Friday, July 19, 2013

The Word: Foundation of Revival”

-- Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
                     The Word: Foundation of Revival"
For the week of July 20, 2013

The Word: Foundation of Revival The objective of our lesson this week is to find the role of God's Word in Laodicea's revival, which, as the title states, is the foundation.  If the Word is the foundation, then, it stands that revival is built on the Word, which is the means of its stability.  We can reason that the Word precedes revival; therefore let us begin by first establishing what we mean by revival and afterward look at how the Word is related to it.  To do this, let's review what we have studied thus far about revival, and see how God's word is an integral part.

As we know, the title of our quarterly is Revival and Reformation. The title is an obvious reference to an Ellen G. White quote in the first book of Selected Messages. Unfortunately, the authors (or contributing authors) quote the first sentence, "A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs" (1SM, 121), while ignoring the rest of the quote. Sadly, what has been omitted obstructs our understanding of what revival entails. Let us read,

"While the people are so destitute of God's Holy Spirit, they cannot appreciate the preaching of the Word; but when the Spirit's power touches their hearts, then the discourses given will not be without effect." (1SM, 121)

Ellen White implies that revival is what happens when we allow the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts.  She states that "There is a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from the spiritual death" (RH Feb. 25, 1902).  Consequently, what we have previously not understood now makes sense; what we thought was foolishness now is wise; what we thought was mundane and uninteresting, now is precious. A change is made in our thoughts, and we repent.  It is no wonder that Ellen White says regarding revivals, "Repentance is the first step that must be taken by all who would return to God... We must individually humble our souls before God …" (Conflict and Courage, 145). 

In this sense, David is a great example of revival.  We are familiar with the story of David's adulterous affair with Bathsheba, along with his subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11). In His mercy, the Lord sent Nathan, the prophet, with a rebuke in the form of a story (2 Samuel 12; 1). The word of the prophet, which was the message of God to David, was like a sword that pierced his heart. With clarity, David saw the evil of his actions, and knew with certainty he not only wronged Uriah and Bathsheba, but sinned against God. With deep soul agony and contrition, David cried out to God for mercy, pardon and cleansing. (2 Sam. 12:13; Ps. 51:1-3, 4).

David said he confessed his transgressions to the Lord, and the Lord forgave him the iniquity of his sin; and the Lord comforted him in his affliction and quickened him with the Word. (Ps. 32:5; Ps. 119:50). The Hebrew word for "quickened" means: to revive. Therefore, David was revived.

Revival is also what happened to those who were preached to by Peter in Acts 2.  When Peter preached to them of Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2), he made sure he told the people that, "He was the one whom you crucified."  Luke tells us that the people listening that day "were cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). Hearing the truth, they became disturbed and convicted; they cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do" (Acts 2: 37)?  God's word through Peter, by the Holy Spirit's power, had led these men to repentance and thus revival; this was the early church's experience

Shortly after the Seventh-day Adventist church was established, Ellen White was led by God to emphasize to us the need for revival. She stated that we were the end time church of Revelation 3, Laodicea. A description of this church is given in verse 17 - self-confident, complacent, apathetic, and spiritually indifferent.  In contrast, Laodicea believes that she is in need of nothing, and that God is pleased with her performance and attainments. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, God is so nauseated  with Laodicea's condition, that He is having dry heaves, which makes Him want to vomit (Revelation 3:16). It is Laodicea's condition, not Laodicea herself that is so revolting to God. His desire is to restore her, for the longer she remains in her condition the more He is unable to stomach her. It pains Him that the one whom He loves would rather destroy herself than to receive the cure for her ailment. For this reason, His warning to her is strong. He loves her so much that He does not want to let her go. (Revelation 3:19); Therefore, is it is no surprise that He gives the simple remedy to Laodicea – "buy of Me…"  Ellen White sums it up beautifully,

"Jesus is going from door to door, standing in front of every soul-temple, proclaiming, 'I stand at the door, and knock.' As a heavenly merchantman, He opens His treasures, and cries, 'Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.' The gold He offers is without alloy, more precious than that of Ophir; for it is faith and love. [With the] white raiment He invites the soul to wear is His own robes of righteousness, and the oil for anointing is the oil of His grace, which will give spiritual eyesight to the soul in blindness and darkness, that he may distinguish between the workings of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the enemy. Open your doors, says the great Merchantman, the possessor of spiritual riches, and transact your business with Me. It is I, your Redeemer, who counsels you to buy of me."— Ellen G. White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 7, 1894.

The Word as the means of revival is presented in Laodicea's perscription, as the Gold tried in the fire, which represents 'pure' "Faith activated by love."  And how is faith received? It comes into the mind, and into the life, through the hearing of the Word (Romans 10:17), which is Jesus (John 1:1-3). Thus, from beginning to end, for the Christian, and for the Church, the Word of God is at the center of revival. 
-Raul Diaz
Raul Diaz