a publication of Life Action Ministries
The Great Commission the key to getting the job done Spring 2013 Volume 44, Issue 2 www.LifeAction.org/revive
FEATURES The Great Commission Life Action Ministries
No Revival Without Evangelism Bob Bakke
What in the World Is God Doing?
Why Are There Not More Workers?
COLUMNS Spirit of Revival You Will Receive Power Byron Paulus
Conversations I See Their Faces
Del Fehsenfeld III
Guest Columnist Getting the Job Done Tom Elliff
From the Heart Empowered to Share
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Senior Designer: Thomas A. Jones
Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Art Director: Tim Ritter Photography: istockphoto.com: duncan 1890, laflor, JanPietruszka; Lightsource.com: BRIGHTSIDE, Pearl
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Next Step The One Thing
Volume 44, Issue 2 Copyright © 2013 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
PERSPECTIVES Viewpoint I Have No Other Reason
Hard Questions What will the Great Commission accomplish?
Real World The Holy Spirit Connection
Making It Personal Apply principles discussed in this issue.
Revive magazine is published quarterly as God provides, and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people as they respond to the promptings of His Spirit. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free of charge, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Many Revive articles are also available online. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. To purchase additional copies of this issue, be placed on our free mailing list, or contact the editors with feedback or questions: Life Action Ministries • P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 • 269-697-8600 • info@LifeAction.org . We do not share subscriber information with other organizations.
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL
You Will Receive Power
ver the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time meditating on the first chapters of Acts. In fact, even the OneCry movement has drawn its founding principles from the way the Holy Spirit moved in those days. Recently I opened my Bible to review the passage, and I was again struck by the power of Jesus’ final earthly command— even more, by the power He promised to give to us as we complete His mission in the world: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The disciples got right on it, from the day of Pentecost forward. The church of Jerusalem grew by thousands almost overnight, then through persecution was scattered across Judea and Samaria. The new believers preached the Word of God wherever they went. By Acts 13, they were commissioning their first church planting team to head across the Roman Empire with the gospel. Here’s what I noticed: The work didn’t actually start in Jerusalem. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said the work would start in the disciples—YOU will receive power, when the Holy Spirit comes on you. This empowerment is a gift given to every believer in Jesus—the supernatural desire and ability to share God’s kingdom and God’s love. But what happens when Christians quench and grieve the Spirit? What happens when their love for Christ grows cold, and they lose sensitivity to the Spirit’s prompting? What happens when sin and lukewarm attitudes entangle believers in the cares of this life rather than in the Great Commission vision of God? That’s when they need (and that’s when I need) revival. Consider Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2. Because this church had left its first love relationship with Christ, it had lost its bearings. As a result, Jesus said, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” This issue of Revive is dedicated to the Great Commission, and the power you and I will need from the Holy Spirit to complete it. I suppose in one sense you could argue that we already have the power; indeed, as Peter wrote, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 2:3). But as we both know,
just because we’ve been given the power to live such a life doesn’t mean we are always applying it. Revival is a fresh surrender to Christ that leads His people to a fresh filling of spiritual power. Completing the Great Commission isn’t a matter of strategies or preaching points or contributions to mission agencies. It is a matter of power. Certainly God is on the move across the world. Certainly lives are changing, the Word is being proclaimed, and many are turning to Christ. But the work of worldwide evangelization and discipleship remains incomplete. In many places, the population is growing faster than the church. In other areas, there is no church presence at all. There are great needs and almost incomprehensible challenges. But what if all of us, in humble prayer and bold obedience, gave ourselves to the Great Commission? What if we set our sights on its completion in our generation? At Life Action, we’ve been grappling with what this commitment means for us, personally and as a ministry. It may mean that we change things we do, but even more, it means that we need the power of God to proceed. A lost and broken world desperately needs Jesus. Distracted and sometimes apathetic believers desperately need a renewal of spiritual life in order to be effective ambassadors for the gospel. Join us in praying:
What if all of us gave ourselves to the Great Commission?
Father, we know You have called us to be witnesses across the world, and to that end we dedicate ourselves afresh. We recognize that a revival among Your people is a first step toward seeing a spiritual awakening among the lost. And such a movement of spiritual change begins in individual hearts and lives, like ours. So fill us, use us, and revive us unto Your great purpose, the Great Commission. v
in humble repentance from every sin God reveals to us
with urgency for spiritual recovery and awakening
with other believers in spreading the hope of Christ-centered revival
A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening
To learn more about OneCry and to join the movement, visit 4 LifeAction.org/revive
OneCry is a partnership led by Life Action Ministries ÂŠ2011 OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening. All rights reserved.
I See Their Faces
decided to give my life to revival ministry . . .
in a mental health office. The office was mine. As a young counselor, I was perplexed at the number of Christians coming through our practice. It wasn’t just the fact that Christians had big problems that concerned me. I became increasingly unsettled by a bigger issue: Many of these people had been part of Biblebelieving congregations for years. In fact, some of them were actually the pastors and leaders of these churches. I remember the tears of the young woman whose youth pastor husband had just had sexual contact with a girl who had been in his youth group. And the teenage boy who refused to look up or talk to me because of bitterness toward his Christian parents’ hypocrisy. And countless others who confided their debilitating depression and overwhelming anxiety, but admitted that they were afraid to let anyone at church know. I started to realize that the amount of time spent in church, or even the level of immersion in the concepts being taught, didn’t necessarily relate to the degree of transformation in people’s lives. And that’s when alarm bells started ringing in my heart. I wondered, “Why aren’t more ‘good Christians’ actually good? Why aren’t more people who attend church regularly changing to look like Jesus? And why do so many have to leave the church and come to my office in order to find the help they need?” I didn’t know it then, but God was using those encounters to birth in me a vision for revival. As I read Scripture and learned about renewal movements in church history, I gradually realized that revival is more than the changing of individual lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also the transformation of the systems and contexts in which people become like Jesus and spread His message to the world. That shouldn’t be surprising. Jesus’ strategy for healing the world involves a community of people organized around Him—a family who loves Him, listens to Him, and obeys Him as they are filled by His Spirit. It is in this kind of assembly that God’s presence and power actually dwells. As Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with them” (John 14:23). Anything less than a presence-based community saturated with God comes short of Jesus’ plan to heal, transform, and good-news the world.
God’s purpose in Jesus is to reclaim a people who live in His presence, under His rule, experiencing His blessing— and through whom He can expand His family. But this can only happen as Christians do the things that attract God’s presence and prepare us to experience His power. There is no “plan B.” There are no shortcuts. That’s why revival begins with an honest confession of how things stand with us personally and corporately. When our passion for God has cooled, when sin rules our hearts, when our priorities are no different from unbelievers’, when religion has become a ritual—in short, when we lack the power of God on our lives—it’s not time to pretend. It’s Godseeking time. It’s time to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the pursuits that attract God’s presence. And it’s time to pray for the cleansing, enabling, and commissioning power of God’s Spirit to work in our lives until we recover what’s missing. We must keep seeking God, exercising faith in Him, until He strengthens us with power through his Spirit and we are filled to the fullness of God (Eph. 3:16, 19). As I sat looking into the eyes of disappointed, confused, sin-sick people day after day, I began to realize what is at stake when the church fails at its mission: It is real people with real lives and real pain. They are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends, co-workers and countrymen. The Father loves them. Jesus died for them. The Spirit empowers us to share the living hope of the gospel with them. This is our mission. This is worth our very best. I care about revival because real lives depend on it. I can see their faces. Can you? v
When we lack the power of God on our lives, it’s not time to pretend.
