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A Little Ocean Ambiance
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Doctrinal Writings
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Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
Vassar, Michigan
"Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" Galatians 5:7
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians by divine inspiration, they were being hindered in their spiritual progress by false ideas taught them by false teachers. Paul felt very strongly about the damage done by these falsehoods.
"This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." (Galatians 5:8-10)
The Galatians were troubled by a system of law-works-flesh which produced bondage. This system opposed the formula of grace-faith-Spirit which produces liberty and was preached by God's true messengers. When Christians are walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16), they are living the life Christ planned for His people to live. That life is beautifully described in Galatians 2:20.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
When believers fail to live the Spirit-filled Christ-life, and enjoy its fruits and benefits, they are in need of revival. The Bible concept of revival is God bringing people back to life. It is God restoring those who have lapsed into carnality, worldliness, and disobedience, to the normal state of spirituality, love for God, and dedication to Christ. Whenever there is a revival, God is bringing Christians back to normal!

That revival is a return to normal Christianity is not understood by many today. It is commonly thought that to be revived is to experience some extraordinary, above-normal infusion of divine power. But New Testament Christianity is a very powerful thing. What many think of as the normal level of Christian living is actually well below the standard set by Christ. The night before He died on the cross, Jesus spoke at length with His disciples about what they could expect in the era of His physical absence from the earth. Portions of that discourse are recorded for us in John, chapters 13 through 17. The age between the ascension and second coming of Christ (which could be named the Age of the Holy Spirit) would bring believers the potential of a life characterized by these things:

(1) definite answers to prayer (14:12-14; 15:7 and 16; 16:23-24);
(2) the obvious help of the Holy Spirit (14:15-26, 15:26-27; 16:7-15);
(3) peace and joy all the time (14:27-31; 15:11;16:33);
(4) much fruit (15:1-16);
(5) and persecution (15:17-25; 16:1-6).

Now that the Holy Spirit lives within us, these elements should characterize our normal experience! So Jesus said. The lack of these five things in our lives is evidence that we are living below the level of the Spirit-filled life, and are in need of revival.

Many in the fundamentalist churches are in need of revival today. They uphold good standards of conduct, but they lack spiritual power. They can tell you when something done in church is not quite correct, but they have little joy in their lives. They operate a church program, but they do so without the divine enduement. It won't be long before much of the fundamentalist movement will make no sense to most people. Our music and dress standards will seem baseless and ridiculous. Our restrictions will seem to be unnecessary hindrances to church growth. Our ecclesiastical separation will seem mean and self-righteous. All of this will happen (and to some degree is already happening) unless we experience an outpouring of the Spirit of God such as our forefathers knew. In other words, fundamentalists must have a revival from on high in order to survive the twenty-first century. We can be thankful that God has promised to revive us when we need to be revived. See this in Psalm 85 and in James 4.

"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Show us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly." (Psalm 85:6-8)
The promises for revival are made to humble and contrite believers who are willing to separate themselves from the sinful ways of this world and of their own flesh. There is no hope of seeing a true and thorough revival among compromising believers who have made peace with the enemies of Christ. It is only among the separated brethren that a pure and powerful movement of God can be expected. Yet separated fundamentalists stumble over the teachings of scripture about revival because of false ideas that have entered their minds. These false teachings have hindered us much as the Galatians were hindered by false doctrine in their day. We must cast the light of truth on our ideas in order to find if they are Biblical or not. When our misconceptions are exposed and cast aside, we will be able to seek God with free and expectant hearts for the revival we need. Please consider the fallacies of five ideas that are hindering revival among God's separated people today.

Revival is an extraordinary event, determined solely by the sovereign choice of God.

We are told that there is absolutely nothing we can do to promote the coming of revival. It is said that we can legitimately hope for revival, but that we must never aim for revival. The words "extraordinary" and "sovereign" are often used among fundamentalists to describe the nature of God-given revival, indicating that it is something beyond the normal Christian experience sent only when the Lord decides to send it. Yet the teaching of scripture does not support this idea or encourage this attitude. The "revived" state is the normal state of the Christian, not something "extraordinary," and although God is sovereign, He has promised to send us revival in response to our submission to Him.

