Boom, Bust and a People Prepared for Revival

& a People Prepared for Revival1)I am using the term revival as meaning a restoration of new covenant Christianity. I do not have in mind here large meetings, prominent evangelists and other phenomena associated with modern revivalism.

by Dr. John Yates

Introduction

Multi-billion dollar contracts for natural resources, unprecedented growth rates, pressing demand for rental properties due to huge inflow of people flooding into the state for work and at the same time a surge in homelessness and drug abuse, out of control indigenous social problems, numerous Christians caught in money traps,2)I am repeatedly running into people – in business, ordinary mums and dads, pastors etc. who have been caught up in economic over complicate and predictions that in the next year house prices will plummet 15%3)West Australian Thursday 31 July 2008, p.1 — welcome to the wild wild West(ern Australia).4)The focused nature of the article should not detract form the universal principles on which it is based. On the basis of scriptural promise,5)““For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”” [Amos 3:7] The word translated “secret” here (sod), relates to the prophets participation in the heavenly council e.g. Jer 23:22. In the new covenant, all believers are seated with Christ in the council of God and so have access to the divine will [Eph 2:6]. I have been asking the Lord for some insight into his purposes in economic boom and bust. Rightly discerned the inner spiritual purpose in these financial roller coasters is that God preparing a people for revival.

Covetousness is at the Root of All Evil

The one thing that is most evident in a boom is greed. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim 6:10). There is something deeper here however than finance. According to Peter, “corruption (aging, death, decay)…is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet 1:4). This is evident in the story of the first sin. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6) It was self –centred desire that cut Adam and Eve off from the glory of God and plunged them into a world of corruption.

Paul understands that covetousness is a foundational sin. “v7 I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” v8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” (Rom 7:7-9)

The key term translated “revived” means “to make alive”. Sin in culture and church springs to life through covetousness and it opposed genuine Spirit – led revival. All improper desires are an expression of that human self – centredness which is the essence of sin. Selfish desire is absolutely opposed by God,6)See, for example, James 3:13-16; 4:6. and leads into a spiritual wilderness.

All the apostles hate evil desire, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5),7)Compare, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”[Eph 5:5] “v14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. v15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15). “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

God’s wrath against the idolatry of covetousness destroys inner peace,8)“But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. so that the restless inner cravings of the greedy constantly witness to a deserved eternal death (Rom 1:32).9)v21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”” [Isa 57:20-21] Humanly speaking there is no escape from the cycle of evil desire, judgment and the fear of death.10)“We are slaves of fear, not because we have to die, but because we deserve to die!” [Paul Tillich] (This is true even if a person should desire for themselves material poverty, apart from a concern for the glory of God (1 Cor 13:3).11)All states and territories experienced positive population growth over the 12 months ended 31 December 2007. Western Australia and the Northern Territory recorded the largest percentage gains [2.4%] and Tasmania the smallest [0.8%]. Stats Link Here As people are flooding into the cities of West Australia12)“Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” [Rom 1:32] in order to take of their riches, a spirit of selfish desire – and so a spirit of death – hangs over this state.13)That amphetamine use in WA is the highest in Australia is symptomatic on an underlying despair at life.

Spiritual Covetousness in the Church

The church’s impotence to deal with this arises from its own spiritual covetousness. Deception and departure from the divine glory set in when any object is desired more God himself. “Nothing could be greedier, than a man for whom God is not enough.” (Augustine).

Fleshly passion in the church dresses itself up as something noble –

blowing horn “the biggest church south of the river”
blowing horn “the church that gives the most to missions”
blowing horn “the most generous church”
blowing horn “a church so big the city cannot ignore it”
blowing horn “a global ministry”
blowing horn “signs, wonders and mighty works”
blowing horn “let the fire fall”.

All around us believers are seeking something less than “Jesus, the whole Jesus and nothing but Jesus, so help me God.”14)“I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” [2 Cor 11:3].

When the cross is bypassed for intense emotional highs and strange teachings that promise they will “take you to a higher level”, we are dealing with adrenalin addiction15)Link to pdf here This involves the use of activity induced adrenalin highs to mask inner personal pain; emotional intensity is substituted for quality of life. rather than the Holy Spirit! Much contemporary church culture mirrors the ancient Roman practice of “bread and circuses”; the Roman nobility pacified the critical faculties of the populace by providing a dole of bread and regular entertainment. God however is working a great purpose.

Dying to All Other Desires

From my first days in WA I encountered Christians who were committed to make “serious money” for the Lord by a variety of schemes. Mostly, these people either lost sight of the kingdom of God or fell in economically difficult times. Believers suffering today through rising costs and declining property values should discern in their agony an an eternal purpose.

God destroys our desire for quasi spiritual highs induced by Christian activities, ministry thrills and “making profits for the Lord” by a sovereignly applying the work of the cross. We find ourselves entering “the dark night of the soul”,16)A term first used by the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. a period appointed by God where he deliberately withdraws his manifest presence so as to purify the inner person from egocentric desires.17)It is not wrath upon sin but a divine grace for growth e.g. in the case of Mother Teresa’s 50 years of darkness and painful spiritual thirst for Jesus, Link here In this period of the absence of the divine presence devout believers penetrate into the mystery of the cry of dereliction, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34). With Jesus we come to long for God for who he is rather than for what promises he can fulfill. This means the crucifixion of worldly desire.18)“ But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” [Gal 6:14]

Through spiritual suffering in this state we receive the revelation, “if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:17). Knowing “all things are ours” (1 Cor 3:21-23) we lose interest in accumulating worldly goods, titles, achievements and intense religious experiences.19)“v11 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. v12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. v13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” [Phil 4:11-13] What becomes important to us is the manifestation of Jesus to the world.

