Revival Studies 5. The End of Revival

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

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Ps 110; Acts 2:1-41 

Introduction

My final talk in this series “The End of Revival” is about God’s ultimate purpose in sending revival. Teachers on revival are correct to link post-biblical moves of God in the Church to Pentecost as a paradigm for revival. In seventeenth-century New England Cotton Mather was a John the Baptist like figure praying for a “new Pentecost”, his prayers were answered a few years after his death with the First Great Awakening (Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield etc).

Back in Europe, Moravians united in prayer under Count Zinzendorf received a visitation of the Holy Spirit  on the 13th August 1727 so that “their hearts were set on fire with a new faith and love towards the Saviour, and likewise with burning love for one another”, they referred to this as their “Pentecost” and it launched a 24/7 prayer meeting that continued for more than 100 years and the first great expansion of Protestant missions.

The pivotal nineteenth-century Second Great Awakening revivalist Charles Finney said, “The antecedents, accompaniments and results of revival are always substantially the same as in the case of Pentecost.” Much nearer us, the Indigenous leader of the Elcho Island revival in the NT that broke out in 1979 wryly comments, “People come and say,” Oh, that’s charismatic.”

What is this “charismatic”?

To us, it was a Pentecost with praying, singing, healing, evangelism. It was to strengthen the church.” (Rev Djiniyini Gondarra).

The Church’s awareness of God’s immediate overpowering presence, striking physical phenomena (v.2ff.), deep conviction of sin (v.37), multitudes being converted (v.41) and widespread awe (v.43) are present in revivals because they are present at Pentecost.

Teachings on revival are often historical and descriptive and fail to open up the broad theological horizon behind Acts 2 which alone can reveal to us the “end” of revival.

Along with the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost is a new stage in the history of salvation because it is an event in the life of the Trinity.

Revivals have profound significance because they share in an unusually intense way in the purposes of Pentecost to renew humanity and define the identity of the new covenant people of God.

Pentecost the Proto Revival

The events of Pentecost transcend ordinary time and space, vs.1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.vs.2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. vs.3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.vs.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance…. (Act 2:1-4 ESV)

Whilst fire, wind and words from heaven signified the arrival of God at Mt Sinai to give the Old Testament law1)See Biblical References Ex 19:12-22 ESV; Ex 20:1 ESV, at Pentecost the Spirit is outpoured through grace and the fire and wind empower the disciples to speak the saving word of God in all the languages “under heaven”2)See Biblical References Acts 2:1-4, 5-11 ESV cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21 ESV.

The amazed crowds puzzled inquiry, “ “What does this mean?(Acts 2:12 ESV), is answered by Peter with a testimony to events beyond the visible and audible level of the earth.  vs.32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. vs.33 Being, therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.(Acts 2:32-33 ESV).

The Father was so infinitely delighted with the obedient humanity of Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5-11 ESV) that he gave him all of his Spirit to rule over the universe (Heb 1:8-9 ESV).

The spectacular divine revelation at Sinai communicated fiery judgement (Heb 12:21, 25-26 ESV) but the wind and fire from heaven at Pentecost communicate the power to eternally renewing the whole creation has come in the exaltation of Christ.

Those who heard and saw signs of the divine presence at Sinai kept their distance from God in fear, but the Spirit sent by the glorified Jesus at Pentecost communicated to the disciples what he was seeing and hearing before the face of his heavenly Father.

They can now speak and act in unison with him (cf. John 5:19 ESV). “All flesh” i.e. all types of people, young, old, male, female had all become prophets (Acts 2:17-18 ESV).

“Pentecost has changed all things” (Bingham) because it witnesses to the transformation of human existence in the exalted life of Christ communicated to his Church.

Raised to heaven at God’s right hand Christ gives the Spirit to his Church as the Father once gave him the Spirit on earth.

As a glorified human, Jesus pours out the Father’s promised Spirit of God upon the Church3)See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Luke 24:49 ESV; Acts 1:4 ESV so that we may in his power enable others to see and hear God for themselves.

[Pentecost reveals that in Christ humanity has been taken “into God4)See Biblical References cf. John 3:21 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV; 1 Thess 1:1 ESV; 2 Thess 1:1 ESV; 1 John 3:24 ESV; 1 John 4:15-16; Jude 1:1 ESV.]

Revelation’s dynamic symbolism testifies that Jesus “has the seven spirits of God (the Spirit in fullness Rev 1:4 ESV; Rev 4:5 ESV) and the seven stars (the Church Rev 1:16 ESV)” (Rev 3:1 ESV).

Incredibly this means that the Church and the Spirit are in the closest possible relationship so that the natural state of the people of God is to be filled with the Spirit. (This insight has been troubling me greatly.)

Being Spirit filled the Church becomes a visible witness to the infinite joy and delight of the Father in the excellencies of Christ (1 Pet 2:9 ESV); this witness is by its essential nature communicated to the world in converting power.

The references to hearing and seeing at Pentecost have another layer of interpretation, Peter’s preaching about the outpouring of the Spirit on “all flesh” is contained in an apocalyptic context.

vs.19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke;vs.20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and glorious day.vs.21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’(Acts 2:19-21 ESV)5)See Biblical References Joel 2:30-32 ESV.