Part of the problem our brethren who advance this false view are having is caused by trying to define revival from history rather than from scripture. When a believer concentrates on the written history of great revivals he will tend to focus on the byproducts or incidentals of revival rather than its essential nature. He will emphasize the particular circumstances of a revival and specific manifestations of divine work. Then he will ponder why it is that efforts for revival do not always produce the same visible results. Leaving his Bible for humanly authored histories, he will forget that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit (in a revived state) just as much as the one-hundred-twenty in the upper room at Pentecost, but he was martyred and they saw three thousand conversions! Will we devise a definition based on history, calling something a revival only if certain experiences of the past are repeated, or will we accept the definition of revival found in the Word of God? Look at the use of the word for "revive" in the Bible (as in Psalm 85, Isaiah 57, Psalm 119, and Isaiah 57). Look at the experiences of revival recorded in the Bible, and the promises for revival. See that it is simply God bringing His people back to the expected level of obedience and faithfulness.

"Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." (Psalms 80:3)
See that revival in the Old Testament brought certain promised blessings, and that revival in the New Testament age will bring other promised blessings. Believers who abide in Christ should expect to experience answers to prayer, the power of the Spirit, the bearing of fruit, abiding peace, and persecution. They may or may not see the closing of taverns, the reduction of crime, thousands of conversions, and growing churches. Peter was "filled with the Holy Ghost" when he spoke in Acts 2, and his listeners were "pricked in their heart" and said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" In Acts 7, Stephen was "full of the Holy Ghost" when he spoke, and those who heard him "were cut to the heart." But they killed him! The visible results vary in revivals, possibly because of the hardness of the sinners that are evangelized. Only God knows all about this. Revival was happening in Acts 7 just as much as in Acts 2, although the stories are very different.

In the Bible, revival means God bringing His people back to normal. He is waking them to consciousness, bringing them back to life, restoring them to the place of blessing. Perhaps we have forgotten what normal Christianity is. In Matthew it is "take up his cross, and follow Me" (16:24). In Mark it is "preach the gospel to every creature" (16:15). In Luke and Acts it is "endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). In John it is "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit" (15:5). In Romans it is "present your bodies a living sacrifice." (12:1). In Galatians it is "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (5:16). In Ephesians it is "be filled with the Spirit" (5:18). Do we think that the reason so many live at a sub-normal level lies in the sovereignty of God? Do we expect that the general carnality and worldliness of the churches can be attributed to a divine decree? Have we no responsibility to be revived and lifted out of our unbelief and disobedience? Even though it must be God that revives us, have we no duty to seek revival?

The idea is taught by some that Christians cannot expect to be revived by meeting certain conditions. The scripture indicates otherwise. The revival principle of James 4 is found throughout the Bible.

"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (verses 8-10)
The teaching that when we respond to God, He will respond to us, is repeated often.
"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 1:3) "Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 3:7)
"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." (Hosea 6:1-3)
The Book of Judges is all about the Lord responding to His people when they repent and pray. Chapter 2 gives us the pattern of the people of Israel in those days:

"And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth." (v.13)
"And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies." (v. 14)
". . . it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them." (v. 18b) ". . . the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them." (v. 16)
"And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge . . . And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." (vs. 18a and 19)
The people forsook the Lord and His Law. Then He sent them oppressors and spoilers to chastise them. When they repented and cried out to Him, He responded by sending them a deliverer, a judge, to throw off the oppressor. As long as this judge lived, the people of God behaved fairly well; but when the judge died, they corrupted themselves again. Then the cycle began again. We see this pattern over and over in the stories of the judges.
"And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer . . ." (Judges 3:9)
In Judges 10, we read about the children of Israel falling away from God for the sixth time in the book, and how God responded when they prayed.
"And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation." (vs. 11-14)
But the people kept on praying, and they really repented of their sins.
"And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel." (vs. 15 and 16)
When they repented and prayed, God?s "soul was grieved" for them, and in Chapter 11 He sent them the deliverance they needed. Even when God said He would not respond to their repentance, He did respond. When they repented, He repented. It?s an amazing thing!