Del Fehsenfeld III Senior Editor
Commission At the end of all four gospels, and in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus gives the Great Commission. It’s the marching order for His followers, the command for every believer to “go and make disciples” across the world. The Great Commandment is that we love God; the Great Commission is that we tell the world of God’s love. Here are the words of Jesus: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15). This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:46-48).
Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (John 20:21). You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
We see a vast harvest— billions hearing the gospel, millions responding to Jesus.
t Life Action, we believe that revival is needed in order for the church to fulfill the Great Commission. Think of it this way: When God’s people are distracted by the world and compromised by sin, action pertaining to the vision of God and worldwide transformation is tabled while we cope with divided churches, broken families, rebellious children, indebted households, or unconfessed sin. When we have been ensnared by pride, lust, and greed, the vision of God’s glory in our lives fades away. This lack of obedience saps our ability to give the best of ourselves to the grand and eternal purposes the Lord has in mind for us. Many churches have wonderful strategies, compelling outreaches, and faithful preachers, but still they wonder why their impact on the community is so negligible. Where is the power? Where is the fruit? Where is the Holy Spirit? Why, with all the resources and creativity and staff we employ, is the mission not yet accomplished? God hasn’t changed. Nor has the gospel, which Paul described as “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The root problem isn’t in the culture either; things have always been “bad” out there, and despite all the sin, sorrow, and death in this world, Jesus told us that “the harvest is plentiful.” That’s why the church needs revival. Individual believers need a new life message before they can go forth with the message of new life. And within that challenge, we also find our hope. It may feel “hopeless” to think of a lost culture repenting before God. But bring that down to a personal level. Can God work in you? Can God transform one life? And if one, what about two? And if two, what about two million? There is hope for our families, even for our world—not because we are great, but because God is. Not because we have a plan, but because God does. So what must we do? We must cry out for revival, in our own lives and in our churches. And then we must move forward in daring obedience to the Great Commission. Each one of us can kneel before God and cry out for a refreshing of His presence and His power. Each one of us can draw a circle on the ground and ask God, simply, to send revival inside the circle. We can see the vast vision that God has to redeem creation, and we can admit how desperate we are for this transformation to take place. But rather than point the finger of blame toward others, we must say in humble repentance, “Lord, begin Your work in me!” When believers begin joining together in such prayers, things really get moving. Suddenly churches are infused with new life and vision. Suddenly the Spirit of God does what no human strategy could ever accomplish. Suddenly testimonies fill the air—restoration, healing, truth, forgiveness, prayer, holiness, salvation, reconciliation, purity, honesty—it all begins. From there, “revival fire” takes on supernatural proportions. Movements of gospel sharing and need meeting and mission sending are ignited. Families, communities, and nations that were once unreached and unloved are now immersed in the presence of God’s light and glory! So to that end, we pray. We lift up our eyes, above the difficulties we face personally, above the struggles our culture might endure, above our own self-interest or local priorities, and we see a larger vision. We see a vast harvest—billions hearing the gospel, millions responding to Jesus. We see God’s will being done on earth, as it is in heaven, for His glory alone. v
“Begin in Me” Individual believers get honest before God, turning from sin, seeking His presence in revival prayer, and surrendering to His call.
Churches Revived Personal change sparks church-wide change—families are restored, sin is confessed, transformation is evident.
Movements Ignited Revived hearts begin taking action— serving their communities, reaching the world with gospel.
The Great Commission Fulfilled in This Generation!
No without Evangelism
he preaching of the gospel was at the heart of the Great
Awakenings. There can be evangelism without revival, but there is no true revival that does not result in evangelism. The reason for this is that revival results in both the reawakening of Christians who have grown cold and the awakening of dead souls (evangelism). The Second Great Awakening in the United States is a prime example of how evangelism and revival happen simultaneously. It began among the Presbyterians in the eastern states, in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The traditions of the time included making a big deal about the taking of communion, which was typically celebrated once a year. But their special communion gatherings lasted three to five days! Multiple churches would come together on a Friday to hear preparatory sermons that would last all day. Then on Saturday, there would be an examination of each congregant by the pastors. Every person would be asked, “What is your relationship with God like? Where are you going in your relationship with God? Tell me about the spiritual disciplines in your home. What Scriptures are you reading?” There would also be retesting of their knowledge of the catechism. Then, in the evening, there would be more preaching of the gospel, and strong appeals for people to be reconciled to God. Assuming they passed these examinations, people were allowed to take communion on Sunday. So there were preparatory hurdles to cross to even get to the table of the Lord. After receiving communion on Sunday, Monday would be a day of thanking God for His great mercies, thanking Him for those who had communed at the table, and thanking Him for the beauty of the church. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, would participate in these sacrament occasions. And this model became the ignition point of the Second Great Awakening, because it was here that the first revival fires broke out. The power of these revivals further encouraged the pattern of prolonged gathering for prayer, examining the soul, preaching the gospel, taking communion, great celebrations of grace, and seeking after God for a greater work of His Spirit.
During this period, another phenomenon was happening in America. People were leaving the East Coast in a great southern and westward expansion. For example, in the ten years between 1790 and 1800, the state of Kentucky grew from 70,000 people to 220,000. But there were no churches or organized religion, and a state of chaos and lawlessness characterized the region. But a minister named David Caldwell, a protégé of Jonathan Edwards and one who had been part of the Presbyterian sacraments in the east during the great moves of the Spirit there, set up a training center for preachers in the Carolinas called the Log College. He began mentoring fifty or sixty men a year, and he taught them about the outpourings of God’s Spirit. These “Log College men” placed a great emphasis on the enthusiastic preaching of the gospel, and as they spread out to preach and plant churches, pockets of revival began breaking out throughout the greater Greensboro area. And then five men trained by David Caldwell, called the “Five Wild Men of the Cumberland,” began to exercise a powerful ministry in Tennessee, Kentucky, and out on the western frontier. They planted churches and focused on evangelizing these areas. The leader of the Wild Men of the Cumberland was a man by the name of James McGready. Together, these five associates focused on organizing covenants of prayer among the people—praying weekly for the salvation of souls and the enlivening of the Word of God in their churches and throughout the world. Once a month they would have an all-day fast day within their local church, and on a quarterly basis they gathered regionally to pray and fast. In 1797, these prayers had a remarkable effect. As the gospel was preached, the people began to melt under the Word of God and cry out about their need to be changed. One of the high points of this period of awakening came at a camp meeting in a remote place called Cane Ridge in Kentucky. In August of 1801, thirty thousand people gathered there. This was ten percent of the entire population of the state of Kentucky! For five days, the gospel was preached continually from morning until night. Thousands of people became Christians. This model of camp meetings, where people would travel to spend days away under intense preaching and examination of the soul, spread everywhere. As this happened, pockets of revival began to spring up throughout America. The Methodists in particular set up camp meetings everywhere throughout the lawless western territories. These meetings were almost like a carnival, because many of these
people lived out in rural places where there was no fellowship all year long. When they would come to these large gatherings, the energy was so high and the preaching of the gospel was so clear—all day and into the night—that thousands of people would come to Christ! Within ten years of the Cane Ridge revival and all that followed, literally hundreds of locations around the United States were experiencing revival. Revivals were reported on the campuses of America, including Yale, Williams College, and Princeton, among many others. The Haystack Revival at Williams College in 1806 occurred. Several students taking shelter near a haystack during a thunderstorm began to pray for world evangelization. As they prayed, they were overcome with a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These students, including Samuel Mills, ended up being responsible for the birth of the Student
Volunteer Movement. This movement lasted for a hundred years and resulted in thousands of missionaries taking the gospel to the ends of the earth out of American universities. Simultaneously, the Second Great Awakening fueled the birth of the modern missionary movement, an explosion of missionary activity and vision to see the earth “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). This passionate drive for global evangelism is inextricably linked to this revival. The Second Great Awakening, then, is a model of what happens in every true outpouring of God’s Spirit: Evangelism is at the heart of what God does in revival. You can’t extract evangelism from revival, because it’s when God animates the good news of Jesus and convicts hearts of their need for Him that the Holy Spirit can pour Himself out on vast numbers in revival and spiritual awakening. v
What Brings Revival?
n World War I, airplanes were new and glamorous. Squadrons of planes would take off together and fly in formation, until they encountered enemy planes. Then pilots would dissipate in every direction to engage in aerial “dogfights.” These sky duals became legendary, covered by newspapers and garnering fame for the most skilled pilots, with a scorecard of “kills” to their record.
