Theme: Doctrine and structure in times of revival
“In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its damaged walls. From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore its former glory.” Amos 9:11
I have been giving a lot of thought recently to the subject of revival – but of course you know this because that’s all I have been writing about lately. However, what I have come to realise is that any true revival must bring with it both restoration and reformation. Amos spoke of restoring David’s fallen tent to its former glory. In Acts 15:16-18 James quoted Amos’ words in the context of the church, and so I feel at liberty to take David’s tent as a type of the church. He used three words to describe what was needed to return David’s tent to its former glory – repairing, rebuilding and restoration. It seems to me that today’s ‘tent’, the church, also needs three things – revival, restoration and reformation.
Revival, in its absolute essence, is the return of the presence of God to the church. Restoration is the return of the key truths of God to the church. Reformation is the return of the structures of God to the church. So, restoration is about doctrine and the way we think.
Of course it makes sense. If the presence of God returns (revival) then restoration of doctrine and reformation of structure must follow. In truth, if these two do not follow then the revival is probably not genuine. God comes with glory to His church to change our thinking and practice.
What then are the key doctrines that need to be restored to the church? All Christian doctrine is important, but what are the few that just MUST dominate our thinking at this time? I believe there are only three – the trustworthiness of the Bible, the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
If we are to comprehend, appreciate, and respond correctly to revival then we must fully accept that the Bible is inspired and authoritative, and therefore fully trustworthy. When God returns to His church in revival some of the first words we hear from His lips are “I tell you the truth”. In David’s fallen tent the theologians argue about the cultural conditioning of scripture, the pastors debate whether or not they can teach tithing and the congregation fusses about how to be prosperous. In David’s rebuilt tent the focus shifts to what the scriptures reveal of Jesus, how we may give our lives to Him and the call to make disciples in His name.
Similarly, there is only one lord of David’s rebuilt tent. It isn’t me, I or even we… it is JESUS. A revived church is full of praise, worship and adoration of Jesus. As Michael W Smith wrote in that great song of his, “It’s all about you Jesus”.
Dependence on the Holy Spirit is the last of the three key restoration doctrines. Pentecostalism focused on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Weslyanism focused on living holy lives by the power of the Spirit, and the Charismatic movement focused on the Gifts of the Spirit. In David’s rebuilt tent the call comes once again to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit: dependence for power, for holiness, for gifts, for fruit and for disciples.
I have been encouraging folk to cry out to God for revival and now I want to add the plea that we also cry out to Him for restoration and reformation. “O Lord, please rebuild David’s fallen tent in our day!”