Wed-4-Revival Reed DePace September 9, 2020
A Weekly Prayer Devotional Seeking God
to Pour Out His Spirit in Revival on Us[*]
A Harvest of Horror
Watching our nation struggle under unrest that rivals the worst she’s ever experienced, I can’t help but wonder at the degree to which the Church mirrors the ills of our culture. Civil America is experiencing ominous divisions, with some new “atrocity” slamming into the body politic before we have even caught our breath from the last.
In the Church, who would have ever thought that “to open or not to open” would ever be “the question”!? As college students find out learning from the bedrooms works just fine, one third of church goers see no need to ever go to worship again. And if their internet goes down, well that’s just God giving them a day off from church, isn’t it? Remember the proverbial story about the church that split into two over the color of the new carpet? How has whether to wear a mask or not become the latest righteous reason to leave your church? What is going on?
Don't be misled-- you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. (Gal 6:7-8 NLT)
The church has allowed a flawed and false gospel to take root in her worship, discipleship, and witness. This is why she is reaping this bountiful harvest of worldly corruption and destruction.
Many evangelical churches now expect the Spirit to show up with new signs/acts of revelation. Not the ordinary ministry of illumination, this is expecting the Spirit to provide worshipers with enabling/empowering personal revelation. Proving that the Spirit has indeed “spoken” to the person, they provide evidence by way of “sign” gifts. The second generation Pentecostal expressions of tongues and frenetic movement (more consistent with demonic possession than biblical expression) is now passé. From fire tunnels to Balrog staff slamming, to the time tested (plastic) gold dust and (chicken) angel feathers floating from the ceiling (via the hvac vents), in about 60% of the evangelical churches in our land, this is what passes for biblical worship used by the Spirit: outlandish claims of personal revelation accompanied with outlandish displays of (fake) signs/wonders.
Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Mt 7:20)
The results of such worship are stunningly bountiful – in terms of absolutely rank paganism masquerading as Spirit-led worship. Things have reached the point where most of this verse is already present:
And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. (Dt 18:10b-11)
What these churches call worship is nothing but the paganized worship of the Amorites and Canaanites. This is happening – in the evangelical church! Meanwhile, the ordinary means of grace methods and modes of worship that the Spirit promises to use, where are they? If you’re experience is anything like mine, you may never have heard the phrase “means of grace”. Even if you had, it was most likely treated as some obscure, no longer relevant doctrine. No wonder that in otherwise biblically sound churches one third find no need to gather for worship?
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of [Jesus’] return is drawing near. (Heb 10:24b-25)
We’ve allowed a flawed and false gospel to infest our worship, and we’re reaping its bountiful harvest.
The same noxious spiritual weed has been allowed to take root in our discipleship and witness. In discipleship, teaching someone to follow Jesus in godliness and holiness has given way to self-image therapy. Biblical discipleship is focused on helping believers understand their depravity, how Jesus overcomes it, and how the Spirit enables them to put off sin/put on Christ through the ordinary means of grace. Yet the common focus of evangelical discipleship is on how to help a person overcome their troubles and fulfill their own sense of destiny. Such discipleship is never about sin within, but always sin without (i.e., other people). It is never about sinful desires but wrong thinking. Such discipleship denies all that Jesus taught about the necessity of dying to self, and living by the Spirit who makes Christ daily present through the ordinary means of grace.
Similarly, the evangelical church has let this virulent spiritual weed overrun its witness. No longer do we present the simple message of Jesus that begins with a full-throated explication of sin and its eternally deadliness, answered by the wonderful hope of repentance and faith in Jesus. Instead the witness of our churches has become marked by offering people a palliative for their relational aches and pains. Tell someone they are a sinner, and biblically defining that phrase is out. Telling them Jesus has a wonderful plan for their life, and that if they will just do their best he will do the rest, is in.
And in both discipleship and witness, the bountiful harvest is also telling. Increased sexual immorality, rebellion against parents, adultery and divorce, slavery to the most degrading depravities, all these and a host of unmentionable debasing debaucheries are finding themselves flourishing in the souls of those receiving the self-image therapy discipleship of our churches. Worse, people are being lured into making professions of faith in a flawed and false gospel. Striving for years (under the toxic worship and discipleship), in time these abandon Christ. Evangelical churches in their discipleship and witness are increasingly becoming makers of sons of hell (aka “nones”):
You cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! (Mt 23:15b)
This is not the first time Satan has managed to sow his demonic seed in the Church. As in the past, he will not succeed this time either:
And the day will come when I will cause the ancient glory of Israel to revive, and then, Ezekiel, your words will be respected. Then they will know that I am the LORD… So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. (Ezk 29:21 Mt 9:38)
This is why we consider these bountiful harvests of degradation in the church: because God has yet promised to bring revival on his people, and (re)build his church in the pure gospel that leaves them rejoicing in Jesus! There is a bountiful recovery yet waiting for us. Let us go to him and ask in simple faith and repentance. He will amen!
Dear Lord, a flawed and false gospel has taken root in your church in our land. See the horrifying harvest that is upon us and do what you’ve promised: to bring revival, to us and our family/friend/neighbors/strangers.
Restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. Pour out Your Spirit in revival on us. To Your glory, together with Your Father and Your Spirit, we ask, Amen.
[*] This weekly prayer devotional focuses our attention on some aspect of our need for the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our church. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (Ps 85:6)? For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isa 44:3-4). Pick a 15 to 30-minute time-block in your schedule over the next week and use this devotional to focus your prayers. As you can, consider fasting from a meal and using that time to pray for revival in our church.