Jesus will be Manifest

A new spirit is blowing in the land, a generation is rising that will see God place flesh on the dry bones of the church (Ezek 37:1-14). Through the desert of life (particularly the deep disappointment of the trough following the crest of and economic/emotional/revelational /ministerial tidal wave) a purified body is rising up. These do not ask, “What can I get from God, church, city, work, marriage, family, friends,” but “What can I give.” These are those who understand it is not a matter of “Giving until it hurts.”, but “Giving until it hurts not to be able to give (more)” (Bingham).

These ones breath the spirit of Jesus, “v43 But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, v44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. v45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45).

In all of his actions – teaching, healing, delivering, praying, encouraging, rebuking, Jesus gave, in giving without any taking he revealed an incorruptible kingdom. Christ’s presence was so powerful because its generosity broke the fear and judgment of death. The resurrection was simply the supreme manifestation and climax of his life of giving.

In not holding on to his life, especially his communion with the Father, Jesus humanity reached a state of perfection.20)Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 7:28 In his glorified state he imparts his deathless life to every son of God. “The same power that conquered the grave Lives in me, Lives in me” (Hillsong United). As believers embrace a radically different life style from the gain intoxicated culture that surrounds us, the Spirit will begin to reveal that God “has no need of anything” (Acts 17:25) – he is NEVER a taker.

The life of Christ will be clearly manifested as believers give, whatever they are able, to their neighbours. Jesus will be recognised and followed wherever there are selfless Christian acts of generosity – on the streets, in parks, schools, homes, offices, shops, clinics, factories, sports fields and so on. Through acts of self –giving love to the point of death the Roman Empire was conquered,21)Secular sociology has demonstrated that the church grew most significantly after the devastating plagues that swept the Roman Empire, because only the Christians stayed in the cites to tend all the ill and perishing. Rodney Stark, The Rise Of Christianity, Harper Collins, 1997. and this is how Christ can conquer the West again.

Revival inevitably comes wherever the people of God have been broken and healed through the cycle of boom and bust, for through this process they have been formed in the visible image of the death conquering Christ. As the remnant church images the Jesus who gives and does not take, the principalities and powers, whose stronghold is evil human desire, are confounded and sent into disarray. Through the testimony of a church sacrificing for others (Eph 3:10; Rev 12:11) in resurrection power the forces of evil are stricken with a fear of their own (second) death.22)Compare, Mark 1:24; Luke:8:26-31; Rev 12:12

Conclusion

“But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” (1 Cor 15:46). Western Australia’s natural wealth of forests, iron, gas, diamonds, bauxite, mineral sands, pearls, gold, nickel etc. have been put here by God for a specific purpose. They set the stage for boom and bust, but, at a deeper level, for spiritual crucifixion and resurrection, this is the pattern God has embedded in history. Where believers submit to God’s pattern of dying to evil desire and rising with Christ to selfless giving we may anticipate a genuine culture transforming revival. History teaches however that where a move of the Spirit meets unrepentant covetousness in any form, “the last state will be worse than the first”.23)Luke 11:26 Most revival movements end in all manner of confusion, division and sin. The choice is ours.

References   [ + ]

1. I am using the term revival as meaning a restoration of new covenant Christianity. I do not have in mind here large meetings, prominent evangelists and other phenomena associated with modern revivalism.
2. I am repeatedly running into people – in business, ordinary mums and dads, pastors etc. who have been caught up in economic over complicate
3. West Australian Thursday 31 July 2008, p.1
4. The focused nature of the article should not detract form the universal principles on which it is based.
5. ““For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”” [Amos 3:7] The word translated “secret” here (sod), relates to the prophets participation in the heavenly council e.g. Jer 23:22. In the new covenant, all believers are seated with Christ in the council of God and so have access to the divine will [Eph 2:6].
6. See, for example, James 3:13-16; 4:6.
7. Compare, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”[Eph 5:5]
8. “But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
9. v21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”” [Isa 57:20-21]
10. “We are slaves of fear, not because we have to die, but because we deserve to die!” [Paul Tillich]
11. All states and territories experienced positive population growth over the 12 months ended 31 December 2007. Western Australia and the Northern Territory recorded the largest percentage gains [2.4%] and Tasmania the smallest [0.8%]. Stats Link Here
12. “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” [Rom 1:32]
13. That amphetamine use in WA is the highest in Australia is symptomatic on an underlying despair at life.
14. “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” [2 Cor 11:3].
15. Link to pdf here This involves the use of activity induced adrenalin highs to mask inner personal pain; emotional intensity is substituted for quality of life.
16. A term first used by the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross.
17. It is not wrath upon sin but a divine grace for growth e.g. in the case of Mother Teresa’s 50 years of darkness and painful spiritual thirst for Jesus, Link here
18. “ But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” [Gal 6:14]
19. “v11 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. v12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. v13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” [Phil 4:11-13]
20. Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 7:28
21. Secular sociology has demonstrated that the church grew most significantly after the devastating plagues that swept the Roman Empire, because only the Christians stayed in the cites to tend all the ill and perishing. Rodney Stark, The Rise Of Christianity, Harper Collins, 1997.
22. Compare, Mark 1:24; Luke:8:26-31; Rev 12:12
23. Luke 11:26

John Yates

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