Whereas this is language is used in the Old Testament to broadcast the end of an old empire and the triumph of a victorious earthly kingdom6)See Biblical References cf. Isa 13:10 -13 ESV; Isa 24:1- 6, 19 – 23 ESV; Isa 34:4 ESV; Ezek 32:6 -8 ESV; Joel 3:15 -16 ESV; Hab 3:6 -11 ESV, [In line with Jesus end-times passages in the Gospels7)See Biblical References Matt 24:29 ESV; Mark 13:24- 25 ESV cf. Isa 2:19- 21 ESV; Isa 5:25 ESV; Jer 4:23- 28 ESV; Am 8:7 -10 ESV] at Pentecost these apocalyptic symbols declare that “the kingdom of the worldis becoming “the kingdom of God and his Christ” for from this day Jesus is triumphantly putting all his enemies under his feet (Ps 110:1 ESV).

From this time on his Spirit anointed people are offering themselves willingly on the day of his power and his kingdom is being spiritually established in the world8)See Biblical References Ps 110 cf. Ezek 37:1-10 ESV.

Pentecost is a pivotal answer to the prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10 ESV).

Apocalyptic meaning did not end with Bible times. 9/11 was a message to global capitalism that security cannot be established by money and military power.

The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral was a sign that even the most beautiful constructions of sinful mortals must perish (2 Pet 3:7 ESV).

One of my favourite stories is about the life Christiaan Beker who became a theologian especially interested in apocalyptic themes in the apostle Paul.

A Dutchman, Beker was a Nazi slave in Berlin towards the end of WW II. Falling sick with typhus, a Polish youth beaten to a pulp for picking up a cigarette butt in a work camp was placed in the hospital bed next to him, the young man died 3 days later and Beker began to consider whether his time was near.

It was then that he determined to become a theologian but around the same time, he became convinced he would not live. He made his way to the window to see how he would die. The night sky over Berlin was ablaze with searchlights and anti-aircraft fire. The city itself was a conflagration, bombs exploding and buildings consumed in flames. That day he confessed that “Only God is real.” i.e. permanent

Church for Glory

In the period between the first and second comings of Jesus, God is enacting a merciful plan. Instead of confronting humanity with a vision too dazzling to directly behold and live9)See Biblical References cf. Acts 7:55-56 ESV; Acts 9:3 ESV; Rev 1:12-17 ESV, God has called the Church to be like a prism refracting his glory into a diversity of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) and multi-coloured wisdom (Eph 3:10 ESV)

All the power, majesty and glory of God is gathered up in the Church (Eph 3:20 ESV) and dispersed in a way that can be seen, heard and received unto salvation.

The church is a revelation of Jesus Christ birthed at Pentecost, and revivals are mercifully sent to manifest the invisible Christ’s glory with special clarity10)See Biblical References Acts 4:30 ESV; Acts 5:12 ESV; Acts 11:21 ESV.

Revival is about the “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” of the Lamb (Rev 5:12 ESV) radiating through the Church into the world so that it may be saved (John 3:17 ESV).

To petition God for the manifest coming of his kingdom is a petition that reaches far beyond church meetings.

Every genuine revival has penetrated the cultural realms of social justice, law, politics, education, health, art, music etc.

I have been sensing recently how the exalted Lord wants to continue amongst us the tangible dynamic he began at Pentecost, then the hearers were “cut to the heart”, later “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart” and when hands were laid on people they “received” the Spirit with power11)See Biblical References Acts 2:37 ESV; Acts 8:17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 16:14 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESVcf. Acts 2:33 ESV.

Such palpable realities have continued down the centuries, Calvin was “inflamed” by a desire for true godliness, John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warned”, German Pietists spoke of their hearts being on fire for God (Luke 24:32 ESV), and multitudes have been overcome by supernatural peace or joy12)See Biblical References cf. Phil 4:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV.

The point/“end” of such phenomena is not our personal experience but to reveal the identity of Jesus as the crucified, resurrected and glorified Lamb of God (Rev 5:6 ESV etc.)

I had an insight into the ongoing presence of Pentecost power at a prayer meeting in the city last Tuesday. Chris, the silver-haired older visibly disabled Indigenous brother who sometimes attends here, is a well-known street preacher around Perth, told us the following story. Thursday of Easter week he had a sense that God wanted him to preach in public, but he had no idea how that could happen.

Then he was in the Galleria shopping centre and the fire alarm went off, a crowd moved outside and he told them openly about Jesus’ love in his death and resurrection. This is what I sensed when I laid my hands on him about this event.

As Pentecost was in God’s plan a “fullness of time” event13)See Biblical References cf. Mark 1:15 ESV; Gal 4:4 ESV; 2 Cor 6:2 ESV when we are led by the Spirit we can enter that same fullness of time again and again – this is the space where the fullness of the Spirit connects with the fullness of Christ in the overwhelming manifest favour of the Father.

This is the place of God’s rest in Christ where strivings cease (Heb 4:10 ESV) and in this space manifestation of God’s wisdom, power, healing, conversions etc. take place. When such things come together on a mass scale “revival” happens.

Why Revivals Fail

If the “end” of revival in terms of God’s great goal is a renewed humanity sharing in the glorious love of the Trinity, then the “end” of revival in terms of its premature death must also be explained likewise.

Much of what happens in revival movements confuses the energies of the finite human spirit with the infinite resources made available to the Church in the “life-giving S/spirit” of Christ (1 Cor 15:45 ESV).

