There are those with ready hoses, gavels or stones. And there are those with water, bread, and faith.
There are those who are drawn to controversy. And, those who keep in focused obedience, after Christ.
I shudder now, when I think of times that I put my opinions on God's ways, and later felt the sting of his precious humiliation.
The Bible has put us on notice. There will be wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) and false signs and wonders coming to deceive even the elect, if possible (Mark 13).
Scripture warns us about religious legalism and witchcraft. We're warned against quenching God's Spirit. And, on the other end, we are warned about discerning counterfeits. Two ditches on either side of a "revival" (discernable by fruit, over time.) So, how should we, as disciples, respond to what has started in Asbury, Texas?
It's not wrong to pause, wait and see. Actually, We are commanded to test the spirits. But, if we really care about rescuing souls from the fire with Christ's love and grace, then we aren't dictating our biases about how and when God does that. We are, instead, walking out the door with our instructions from the kingdom to carry the gospel to the lost. We were snatched from the fire, ourselves, remember.
2 Peter 2:18 tells us to beware of the sensuality of emotionalism that dupes people into a false sense of security with the Lord, where there has been no real repentance. But, if we're spending more time drawing fast lines in sand, nitpicking, or thinking about theological arguments to discredit revival, the church or other Christians, than we are ministering the gospel, we've lost the plot. I pray that the fear of the Lord will strike me dumb, before I disparage something he's doing, from his higher wisdom.
If I am "factious" about God stuff, it's not because I'm zealous. It's because I'm fleshly. (See Titus 3:10)
2 Timothy 2 instructs us to avoid even tuning in to controversy. (Goodbye comments, threads!) I had a lust for controversy. Theological controversy, especially (the most insidious kind.) The world says that knowledge is power! So, I thought that I needed to get to the bottom of all the things of God, because I was establishing certainty in my own righteousness and knowledge, rather than in Christ's finished work: Perfect justification.
Knowledge can be a trap. Actually, acting upon the world's belief that "knowledge is power" was the sin that bought God's wrath upon humanity. (Genesis 2). God's word tells us that knowledge is heavy. And vanity. (Eccl. 12:12) Obeying God's wisdom is where life is at (Proverbs 9:12). Praise God, that he gives us his holy ferocity to wage war against our flesh, sin and the pouncing of hell that hates the true things of God.
We should have our hands full, wrestling our own pride, fear, feelings and opinions. They are the enemy we need to fight. I don't know about you, but taking my thoughts captive to Jesus is a full time job. 😂 The fear of the Lord changed me. He convicts me to resist an impulse to drop my shield and pick up a firehose, just because he's bringing people to himself in a way that I disagree with. Or, because wolves are circling. Satan is always prowling around what God is up to. And, God is always using what he means for evil, for good.
God doesn't need our help, here. He wants our obedience.
We're instructed to test the spirits and to mark and avoid falsehood if and when we are darn sure about it (Romans 16). Satan, the accuser of the brethren, loves to have us wasting time accusing, rather than catching the wind of God's grace for our neighbor, who needs to hear about Jesus (Ephesians 5). It's far easier to criticize than evangelize. But, lofty skepticism gives the illusion of holiness with none of the discomfort that the Bible says actually produces Jesus in us.
When the stormwinds of persecution blow, it will serve to spread the real eternal fire of God and snuff out false flames. We won't have the luxury of debate about differences or to classify denominations. Persecution has a way of discarding our attempt to make faith more complex than it is by distilling the gospel down to its simple core: Faith in Christ. Persecution forces people to make a choice about Who they are serving. It reveals either faith . . . or idolatry. Persecution is a kind of "get in or get out" refiner's fire that will sort the wheat from the tares.
(See Matthew 13, and 15)
Revival is, biblically, repentance. A change of mind that Christ is Lord. Being brought out of darkness of sin and oppression and into the light of freedom and righteousness.
Referring back to the first sin, revival can look like choosing not to be wise in our own eyes anymore.(Prov. 3) Have we ever assumed God's throne to bang his gavel about his business? Are we omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent? Praise God, that we are not.
The Spirit of God produces the kind of repentance that causes us to drop the hoses of our unbelieving and cyncical assessments and draw away to prayer and obedience instead. It's the purest revival, when we die to ourselves, so that we can live in Jesus.
What is the predatorial impulse to pounce on testimonies about God's goodness and grace, if not demonic? Are we properly testing the spirits, as we are instructed? That move - dampening reactivity is a spirit worth testing, too, friends.
I may often be wrong, but reading the Bible scares me away from being quick to put my opinions on God's ways. And, from staying silent when he's asked me to speak. We are in confusing times. We need to know the Lord, intimately. We need to know the Word. We need to hold center. He sorts out the rest.
"If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." Proverbs 18:13
But I know the religious spirit of the Pharisee, personally. I have met it. I used to serve it. I'm so grateful that God brought me out of dehydration. In my experience with spiritual warfare and deliverance, this one is more vindictive, nasty and foul than any other spirit I've yet to deal with. Like, a dementor is present. But, with more bite. It sucks the life right out of you. Matthew 12, Jesus calls those who are casting doubt upon his power, generosity and decisions, "You brood of vipers!" Yikes.
I read in the gospels about how Jesus responds to doubt and criticism about his activities. I don't want to be on the other end of that. (Matthew 23, 12:26) I don't know about you, but I want to err on the side of faith. On belief that God's word will not return to him void, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent, just as rain produces a harvest. (Isa. 55) I want to respond with faith that all of thousands of tears for the lost, that so many have sown into bedroom floors, car dashboards and sidewalks, will sprout life in the lap of a Savior who is faithful.
"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9)