labeled a work of the Spirit there is an unwritten taboo that forbids them from questioning its authenticity. Those who question what is going on are often considered people that do not know the workings of the Spirit or have not been in the “river.” This is a blatant lie. The Spirit will never work against the Word of God. If those in leadership are afraid to be scrutinized by the Word then they should leave the ministry or they may lead multitudes astray.
I have seen gross errors spread because people would not question whether or not their experience lined up with the Scriptures. Since they refused to allow anyone to question their experience, “outpouring” or teacher/preacher they became stubbornly unteachable. I have also seen crowds follow a teacher, give them enormous amounts of money and act in ridiculous ways, all because they refused to examine whether or not what was being taught and experienced was of the Word and the Spirit. This is the exaltation of experience over the Word and is nothing other than a Christianized version of existentialism and hedonism.
What takes place in many churches and meetings are culturally learned reactions to religious cultural influences. We can respond in particular ways because we have learned how to act under certain cultural conditions. Understand that I am not speaking against authentic moves of the Spirit which I have experienced and strive to correctly seek (abuses never nullify that which is authentic and Biblical). The issue at hand is whether or not we are governed by subjective experience or the infallible Word of God. Unfortunately, many believers who consider themselves people of the Spirit have become exceedingly gullible.
Much more could be said about the various errors of those who call themselves people of the Word and people of the Spirit, but let me conclude with the core issue of both: neither are being people of the Word or people of the Spirit.
If we love the Word then we will strive to be true to it in every dimension of its teaching. To love the Word means that we love what the Lord loves and hate what the Lord hates. We would then love the infilling and work of the Holy Spirit as the Scriptures clearly teach and seek to have all that the Spirit has for us. We would ache for the Spirit’s power and life to be pulsating through our very bones and in our churches. We would also hunger to have the gifts of the Spirit operating in our lives. On top of this, we would passionately seek to have all the fruit of the Spirit gracing our character so that we would look as Christlike as is humanly possible.
If we are really a people of the Spirit then we will want the Word of God to be the absolute authority over our lives. Then we will only embrace those things that the Scriptures tell us is truly from Him and reject everything that deviates from the Word because it is absolutely objectionable to the Spirit. To be Spirit lead we must be Word based in our thinking, acting and experiencing. It is only by the Word that we can know what pleases and displeases the Lord, what is holy and unholy, how to live in this present evil world, and what it means to be human. Remove the all-encompassing influence of the Word and we are left with a religious form of humanism where man and his desires are what define life and experience.
To avoid all extremes means that we must be a people of the Word and the Spirit. We cannot be a people of the Word and reject any dimension of the Holy Spirit. Nor can we be truly a people of the Spirit and not define the entirety our lives by the Word. To reject one or the other, in part or in all, we then become neither.
In this teaching by Glenn Meldrum you will learn some of the basic truths about authentic revival. With a very practical approach that comes out of sound Biblical study and personal experience you will learn valuable truths that you can apply to your life.
Prayer and fasting are indispensable disciplines that believers must restore to their rightful place in faith and practice. Both of these disciplines are some of the basic expectations that Jesus established for every believer, not just a select few. The motive behind prayer and fasting, though, decides whether or not they are acceptable to God.
During our early Christian years we knew a man in his twenties that was deeply confused over the subject of fasting. He decided to fast 39 days because he did not want to compete with Christ’s 40 day fast. As the fast progressed he started to get sick and had to be hospitalized— he was actually killing himself. One long term effect of this self-imposed fast was that the young man lost every bit of his hair which never grew back.
It is interesting to note that the only fast God commanded in the Old Testament was on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). All other fasting was voluntary. The huge list of required fasts that the Hebrews eventually observed predominately developed after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and then deported a large portion of the people to Babylon. God never required these extra fasts, the rabbis and religious system did. By Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were fasting at least twice a week (Lk. 18:12). Although the New Testament does not mandate any special or regular fasts, Jesus did expect His disciples to practice the discipline.
