|Are We Ready For Revival?|
By Rhonda Hughey
We are living in unprecedented days in the history of the church! The Lord is moving in powerful ways, building His church and expanding His kingdom. Revival is impacting many cities and nations. Leaders are praying with anticipation for a crossing the threshold of genuine revival leading to transformation of cities in the United States and the Western World. This is not a "trend" or the latest ministry strategy. We are beginning to see tangible evidence of God's intention to fulfill His promise in Scripture to restore and rebuild cities that are desolate.
By His own design God has ordained seasons of revival throughout history to restore His church to simplicity, power and effectiveness. God intends for His glory to be manifested "in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever." (Eph 3:21). His will could not be more explicit! He desires that His glory be manifested in the church in every generation and every culture. The world will see the glory of God only when Jesus Christ is clearly seen in the church and through the church to the world (John 17).
Scripture promises that a mighty outpouring of God's glory is coming (Joel 2) that will include signs and wonders, a harvest of souls, and that the gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth (Mt. 24:14). We have a responsibility as the people of God to cry out for His presence to fill our communities toward that end. The church is not meant to be a spectator on the sidelines, God is inviting us into full partnership with this end of the age drama.
Are we ready for what God has in mind? Is the church prepared to walk out the reality of the promises God has made in His word? Many would suggest that although we are at a critical threshold of history, the church is not up to the challenge and unprecedented opportunity that is before us. The current condition of the church suggests that we have replaced the purity and simplicity of the gospel with sophisticated, entertaining activities that have left people inside and outside the community of faith questioning the reality of Jesus Christ and His life-changing power. Both leaders and laypeople in the Western church are questioning foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, leaning more and more toward humanistic ideologies versus the moral and spiritual absolutes of biblical revelation and a biblical worldview.
A recent survey conducted by noted researcher George Barna reported that the large majority of Americans contend that there is no absolute moral truth. More than two out of three adults, Christian and non-Christian, argue that truth is relative to the individual and circumstances. Moral and ideological relativism, which has characterized Western universities for many decades, is now everywhere prevalent in our culture. Most alarming is the way this relativism is being embraced by much of the church, resulting in a new level of tolerance and comfort with sin even when it blatantly contradicts the clear teaching of God's Word. The Western worldview has replaced the biblical worldview, and relativism now functions in partnership with the appearance of Christian "faith." As the faith of believers has become diluted, so the influence and relevance of the church has diminished in society. This disconnect of the church ultimately derives from a decline in knowing God and an intimate relationship with Jesus by believers that in turn has resulted in a loss of true identity, lack of spiritual authority, and lack of awareness of the church's transforming purpose.
In response to this downward spiral, the church seems determined to find the answer within herself, giving rise to endless agendas to solve the identified problems. Using circular reasoning based on a wrong premise, we have been recycling religious programs and activities, hoping that somehow they will become effective the "next time."
Desperate to appear "unique" in order to attract members, we have wandered further and further from the simple and powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, much of our religious activity has served as a numbing agent for believers rather than producing disciples for the kingdom. At this writing there are ten million born-again believers who are unchurched. Even believers are becoming bored and disillusioned!
The Western church is struggling with her identity, authority, and purpose. Understanding our true identity in Christ must occur before we can exercise spiritual authority and accomplish our God-given mission as an agent of change on the earth. We need a serious lifestyle change in the body of Christ, from a Westernized culture of Christianity to becoming radical disciples of Jesus. If we are conformed to His image, we can become the "aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing" 2 Cor. 2:15.
In a declining culture, the church cannot fully recover the presence of God in her midst apart from the catalyst of a true revival from heaven. We are living in an important hour of history! God is challenging the church's self-centered identity, shifting our mindsets, and ineffective methodologies. He is inviting us to respond to one of the greatest challenges we have ever faced - to return to our first love and to step out of our compromised church culture and into His kingdom!
In order to fulfill the purposes of God for our cities, we must hear what the Spirit is saying to the church and be obedient to His voice. As Isaiah prophesied: "Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones, lift up raise a banner for the nations!" (Is. 62:10). The Lord is issuing an invitation to His church to pass through a threshold into the reality of His kingdom. He is opening three "gates" or doorways before us.
The first door is the Door of Intimacy. Scripture contains two pictures of this door. The first is found in the Song of Songs: "I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, 'Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one'" (Song 5:2 NKJ). A second picture is found in the Book of Revelation: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Rev 3:20 NKJ). Jesus is knocking at the door of His church longing for fellowship and intimacy with His Beloved. This door must be opened before the church can become like Jesus. We can only become what we are beholding in prayer and intimate fellowship. By fixing our gaze on Him, we can be transformed into His image, from glory to glory.
The second door is a Door of Hope. In Hosea we see the response of God to His wandering Bride: "Behold, I will allure her, I will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt." (Hosea 2:14-15 NKJ). The Lord is opening this door to invite His Beloved out of her captivity and compromise and into her destiny. It's a door that leads us out of the Valley of Trouble and into renewed covenant with God. This door will lead the church from her compromise into betrothal and fruitfulness.
Finally, the last door being opened is the Door of Heaven. In the Book of Revelation, John writes: "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this'" (Rev. 4:1 NKJ). The Lord, who invited John to come up higher for the heavenly perspective, is also inviting His Beloved to "come up higher" and sit with Him around His throne. The invitation lifts us out of our compromised state and into the revelation of heaven's perspective. With heaven's perspective, we gain revelation regarding our identity and destiny in God. This door will help the church realize her transforming purpose.
These "doors" represent an invitation from Jesus to pass through to new places of intimacy, freedom, and destiny. God is giving us keys that will unlock these doors, both in our personal lives and collectively for the sake of our cities. As we accept His invitation and pass through each door, Jesus will lead us into our true identity as His Bride--out of our captivity and compromise and into our transforming purpose!
"Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in." (Psalm 24:7 NKJ)
And the King of glory shall come in." (Psalm 24:7 NKJ)
Note: This article is an excerpt taken from "Desperate For His Presence" and is available in the Fusion Ministries on-line bookstore.
Copyright 2005 Fusion Ministries, Inc