When the gratification of our spirits is made the goal of ministry, when things at our level are substituted for the fulness of the Spirit as he proceeds from the Father and the Son14)See Biblical References John 14:16 ESV; John 15:26 ESV, then “devival”, a decline in the power of godliness (2 Tim 3:5 ESV), always follows.

This is the crisis we face across the churches today with their activism, pragmatism, relevance, rationalism, worship of worship or political correctness.

When the Lord has a set apart people who in their deepest hearts are satisfied with nothing less than a manifestation of what happened when the Spirit was sent from the Father through Jesus to bring him and him alone glory in the Church for the salvation of the world, then we will have “another Pentecost”.

Conclusion

Our thinking about revival has been far too small.

When people “received” the Spirit in Acts, the rest of the New Testament15)See Biblical References Acts 2:28 ESV; Acts 8:15, 17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESV; Gal 3:1, 14 ESV and in subsequent revivals they were sharing in Jesus heavenly reception of the Spirit according to the promise of the Father (Acts 2:33 ESV).

They were sharing in the Trinitarian dynamic of God’s own life! Prophetically, looking through the lens of the Father’s pleasure in Jesus made manifest at Pentecost, this is how we should interpret the Lord’s promise, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:13 ESV).

At Pentecost Jesus received all the gifts and fruit of the Spirit in the overwhelming favour of his favour and poured them out on the Church for the salvation of the world to the glory of God.

As an action of the exalted Christ Pentecost put in motion the restoration of human life of such magnitude that the Bible describes it as a “new creation16)See Biblical References 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV and a “sharing in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4).

The Spirit glorifies Christ by revealing him through a revived people, the Church, to be an immortalised “life-giving spirit(1 Cor 15:45 ESV) in whose triumphant humanity we can all share.

The energies of the crucified and risen Lamb (Rev 5:6 ESV) released at Pentecost are undiminished until he comes again.

Once full of the Spirit always full is true for the once crucified Jesus but not for the Church (Eph 5:18-19 ESV); we need to be filled again and again.

Since in Christ “the seven spirits of God (the Spirit in fullness Rev 1:4 ESV; Rev 4:5 ESV) and “the seven stars” (the Church Rev 1:16 ESV) are in the closest possible proximity (Rev 3:1 ESV) let us come to him and drink of the water of life17)See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV cf. Isa 44:3 ESV; Isa 55:1 ESV; Rev 22:17 ESV, let us drink in deeply Jesus’ own life in the Spirit18)See Biblical References Rom 8:11 ESV cf. Isa 12:3 ESV.

The lost need to “see and hear” (Acts 2:1-4, 11, 32-33 ESV) the mighty works of God in our own day as they did first at Pentecost.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 28th April, 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

28th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Ex 19:12-22 ESV; Ex 20:1 ESV
2. See Biblical References Acts 2:1-4, 5-11 ESV cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21 ESV
3. See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Luke 24:49 ESV; Acts 1:4 ESV
4. See Biblical References cf. John 3:21 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV; 1 Thess 1:1 ESV; 2 Thess 1:1 ESV; 1 John 3:24 ESV; 1 John 4:15-16; Jude 1:1 ESV
5. See Biblical References Joel 2:30-32 ESV
6. See Biblical References cf. Isa 13:10 -13 ESV; Isa 24:1- 6, 19 – 23 ESV; Isa 34:4 ESV; Ezek 32:6 -8 ESV; Joel 3:15 -16 ESV; Hab 3:6 -11 ESV
7. See Biblical References Matt 24:29 ESV; Mark 13:24- 25 ESV cf. Isa 2:19- 21 ESV; Isa 5:25 ESV; Jer 4:23- 28 ESV; Am 8:7 -10 ESV
8. See Biblical References Ps 110 cf. Ezek 37:1-10 ESV
9. See Biblical References cf. Acts 7:55-56 ESV; Acts 9:3 ESV; Rev 1:12-17 ESV
10. See Biblical References Acts 4:30 ESV; Acts 5:12 ESV; Acts 11:21 ESV
11. See Biblical References Acts 2:37 ESV; Acts 8:17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 16:14 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESVcf. Acts 2:33 ESV
12. See Biblical References cf. Phil 4:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV
13. See Biblical References cf. Mark 1:15 ESV; Gal 4:4 ESV; 2 Cor 6:2 ESV
14. See Biblical References John 14:16 ESV; John 15:26 ESV
15. See Biblical References Acts 2:28 ESV; Acts 8:15, 17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESV; Gal 3:1, 14 ESV
16. See Biblical References 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV
17. See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV cf. Isa 44:3 ESV; Isa 55:1 ESV; Rev 22:17 ESV
18. See Biblical References Rom 8:11 ESV cf. Isa 12:3 ESV

The Very Happy Executioner

Luke 23:26-49

Introduction

Is it OK for the AFL to put games on Good Friday, and for you to watch them on TV? Was my mum in tune with God’s feelings about this day when she refused to wash the clothes, or, in line with the title Dale chose for today’s Gospel reading should we speak of, “Very Happy Friday”?

Since God the Father doesn’t have opinions about the death of his Son it is imperative that we pay close attention to the inspired record of Christ’s death in scripture. In going through Luke we have seen how society’s outcasts, a Gentile soldier, a sinful woman, a Samaritan leper, a blind beggar, and a tax collector all found hope and healing in Christ. This is exactly what happens as Jesus is dying on the cross, those with status mock him but outsiders turn to him as the source of salvation.