But ironically, after World War I, the United States military almost concluded that the air force as a strategy for war was ineffective. Careful analysis revealed that while individual dogfighting was great for producing heroes and headlines, in terms of actually advancing the cause on the battlefield, it simply didn’t work. The problem was only remedied when a decision was made to bring the air corps under military discipline that said, “We’re going to fly in formation, and we’re going to predetermine one target to hit, and we’re not going to divide up or turn
back until that mission has been accomplished.” This simple shift in strategy turned air power into a deadly force. While no longer nearly as sensational, trading individual accolades for concerted action was well worth the gains on the field.
This same shift is desperately needed in Christian ministry today. Despite repeated pledges to work together as the body of Christ, ministry leaders scatter in hundreds of directions to do thousands of different things. Of course, many make headlines, millions of dollars are raised, great edifices and organizations are built, and a select group of heroes emerge. But on a strategic macro level, the kingdom of Christ is losing rather than taking ground in our culture. This is where we can learn a great deal from the Second Great Awakening. Many of us know of the dramatic advances of the gospel during this great season of wide-scale revival that swept entire regions for more than thirty years, but few know the story of the key friendships and core commitments that made these awakenings possible.
Large regional “camp meetings” for three to four days were scheduled, at first revolving around the taking of communion, for preaching, examination, prayer, and celebration. These prayer covenants made it possible for large numbers of people to join together in agreement to ask God to pour out His grace. First, there was a group of ministers who shared friendship around a common cause. Because they were friends, they could call each other to great purposes, and strive together in a similar direction. Their fellowship fueled their shared passion and became a platform for concerted action. In fact, the men most responsible for sparking the awakening came out of the same school—the Log College started by David Caldwell. Second, the men used to spark the Second Great Awakening were united in a common understanding of how to pursue revival. In other words, they were trained in a model of how to seek a great work of the Spirit of God that included three main elements:
They entered into covenants of prayer, leading their churches to set aside specific days of prayer and specific times to pray. In particular, they asked believers to pray at sundown on Saturday evenings and at sunrise Sunday mornings for the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the preach-
ing of His Word at Sunday services, and for the salvation of the lost. They also set aside days to fast once a month, to unite as believers in a town or area for corporate prayer for an extraordinary work of the Spirit. In addition, large regional “camp meetings” for three to four days were scheduled, at first revolving around the taking of communion, for preaching, examination, prayer, and celebration. These prayer covenants made it possible for large numbers of people to join together in agreement on specific days and for specific hours to ask God to pour out His grace.
The annual or semi-annual camp meetings or sacrament services encouraged thousands of believers in a region to gather for days of focused fellowship, preaching, and prayer. Day after day, they were under the preaching of the Word, and these events cultivated holy expectation. There was a sense of excitement about being together with other believers and hearing Scripture throughout the gathering. This pattern of annually setting aside long periods of being under the examination of the Scriptures and focused prayer proved to be a lightning rod for revival and the outpourings of the Spirit that came.
The men who were at the heart of these revivals were eager to preach the gospel everywhere there was need. They were consumed with reaching the lost in their cities and regions. And they mobilized their congregations to pray earnestly for the salvation of their countrymen. They were on a passionate mission to spread the gospel, and this passion organized their lives, their efforts, and their prayers. As these groups of friends went out to plant churches and pastor their congregations, they all did these same things in their churches. And as they persevered in them, flying together in formation with a common target and mission, the Holy Spirit began this great revival. v Dr. Bob Bakke is the teaching pastor of Hillside Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. He is an author and has produced television and radio simulcasts since 1994. Bob produces occasional broadcast events that afford millions of people the opportunity to pray simultaneously. His designs are to ensure that local churches become the principle agency for the revival of the Church and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom today.
What in the Is
don’t know about you,
but I want to be in on what the Lord is doing. I don’t want to be a spectator. This means, of course, that I must pay close attention to His work across the planet. I must become like the sons of Issachar, who understood the times in which they lived and knew what Israel must do (1 Chronicles 12:32). As one who stands on the wall of our nation, watching and praying, I would suggest to you that God is clearly doing at least three things today. There may well be more than these three, but giving yourself to these will take every bit of your strength and focus. The three are tied closely together: God is calling His people to prayer, revival, and finishing the task of world evangelization. Without doubt, the Lord has always wanted His people to pray. However, there are seasons when prayer seems to be highlighted by heaven itself. We seem to be living in such a time. Since the 1980s, prayer has become more and more the focus of churches, ministries, and events. One of the best trends I’ve noticed in this regard is that the Lord’s people are turning their prayer focus from themselves and their own needs and beginning to pray kingdom prayers. We are shifting from our agendas to God’s agenda. Across the globe, the church is praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven!
God is calling Christians to prayer, focusing on revival, toward the task of world evangelization.
We may see the greatest revival since the beginning of time.
As we pray the Lord’s will, we find ourselves naturally moving toward the next of the three areas: revival. This is close to God’s heart! He wants His people spiritually awake, filled with zeal, eager to do His will. One of my favorite definitions of revival comes from Pastor Ray Ortlund Jr.: When God rends the heavens and comes down on His people, a divine power achieves what human effort at its best fails to do. God’s people thirst for the ministry of the Word and receive it with tender meltings of soul. The grip of the enslaving sin is broken. Reconciliation between believers is sought and granted. Spiritual things, rather than material things, capture people’s hearts. A defensive, timid church is transformed into a confident army. Believers joyfully suffer for their Lord. They treasure usefulness to God over career advancement. Communion with God is avidly enjoyed. Churches and Christian organizations reform their policies and procedures. People who had always been indifferent to the Gospel now inquire anxiously. And this type of spiritual movement draws in not just the isolated straggler here and there but large numbers of people. A wave of divine grace washes over the church and spills out onto the world. That is what happens when God comes down. And that is how we should pray for the church today. Such a vision for revival should bring us back to prayer again and again. It is critical for us to understand the role of prayer in revival. Whether you look to the great revivals in the Old Testament or to revivals down through the centuries of church history, one thing is consistent: Prayer precedes revival! A. T. Pierson makes this point: From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three. And no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined. It is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified. As we pray and long for revival, it is critical to understand that revival isn’t just for us. It isn’t about the church having better meetings or boosting its budget. Revival readies us for the third thing God is doing today: the completion of the task of world evangelization. South African pastor and writer Andrew Murray said it this way:
There is need of a great revival of spiritual life, of truly fervent devotion to our Lord Jesus, of entire consecration to His service. It is only in a church in which this spirit of revival has at least begun, that there is any hope of radical change in the relation of the majority of our Christian people to mission work. Time and again, a major fruit of revival has been evangelism. An awakened church begins to move in the power of the Spirit to share the gospel in fresh ways. The radically changed lives of believers attract attention and draw unbelievers to Jesus. This outreach is not confined just to the neighborhood of a church, but crosses cultural and national barriers with the intent of reaching nations for Christ. The Spirit of God today is clearly calling Christians to extraordinary prayer, focusing on revival, toward the completion of the task of world evangelization. What’s next, when these three things occur? Well, the timing is in the Lord’s hands, but look carefully at what Jesus promised: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). We pray, preparing the way for the Lord to revive His people. A revived people, moving in God’s power, share the gospel until the whole world hears. Then, at just the right moment, the Lord Jesus breaks through the clouds to gather His people and to reign forever. What is so exciting is that the Lord has graciously allowed us to be participants in His eternal plan and purpose! And all of this begins with prayer! Dr. Robert Coleman has powerfully described the day in which we live: Something great is on the horizon. You can almost feel it in the air. Though forces of evil are becoming more sinister and aggressive, there is a corresponding cry for spiritual awakening. Across the world never has there been more yearning by more people for spiritual reality, nor has the Church ever had the means it now has to take the glad tidings of salvation to the lost, unreached peoples of the earth. What a day to be alive! Certainly this is not a time for despair. The King’s coming is certain. And in preparation for His return, we may be the generation that will see the greatest revival since the beginning of time. v Dave Butts is the Prayer Mobilization Coordinator for OneCry and the president of Harvest Prayer Ministries (HarvestPrayer.com). He is a much sought after conference speaker, both nationally and internationally. He serves on several Boards of Directors and committees focused on prayer, revival, and evangelism. Dave has authored several books, as well as numerous articles on prayer and missions.
