The Start of a Spiritual Revival?
Vol: 140 Issue: 20 Monday, May 20, 2013
Many Bible prophecy teachers anticipate a world-wide Christian revival in the last days, but just as many others believe it will be a spiritual or religious revival instead.
On the Day of Pentecost, at the birth of the Christian Church, Peter explained the miracle that took place when they preached and everyone who heard them heard the message in their own tongue;
“But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:” (Acts 2:16-19)
In Scripture, the ‘last days’ refers to the whole of the Church Age, in the sense that it began with the Ascension of Jesus and it will end with His return at the Rapture. But the ‘last days’ have a starting point, and they have an ending point.
“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
Since Jesus could have returned at any time, in any generation, from the days of the Apostles until this moment, the ‘last days’ refer to the Dispensation before the Milliennial Kingdom is set up according to Isaiah 66.
So those who argue for a ‘last days’ Christian revival conclude that, just as the Church swelled at its birth at Pentecost, so too, will it swell with believers just before Jesus’ return, as part of the general connecting of all the dots and tying up all the referential loose ends.
Those who argue AGAINST a true Christian revival in the last days point to the Scriptures for the last days that warn of a great ‘falling away’ and the rise of an apostate Church in last days.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (1 Timothy 4:1)
They argue that the spiritual revival of the last days refers to the counterfeit religion of Revelation 13:11:
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”
No matter which view you take, revival is in the news. A recent column published in Insight on the News carried the title, “Analysis: Start of a Spiritual Revival?”
The column relies on the findings of Christian pollster George Barna, who has determined “that we are witnessing a slow but steady development of more traditional religious behavior in the Western states.”
According to Barna’s survey, the share of adults reporting they had read from the Bible during the last week — not including Sunday service — rose from 37 percent in 1994 to 44 percent this year.
It was in this category that the increase was most noteworthy in California, Oregon and Washington state, where Bible study among residents rose from 29 to 44 percent in the last decade.
Similarly, participation in small groups for prayer, Bible study and fellowship shot up from 11 percent to 26 percent in the West, Barna reported. Nationwide, it rose from 12 percent to 20 percent.
But at the same time, Barna found, weekly church attendence has remained relatively stagnant over the same period. It also found that those who say they shared their faith with non-believers fell between 1999 and 2004 from 58% to 55%.
It would seem, from Barna’s polls, that the revival sweeping America is divided into two factions. Barna calls them, the ‘Mainstream’ Church, and the ‘Parachurch’. Bible study groups have more than doubled, but weekly organized church attendence is flat. The signs of the times have many people seeking Jesus, but they are bypassing pre-packaged religion and going directly to the Bible.
And no wonder. In many mainstream churches, God has many names, including Allah, or Buddha, as well as Jesus Christ. The Bible, as a doctrinal source, is secondary to church law or tradition. There are mainstream churches that embrace homesexuality, others that question the Deity of Christ, and still more that reject doctrines like the Virgin Birth.
Leaders of mainstream ‘Christian’ denominations have gone on record as doubting the Death and Resurrection.
There are two forms of Christianity in the world today. The cultural Christianity of the mainstream, and the growing Bible Christianity of the parachurch.
While the fields are truly ‘white with the harvest’ the labourers within the parachurch of one-on-one evangelists remain few, and the competition is fierce.
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” Jesus said. (Matthew 7:14)
The enemy wants to keep that gate locked. That is the reason for the existence of the Omega Letter. To teach people how to teach people to find the key.
We are living in the last of the last days, and the responsibility we bear on our collective shoulders is enormous.
“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)
Note: This weekend some friends came over with disheartening news. Their church is closing. Many of the churches in our area have recently closed their doors. Some of these churches blame finances and allude to church attendance, apathy and just plain discouragement for the shut downs. Although this brief was written in 2004, its’ forecast for the upcoming days (now) is pretty accurate. The call for watchmen is ever more important as many, many of our prophecy teachers are being called Home.
Today’s Featured Commentary: Head in the Clouds