Tuesday, July 02, 2013

“Revival: Our Great Need”

Insights #1 Jul. 6, 2013
Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Revival: Our Great Need"
For the week of July 6, 2013
     This quarter's lessons are about the experiences of revival and reformation. These experiences should always go together. Reformation has to do with behavioral changes in sanctification. Revival means to bring to life or to restore consciousness or life. It can also involve restoration from a depressed or inactive state to a vigorous, energetic and dynamic life.
     Both revival and reformation are generated by God's word and by His Spirit. We observe this in Peter's first sermon after the outpouring of the Sprit on the day of Pentecost. Peter preached the word and the Holy Spirit applied that word to the minds and hearts of the hearers. Luke tells us that the people listening that day "were cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). Peter preached Christ and Him crucified (Acts 2:22-24, 36) and the hearers became disturbed and convicted, then cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (v 37). Spiritual revival occurred as 3,000 persons were converted that day. The preaching of Christ crucified accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit are essential elements in all genuine revivals and reformations from Peter's day down through the centuries to the present day.
     There may be an emotional revival that is not accompanied by a true revival of life from being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1). Many revivals today are produced by tear jerking stories and by certain kinds of music which appeal only to the emotions. Certainly the emotions are involved in revival, but they must be moved by the Holy Spirit who brings to the mind the conviction of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:8); not by those who know how to manipulate the emotions for a predesigned effect passed off as a conversion or a revival.
     This week's lesson is about revival. The passage used is about Christ's encounter with His Church of Laodicea (that's us) who is in desperate need of revival and reformation (Rev 3:14-22). Let's begin at the beginning with the titles of Christ as they relate to Laodicea.
The Amen
     Jesus begins His counsel as "the Amen." This term is a transliteration from the Hebrew word Aman which is first used in Gen 15:6 after God made a promise to Abraham who in turn  "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness." The word "believed" is the word Aman (or Amen). The word means to build or to be established on a structure such as a firm foundation. Elder Waggoner had this helpful insight:
     "The root of the verb rendered believed, is the word 'Amen.' Its idea is that of firmness, a foundation. When God spoke the promise, Abraham said 'Amen,' or, in other words, he built upon God, taking His word as a sure foundation. (Compare this with Matt. vii. 24, 25)."[1]
     Jesus is the Word of God. Abraham built on Him as the sure Foundation, the Amen. So when Abraham "believed in the Lord," he believed in the Lord Christ Jesus alone. Jesus is the source of all faith. Faith has its beginning and end in Him (Heb 12:2). There is no real faith that does not center in Him. Abraham's personal belief in Christ alone was counted unto him for righteousness – "that which is through the faith of Christ" (Phil 3:9). We too, by building upon God's promises, build upon Christ. As the Amen, Jesus is the one sure foundation who justifies, forgives sins and counts the believer as righteous. This is His message to Laodicea.
The Faithful and True Witness
     The purpose of a Faithful and True Witness is to save. This purpose can only be accomplished as Jesus tells the true condition of Laodicea. He is not a lying witness. Solomon gives us explicit information about witnesses: "A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies" (Prov 14:25). Jesus is specific about Laodicea's condition. Everything He says about her reveals her need for revival.
The Beginning of the Creation of God
     As one without a beginning, Jesus began the creation of God, as God (John 1:1-10). As Creator, He saw the end from the beginning. He knew Laodicea would have to deal with the creation record of Genesis. Some within the church would depart from that record and reject the Biblical account of creation and eventually the Sabbath also with its explicit explanation that "in six days" Christ  "made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them." (Ex 20:11)
Laodicea's Unknown Condition
     Jesus, as the Foundation, the True Witness and the Creator, describes Laodicea's need for revival because of her lukewarm spiritual condition. She is clueless both of her condition and her need of true revival. Her testimony is opposite from that of the "True Witness." She boasts, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" while Jesus says that we are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked" and that we do not know it (Rev 3:17).
     At the General Conference in 1893, some of the people protested that Elder Jones had gone too far when he pressed the issue of not knowing our true condition. He replied,
some thought that I was going entirely too far. They could say, it is well enough when he says, "You are wretched," I say I am wretched. When He says, "You are poor," I say, I am poor. When He says, "You are blind," I say, I am blind. And when He says, "You don't know it," then I am to say, "I know it"? No, no. When He says, "You don't know it," I am to say, "I don't know it." Do not go to putting constructions upon His way. When I say I am wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked and on top of it He says that I don't know it, I say, "Lord, I don't know it." That brings us right to the text we started with that night, "If any man thinketh he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know it."[2]
     Our condition is that of slipping from the Foundation, disbelieving the True Witness and our Creator. The remedy for this condition is heart-felt repentance, without which there can be no revival. The one thing we need is repentance. Because we claim we have no need of anything, repentance is taken completely off the table. All kinds of excuses are brought forth such as: we do not need to repent; we are all right; we accepted and proclaim the 1888 message of righteousness by faith; a church cannot repent. We have need of absolutely nothing; don't even bring it up! Nevertheless, it is the very condition of Laodicea that calls for repentance. Why? Because we are blind to our true condition and to our great need of repentance. The notion to "have need of nothing" means no need of repentance. But Jesus says, in an imperative mood that must not be avoided or evaded: "Repent" (Rev 3:19).
Making God Gag
     The translation "I will spit you out of my mouth" (Rev 3:16) is not an accurate translation of the text. The verb "will" is translated "about to" 22 times in the New Testament with 4 of them in the book of Revelation – 2:10; 8:13; 10:4; 10:7. The word translated "spit" should be "vomit," "throw up," or "be sick." A literal translation would be, "you make me so sick that I am about to throw up." This is the kind of reaction that occurred in the city of Laodicea of old. By the time water from the hot springs of Hieropolis, distributed through the Roman pipes made of terra cotta, came to Laodicea it was lukewarm and contained harmful bacteria. To drink this water would cause a person to gag and tended to make him sick. This illustrates vividly how Jesus feels about Laodicea's halfheartedness.
Dining With Jesus
     Jesus not only diagnosed the problem of Laodicea, He also gives the remedy. This remedy consists of repentance, faith, His garment of righteousness, and eye salve. This will come to pass when we open the door and allow Jesus to dine with us: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3:18-20, KJV). The word "sup" is the same as that used by Jesus in Luke 22:20 and that of Paul in 1 Cor 11: 25 – "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament [covenant, NKJV] in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (1 Cor 11:25).
     By His continually knocking, while standing outside, we have evidence that Jesus initiates His gifts of covenant blessings. He longs for us to participate in them. In dining with Jesus we receive the blessings of the everlasting covenant, which include righteousness, reconciliation, revival and reformation. Do you desire to dine with Jesus? Open the door of your heart. Jesus placed the handle on the inside. He initiates and we participate.
-Jerry Finneman
[1] E.J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant (1900), p. 67.
[2] A.T. Jones The General Conference Bulleting, February 7, 1893, p. 179.

Raul Diaz