Theme: Doctrine and Structure in times of revival
“Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:5
The deadline for my next article in Joy! Magazine was fast approaching and I still didn’t know what to write. I asked my wife Pat and she said, “Why not write about what to do when we just aren’t feeling on fire and ‘revivalized’?” Ok, so what do we do? For anyone who has been a Christian for many years this can be a real issue at times. Well, Jesus had something to say about it.
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The first church Jesus addressed in the book of Revelation was Ephesus. He admonished them to remember their condition when they first came to know Him. He described this as a spiritual height and told them bluntly that they had fallen from this state. Then He gave them the antidote to their condition. ‘Repent and do the things you did at first’.
Revival is a word we use to describe when the glory of God returns with power to His church. However, it has a human side; revival is also when the people of God return to Him. The sovereign Lord initiates revival and fuels revival but we, the children of God, need to respond with an exercise of our wills and energy.
Firstly we need to repent. Now, repentance is essentially a change of mind. We realise that we are falling short of God’s expectations of us and we decide to change. When we realise our apathetic condition we do feel sorry and remorseful, but this is of little value unless it leads to a decision to be different.
Once the decision is made, we then need to act. But what are we supposed to do? Jesus’ answer to this question is “Do the things you did at first.” So, what did I do when I first came to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord? Here are a few of the things that occupied a lot of my time. I read the Bible with expectant spiritual and intellectual hunger. If it was a loaf of fresh bread I would have eaten it all. Actually, it was fresh spiritual bread to me, and so I consumed it mentally and spiritually. Whenever I met mature Christians I would invite them to have a cup of coffee with me and then I would ply them with a barrage of questions about the Bible. Why, what, howcome, please explain and run-that-by-me-again-please.
I also witnessed to my family and friends about my relationship with Jesus. I wrote long serial letters to my sisters who both lived in another city to me. One responded positively and soon came to know Jesus for herself. I sent the other sister a Bible and a long letter but she returned the Bible and told me to … well, it’s not polite to repeat what she wrote.
I loved going to church services, and fellowship group meetings. I wanted to get involved so I taught the youth and played in the worship group. I spent time talking to Jesus and He often responded with miraculous acts of kindness that astounded me.
These are the things I did at first.
Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus highlight the link between doctrine and practice. Doctrine = Repent; Practice = Do the things you did at first. Revival is not just a time when we sense the glorious presence of God in a powerfully life-giving way; it is also when we hear His call to change and respond with obedient spirit-filled actions.