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As pastor, I have committed the early part of 1997
to Revival. I am not speaking of the type of revival
that exists in many of our Baptist churches. That
type of revival is external, emotional, and temporal.
An "evangelist" comes to the church and preaches hard
for one week, often people respond to this "new
voice" with its great sense of humor and emotional illustrations. The altar is full at the invitation time with people
"making decisions." And about two weeks later, it has all been forgotten. People are back to ignoring the Word of God and prayer. The
visitation crowd drops back to a small handful. The excitement dwindles, and it becomes business as usual at the church. People fail to realize that true revival is an internal event, and that it is rooted not in the oratorical skills of a preacher, but in the devoted heart of the believer. Evangelists come and go, but a heart that is consumed with God abides constant, and will control aspects of my life on a moment by moment basis.
There are many areas where revival is needed. I have broken it into five headings. First and foremost, we must have a revival of Love. Christ told us that the greatest commandments were to love God completely and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If we can get a grasp on these principles, everything else will easily fit into place. Every facet of my life needs to revolve around God. It is not just the idea of making Him an important part of my life, but rather He must BE my life. He must be the focus of my heart, mind, soul and strength. This will, in turn, lead me to a sacrificial love for others. I am to love them as God loves the world, as Christ loves the church, and as I love me. What a change would take place if this type of love was evidenced in our lives.
The second area needing revival is our Lineage. By this I mean we need to get back to having God-fearing, Christ-honoring, Holy Spirit led homes. These are homes where family altars are maintained; where husbands and wives have Biblical relationships and provide spiritual leadership to obedient, submissive children; where Christ is not an afterthought, but rather the motivation for all activity. Our churches and youth departments will struggle to rise above the spiritual level of the families that are supplying them.
A third area needing revival is that of Learning. Our church members need to return to an understanding of the doctrines and principles of the Scriptures. Many folks get all their Biblical instruction from their Pastor. What a tragedy that they have not learned to become self-feeders who study the Scriptures for themselves. Others can spout many Bible verses, but seem unable to find areas of application for those principles in their lives. We must return to allowing the Bible to be our only rule for faith and practice, and then knowing it well enough to use it properly.
The fourth area goes hand in hand with area three. This involves our Lifestyle. Rather than being set apart from the world through the work of God, we have seen a progressive return to the carnality and worldliness from which we were redeemed. In the New Testament, believers are radically different from unbelievers. In 1997, believers conform their lives to unbelievers. Of course this is rooted in an absence of love for God coupled with a tremendous love for self.
Lastly, we need a revival of Labor. Men and women are in need of the Gospel. New Christians are in need of discipleship. The hurting are in need of comfort, and the faint are in need of exhortation. There is much "work of the ministry" which needs to be done by those who love God
and others, who understand Biblical principles, and who have matured to the point of discerning good and evil. May 1997 be a year of revival for each of us, and may God receive the glory to which He is due.
Mark J Montgomery