Getting the Job Done
he Bible makes it very clear that Jesus will
come back after a multitude from every language, people, tribe, and nation come to know and worship Him, because that’s what heaven looks like (Revelation 9:9). What an incredible moment this will be! There are almost 11,000 different people groups in this world, representing over 7 billion people. It took until 1804 for world population to climb above one billion, but in just the last 12 years, the world has added another billion people to our population. India will be the first country to reach 2 billion people in a matter of years. To put that in perspective, only 330 million live in the United States. At last count, 6,732 of those 11,000 people groups were unreached with the gospel—less than 2% of their population claims to be evangelical in their faith. Over 3,169 of those unreached people groups have absolutely no gospel witness. There is not even a plan to evangelize, disciple, and plant reproducing churches in many places. Of the 7 billion-plus people in the world, over half of them have little access to the gospel, and 1.27 billion of them are very likely to die without even hearing the name Jesus. Not only is that unthinkable, it’s just unacceptable. So what is the answer? It’s for God’s people to respond to the Great Commission. It is here that we find the utter necessity of revival. During periods of revival, there is a resurgence of interest in missions, and willingness to commit a lifetime to mission service. Every great missions movement in Christian history was born out of some type of spiritual awakening among believers. Today, we see evidence that God is stirring hearts. A new generation has interest in going to the ends of the earth, giving their lives to reach the most remote corners of the world. But the sad fact that is so distressing to me is that there are now far more people who are willing to go than there are resources being made available to send them. God must stir not only those willing to go, but also the hearts of those who will help them go financially, as well as the hearts of moms and dads who will let them go, and the passions of people who will pray for those who are going. In my own organization alone, we ended last year with over 600 very qualified individuals who applied to give their lives to global missions, that we could not resource to send. Here’s the simple truth: Apart from revival in the church, the pool of people willing to be sent and the pool of people will-
ing to send them is insufficient and shrinking. Only the Holy Spirit can stir up the supply needed in our churches to meet these great needs. What a tragedy it would be if we lost our opportunity to play a significant role in God’s plan to save! How tragic to forfeit such vast opportunity because of our unwillingness to surrender to the lordship of Christ! In the book of Acts, the gospel did not penetrate the Mediterranean world primarily on the backs of the apostles. The gospel traveled in the hearts and on the shoulders of men and women who, by their profession, their calling, and sometimes their persecution, went across that area on Roman roads with the Greek language. And so our strategy calls for global strategic mobilization. One of the greatest needs today is mobilizing that man or woman who sits in the pew, who’s sleeping during the sermon on Sunday morning, but who is going to get up Monday and go to work. One of those believers might work at a corporation that has 2,000 employees—500 of whom are in an unreached area of the world! If that person will wake up and give their vocation to Jesus, then they can become a part of the strategic fulfillment of the Great Commission. But what will motivate someone to do this? They must experience revival. They must see the big picture. The Great Commission is for every believer! v
What a tragedy it would be if we lost our opportunity to play a significant role in God’s plan!
President, IMB Tom serves as the president of the International Mission Board, the global mission arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has served as a pastor, ministry leader, and missionary, and has spoken and written extensively on spiritual awakening and global outreach. Learn more about Tom and world missions at IMB.org.
Why Are There Not More Workers? George Verwer (Founder of Operation Mobilization)
e are in contact with churches and mission agencies all over the world, and the one thing they all have in common is that they need workers. Most are even praying for those who will come short term and help in the task. The bigger demand is for long-term workers of some level of maturity.
We are especially in touch with those working in the 10/40 Window, and it is clear that
thousands of workers are needed there, including those who will go as tentmakers. Most of us expected many more to be there by now. I am sometimes asked, “Why are there not more workers, especially among the more unreached peoples?”
Counting the cost, as we
are told to do in Luke 14:25-33, will enable us to act and pray more intelligently. As we have attempted to work with people around the world, we have discovered many reasons we are not seeing more workers, especially long-term workers. I believe being aware of these will help us better to “count the cost,” as we are told to do in Luke 14:25-33, and it will enable us to act and pray more intelligently.
Apathy: I think most would agree that this is the overwhelming hindrance to all we want to do for God’s kingdom. This is one of the reasons that prayer for revival movements has become such a major emphasis in some places. Some have wondered why I at times associate with people or churches which may seem extreme, and I can only say that I am trying to stay in fellowship with the whole body of Christ. I’m thrilled when I hear of people and churches coming alive, and I only hope and pray that the people will be disciplined and trained to go on as real marathon runners for God! No Vision: Only a few seem to actually even have a vision for evangelizing the lost— of the need as well as of the amazing opportunities. Others don’t have a vision to send out workers, especially from their own church.
Lack of Prayer: Matthew 9:35-38 makes the command about prayer very clear. Despite all the talk and statistics about prayer, and some wonderful prayer events and movements, we have to admit that the average church is not a praying church. They may boast of a prayer meeting, but
usually only a few people attend, and there is often very little prayer for workers and the unreached. It seems that few leaders and believers, and even missionaries, have a disciplined prayer life. Praise God for every exception, and I hope you are one of them, but I am referring to the overall average.
Lack of Generosity: Everyone knows that lack of funding is hindering God’s work, and certainly hindering the sending out of missionaries. There are powerful exceptions, especially when a local church wants to put up a new building. I know that many generous people are reading this, and I thank God for you. I know some people are extreme, as I was (some would say I still am), as I want to live on the basic essentials and pour everything I can into world evangelization. All surveys show that only a tiny percentage of money goes outside one’s own church and then their own nation. There are powerful exceptions, especially for relief and development when there is a huge disaster somewhere. Some even think it is better to send money rather than workers, which is foolish, because it must be both. In the midst of this, let’s stay grace-awakened and realize that the Lord does lead different people in different ways, and let’s beware of legalistic judgmentalism. Legalism: God is using His Word and many great books about grace to set people free from this,
but it is a long, hard road; and in many parts of the world, legalism reigns supreme, not only in local churches but in whole denominations. Many feel very threatened by this movement of grace that is taking place. It seems easier to hold God’s people together (and we all need loyalty and unity) by the law and all the added “distinctives” (which are often just manmade rules and regulations) than by grace, love, reality, and the freedom of the Holy Spirit. We are also learning the hard way that grace without discipline can often lead to disgrace. Grace does not lay aside basic biblical commandments, but rather brings them into balance and the right priority.