The New Testament, in more passages than James 4, promises a response from God when Christians repent. Look up Ephesians 5:14, I John 1:9, and Revelation 3:18-20 to find some familiar examples. Revival awaits our repentance, not God's sovereign decision. Christians today are not complacent, disobedient, and worldly because God has not decided to revive them. They are in this sub-normal state because they have not turned from it and to God for a revival. God has already decided that He will revive us if we will turn to Him in repentance and faith. He waits for us.

We must define revival from the Bible, and when we do, we see that it can be expected in response to our repentance and faith. There is a great gulf between the sovereign act/extraordinary event view and the conditions-for-revival view. We must see the difference before we will get serious about seeking the Lord to revive us again.

Revival cannot be expected in times of apostasy.

The word "apostasy" means departure from truth. Without question, America's churches have experienced widespread apostasy over the past century. Of course, apostasy has happened among professing Christians many times in church history. The earliest churches, over time, left the simple Gospel through the influence of pagan ideas, the veneration of martyrs, union with the state, and the power of bishops. The evangelical denominations in our country departed from the faith by the acceptance of higher criticism, the social gospel, evolution, and anti-supernaturalism. But is revival prevented when many of the churches are apostate? There are people who think it is.

However, let us remind ourselves that, in a sense, revival cannot occur unless there has been a measure of apostasy! If folks have not departed from the truth at least in their behavior, there is no need for a revival! The concept that apostasy prevents revival is false, and in a way is the opposite of the truth.

Now certain apostates as individuals cannot be revived because they are unconverted sinners who have blasphemed the Holy Ghost. The apostate Jews who crucified Jesus Christ were such people (Matthew 12:31-32), and so are those mentioned in Hebrews 6 (verses 4 through 9). Certainly some have crossed the deadline, but the influence of reprobates or false teachers does not hinder God from reviving His own people. Revival cannot be based on false doctrine, but revival based on the truth cannot be prevented by the opposition of false doctrine! See in the book of Acts how revived Christianity successfully met the challenge of apostate religion. Watch Paul face Elymas in Acts 13. See him and Barnabas stand up to "the unbelieving Jews" in Acts 14. The Christians had to deal with false doctrine among them in Acts 15 in order for revival to continue, but the truth prevailed, and the Gospel marched ahead. The World Council of Churches, the Charismatic Movement, and the New-Age doctrine cannot stop revival among God?s separated people if we turn our hearts to Him!

Revival demands that we alter the plan of salvation.

Some (actually very few) who were concerned that we see the big results we expect from revival resorted to the "pray-this-prayer" approach to sinners that gave them impressive reports but little else. For a number of years, fundamentalists were encouraged to get results without having revival, in many different areas. In reaction to this trend, some fundamentalists have decided to fix the problem by raising the standard for salvation. "Easy believism" has been replaced with "Lordship salvation" by some preachers. Sadly, they have perverted the Gospel by confusing the way of salvation with the requirements for discipleship. Seeking better results, they are compromising justification by faith in Christ alone.

Please do not misunderstand. Repentance is required for salvation. Often these Lordship proponents say that repentance has been downplayed, and that faith must be accompanied by repentance from sin for the soul to be saved. However, "repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18) must be understood in order to be preached. First, let us realize that to repent is to change the mind. That is always the meaning in the New Testament, and it is the root meaning of the Greek word. Secondly, let us notice of what it is that sinners must repent in order to be saved: sin (Matthew 3:1-6), unbelief (Mark 1:15), and good works (Hebrews 6:1)! We must change our minds about sin, about faith in Christ, and about the merit of our supposedly good works in order to be saved. This is what the Bible teaches about repentance for salvation. Thirdly, repentance results in saving faith, but it is not a separate step to salvation. If a sinner has truly repented, he believes in Jesus Christ. If a sinner believes in Christ for salvation, he has truly repented. Repentance for salvation is the change of mind necessary for a sinner, who loves "darkness rather than light" (John 3:19), to come to the Light by believing in Christ.

