Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jesus wants to A.W.A.K.E His church

Revelation 3:1-2 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

Brief Review
In yesterday's post we began considering Jesus' letter to the church at Sardis.  Jesus' words to the church is that she had the reputation of being alive, but was in actuality dead.  We explored Jesus' three letters to the churches at Ephesus, Pergamum and Thyatira as representing the successive downward spiral that a Christian or church can experience when slipping into a spiritual slumber, namely coldness of love, compromise and conformity.  We then concluded by noting a little bit about what exactly a revival is.  In today's post we want to consider more about what revival is and Jesus' prescription to A.W.A.K.E His church from her slumber. 

Revival leaders of the past help us understand what revival is
Jesus words to the church at Sardis was a message to a church in need of revival.  As I noted yesterday, I am fearful that many of us living today would not even begin to know how to define a revival, which is but proof of how much in need we are of one.  To get us off the runway and into the air, let me list some thoughts on revival by Godly leaders whom have demonstrated fidelity to the scripture and whose ministries have been used by God to spark revival.

1. Elmer Towns was for years Dean of the School of religion at Liberty University.  He writes: "An evangelical revival is an extraordinary work of God in which Christians repent of their sins as they become intensely aware of His presence in their midst, and they manifest a positive response to God, resulting in both a deepening of their individual and corporate experience with God, and an increased concern to win others to Christ."1

2. Leonard Ravenhill, one of the greatest writers on the subject of revival, notes: "Our request concerning revival must be that God be glorified ; afterwards, not before, will come our request for sinners to be saved and a believing that the heavens will be rent. God's conditions will be met."2   

3. Steven Olford, famed Baptist Pastor of times past, writes the following about revival: "Revival is that strange and Sovereign work of God in in which He visits His own people, restoring, reanimating and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing. Such a Divine intervention will issue in evangelism though, in the first instance, it is a work of God in the church and amongst individual believers. Once we understand the nature of heaven sent revival, we shall be able to think, pray and speak intelligently of such times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19)." 3

4. Martin Lloyd Jones, one of the premier preachers of the 20th century, writes on the cost of revival: "May He (God) so reveal His own glory and holiness to us. May He reveal unto us our utter impotence and hopelessness. May we see these things in such a way that we shall cease from men and look only unto the living God. And then there is no question but that He will hear us and He will manifest His glory and power."4

How Jesus wants to A.W.A.K.E His church
As you read Jesus' letter to the church at Sardis, you can use the acrostic A.W.A.K.E to describe what it takes to be a revived people of God for His glory.

Almighty Holy Spirit.  Revelation 3:1
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be sent in His name by the Father.   The "seven spirits" mentioned is in reference to the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit, described in Isaiah 11:2 and mentioned in Revelation 1:4 and 4:5. In order for revival to take place, the Sovereign God in the Person of the Spirit must come down and blow fresh wind into the sails of faith.  Lest we hoist the sails of faith up into the air on the mast of prayer, no revival will occur.  Revival is undoubtedly a Sovereign work of God.  The remaining elements of Jesus' prescription of revival has to do with the believer.

Work on Neglected Areas. Revelation 3:1b-2  
We read in Revelation 3:1b-2 "Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God." The word translated "awake" comes from the root word meaning “rise from the dead”.  This was a deadening sleep that Sardis and all slumbering churches or Christians need to awake.  It starts with an attitude of confession before God that we have been neglecting what we know we ought to do.  That confession must quickly be followed by taking care of those areas that are about to die. Often we neglect Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, giving, love.  Whatever we know to do, and yet fail to do, to us it is sin. (James 4:17)

Apply what you know. Revelation 3:3
Revelation 3:3 reads: "So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it." Often as Christians we cry out to God for more light.  The problem is that we are not living out the current light we already have.  Application of truth involves the mind (remember), the heart (received, heard) and the hands (keep it).  Once we have walked out the current level of understanding, only then will God grant us further light and great opportunities for Him. (compare Matthew 25:21; Luke 19:17) 

Keep a repentant mindset. Revelation 3:3b-4
Jesus then says in Revelation 3:3-4 "...and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you." Repentance means I have turned away from my sin and have run into the arms of Jesus.  Repentance is the twin of faith.  Just as we are to exercise growing faith in the Lord, so too with repentance.  We should ever be cultivating a growing hatred of sin, so as to ever run into the arms of Jesus.  Then finally...

Emphasize Jesus and His word. Revelation 3:4-6
Revival is not an end, but a means to a great end - continual pressing onward and upward in the Lord.  The "garments" of righteousness spoken of here in Revelation is in reference to the credited righteousness of Jesus Christ we receive at salvation (called justification), from whence springs our practical righteousness (sanctification). Seven times in Revelation we find reference to "white robes" given to the saints, and all seven are connected to Christ and His righteousness as being the basis for the believer's practical righteousness. (compare 3:5,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13; 19:14). The scriptures once again are alluded to in 3:6 as the source from whence we hear what the "Spirit is saying to the churches."  

True revival begins and ends with God.  As much as revival is conditioned upon the humbling of ourselves, praying, seeking God's face and turning from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14), yet its source and fruit all stems from the Spirit of God, who ever Proceeds from the Father in the name of the Son.   


1. Elmer Towns & Douglas Porter. The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever - From Pentecost to the Present. Vine Books. 2000. Page 16

2. Leonard Ravenhill. Revival Praying. Bethany Fellowship. 1979. Page 145

3. Steven Olford. The Heart Cry for Revival. Fleming Revell. 1962. Page 16.

4. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Revival. Crossway Books. 1987. Page 131.

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