The God of the Old Testament and the New Testament transcends all the ways of man, and at times has completely ignored men, and has made absolutely apparent His independence apart from the ways of men. Has this God, now in the days since Paul and the other apostles, decided to reveal His Glory through the magnification of men and their machinery? When we see, today, the fleshly exhibition of what men can accomplish, are we to believe that since Christ’s ascension , and the works of the Apostles, that God has turned over His Church to our own attempts at “revival” or “reformation”? Are we to accept that God has compromised His own abilities, to now accommodate the greatness and aptitude of men, and that men will now complete in the flesh what God started in the Spirit? Is God “not” the same today as he was yesterday? The answer is of course, yes, He is the same, but so is man!
These questions are presented here to make you think. Do we really see God’s finger prints on all of this we call the Church today. We see so much of what men have done though. Men’s dirty finger prints are all over the Church. Men and their machinery; men and their plans and programs; men and their money and monopoly, and some men have seemingly cornered the market on spirituality, and men follow men, and not God!
Much is being said, and many are praying for revival. With the carnival act going on in Florida, and the mega-mentality of the Church growth industry, it is being said and believed that, with the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the people of God all problems would be addressed and remedied, all disabilities and debts relinquished, and all foolishness reversed, etc., etc., etc. Reference is made to past visitations and blessings, and loose translations of Scripture are trumpeted, with the intent that the sheep will draw certain conclusions as to God’s plans and their privileged position with the Almighty. True spirituality, as recorded in the Bible, invariably had the effect of making ridiculous many of the things of which the Church is so proud of today; calling childish most of what the Church requires as essential elements. True spirituality discounts many of the things the Church today takes for granted, and upsets the wagon of the status quo. This kind of revival only takes place when there is a real unity through connectedness, a commonness of spirit, and a foundation of oneness. Real revival is destructive and bold, and turns the world upside down. Revival is a great shaking, and causes things to come apart, and is not applauded by the world, but stomped on, and persecuted, and driven out, and extinguished– if possible.
Now, here is my point. If the Holy Spirit rejects and ignores most of what we think demonstrates, and makes evident, our Christian lifestyle, or transcends it, and makes it as though it were nothing in comparison, (and we know that the Holy Spirit will not compromise on what God considers essential), doesn’t all of this demand that we re-evaluate all that the Church has achieved? Doesn’t this demand that we look at it all again, and question the validity and the safety of the structure we have erected? Who has really built this thing we call the “Church?” Who owns the mortgage? Who collects a paycheck? Who has ordained its priesthood? Who has taught its teachers? Who has filed its tax exemption certificate? Who answers to a board of directors? Who choreographs the worship service? Who sends out missionaries? All of this is done while the laity watch, with their hands in their lap, sitting and standing on cue! Who? Who!? has built the Church that we see on every corner, God or men? Examine the bank account. Open the check register. Talk to the accountant; ask him who the church belongs to. Ask the little children: “whose Church is this?” and out of the mouth of babes come forth wisdom. This church belongs to Pastor John, or Brother Kerry, or this is the “peoples” Church, or the people of Eagle built this Church; their name is on it, and all the pastors stand in “their” pulpits, lifting their hands to heaven, and declare that “only God could do this,” referring to their own personal Tower of Babel.
When we have a very close hold on earthly and temporary things, like life in the flesh, things such as ritual, and buildings have a “more” and a “greater” place and prominence. Ceremony, Rites, Robes, Rules, and external things do not characterize a healthy and vibrant life in the Spirit. On the contrary, these characterize a lowering and a cheapening of the Spiritual life. These thing could very well be used as an index and a spiritual measuring rod; the more importance given to these things the lower the index. Spiritual strength and purity, on the other hand, identifies with Christ in His simplicity and emptiness of the things of the world, and in His meagerness, and humility, comes strength and power. This is what we see displayed in Scripture, and history proves it, by the flow of the Spirit, bearing the marks of God, and standing out in time. The days of the Church’s greatest spiritual power and impact were days when ecclesiastical forms, architecture and ritual were few, and the Lord Himself was everything.