Negative Reports: In anything as big as the modern missions movement, there will always be
lots of bad news. We know that bad news travels faster than good news, and we now have the Internet to help. But old-fashioned gossip and misinformation still cause immense harm. I personally have failed in this area, and in recent decades I have tried to put a greater emphasis on Spirit-controlled speech. Some churches, after sending out one worker, sometimes only short term, have stopped sending people after their worker came back with a bad report or maybe defeated in their own life. It’s clear to me that without discernment, grace, and forgiveness, there is no way forward.
Ask, Then Go
Biblical Compromise: I read a powerful book showing the drift,
even on the part of missionaries and leaders, away from some of the basics of God’s Word. Universalism used to be considered part of the package of liberal theologians who did not believe in any case that the Bible was God’s Word. But now, in various forms, it seems to have invaded our evangelical and biblical communities. Ignorance of the Bible in general seems to be on the increase, and that doesn’t help. That is one of the reasons we know that real unity in the years to come will be achieved in the midst of great diversity. I hope my words here will drive all of us to our knees. Don’t worry about some little thing I have said that you don’t like or agree with, but rather be proactive and ask God what He is trying to say to you personally. I especially pray that people who read this will become more active in reaching the world with the gospel, as a goer, a sender, or both. It is harvest time, and more churches and people on the field and at home are involved in missions than ever before. Of course, Satan is attacking in vicious ways on every level. More than ever, let’s take the shield of faith and stand against him in the power of the Holy Spirit. v
George Verwer is the founder of Operation Mobilization, a ministry of evangelism, discipleship training, and church planting. After 40 years as International Director, he and his wife continue to serve in Special Projects Ministries with OM.
18 2 LifeAction.org/revive
Jesus told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:2-3)
FROM THE HEART
Empowered to Share
ccording to the Institute for the Study of
American Evangelicals, nearly 200 million Americans have no faith involvement at all in their lives. This makes America the third largest “unchurched” country in the world, behind India and China. Who will tell them about Christ if you and I don’t? When God revives His people, they gain a new burden for those who don’t know Jesus. They become bold in their witness. Believers are not only quickened to fulfill their responsibility in sharing the gospel with the lost, but something else happens as well: God moves supernaturally to awaken the hearts of unbelievers. Historically, in seasons of revival, we see intensified efforts to reach the lost, accompanied by a great harvest of souls. Dr. J. Edwin Orr was a noted revival historian of the last generation. I remember hearing him say that “in the unrevived state of the Church, saints go racing to find sinners—but in the revived state of the Church, sinners come racing to find the Savior.” They’re drawn irresistibly to Jesus by the Spirit of God. We see this illustrated in past revivals. During the Great Awakening of the 1700s, some 50,000 people were added to the New England churches out of a population of just 340,000. During the Second Great Awakening in the U.S., church membership increased ten-fold. It was said that people would rush out of their houses as the revivalists would pass down the street, begging them to come in and help them find Christ. Can you imagine that happening in your neighborhood? During the great prayer revival in New York City in 1858, the number of conversions was reported to be as high as 50,000 per week. In the revival that God sent to Wales in 1905, 100,000 conversions were reported in a five-month period. (And these were not just “professions” of faith. In fact, five years later, when skeptics set out to debunk the revival, the charge was leveled that only eighty percent of those “conversions” were still standing. Our most “successful” evangelistic efforts today can only dream of such statistics!) Can that kind of thing happen today? We heard from a woman describing the aftermath of God having met with her in revival during a Life Action summit in her local church. She wrote to say, “First, I quit
smoking after forty-three years, using no man-made helps— the power of prayer works.” She continued, “Second (and most important) was my son’s salvation. He was saved last month and baptized on Easter Sunday. I can’t tell you the joy I felt after nineteen years of prayers and tears to see that answer come.” But that’s not all. Over a short period of time following the revival that began in her own heart: My brother-in-law was saved, my mother was saved, my niece was saved, my nephew and his wife rededicated their lives to Christ, my daughter rededicated her life, my daughter’s fiancé was saved, my daughter’s friend was saved, my granddaughter was baptized, my husband is growing spiritually, my daughter’s fiancé’s sister was saved, and my son’s fiancée’s daughter was saved.
When God pours out His Spirit in an extraordinary
Of course, apart from seasons of revival, we still have to be faithful in our witness, faithful in proclaiming the gospel, faithful in calling men and women to come to faith and repentance. But when God pours out His Spirit in an extraordinary way, He enables and empowers our efforts, and fruit is borne in ways that we never dreamed possible. That makes my heart cry out, Lord, please revive Your church, “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Psalm 67:2 ESV).v
way, He enables and empowers our efforts.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Revive Our Hearts Radio Host
Adapted from a Revive Our Hearts radio broadcast, www.ReviveOurHearts.com.
revive 19 3
How Does Revival
Change a Church?
by Jamie Work
efore the Life Action team arrived in my church, I
The presence of the Lord became so overwhelming that people just had to respond.
preached for about three years on revival and what God needs to do in our hearts and lives. We talked about seeking the Lord, and about having our lives lined up with His so that He could use us for the accomplishment of the Great Commission. We started praying in our services and small groups for the upcoming meetings; we even hosted special prayer gatherings to begin this process. When the team arrived, there was an air of expectation and excitement about what God might do among us. The third night into our meetings, the presence of the Lord was so strong that a time of spontaneous confession began, which continued night after night. What we’d originally scheduled as an eleven-day gathering extended for what became six weeks of nightly meetings. We desperately wanted to be a people with “clean hands and pure hearts” so we could be used by God to engage the world with the gospel, not just locally but everywhere. We were sensing our great need to become the sort of people God could really use! Some of our worship and prayer times lasted for hours; in one instance I stayed in our prayer room for more than two hours, dealing with one person after another who was under conviction. On many occasions the presence of the Lord became so overwhelming that people just had to respond because the conviction of the Holy Spirit was so real to them. By the second week, we recognized that our church was committing “corporate sins” that required repentance as well:
Prayerlessness and relying on activity and ministry Superficiality with God and with one another Preoccupation with money and “stuff” Overlooking sin and failing to practice biblical church discipline Programmatic or non-Spirit-led worship Lukewarmness, apathy, lack of commitment We publicly acknowledged these sins and read Daniel 9 as our prayer of confession. When the six weeks of special meetings were over, we started addressing these sins one by one. We had conversations like, “What’s making us a prayerless people? How has prayer been displaced by activity and ministry? How can we change that? How do we adjust superficiality with God and with one another?” Revival has changed and is changing our church! It’s brought us to a place of greater usefulness to the Lord, a place of holiness, a new place of commitment and devotion to the lordship of Jesus Christ. It’s also compelled us to make some practical changes. We’ve revamped our whole weekly ministry schedule, dedicating a whole day to prayer. We’ve placed more emphasis on house-to-house ministry. We’ve encouraged our people to simplify their lives and ignore the pressure from society to accumulate “more and more.” We even lengthened our service times so that we wouldn’t feel pressure to just run the “program” of worship anymore. Even though we had this experience and have made a lot of changes, we recognize that the process of seeking the Lord never ends. We continue to pray that He would do a fresh work in each of us so that we’re walking in the fullness of His joy and being used for His glory, to the ends of the earth. v Jamie Work is the lead pastor of Candies Creek Church in Charleston, TN.