The problem the Lord often had with Israel’s fasts was not so much over the fasts themselves, but with the legalistic and selfish motives that defined them. They became dead rituals that were detrimental to the spiritual wellbeing of the people. Once the Lord questioned the people to expose their wicked motives, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?” (Zec. 7:5). They were deceived into thinking that religious acts made them righteous rather than living a surrendered life to the Lord through contrition, personal transformation and authentic love for God. The people had an outward form of godliness but did not have a true relationship with the Lord. Jesus exposed the corrupt motives behind the religious practices of Israel’s leaders by saying “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Mt. 23:5).
Their fasts had degenerated into worthless, selfish rituals that they believed would appease God’s wrath and grant them personal prosperity. What their cold hearts failed to understand was their religious rebellion against God was actually fueling the approaching Day of Wrath. His righteous, holy anger could only be assuaged through heartrending repentance. But repentance is a byproduct of surrender and love to God; both of which they refused to do. Their fasts were all about themselves and not about God (Isa. 58:2-4). They were deceived into believing that self-denial and self-abuse was equivalent to right standing with the Lord (Isa. 58:5). However, if the heart is not right with God, or seeking to be so, then fasting becomes an offense to Him.
The motives behind true fasting are not selfish, but selfless. This is why the one who fasts for incorrect reasons is no better than the one who refuses to fast – both are selfish. Those who begin to understand the privilege of sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering will selflessly subdue their flesh to accomplish that which can be done no other way. They are driven by the knowledge that fasting will “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isa. 58:6). Their deepest desire is that the hunger they feel when fasting will cause an intense spiritual hunger for Jesus in the one that desperately needs to be freed.
Let’s look at Moses’ example of fasting which Scripture tells us was the type of fasting that God receives. Moses spent forty days interceding through prayer and fasting that the Lord would not destroy Israel because they had built and worshiped the golden calf. Through his selfless act men, women and children were spared from having to face the wrath of God. Is it not the same today? Do we truly believe that fasting and prayer loosens the yoke of those enslaved to Satan, the world and sin? While it is true that our fasting will not save a soul from hell (Jesus is the only mediator), yet this story teaches us that we can prevail with God when we have a heart like Moses – which is really a heart like our Savior.
As the account of Moses’ intercession unfolds we find an incredible petition uttered from the lips of this great spiritual giant: “please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:32). What Christlike compassion—Moses was willing to go to hell that his people might be saved. Obviously, God was moved by Moses’ sincere and heartfelt prayer, even though He would never grant Moses’ request in the literal sense (Ex. 32:33). The Lord did spare the nation, but there were consequences for their sins. Mercy coupled with severe discipline was granted to the repentant people, judgment to the unrepentant. This very account begs us to ask a heart-wrenching question: “Who among us could pray such a prayer today in all honesty?”
The intercession of Moses comes to a climax. It is at this point that prayer and fasting either becomes truly successful or a dismal failure. It speaks of the primary motive behind why we do, or do not, fast and pray. While Moses was in the Tent of Meeting continuing to intercede for the people he prayed, “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Though Moses prayed and fasted for the people, his spiritual craving to know the Lord is what drove him. Without a passion for God, Moses would have never had compassion for the people that drove him to his knees for hours, days and even weeks at a time. He understood the prize to be coveted from fasting and prayer was to see God’s glory.
The ultimate prize we are to seek through fasting and prayer is Christ Himself. That is why we must guard our hearts when we practice the disciplines Christ demands of us lest they become dead religious practices. Jesus must always be the ultimate prize we seek, even when we are interceding for the needs of others. When the motive of the heart is right then the promises attached to fasting will break forth upon us: “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isa. 58:9). So what is the greatest reward of prayer and fasting? Christ Himself! When we seek Him with all of our being then we will hear Him speak to us the most beautiful of words, “Here am I.”
Let us look for a little at the instruments and their success. Let us note their character and contemplate their success. They were men of like passions as we are, yet how marvelously blest in their labors! Whence, then, came their vast success? What manner of men were they? What weapons did they employ?
