The Unity That Ushers in Revival
By Mamdouh Riad
The Scriptures teach us three essential things: First, who God is, what He is like (His attributes), what He thinks and feels (His self-disclosure), and the salvation that He provides for us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Second, who man is, his fallen nature, the human heart's capacity for great darkness and evil, AND also its capacity for redemption and radical transformation through the work of Christ.
Third, God’s ways with man, as His Word records for us His dealings with individuals and nations.
One of things that we understand from the Scriptures as we study God’s ways with man is that He often stirs the hearts of His people when He is about to do something. For example, in Exodus 35 & 36 when He wanted Moses to build the tabernacle, He stirred the hearts of His people to come and build it. Scripture says,“And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred”
(Exodus 35:21)..In Ezra chapter 1 when the Lord wanted to release the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, Scripture says"The Lord stirred the spirit of King Cyrus" to do so (Ezra1:1). And finally, when He wanted the Israelites to rebuild the second temple, Scripture says "And Lord stirred up the spirit of Joshua the priest, the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of the remnant of the people." (Haggai 1:14).
With that in mind, thirteen years ago the Lord stirred the hearts of several pastors and leaders across the Cape with a vision to pursue his glory in our midst, because we believe He intends to send a fresh wave of His Spirit on Cape Cod! This collective vision is why we do all that we do. It is why we have the monthly pastors and leaders prayer meeting, the monthly multi-church prayer meeting, and our weekly newsletter.
Our vision can be summarized in the following statement:
We gather in response to the Lord's stirring us with His desire to show His glory in our midst, and the subsequent spiritual awakening and revival on Cape Cod, with multitudes coming to Christ.
By pursuing unity, consecration, and united prayer, we prepare ourselves for what God wants to do in our midst.
"In whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you (plural) also arebeing built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21,22)
We are absolutley convinced that no human effort can ever produce revival or make it happen. Needless to say, it is God alonewho can. As stated above, we gather in response to His stirring. We recognize that this vision did not originate with us but that it was God Himself who placed it in our hearts. As Matthew Henry said, "When God intends great things for His people, He first sets them praying."The relationship between our efforts/prayers and God bringing revival can be illustrated by this analogy: A preacher passed by a a beautiful farm, stopped by and said to the farmer, "God has blessed you with a great farm!" The farmer responded,"You should have seen that farm when God had it. It was a mess!" As you know, the point is clear: everything comes from God; the seed, the soil, the sun, and the rain. But also, God expects the farmer to till the land, plant, weed, and harvest. Another way to illustrate this point is the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel. Elijah had to repair the altar, before God sent the fire. All that we do amounts to preparing the altar or tilling the land, "Preparing the way for the Lord" to do what only He could do.
When my wife and I visited Mount Hermon in Israel a couple of years ago, our tour guide was a local pastor. He shared with us something about Mount Hermon that further sharpened our understanding of Psalm 133 and the power of unity.
The oneness/unity that the scripture calls us to in John 17, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 2 goes beyond simply having good rapport, courteous, friendly, conflict-free relationships, while individually considering ourselves independent and thinking we don't really need one another. The Scriptures teach that we ought to realize that we do need each other: "The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you!" 1 Cor 12:21.
The Scriptures does not paint us a picture that we are all independent, but that we are rather incomplete without one another. That truth becomes even more significant when it comes to our collective desire to see the kingdom of God expand on Cape Cod, and us preparing ourselves together for the glory of God in our midst as the above verses clearly state.
The kind of unity that would command the Lord’s blessing and make a significant impact on the spiritual climate of Cape Cod, is when we all come together recognizing our need for one another, that we are individual members in one body, individual living stones of one spiritual building, which is God's living temple in this region. Together we become a dwelling place for the manifest presence of God as the above verse says in Ephesians 2.
It’s important to note that the original context of the above verses (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 2) was Paul's writing not just to a local church, but to the body of Christ in a region (Corinth, Ephesus...etc).
To the extent we are polarized / fragmented , or we are one/ united, we either lack or have the spiritual authority that God would give us. Before the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 became a great army, they first had to come together and become one body. Only then did God breath life in them.
Psalm 133 teaches us that when we dwell in unity, the Lord commands His blessing, like the dew of Mount Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion.
He explained that the area of Mount Hermon is very dry. It hardly ever rains there. Yet the large area at the base of the mountain is filled with thriving trees, plants, bushes, and all kinds of vegetation. How is all this plant life sustained without rain? Well, Mount Hermon is the highest point in Israel. It reaches to the clouds, collects a lot of precipitation and dew, which then flows down the natural grooves of the mountain and supplies life giving water to the vegetation.
What the Psalm is saying is that even though the dry climate condition at Mount Hermon would normally make the area hostile to plant life, dew from above comes down and brings life. When we come together in unity, God commands His blessing to flow from above, bringing life into our dry bones. According to our pastor tour guide, the “there” in “..there the Lord commanded His blessing” refers to both Mount Hermon AND unity among God’s people. The Psalm is basically saying, just as the Lord commands His blessing at Mount Hermon (there), and sends His dew to bring life despite the harsh climate, in the same way, when His people dwell in unity (there), He commands His blessing on them, pours out His Spirit, and brings life to His people regardless of challenging outward circumstances.
Unity in a local church commands God's blessings upon that local church. Unity between local churches, which together make the body of Christ in a region, commands God's blessing on that region. The unity we are referring to is relational, not organizational. Such unity was a critical element in past revivals.
Attached is an excellent audio sermon by A.W. Tozer entitled Unity that Brings Revival and here is a brief PDF outline of that sermon.
The unity that God calls us to is not just across denominations, but also across ethnic groups and across generations. God commands His blessing on such unity, a blessing that would cause a breakthrough and shift the spiritual climate of this region. Pastors and leaders have a wonderful opportunity as friends of the bridegroom to encourage and facilitate such unity by encouraging united prayer meetings between local churches.
In summary, we share a witness of the Holy Spirit that the Lord intends great things for Cape Cod. He is stirring us to prepare the way for what He wants to do.
May heaven's history books record that in our times the body of Christ on Cape Cod discerned the Holy Spirit's leading, responded to Him, and walked together in unity, humility, and Christ's love, preparing themselves for the mighty move of God that took place!