LORD, revive us again, and
LET IT BEGIN IN ME! The Lord longs to revive His church. He is looking for people who will be fully surrendered and available to Him. In times of revival, God overwhelms us with His presence. And when God pours out His power, everything changes. The result is a total makeover of hearts that revitalizes individuals, families, churches, and communities. A Life Action summit gives your church the opportunity to gather in a concentrated time to seek the Lord together. Designed for the entire church family, Life Action revival summits provide a one-of-a-kind experience of reconnecting with God and transforming relationships. To find out more about Life Action’s summits and how we can help your congregation experience spiritual renewal, visit us online:
www.LifeAction.org/Summit Calling God’s people to God’s presence
Life Action Revival summits are an outreach of Life Action Ministries ©2012 Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
ViewPoint I Have No Other Reason Pastor Benjamin serves as the Training and Leadership Director for the India Gospel League in Salem, India (www.IGLWorld.org). Southeast Asia has been experiencing a spiritual awakening in recent years, and much of this has been advanced by the sacrificial church planting and leadership training efforts of Indian church leaders. Revive magazine asked Pastor “Benny” for his perspective on living out the Great Commission:
Why did Jesus give us the Great Commission, and what is our personal responsibility to it? Jesus started proclaiming the kingdom of God during His earthly ministry, and when His time was over, He handed over responsibility to continue this mission to His followers. This is the vision God gave—Jesus sees us as His partners in the kingdom. We are working with Him to establish His reign among the nations! Jesus started in Judea, and from there it must be spread to the ends of the earth. This was the purpose of God even in Genesis—the same Commission was explained to Abram, when God called him and said, “I will bless all nations through you.” God often involves humans in His work, and this Commission is a great privilege for us. In worldly business, you’d have to have the same status of wealth or ability to work as a partner with someone—but God is seeing you and me as partners in His kingdom-business!
So you do see this as a personal calling, not just the job of the “church” organization? Yes. If we want to follow Jesus, we must take up our cross— we have to carry His mission in our own lives. First, Jesus invites us to come to Him; then when we come, He commands us to go. That’s why we believe that every believer is at the
same level as a pastor—we all share responsibility in this work. No matter what occupation we may have, if we are members of God’s church, we are part of the royal priesthood.
How does a Christian begin fulfilling this Commission? The first thing is to surrender your whole life to God. You say, “Whatever He wants me to do, I will do it.” It’s not, “What can I do for God?” it’s, “What can God do through me?” You must be willing to be consecrated to Christ—let Him be your master. Next, you need to have a servant’s attitude—be willing to learn. Open your heart to what God wants to teach, what He wants to do. Sometimes we are like Moses—we say to God, “I’m ineligible; I cannot do it, Lord; there must be another way.” At other times we are like Jonah, when we receive the call from God but we’d rather do something different. My own story is like this. I wanted to be a church planter in a specific region of India, but God directed me to my current position. I had to finally say yes to God’s call for me. God’s plans are often different from ours! If you are ready to obey, God will call you and confirm things to you through His servants.
What about believers who feel unmotivated regarding the Great Commission? Following, living for, and sharing Christ—this is the definition of the Christian life. If you don’t do those things, you aren’t
a Christian. You need to read His Word and really consider what He is commanding you to do. In India, we encourage believers to share the gospel with someone before their baptism. That will help them grow and be strengthened in their faith. Only after they have shared the gospel are they qualified to make a public testimony through baptism.
People on Earth over 7,000,000,000
Practically, here’s what I’d recommend: Find some non-Christian friends and start praying for them. Take on the goal of sharing the gospel personally with at least one person every 12 months. As you pray for a non-Christian friend, contact him, share the gospel, befriend him, and spend time with him so that you can lead him to Christ
Distinct People Groups 16,594 Unreached People Groups 7,162
What is the role of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the Great Commission? We cannot spread God’s kingdom by ourselves. We need the presence of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Before we share, the Holy Spirit has to prepare us and prepare the heart of our listener. This way we can present ourselves as the right witness before another person.
People in Unreached Groups over 2,800,000,000 An “unreached” group means there is not a known indigenous community of Bible believers large enough to evangelize this group.
I have talked with people who think sharing the gospel is a special gift; but it isn’t a unique gift, it is a gift every follower of Christ receives when the Holy Spirit comes inside you. It is the nature of every Christian, because of the Holy Spirit, to be salt and light.
Why do you care so much about this, so as to give your life full time to train Great Commission leaders for Southeast Asia? That is the reason God created me. That is the reason God has chosen me. In the past He has prepared me step by step for this in my life. Since I was 14 years old, I knew He wanted me to be involved in missions. In this generation, I am in India. It is a great opportunity and a great privilege, to be part of the Great Commission.
ost of the world’s unreached people live in the 10/40 window, an area that spans from Morocco to Indonesia. This includes North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Most people in these regions have not heard the gospel, and many have no access to a Christian church. In most of the 10/40 window, Christians are a minority who face significant persecution.
That is why I am here. I have no other reason. v From the editors: We praise God that through a partnership with India Gospel League, Revive is distributed to village church pastors and regional coordinators throughout India and Sri Lanka. Please pray for Pastor Benny and thousands of others like him who are involved in ministry to the most populous and least reached regions on earth.
These statistics are from JoshuaProject.net, as of 2013. Visit this website for prayer notes, pictures, and updated statistics regarding areas least reached with the Good News.
? ? ?
Hard Questions What will the Great Commission accomplish? The Great Commission reflects God’s desire that all men come to repentance and experience His salvation. Even more, it reflects God’s heart for this world since creation.
Dr. Richard Fisher
remember holding my son in my hands the day
he was born. With God’s help, my wife and I had created a son in our image. That day, I caught a glimpse of what glory means. I envisioned what my son would grow up to be. I looked ahead and saw the joys that we would experience together in the growing process and what it would be like to fellowship with him as an adult. It was a wonderful vision. That was many years ago. The process has been challenging and often disappointing. Sometimes I thought the vision I saw for my son and our relationship would never come to pass. Selfishness and sin marred the journey. But in my heart, my love for my children remains strong. The vision never dies. When God created mankind, He made man in His image. God made our bodies to be His holy temple, indwelled by His
Spirit. Life was to be lived in pure fellowship with the Father. It was to be graced with joy, peace, and love. God communicated this vision when He first commissioned Adam and Eve to go forth and bring order to the created world (Genesis 1:26-28). The thought of viewing God’s first mandate in Genesis 1:2628 as the “original Great Commission” helped me to see the continuity of God’s unchanging vision throughout Scripture. This understanding was solidified when I realized that the fulfillment of the Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is found in Revelation 22. People from every nation, on that future day, will have been restored to God. (Also notice that the wording used in Revelation 22:1-6 reflects the Garden experience of Genesis 1–2. The Great Commission restores the chartered purpose of creation!)