THEY WERE IN EARNEST ABOUT THE GREAT WORK OF THE MINISTRY ON WHICH THEY HAD ENTERED
They felt their infinite responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God, and shepherds appointed by the Chief Shepherd to gather in and watch over souls. They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung. Everything they did and spoke bore the stamp of earnestness, and proclaimed to all with whom they came into contact that the matters about which they had been sent to speak were of infinite moment, admitting of no indifference, no postponement even for a day. Yet their fervor was not that of excitement; it was the steadfast, tranquil purpose of men who felt the urgency and weight of the cause entrusted to them, and who knew that necessity was laid upon them, yea, woe was unto them if they preached not the gospel. They felt that, as ministers of the gospel they dared not act otherwise; they dared not throw less than their whole soul into the conflict; they dared not take their ease or fold their arms; they dared not be indifferent to the issue when professing to lead on the hosts of the living God against the armies of the prince of darkness.
THEY WERE BENT UPON SUCCESS
It was with a good hope of success that they first undertook the awful (full of awe; reverential) office of the ministry, and to despair of this would have been shameful distrust of Him who had sent them forth, while to be indifferent to it would have been to prove themselves nothing short of traitors to Him and to His cause. As warriors, they set their hearts on victory, and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head. As shepherds, they could not sit idle on the mountainside in the sunshine, or the breeze, or the tempest, heedless of their straying, perishing, bleating flock. They watched, gathered, guarded, fed the sheep committed to their care.
THEY WERE MEN OF FAITH
They ploughed and sowed in hope. They might sometimes go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, yet these were the tears of sorrow and compassion, not of despair; they knew that in due season they would reap if they fainted not, that their labor in the Lord would not be in vain, and that ere long they would return bringing their sheaves with them. They had confidence in the God whose they were and whom they served, knowing that He would not send them on this warfare on their own charges. They had confidence in the Savior whose commission they bore, and on whose errands they were gone forth. They had confidence in the promises of glorious success with which He had armed and comforted them. They had confidence in the Holy Spirit’s almighty power and grace, as the glorifier of Christ, the testifier of His work, and the quickener of dead souls. They had confidence in the Word, the gospel, the message of reconciliation which they proclaimed, knowing that it could not return void to Him who sent it forth. Thus they went forth in faith and confidence, anticipating victory, defying enemies, despising obstacles, and “counting not their lives dear unto them that they might finish their course with joy”.
THEY WERE MEN OF LABOR
They were required to bear the burden and heat of the day. It might be truly said of them that “they scorned delights and lived laborious days”. Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul: time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed, they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing, joyfully, thankfully, surrendering all to Him who loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood— regretting only this that they had so little, so very little to give up for Him who for their sakes had freely given Himself! They knew by experience something of what the apostle testifies concerning himself to the Corinthian Church. They knew what it was to be “in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness”. They had no time for levity, or sloth, or pleasure, or idle companionship. They rose before dawn to commence their labors, and the shades of evening found them, though wearied and fainting, still toiling on. They labored for eternity, and as men who knew that time was short and the day of recompense at hand.
THEY WERE MEN OF PATIENCE
They were not discouraged, though they had to labor long without seeing all the fruit they desired. They continued still to sow. Day after day they pursued what, to the eye of the world, appeared a thankless and fruitless round of toil. They were not soon weary in well-doing, remembering the example of the husbandman in regard to his perishable harvest: “Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain.”
Many a good plan has been rendered abortive by impatience. Many a day of toil has been thrown away by impatience. Many a rash step has been taken and hasty changes adopted in consequence of impatience. Attempts have been made to force on a revival by men who were impatient at the slow progress of the work in their hand; and seldom have these ended in anything but calamitous failure, or at best a momentary excitement which scorched and sterilized a soil from which a little more patient toil would have reaped an abundant harvest.
THEY WERE MEN OF BOLDNESS AND DETERMINATION
Adversaries might contend and oppose, timid friends might hesitate, they pressed forward, in nothing terrified by difficulty or opposition. Timidity shuts many a door of usefulness, and loses many a precious opportunity; it wins no friends, while it strengthens many an enemy. Nothing is lost by boldness, or gained by fear. It seems often as if there were a premium upon mere boldness and vigor. Even natural courage and resolution will accomplish much; how much more, courage created and upheld by faith and prayer. In regard, for instance, to the dense masses of ungodliness and profligacy in our large towns, what will ever be effected, if we timidly shrink back, or slothfully fold our hands, because the array is so terrific, and the apparent probabilities of success so slender? Let us be prepared to give battle, though it should be one against ten thousand.