EXPOSITION

The devout women lamenting over Jesus’ fate must have been shocked by his turning and (vv26-31) exhorting them to lament for themselves and their children.

The extreme language of people calling on mountains and hills to collapse on them to end their misery portrays a coming divine judgement without apparent limit1)See Biblical References Hos 10:8 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV.

Jesus knows his innocent death will fulfil God’s salvation plan, but that within a generation Jerusalem which has rejected him will be flattened, its inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved (Luke 23:34-35 ESV).

The next time Jesus’ speaks he is praying from the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.(Luke 23:34 ESV) Under the most extreme circumstances Jesus is practising what he has preached; “ vs.27 Love your enemies… vs.28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you….” ”2)See Biblical References Matt 5:44-45 ESV; Luke 6:27-28 ESV. Forgiving your murderers is a rare and remarkable thing; but even more potent is the fact that unconditional forgiveness solely for the sake of those harming us makes Jesus unique in the whole history of religious and moral teaching.

The Bible is painfully realistic about the corrupt state of the human heart when the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers hear Christ’s praying for them their mockery only intensifies.

His Jewish slanderers know a suffering dying man can’t possibly be God’s Chosen favourite, the Messiah, and since his Roman attackers know how a real King behaves, this fellow on the cross must be an impostor.

To them, it is categorically obvious that if Jesus can’t save himself he cannot be the Saviour of the world. Then at a level that makes no sense to ordinary thinking the power of God starts to operate through the suffering powerless Jesus to save.

vs.39 One of the criminals who were hanged hurled insults at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!vs.40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? vs.41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.vs.42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.vs.43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” (Luke 23: 39-43 ESV)

The criminal who hurled insults at Jesus, “Save yourself and us!” has brought Jesus down to his own selfish level. In looking solely to benefit himself in his interaction with Jesus he cannot be saved. He cannot understand that God’s Son will be delivered not out of death through death.  

This is how the saving power of God works. In Romans Paul helps us understand how the cross works by saying we Christians must face “trouble…hardship…persecution…famine…nakedness…danger or sword” then concludes with “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him (Christ) who loved us” (Rom 8:35, 37 ESV).

If Christ doesn’t always pull us out of troubles the power of his love enables us to live above them. The video starts Let me share what happened to a clinically depressed alcoholic friend of mine, I’ll never forget finding her unconscious from a suicide attempt dragging her out of her house and getting an ambulance.

Sometime later she fell and broke her back. When I visited her in hospital, they had her laid out motionless on a special bed in the form of a cross. The symbolism was unmistakeable so guess what I spoke to her about?

When she cast herself unreservedly on the mercy of Jesus it was only some time before she was living in forgiveness and freed from anxiety, depression and addiction. She’s in a wheelchair, but through her physical brokenness, she shines as more than a conqueror through Christ’s love.

The other criminal in our story rebukes his blaspheming companion

“Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” ” This man accepts his sin and its wages (Rom 3:23 ESV) and his testimony to Christ’s blamelessness shows the power of God working in his heart.

Anyone who humbly let’s go of self-righteousness and looks to Jesus will enter heaven. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Unlike the mockers he addresses Jesus by his personal name and in so doing calls on the unique name of Saviour of the world3)See Biblical References cf. 17:13; 18:38; his plea “remember me” stirs echoes God’s promises to deliver his covenant people when they call on his name4)See Biblical References Judges 16:28 ESV; 1 Sam 1:11, 19 ESV; Ps 115:12 ESV.

This dying criminal is the first person in the Gospel to recognise that the sufferings of Jesus do not exclude but fulfil his Messianic kingly calling to save the world. He understands Christ’s voluntary suffering love is the triumphant power of God to save us, sinners.

Jesus answers him with words that must have filled him with inexpressible hope and comfort, “ “today you will be with me in paradise.” ”.

Today” means he doesn’t have to wait until the End of the world to be saved, salvation is close at hand5)See Biblical References 4:21 ESV; 19:9 ESV, for as Messiah Jesus possesses the kingly right to open the doors of paradise to all who come to him.

As a Jew this man knew “Paradise” as the home of only one type of person, the dutifully righteous whose blameless lives pleased God.

Now Jesus opens heaven to the very sort of person who the religious teachers of the day taught could never be saved.

Jesus is saving people – even as he hangs on the cross. We must all pay the closest attention to exactly what Jesus is promising the condemned man, “today, you will be with me in Paradise”.

Not with all your loved ones, as in popular Western imagination, not with virgin wives as in the Koran, not with pure impersonal bliss as in Buddhism but “with me”. Eternal fellowship with Jesus is heaven.

Everyone who turns to Christ as Saviour can have a sure knowledge of eternal life. 

The father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther struggled long over whether his life could ever be worthy enough to earn God’s favour.

Then he understood that the good news of the gospel is that righteousness is offered as a free gift to be received by faith in Christ alone. “Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise…whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love….”

In his grace, God now sends two supernatural omens concerning the murder of his Son. The darkness covering the earth for three hours is supernatural because an eclipse at the Passover time of full moon is impossible.

This is the prophetic darkness of “last days” judgement6)See Biblical References Joel 2:30-31 ESV; Amos 8:9 ESV; Zeph 1:15 ESV and a sign of the fate of those who ultimately reject Christ7)See Biblical References Matt 8:12 ESV; Matt 22:13 ESV; Matt 25:30 ESV.