We must see in the Bible that salvation and discipleship are two very different issues. Salvation requires faith in Christ (Acts 16:31); discipleship requires commitment to obedience (Luke 14:33-35). Salvation involves the cross of Christ (I Corinthians 1:18-24); discipleship involves one?s own cross (Matthew 16:24-25). Salvation calls for one decision (John 4:14); discipleship calls for a daily decision (Luke 9:23). Salvation cannot fail because it depends upon God (John 10:27-28); discipleship is in jeopardy of failure because it depends somewhat on us (Luke 14:26-30). Salvation results in eternal life (Romans 6:23); discipleship when successful results in eternal rewards (Matthew 16:25-27). While it is true that every believer should seek to be a disciple, it is also true that believers are not necessarily disciples in the full sense of that term. Listen to what the Bible says in John 8:30-31.

"As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
On the other hand, although every disciple of Christ should be a believer, not all disciples are believers! Look at these passages in John:
"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." (2:11) "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (6:60-66)
Religious people who have committed themselves to obey Christ will not go to Heaven unless they believe on Christ for their salvation. Salvation and discipleship are two different things, and they must not be confused. A works-salvation perversion of the Gospel will not bring a revival.
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)
Revival must be separated from evangelism.

We have heard for years that we must distinguish between revival and evangelism. "Will these be revival meetings or evangelistic services?" Although there is truth in this concept, we must never forget that these two matters cannot be separated A true revival in the life of a believer will make him a witness for Christ and a winner of souls. Obedience to the Lord requires obedience to the Great Commission! When the "Holy Ghost is come upon you . . . ye shall be witnesses" for Christ according to Acts 1:8. Also, evangelism will not succeed unless believers are filled with the Spirit. Revival produces evangelism, and empowered evangelism requires revival! The old-time revival campaigns used to combine calling Christians to repentance and calling sinners to Christ. Without a doubt the evangelists all saw the connection between revival and evangelism, and so should we.

Revival depends on pleasing the public.

The revival movement among fundamentalists in the 1930s led unfortunately to a new approach in the 1940s to "gear" the effort "to the times." Big youth crusades of that era sought to throw off the old-fashioned and possibly offensive aspects of former revival efforts, and to appeal to the young in the popular terms of their day. This trend gave us the "new evangelicalism" and the ecumenical crusades that have dominated conservative Christianity for fifty years. Of course, many have professed faith through these crusades and youth events, but real revival has not come. The reason for the evangelical failure is the Bible truth that success in the Cause of Truth does not come by pleasing men, but rather by pleasing God. Look at the principle in Joshua 3:5.

"Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
Paul told us that soul-winners must "please all men in all things" in order to seek "the profit of many, that they might be saved" (I Corinthians 10:33). But the context in I Corinthians 9 and 10 makes it clear that Paul was speaking about sacrificing oneself and non-essential offenses in order to clear the way for effective witness. He was not advocating the compromise or abandonment of truth or the glory of God in order to please sinners (Notice 9:21 and 10:31). In I Thessalonians 2:4 he said,
"But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."
We must please God in order to have His blessing, not please people in order to win them over. Winning people lost in sin is not a simple matter of psychological trickery. It requires the supernatural power of God. Our focus must be vertical more than horizontal. The use of carnal music, the lowering of our own standards of life, and the condoning of sinful practices will not help our evangelistic efforts. They will doom them to failure because God will not be with us.

The great hindrances to revival among fundamentalists today are unbelief, doctrinal perversion, laziness, and worldliness. These hindrances continue to prevail partially because false ideas are not being challenged. Let us work to restore a Biblical understanding of revival to the fundamentalists, and lead them to seek the Lord for personal, church, and world-wide revival. Let us encourage them with scripture to expect revival, to trust in the power of God, and to redouble the effort to reach every creature in the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Monthly Article
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
(517) 823-7848

Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data

Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)

Articles published in the;
Sword of the Lord
Baptist Preacher,
Christian View of the News,
Pulpit Helps,
Maranatha Watchman
Church Bus News,
and other national periodicals.

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