God has not changed, and neither has man. When men see something that needs to be done, they do it. They just can not keep their hands off the things of God, they must count it, and weigh it, and sort it, and parcel it out to other men. This thing of the “Church” must be controlled and contained, it simply can not be left to the iffyness of the un-known. Has the Almighty, and All-Knowing Creator of all things really delivered the Church into the hands of men? Has God really switched plans and changed His mind, and now requires that churches be organizations instead of an Organism, a dead thing rather than a living thing? Has God now required that men only use the word “faith” as a religious word instead of really trusting Him for everything, even food and clothing? Has God now decided to have men build bigger barns and store up for the future, just in case of an emergency? Has God initiated a plan to use the Church as a social gathering place and government dispensing agency, and hopefully they will all have gyms and located in good zip codes, where affluence thrives? And, is He today even recommending that all symbolism be removed from buildings: crosses, pews, stain glass windows, and anything that might offend Pagan sensibilities. God has indeed changed, and only just in time, for the world has gotten really screwed up doing it the old way.
In times of true revival the Holy Spirit does not revive worldly religious things, He destroys them, and tears them down. All the machinery of men must go. Does it mean then, since we see the exploding of the mega-church growth movement, and the emerging movement, and the carnival healing movement, the massive machinery of men crawling over the earth, building God’s Church for Him, that we are in “Revival?” NO! It is the exact opposite, men have become mega-maniacs, gorged on their own foolishness, drooling all over themselves in their frantic efforts to reverse a world spinning out of control, and they dare not trust something so nebulous, as faith in God. They not only do not trust God, but teach others to not trust God. All these things of men must be left behind, but man has so much invested in his efforts that that is not likely to happen. The Bible just can not mean what it plainly says, there must be an answer elsewhere, and many men are vying for that cherished position, with preposterous presentations, and are winning great followings; it is insanity. The effects of revival is the smashing and tearing down of all our idols; the things that we have built up in our lives and in our heads as being necessary to the spiritual life. No sacrifice was ever made to God that did not die. To die is hard. To empty our selves is painful. To watch as God reduces to ashes our whole life, all that we have built and became attached to, it is nearly impossible to do. To take our most cherished possession and hand it over to God is a real stretch that throws our whole life out of joint. He doesn’t want our damaged goods, only our very best is good enough to give. That little lamb that would have been the beginning of that new flock, that would allow you the retirement you long for, that beauty, that had become the family pet, the one that was well beloved, it alone was good enough and you know it, spotless, without blemish, perfect in all his ways. You watch as your young son hands over the little lamb, and the priest puts the blade to his neck, and you watch as you see your retirement run out onto the ground, a scarlet red, and you watch as the body is laid on the altar, and you watch as your life goes up in smoke, a sweet savor unto the Lord. Then it is that you realize, you have been accepted of the Lord, and your life is in His hands, and you are truly safe and sound, in Him.
There is none of this in all the talk you hear today. There is none of this coming out of the pulpit, the cost is just too great, jobs could be jeopardized, funds depleted, and people lost. But, this is the message of revival. My heart aches at the thought of such a move of God. I am not satisfied with phoniness, the foolishness going on today to please the crowds and keep them coming, and giving. The delusional visions, and words from God about so-and-so, and such-and-such, sickens me. The casting out of demons, even from furniture and houses and cars, it’s lunacy, and it is dangerous. It doesn’t matter if it is false manifestations of the spirit or the manifestations of men, it is all of this world and God has discounted it, and weighed it, and found it worthless and vain. It is not only unimportant but it is a barrier between God and man. All of these methods have been found wanting, they just have not produced the kind of men that God requires, but God has found Himself some men and women, who will do His will, who know what God wants, and with His help they obey.
It is nearly impossible for Christianity to believe that anything can go on without the influx of men and machinery, marketing and management, and all the support from the organization! God’s mightiest and most fruitful works in nature and in His gifts to us are not done in a closet, quietly, inconspicuously, and they are done even before we realize there exist a need for it. We can’t appreciate the resurrection of nature every Spring-time without appreciating God’s mercy for an unworthy race. He knows what we need, even when we don’t deserve it. What God is trying to tell us is that we don’t need an organization, we need an organism, a real LIFE.