Such signs are meant to prepare hearts for the gospel. In a few weeks’ time, many of this crucifixion crowd were in fact converted by the preaching of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-23, 36 ESV). In our time the Lord can still warn from heaven today and we should pray for him to do so.

This is a true story.

A new professor at UWA (who I did meet once) was invited by the Christian Union there to speak on Creation and Evolution. When he entered the hall he was intimidated by the size of the crowd and especially by the number of hostile senior academics present.

Fearfully approaching the podium he was praying about how to start when suddenly there was a tremendous clap of thunder and all the lights in the place went out, all but one, the one illuminating the podium. So he said, “Now you know what you are up against”.

The second supernatural sign as Jesus died was the tearing of the curtain temple in two from top to bottom by the hand of God who was saying that law-based system of temple and sacrifice that had segregated Jew and Gentile, priest and lay, male and female was ended.

In Jesus, unrestricted access to God’s presence had been opened. In uttering his final words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Jesus dies peacefully full of the assurance that God is a Righteous Father who will raise him from the dead8)See Biblical References John 17:25 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV.

Then, climactically, the Roman centurion unable to contain what was going in his heart “glorified God” for by grace he sensed God was fulfilling his great saving plan9)See Biblical References 2:20 ESV; 5:25-26 ESV; 7:16 ESV; 13:13 ESV; 17:15 ESV; 18:43 ESV, his response was to the glory manifested in the sufferings of Jesus.  In testifying, “ ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ ”10)See Biblical References Pss 22 ESV; 31 ESV cf. Acts 3:13-14 ESV; Isa 52:13-53:12 ESV he acknowledges Jesus’ supreme status before God the Judge as a blameless person.

Finally, the crowd go away “beating their breasts” They know something terribly unjust has happened but with Jesus departed they as yet have nowhere to turn for forgiveness. Meanwhile Jesus’ disciples, weak as always, “stood at a distance” (Ps 38:11 ESV)

CONCLUSION

The Good Friday story of the death of Jesus reveals an all-forgiving Father.

This Father is forgiving in his justice and just in his forgiving because his Justice and Forgiveness are not abstract concepts but real in Christ who prayed for the forgiveness of us all and who was heard because he is the One Righteous (Acts 3:14 ESV) Son of God suffering for us.

The criminal who called on the name of Jesus, and the centurion, were very happy men not because they thought they’d got away with, literally for both of them, murder, and we’re going to a “happy place” but because they had literally face to face come, with the goodness of God as Father and as Saviour in Jesus and were totally overcome.

If God can do that for them, he can do the same for us. Like them we need to turn to the Lord today, Jesus is the door into Paradise (John 10:9 ESV) and his is the name in which we are saved, (Acts 4:12 ESV).

For anyone who trusts in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross Good Friday is a Very Happy day indeed. Let us pray.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 19th April 2019 Location: St Marks, Good Friday

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 19th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Hos 10:8 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV
2. See Biblical References Matt 5:44-45 ESV; Luke 6:27-28 ESV
3. See Biblical References cf. 17:13; 18:38
4. See Biblical References Judges 16:28 ESV; 1 Sam 1:11, 19 ESV; Ps 115:12 ESV
5. See Biblical References 4:21 ESV; 19:9 ESV
6. See Biblical References Joel 2:30-31 ESV; Amos 8:9 ESV; Zeph 1:15 ESV
7. See Biblical References Matt 8:12 ESV; Matt 22:13 ESV; Matt 25:30 ESV
8. See Biblical References John 17:25 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
9. See Biblical References 2:20 ESV; 5:25-26 ESV; 7:16 ESV; 13:13 ESV; 17:15 ESV; 18:43 ESV
10. See Biblical References Pss 22 ESV; 31 ESV cf. Acts 3:13-14 ESV; Isa 52:13-53:12 ESV

Revival Studies 4. Beautifying the Bride

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Isa 60:1-14; Rev 21:1-14 

“Beauty will save the world.”

Dostoyevsky

“God’s beauty embraces death as well as life, fear as well as joy, what we might call the ugly as well as what we might call the beautiful.’”

Barth

Introduction

Tobe grasped by the innermost substance of God’s work in revival requires a degree of spiritual insight. This is especially true of revival as Beautifying the Bride of Christ. In the case of revival as a beautifying, we are dealing with what the New Testament calls “the mystery of Christ”1)See Biblical References Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:27; 2:2; 4:3. Something is once hidden in God now being revealed in the gospel.

At the climax of his teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5 Paul expounds the prophetic fulfilment of Genesis 2:24 ESV, “ vs.31Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.vs.32 This is a great mystery, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.(Eph 5: 31-32 ESV).

Similar language appears towards the end of the book of Revelation where it describes the religious power persecuting the Church, “on her forehead was written a name of mystery:Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” ” (Rev 17:5 ESV).

Until Jesus returns for his Bride a conflict rages between her holy beauty and the seductions of this immoral painted Whore (cf. Prov 7). The vocation of the Church made clearest in movements of the Spirit of God, is to reveal the excellencies of Christ (1 Pet 2:9 ESV).

Beauty and Creation

Most of the Old Testament notion of beauty is contained within the concept of glory, but some texts speak clearly about this subject. Genesis 1 ends with the climactic statement that everything that God made was “very good” (v.31 L.X.X.), a harmonious beautiful accomplishment.