The following chart traces the development of the Commission throughout the Bible: PASSAGE
The creation and original Commission of God to man
Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth; subdue and rule over the earth
To bring purpose and order to the undeveloped earth
Transform the earth to reflect God’s vision for life in the Garden
Mankind rejects the vision of God in order to pursue his own way
A promise is made to restore the vision based on the children Eve would bear
To restate the original Commission, but with necessary adjustments that reflect the presence of evil
Mankind must now navigate life with a fallen heart that selfishly leans away from God
After the flood, God reinstates the Commission to Noah by establishing a covenant with him
Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth; you must now earn your right to rule the earth because of your evil responses
To protect creation from the evil that men do; sacrifice for sin became a sign of restored fellowship with God
Fulfilling the Commission is becoming more difficult because of the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind
After Babel, where man directly disobeys the Commission, God in grace proactively calls Abram
God tells faith-filled Abram that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”
To fulfill God’s promise to work through Eve to provide a redeemer; through the line of Abram, the promise of Genesis 3:15 will be fulfilled
Commission elements are found in the Covenant God establishes with Abraham; though sin has separated man from God spiritually, God makes a way to work with man
The Commission and covenant are renewed through Jacob and Joseph
“I will make you fruitful and increase your numbers and give you the land”
To restore mankind and renew God’s blessing
The journey of Israel in Egypt has alerted them to mankind’s plight and need for redemption
Exodus 19 and Deuteronomy
The Mosaic Covenant provides Commission direction
Laws were meant to supplement the elements of the Commission
To reveal the evil blight of sin and guide the penitent to the Savior for mercy and restoration
The Law becomes a temporary yet necessary part in the restoration of God’s Commission
Prophets: Jonah; Isaiah 52:7; 56:1-8
Address the status of the Commission
Fill the earth with the gospel of Christ and the promise of salvation; lead the nations to worship and truth
To call Israel to fulfill their calling of bringing the message to the nations, and to prepare for the coming of the One who will complete the Commission
The voice of the prophets assisted the Mosaic Law to call Israel back to God so they could fulfill their role in His vision
Jesus Christ gives the Great Commission
Make disciples by going, by baptizing, and by teaching; restore fallen people to the family of God through the gospel
To reinstate the original Commission, based on the work of Jesus Christ, who died and conquered death to provide forgiveness of sins and to destroy the work of Satan (1 John 3)
Fill the earth with the gospel of Christ and the promise of salvation; lead the nations to worship and truth
The NT Epistles and Gospels
Much like Moses and the prophets, the NT writings guide the church in the fulfillment of the Great Commission
Acts 1:8 reveals the spiritual redemption needed; sin had made fulfilling the Commission impossible because man was separated from God
To show us how mankind can be restored and united to God once again, so that the original purpose of life can be experienced
Christ is the way, the truth, and the life— no one comes to the Father except through Him; in Him we can fulfill our destiny
Restoration complete! The chaos of evil has been removed; peace and order prevail
Revelation 22 implies that we can forever enjoy the fulfillment of the Commission in the new world
To show that mankind has been reunited with God; His original design can now move forward, in the “glorified Garden”
Christ’s death repaired the spiritual problem; His life and leadership guide mankind in the eternal fulfillment of the Commission
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is our call to be a part of the eternal vision of God. • Will we work with God in building the kingdom across the world? • Will we fulfill the purpose for which He put us on earth? • Will we give our lives to rescue His lost children who are heading for destruction? • Will we be a part of the redemption and restoration of all that God designed this world (and our lives) to be? v
Dr. Richard Fisher has served as a professor and regional director with Moody Bible Institute.
Real World The Holy Spirit Connection What does the power of the Spirit have to do with the world hearing the gospel?
The Gift of the Spirit My wedding day was an incredible experience. Celebration, friends, memories, gifts—including two beautiful rings. All of these were very special, but there was an even more significant gift I received that day. It wasn’t an item, but a person.
From the Editors The Revive team decided to get some outside perspective on the work of the Holy Spirit, and how the idea of “Great Awakening” connects to the “Great Commission.” We reached out to three leading voices to get their vision of how the Spirit works among us, what He empowers us to do, and how we can really listen to His voice.
The greatest gift was Kristi, my wife! In fact, we each gave ourselves to the other. I received on that day a person who committed herself to me. She was and has continued to be amazing. In Acts 1, the disciples had an experience with Jesus where they asked for a gift, the gift of knowledge. Specifically, they wanted to know when Jesus would restore His kingdom. Jesus told them He wasn’t giving them that gift. Instead He promised an even better gift, the gift of a person. In fact, He promised the gift of His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit. This gift would change everything. Most of all, this gift would be the answer to a life lived for the glory of God and toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This gift of the Holy Spirit has made all the difference in my life. He lives in me to give me power, love, peace, joy, wisdom, motivation, and on and on. It is through His indwelling presence that I am able to see God use me to make disciples of all the nations and be an instrument for leading people to Jesus Christ. Today, God wants to empower you in a way that will allow you to live for Him and be a vessel for His purpose of making disciples everywhere!
Mark Gauthier is the Executive Director of Campus Ministry (with Campus Crusade for Christ International in the U.S.), www.cru.org.
The Spirit at Work
No Need to Wait
During any great gospel advance, you can be sure the Spirit will be at work making much of Jesus Christ and bringing the Word to life. That’s how the Spirit empowered the Great Awakening of the mid-1700s.
What would happen if the Holy Spirit had His way among us? We would see the church purified, awakened, and otherwise filled with His power. There is no doubt that many of the weaknesses of our churches can be traced to the fact that we have been unable (or unwilling) to distinguish between flesh and Spirit, between the work we can do and the work only God can do.
During this blessed outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Great Commission began to be fulfilled among African Americans. New lights—ministers such as Jonathan Edwards who supported the revival—preached to audiences that included both whites and blacks. Many congregations accepted their first black members. But some slave owners were predictably upset. The Weekly History contained an account of a Boston slave owner who walked in on his slave preaching to himself, imitating the dramatic style of George Whitefield. The owner, no fan of the revival, was so amused that he called together his friends for some after-dinner entertainment. “Supplying his friends with pipes and glasses all around, he instructed his slave to mount a stool in the center of the room and preach as he had the day before,” historian Frank Lambert explains. “As he began, the company laughed heartily, but when he warned against blaspheming the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the necessity of the new birth, ‘the Negro spoke with such Authority that struck the Gentlemen to Heart.’ To their host’s dismay, the men began to listen intently, and many, as a result of that day’s ‘entertainment,’ became ‘pious sober Men.’”* When we see spiritual awakening, when we see the Great Commission being fulfilled, we’ll see many such reversals of the social order. Because the Holy Spirit enjoys surprises.
In the book of Acts, the boldness of the early church was always attributed to the coming of the Holy Spirit. The purity of the church repelled those who feared holiness; but the love within the congregation attracted others who longed for forgiveness and spiritual reality. And, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, believers were described as those who had “turned the world upside down.” We do not have to spend ten days waiting for the Holy Spirit, as the early church did, for thankfully, the Spirit has arrived! But I believe the principle still stands: We are to seek God collectively, earnestly, and without distraction. Let me suggest that we detox from the media for ten days: no television, Internet, or mobile devices (except as necessary for our work), and in renewed silence wait on God in repentance and earnest expectation. Then, let us go out into the world as compelling witnesses of the one message the world desperately needs to hear.
Dr. Erwin Lutzer is the pastor of Moody Church, MoodyChurch.org.
* Frank Lambert, Inventing the “Great Awakening” (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 168.
Collin Hansen is the Editorial Director of TheGospelCoalition.org.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. revive 27
Making It Fulfilling the Great Commission Evaluate your burden for the lost and obedience to Christ by checking the appropriate blank on each line:
Not R eally
I feel responsible to witness to lost people in my family.
I am burdened by how much the world needs the gospel.
I think about how to share Jesus with outsiders.
I consider myself to be a disciple-maker.
I view the Great Commission as the job Christ has given me.
I use my talents and gifts to expand God’s kingdom.
I spread gospel resources to those without Christ.
I take advantage of opportunities to speak about Jesus.
I invite unsaved people to come to church with me.
I maintain purity and integrity as a representative of Christ.
My co-workers and friends know that I am a Christian.
Non-Christians notice how different my life is from theirs.
I start spiritually-leaning conversations with strangers.
I read stories about missionaries and revivalists.
