Summary: On being hungry and thristy for true revival.
This morning we heard read to us from Jesus’ words of prayer for His disciples in JOHN 17. He prayed the Father that He would “SANCTIFY us by the truth”. This is the next great theme we are coming to in our series on the things “We believe . . .” the great theme of SANCTIFICATION. God’s great work of “setting us apart”. Or in simple terms . . . “We believe Christians are being changed”. Changed from glory to glory; from one degree of holiness to another. Changed to be what God wants us to be: the image of His Holy Son.
I was driving yesterday in Steele Street, opposite where the old church building was, and I passed a health gym (“Muscleworld”, I think it’s called), and I noticed they have a sign on the front window - “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT”. I think that would be a good sign to hang around every new Christian’s neck, don’t you?! “Under New Management”. Jesus has come in - not just to be Saviour, but LORD. If we have truly experienced conversion, then we are “Under New Management”.
Have you ever wondered WHY a business will put up a sign that proudly announces “Under New Management”? Well surely it’s because they want people to come in and see what’s different - what’s changed - what’s NEW for the better. Maybe the old management offended you - maybe you didn’t like the service. Come in and see how it’s different now - how much better it is - “Under New Management”.
The question is if someone HAD hung a sign like that around YOUR neck when you were converted, what change/what difference would your old friends find if they came to check out the new management. It’s GOD who changes our lives (He’s the new management), BUT HOW MANY KNOW THAT HE DOES IT WITH OUR CO-OPERATION?!
So, that is the great theme we are coming to, and I think we’ll get into it properly next Sunday morning.
But before we come to that, I’d like to look at something else first. If we are going to co-operate with God in this great work of SANCTIFICATION, then we must have a desire for it. A God-given desire - a HEART for holiness! And this, again, I believe brings us back to the matter of REVIVAL. We’ve been talking about the need for revival again in recent weeks; praying for revival. When revival comes it will bring the intense desire in believers to be right before God in every area of our lives.
A missionary in the Solomon Islands, where a great revival was experienced, was asked what revival is like. He said: “Imagine going into the great mansion of some very important person; a king or a prime minister or the like. And you are shown into the great One’s presence, but you notice that he is looking over your shoulder. You turn around and you notice that your shoes are covered in mud, and you have left a trail of muddy footprints all through the house. And you become aware that the great One’s gaze is fixed on you, and you become very uncomfortable. That’s what revival is like! You become aware you are in the very presence of God, and His gaze in upon you - the gaze of Holy eyes. And every sin, every failure, is laid bare like muddy footprints. And you want to get down and clean away the dirt - wash it away even with your own tears. But you don’t have enough tears to cry; you can’t wash it away. So you cry out to God in repentance, asking for mercy. And then God grants you the assurance that it’s ALL done in Christ - and you feel clean and forgiven, and you are filled with indescribable joy. And you can never be the same again.
If we are to be changed to become the very image of Christ, we must have the heart for it. The desire to BE holy. To deal with sin and worldliness. That desire must be born in us by revival.
Turn with me, this morning, back to JOHN 7:37-39. [READ.]
I believe that revival is the great need of the hour in our churches. And to be perfectly candid, I don’t believe that we have revival in Australia at all. We’re encouraged by stories of God working here, working there - PRAISE THE LORD for it all. But I am not aware of any place in Australia where it can be claimed that the church is in true revival. And so revival IS the great need of the hour.
What IS “REVIVAL”? Let me make the point that revival is NOT, essentially, talking about the growth of the church - the salvation of souls. Harvest (or souls being saved), is a RESULT of revival - an outworking of it. Essentially, though, revival has to do with the church. Revival is BELIEVERS receiving new life - becoming renewed. The very word “revival” implies that something WAS alive, but has died (or taken on a condition very much LIKE death), and is then resuscitated - given life again - restored. That cannot be talking about UNBELIEVERS, because they have never yet BEEN alive. They are dead in trespasses and sins.