When Genesis 2:12 ESV mentions of Eden, “the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there” it points towards the masses of gold furnishing Solomon’s temple (1 Chron 29:2 ESV) and the onyx stones on the garments of the high priest (Ex 28:9-14, 20 ESV).

These garments were expressly “for glory and for beauty” for the priest was to be a holy icon of God (Ex 28:2, 40 ESV). Although hard to interpret, Ezekiel 28 uses Edenic language of a being “perfect in beauty” who fell into rebellion against God through pride (Ezek 28:7, 12-13, 17 ESV).

From Eden on beauty has been a battlefield where God and Satan contend for the human heart.

When Eve listened to the serpent and “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and…was to be desired to make one wise(Gen 3:6 ESV) she was led astray by its natural attractiveness.

The coveting of natural beauty obscures seeing in the Spirit. Human desire has been corrupted (2 Pet 1:4 ESV) so that whatever feels/looks/tastes good “must be” right.

In the shame of losing the glory of God radiating out of their lives2)See Biblical References Gen 3:7 ESV; Rom 3:23 ESV men and women turn to the beauties of creation as a substitute for sharing in the divine splendour (Rom 1:22-23 ESV).

The “angel marriages” of Genesis 6 is an extreme example of the corrupting power of lust for beauty to corrupt.

It precipitated the Flood of Noah. vs.1When…vs.2the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were beautiful … they took as their wives any they chose.vs.3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” ”  (Gen 6:1-3 ESV).

God’s plan to teach humanity about the beauty of his holiness centred on the election of Israel to be his pure Bride3)See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:29 ESV; Pss 29:2 ESV; Pss 96:9 ESV.

Israel the Beautiful Bride

Ezekiel 16 dramatically portrays a love affair between the Lord and Israel; he found her as an abandoned baby girl and nurtured her in love until she was his “exceedingly beautiful” and renowned Bride.

Then in turning to idols she “trusted in her beauty and played the whore”.

As a punishment, God declares he will hand her over to lovers who will, “strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare.(Ezek16:39 ESV). This is about the exile to Babylon, but even the restoration of Israel to her homeland failed to impart to her the beauty and glory of God.

Not unexpectedly, expectation turned to the coming of Messiah. Psalm 45 is a glorious wedding song of a victorious majestic king but also “meek and righteous” who “loves justice and hates evil” and desires the beauty of his “all glorious” princess bride.

The king is the messiah and the Bride his people.

Isaiah foresees a time when God will beautify his temple, Jerusalem and his people as the centre of the world (Isa 60:1-14 ESV).

This renewed royal Wife “shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.(Isa 62:4-5 ESV).

The mystery of how the Lord will convert harlot Israel into a holy faithful bride is contained in the vision of his universal glory in Isaiah 6.

This vision cleansed the prophet and transformed him into a unique messenger of holiness.

God becomes for him “the Holy One of Israel”, a phrase he uses 29 times but only in 8 other places in the Old Testament.

If holiness is the innermost glory of God (Bengel) it is the secret of God’s power to beautification all things.

When humanity shares in the inner being of God the created becomes eternal in its beauty. This is the purpose of the Incarnation.

The Beauty is Christ

The origin and essence of Beauty is the Person of Christ who is the radiant image of the invisible glory of God4)See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Col 1:15. This radiation of splendour is pre-eminently true of the cross.

The Old Testament prophesy about God’s coming Servant, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him(Isa 53:2 ESV), meant Jesus’ life would end stripped of the every visible blessing of the Father.

The crucifixion of the Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8 ESV) formed the most extreme beauty imaginable, but visible only to eyes made holy in the fear of the Lord5)See Biblical References Matt 5:8 ESV; 2 Cor 7:1 ESV; Heb 12:14 ESV.

Holiness is separation to God from the corrupting things of the world, and it is Jesus’ decision to die to this life that perfects him in holiness (cf. Heb 2:9-10 ESV).

Gethsemane is where he most visibly separates himself to do the Father’s will so that at total personal cost so he becomes the channel through which God’s splendour will shine forth to beautify all creation.

The death and resurrection of Jesus, the spectacle of a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world now standing in resurrection glory, is “the perfection of beauty6)See Biblical References Rev 5:6 ESV cf. Ps 50:2 ESV for which the world was created.

The scarred Lord in heaven is the revelation of a new and previously unimaginable form of beauty.

Let me share a personal experience that has helped me understand these mysteries.

In the chapel of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, standing on the site where Jesus was crucified, is a painting showing Christ stripped and nailed to the cross on the ground.

As I looked at the face in the painting my heart was filled with a precious awareness and I could sense the Father saying; “This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

In the disfigured but gloriously illuminating face of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor 4:6 ESV), we see the extremities of a beautiful love that embraces even the abysmal ugliness of sin and hell.

The suffering of the cross stretched to the limits the love of Jesus and made space in his holy humanity for the limitless splendour of God. The mystery of the gospel reveals that the outwardly deformed beauty of the cross makes possible the deathless transformation of all things in the resurrection of Christ.

The Bride of Christ

The life of the Church is framed by her sharing in the Bridegroom laying down his life for his Bride.

We share in the ecstatic worship scenes around the Lamb in Revelation (Rev 5:1-14 ESV), and the adoration of Christ in chapter 19 (Rev 19:1-8 ESV) should speak deeply to our hearts because it is a wedding scene.