I pay attention to updates from mission organizations.
I am ready and willing to share my testimony of faith.
I attend classes to improve my Bible knowledge.
I have memorized key verses to assist in sharing the gospel.
I am “ready to give an answer for the hope within me.”
I have a passionate desire to see the lost come to Christ.
Not really = No, I don’t normally do this.
Absolutely = Yes, all the time! Generally = I do often. Sort of = I do once in a while.
PRAYER I pray for opportunities to talk to people about Jesus.
I pray for revival in my church, so that we will be effective.
I pray for gospel work across the world.
I seek God’s power so that I can be an effective witness.
I support a missionary or mission group.
I work with a team dedicated to spreading the gospel.
I serve in a local outreach ministry.
I seek out opportunities to be an ambassador for Christ.
I encourage my children/friends to reach the lost.
I sacrificially give my time and resources to missions.
I envision and attempt creative plans to share the gospel.
Total the number of checkmarks under each column:
Now multiply each result by the number shown:
Finally, add up the total of your results: _______ (Compare this number to the chart on page 30.)
Ambassador Training: Resources from Life Action Draw a Circle These OneCry resources will help you prepare to be a witness and begin praying boldly for God’s reviving work in your church and community. Access the free downloads from OneCry.com, or order printed copies for a small cost.
Seeking Him This popular Bible study workbook will guide you (and your group) toward the kind of lifestyle that best represents the gospel. We recommend this as preparation for mission trips, for outreach teams, and for anyone interested in experiencing personal revival. Visit SeekingHim.com.
“Speak Up!” Revive A previous edition of Revive magazine dealt with how to “speak up” for God, including a number of practical tools and challenging stories. Access this content at LifeAction.org/revive or call 800-321-1538 to order a print copy.
GROWING IN THE GREAT COMMISSION 124–111 EXCELLENT! You are actively involved in missions and evangelism. Keep up the great work! • Consider personally discipling a younger believer to help them gain a vision for missions. • Read a book on missions strategy.* • Consider starting an outreach team to share Christ in your region. 110–95 DOING GREAT. You have a definite burden for the lost, and you are putting your faith into action. • Consider hosting a prayer meeting for world missions at your church or home. • Locate and attend a missions conference to expand your understanding. • Read a missionary biography to grow your faith (e.g. Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Helen Roseveare, Jim Elliot, Darlene Rose, etc.). 94–78 NOT TOO BAD. You are headed in the right direction—keep seeking God’s heart for the lost! • Consider going on a short-term mission trip to expand your view of the lost world. • Subscribe to a mission organization update list.* • Make a list of three specific things you will do to further God’s kingdom. 77–63 NEED SOME IMPROVEMENT. You need to pray about what God wants you to do. • Spend personal time with a missionary or church planter. Ask him/her about how they got involved in missions, how you could best pray for their ministry, and what they recommend for beginners. • Volunteer for an outreach in your community (e.g. jail, nursing home, church visitation, crisis pregnancy center). • Begin carrying gospel materials* with you, and pray for opportunities to share them. 62–46 NEED LOTS OF IMPROVEMENT. You need to rethink your priorities in relation to the lost world. • Listen to “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” by Ray Comfort (LivingWaters.com). • Hang a copy of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) in a place where you can see it daily. • Post your story of becoming a Christian on social media, as a public witness. 45–31 TIME TO GET STARTED. You need to begin obeying the Great Commission. • Pray that God will give you a burden for the lost world and a heart of love for people. Begin by selecting one person who is not a Christian, and commit to pray daily until they accept Jesus. • Find a believer who you know shares Christ with others, and ask to spend some time with them. • Read and pray about Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Acts 1:8; and Matthew 5:14-16. *Starter Ideas: Books: Revolution in World Missions by K. P. Yohannan; The Lost Art of Disciple-Making by Leroy Eims; Operation World by Patrick Johnstone; Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson; Perspectives on the World Christian Movement by Ralph Winter. Update Lists: India Gospel League (IGLWorld.org), Voice of the Martyrs (Persecution.com), WorldHelp (WorldHelp.net), Life Action (LifeAction.org), Cru (cru.org), Wycliffe Bible Translators (Wycliffe.org), and many other organizations dedicated to completing the Great Commission. Ask your pastor for more recommendations. Gospel Materials: LivingWaters.com; also, ask your church for ideas.
The One Thing
ne of my favorite images in the Bible is of
shocked disciples staring into the clouds after Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Having just been witness to the greatest victory over evil in world history, having just watched the crucified and now resurrected Christ eat and drink with them, having just received a commission to carry His message to “the ends of the earth” . . . well, that’s about all these guys could handle! But then—Jesus climbed a mountain and ascended into the sky, with a promise to return in like manner! So there they are, staring up, processing all the impossible events they’ve just been a part of, when to top it off a few angels appear and rebuke them: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here gazing into the sky?” In other words, “Jesus just gave you a job to do—get to it!” The rest is book-of-Acts history. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and empowered them to share the gospel everywhere. The transformation was so complete that the same men who had denied Christ and scattered upon His arrest were now infused with boldness to stand before kings and priests, even in the face of violent persecution! The presence of the Holy Spirit moved them from learners to leaders in the kingdom of God. I’m praying for the same kind of outpouring today. I don’t think we need another Pentecost—we know the Spirit is with us. But we need today to yield to His authority in our lives. Many of us have become hearers rather than doers of the Word of God. It’s time to cry out for revival, to ask the Spirit to fill us afresh with His power; then, in His grace, to complete the Great Commission in our generation. When I first started using this terminology, “complete the Great Commission,” I had people coming up to me saying things like, “I’ve never thought of it that way before. But it is actually our job to do that, isn’t it?” Yes! It’s the primary reason why you and I are on earth today, rather than enjoying heaven. In partnership with the Holy Spirit, we’re supposed to be holding out the Word of life to a lost world, as Revelation 22:17 explains: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Some of us have erred theologically on this issue— we’ve thought that gospel work was “all Spirit” or “all Bride,” and that’s led a lot of people to do powerless
things, or to do nothing at all. But for most of us, the problem isn’t in our heads; it’s in our hearts. We’ve known about the Great Commission, our pastors have taught it to us, and we’ve even supported a few ministries dedicated to that end. But we haven’t yet taken personal responsibility for its completion. And so, as time moves forward, people are living and dying around us, often without hearing the Good News. They might hear about our churches, our ministries, or our historical influences, but they haven’t really heard the gospel. Statistics reveal that more than a billion people on earth will likely not hear of Jesus in their lifetimes, if current trends continue. So let’s change course! Let’s not allow “current trends” to continue. I’m proposing that we pray and act boldly toward the full completion of the Great Commission in our generation—that you and I would awake one morning soon to learn that every last person on planet Earth has been presented with the gospel. I’m proposing that whatever heartbeats you and I have remaining, we give them to the Great Commission. I don’t know what Jesus will say to us on Judgment Day. I tremble to think. But here’s a question I expect, in one form or another: “Did you do the one thing I left you on earth to do? Did you complete your Great Commission?” What will you say, if Jesus asks you that? v
Did you do
the one thing I left you on earth to do?
Daniel W. Jarvis
P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 269-697-8600 • www.LifeAction.org
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Life Action Ministries
Igniting Movements of Authentic Christianity Life Action Ministries exists to mobilize believers everywhere to seek God for spiritual awakening, and to help them experience God’s power and presence. Our family of outreaches is igniting movements of Christ-centered revival among God’s people in innovative, life-changing ways.
Published on May 22, 2013
The reason God has left us on earth today is simple: to complete His Great Commission. This issue of Revive explores the call of God on each...