There is needed not merely natural courage in order to face natural danger or difficulty; there is, in our own day, a still greater need of moral boldness, in order to neutralize the fear of man, the dread of public opinion, that god of our idolatry in this last age, which boasts of superior enlightenment, and which would bring everything to the test of reason, or decide it by the votes of the majority. We need strength from above to be faithful in these days of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy—to set our faces like flint alike against the censure and applause of the multitude, and to dare to be singular for righteousness’ sake, and to fight, single-handed, the battles of the faith. The sneer, the scoff, the contemptuous smile of superiority, the cold support, the cordial opposition, the timid friendship, the bold hostility, in private and in public, from lips of companions, or neighbors, or fellow-citizens—and to meet these nothing less than divine grace is needed. Never, perhaps, in any age has wickedness assumed a bolder front and attitude; and never, therefore, was Christian courage more required than now.
Men of the world and mere professors can tolerate the customary routine of ministerial duty; but to step beyond that—to preach and labor in season and out of season—to deal faithfully and closely with men’s consciences—to be always the minister, always the watchman, always the lover of souls—this is to turn the world upside down, to offend against every rule of good breeding, and to tear up the landmarks of civilized society. Ministers and Christians require more than ever to be “strong and of good courage”, to be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”.
THEY WERE MEN OF PRAYER
It is true that they labored much, visited much, studied much, but they also prayed much. In this they abounded. They were much alone with God, replenishing their own souls out of the living fountain that out of them might flow to their people rivers of living water. In our day there is doubtless many a grievous mistake upon this point. Some who are really seeking to feed the flock, and to save souls, are led to exhaust their energies upon external duties and labors, overlooking the absolute necessity of enriching, ripening, filling, elevating their own souls by prayer and fasting. On this account there is much time wasted and labor thrown away. A single word, coming fresh from lips that have been kindled into heavenly warmth, by near fellowship with God, will avail more than a thousand others.
If Christ’s faithful ministers would act more on this principle they would soon learn what an increased fruitfulness and power are thereby imparted to all their labors. Were more of each returning Saturday to spend in fellowship with God, in solemn intercession for the people, in humiliation for sin, and supplication for the outpouring of the Spirit, our Sabbaths would be far more blest, our sermons would be far more successful, our faces would shine as did Moses’, a more solemn awe and reverence would be over all our assemblies. What might be lost in elaborate composition, or critical exactness of style or argument would be far more than compensated for the “double portion of the Spirit” we might then expect to receive.
THEY WERE MEN WHOSE DOCTRINES WERE OF THE MOST DECIDED KIND
There is a breadth and power about their preaching—a glow and energy about their words and thoughts, that makes us feel that they were men of might. Their trumpet gave no feeble or uncertain sound, either to saint or sinner, to the church or the world. They lifted up their voices, and spared not. There was no flinching, no flattering, or prophesying of smooth things.
Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword. The weapons wielded by them were well tempered, well furbished, sharp and keen. Nor were they wielded by a feeble or unpracticed arm. These warriors did not fight with the scabbard instead of the blade. Nor did they smite with the flat instead of the edge of the sword. Nor did they spare any effort, either of strength or skill, which might carry home the thrust of the stroke to the very vitals. Cambridge, regarding whom it is said, that “he scarce ever preached a sermon but some or other of his congregation were struck with great distress, and cried out in agony, ‘What shall I do to be saved’”.
THEY WERE MEN OF SOLEMN DEPORTMENT AND DEEP SPIRITUALITY
Their lives and their lips accorded with each other. Their daily walk furnished the best attestation and illustration of the truth they preached. They were always ministers of Christ, wherever they were to be found or seen. No frivolity, no flippancy, no gaiety, no worldly conviviality (friendly agreement) or companionships neutralized their public preaching, or marred the work they were seeking to accomplish. These men could not be accused of being like the world, or as men who, though faithful in the pulpit, forgot throughout the week their character, their office, their errand. Luther once remarked regarding a beloved and much admired friend, “He lives what we preach”. So it was with these much-honored men, whose names are in the Book of Life.
This article is an edited excerpt from True Revival and the Men God Uses by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). This book is available through Kindle for $.99. It is a worthwhile book.