When we read of the holy city descending from heaven with its streets of gold, gates of pearls and foundations of jewels (Rev 21) we are reading about our future, this is us, “ “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” ” (v.9). The unfading (1 Pet 1:4 ESV) beauty of the Church is the goal of God’s saving plan and the Bible the story of how God achieves this goal for the glory of his Son.

Paul holds up a rarely appreciated vision, vs.25Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,vs.26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, vs.27so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.(Eph 5:25-27 ESV).

This language of inner cleansing speaks (Ezek 36:25 ESV) of the cleansing of the hearts of God’s people from idols.

A cleansed people are a holy people who knowing an inner beauty (1 Pet 3:3-4 ESV) don’t need to hide their struggles, weaknesses and imperfections before God.

Something happened in church last Sunday morning which offers a wonderful window into how Christ relates to his Bride. Joy A was leading the intercessions and when she came to praying for the persecuted Church broke down and couldn’t continue. Dale A moved quietly to her side, put his arm around her helping and strengthening her with the prayers.

This was a potent prophetic sign of the true emotional Woman, the Church, in her freedom to weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15 ESV), being strengthened by Christ her Head (Eph 5:23 ESV).

Spiritual beauty is the intimate fruit of discipleship.

As the Spirit reveals the sacrificial beauty of Christ we are drawn us out of ourselves empowered to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23 ESV). The gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ is a beautiful message carried by the “ “beautiful…feet of those who preach the good news!” ”7)See Biblical References Rom 10:15 ESV; Isa 52:7 ESV.

To live like this the Church needs to suffer because submissive suffering love beautifies like no other power.

Those who have insight into the beauty of holiness cannot be satisfied with either an intellectualised or an emotive form of Christianity but only by a deeper walk with the Lord. If Jesus is so indescribably beautiful what is obscuring the manifestation of this beauty today?

Obscuring the Beauty?

Being the Bride of Christ the Church is always beautiful in the eyes of his grace, but in the realm of desire Western Christianity is dominated by these worldly longings and only godly leaders can lead their people on the highway of holiness (Isa 35:8 ESV).

The seeker-sensitive attractional model of Church places the gospel in a comfortable package obscuring the unadorned power of the cross shining forth through weakness and the ugliness of sin. This is a church heavy on cosmetic appearance and presentation and shallow on the holiness through which the eternal glory of God radiates.

The Nazis were connoisseurs of art and music while at the same time conducting the Holocaust.

Similarly, parts of Western Christianity love gospel music and charismatic gifts but seem indifferent to the sufferings of their persecuted brothers and sisters, untouched by world poverty and untroubled by the slaughter of innocents in the womb.

This is a state of deep deception (cf. 1 Cor 5:1-2 ESV). I was fascinated by an article headed, “Dear women’s ministry, please stop calling me the B-word”, it ended with, “Tell us about Jesus.” (Dear Women’s Ministry, Stop Calling Me the B-Word)

In Christ we are beautiful and being beautified, anything beyond that is idolatry.

I remember Dale saying around 30 years ago that people today want to feel good about themselves. In his teaching on the all-surpassing beauty of Christ John Piper comments, “To make someone feel good about themselves is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.” (And if you have seen the snow on the alps you will never forget it.)  

Our churches are really sick and sinful, but God is working to a wonderful plan.

As the Husband of Israel stripped her naked when she played the whore8)See Biblical References Ezek 16; Hos 2:2-3 ESV so Jesus is presently stripping the Church to a place of nakedness and shame (Rev 3:17-18 ESV). When she really comes to see this she will turn to be clothed with the beauty of Christ alone. This will mean revival and the visible beautifying of the Body.

Conclusion

The death of the Son of God is the death of all sentimental romantic notions of beauty.

In choosing the “foolish…low…despised…no-things” (1 Cor 1:26-30 ESV) to make them his beauty the Lord has illuminated for us his mission in the world.

He embraces those thought by the world to be ugly as beautiful before him.

Over the centuries even sinners have recognised that in the lives of people like St Francis, Fr Damian, William Booth, Mother Teresa, David Wilkerson and Matthew Barnett a radiance into this world from somewhere beyond.

This can and should be the character of the whole Bride of Christ.

A babyish church wants glory without holiness; the passing glory of ideological correctness, perfect doctrine or signs and wonders.

A mature church however understands that holiness expressed through suffering reveals the beauty and glory of God.

This is a Church which for Christ’s sake desires a holy life more than any of the attractions of this world, and the desire of such a people will be granted by God in the wisdom of the cross (1 Cor 1:17-18 ESV).

This is the substance of revival.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: 15th April 2019 Location: Alive @5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

15th April 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:27; 2:2; 4:3
2. See Biblical References Gen 3:7 ESV; Rom 3:23 ESV
3. See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:29 ESV; Pss 29:2 ESV; Pss 96:9 ESV
4. See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Col 1:15
5. See Biblical References Matt 5:8 ESV; 2 Cor 7:1 ESV; Heb 12:14 ESV
6. See Biblical References Rev 5:6 ESV cf. Ps 50:2 ESV
7. See Biblical References Rom 10:15 ESV; Isa 52:7 ESV
8. See Biblical References Ezek 16; Hos 2:2-3 ESV

Persecuted Forgotten Jesus

vs.4Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?vs.5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.(Acts 9:4-5 ESV)

vs.3Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Heb 13:3 ESV)

INTRODUCTION

The spiritual blindness of mainstream Western Christianity seems limitless. According to the authoritative Pew Research Centre, 11 Christians are martyred each hour across the world. More concretely, since I started thinking about writing on this topic 32 Nigerian, 20 Filipino 9 Egyptian and 8 Somali Christians were slaughtered in churches and other locations.

Less dramatically, but no less significantly, we have the hidden sufferings of thousands of oppressed Christian minorities. Like the Kachin women from Myanmar trafficked into China, sold into marriage and imprisonment, raped daily until pregnant, then when the baby is born the “brides” are sent away or allowed to escape.

Gruesome! How then can it be that so few amongst us are moved by such extensive atrocities? How often does your congregation/you pray for the persecuted family of God?

This issue is symptomatic of the sickness of our spiritual culture (1 Cor 11:27-32 ESV) and has placed us under divine judgement. To see such things in the Spirit (Rev 1:10 ESV) is no shallow exercise.

Persecuting ME

Christ’s words to Saul on the road to Damascus, “ “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” ”, are not metaphorical. As the words of God under the old covenant, “In all their affliction he was afflicted1)See Biblical References Isa 63:9 ESV cf. Ex 3:7 ESV, were real, how much more through the covenant in the body and blood of Christ (Heb 13:20 ESV).

Christ and his Body exist in a vital, living and spiritual oneness, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.(1 Cor 12:12 ESV).

The sufferings of the Body are experienced by its Head. Since “the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him(1 Cor 6:17 ESV), the empathy of Christ with the pain of Christians is unlimited. There are depths to this reality which are profound and applicable to us all.

When Jesus described himself as the Sufferer to Saul/Paul he imparted a revelation that was central to all the apostle’s teaching on salvation.

By grace, Saul saw instantly that Christ suffers in the suffering of his people because he is in the deepest possible union with them.

Just as Jesus took our sin in his body on the cross (2 Cor 5:21 ESV) so we are bonded together in all our experiences. This usually is a transfer from him to us, he gives us his peace, joy etc.2)See Biblical References John 14:27 ESV; John 15:11 ESV but in the case of suffering, he also takes what is ours into himself.

Not to be affected by the sufferings of Christ’s people cuts us off from our Head (Eph 5:23 ESV) and deprives us of Christ-likeness.

Pain Makes Perfect

When Saul heard Christ speak about his suffering in the persecuted Church, he understood why it was necessary for him as an apostle to “suffer much(Acts 9:6 ESV) for Jesus.

Only by enduring death pangs could he be delivered by resurrection power made perfect in weakness3)See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV so living out the gospel. He knew that only through rejection could he release the aroma of Jesus’ all forgiving love4)See Biblical References 2 Cor 2:15 ESV; Eph 5:1-2 ESV. Only those who embrace those suffering for the Lord can truly declare, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.(1 Cor 11:1 ESV).

To know Jesus (John 17:3 ESV) is to share in his life and to share in Christ’s life is to share his distress at the torments of his children (Heb 2:13 ESV).

One of our biggest problems is that we are inundated, plastic teachers and theologians.

Luther prophetically testified, “Not understanding, reading, or speculation, but living—nay, dying and being damned—make a theologian.” Only those who in Christ suffer with those who suffer (1 Cor 12:26 ESV) can speak the word of Christ with authenticity. No wonder our churches suffer from spiritual anaemia. But things are even worse.

Hardening of the Heart

“Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?” goes the old hymn. “Yes.”, we were all there5)See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:22 ESV; 1 Pet 2:24 ESV.

So ignoring the cries of afflicted saints is before God like watching Jesus being beaten, whipped and crucified without crying, wailing, weeping, and imploring God to show mercy.

Few in the comfortable Church have any sense of the gravity of our sin because our hearts have been hardened by deceitfulness (Heb 3:13-15 ESV).

Degree by degree we have closed our ears to Jesus cries on the cross of the persecuted Church.

This has brought us under; a strong judgement.  “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.(Prov 21:13 ESV)

We cannot go on ignoring the pleas of the persecuted Church and keep expecting God to richly bless us with heaven-sent revival. In the land of “No worries mmmate.” there is “no fear of God” before the eyes of the Church (Rom 3:18 ESV).

No fear means no wisdom (Prov 9:10 ESV) so our state is dreadful but unperceived. Thankfully there are two dimensions to a prophetic message, warning, which I have given, and promise, which I am about to give.

If we turn our hearts towards the suffering Church we can move from being an inward looking narcissistic people to those walking free in the self-sacrificing love of Christ. This will mean a new Reformation.

CONCLUSION

Repentance means turning to the plight of the suffering Church.

Prayer is a first and foundational step.

Then practically resourcing those many godly mission and service organisations, local and global, ministering into this sphere. The turning I am appealing for in Jesus’ name is not a token alteration in our comfortable lifestyle but involves a new revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus fundamental to the reorientation of Western Christianity.  

This is what the Lord is seeking.

Many pray for revival through spectacular signs and wonders, but no spectacle is more miraculous than the prosperous identifying in Christ with those made wretched through their identifying with him?

May the lord impart to us true wisdom in these matters.

for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20 ESV)

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 11th April 2019 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 11th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Isa 63:9 ESV cf. Ex 3:7 ESV
2. See Biblical References John 14:27 ESV; John 15:11 ESV
3. See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV
4. See Biblical References 2 Cor 2:15 ESV; Eph 5:1-2 ESV
5. See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:22 ESV; 1 Pet 2:24 ESV