Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What do we need to experience revival?

There are many people today saying that nothing short of revival will save America. There's no doubt that our nation has turned far from God and the clear teaching of Scripture. In his inaugural address to Congress newly-elected President George Washington warned that "We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."

A nation that turns its back on God and biblical teachings can only expect turmoil and chaos, and that certainly describes the age in which we are living. Throughout Scripture God promises to bless the nation that honors Him and to curse those nations that turn away from Him to serve other gods. No nation can turn away from God and expect to prosper. Every great nation that has abandoned God has fallen, and only the arrogant can believe that our fate will be any different if we do not, as a nation, experience a revival that turns our hearts back to God.

Of course, before a nation can experience a revival such a revival must first occur in the church. The lukewarmness found in many churches will never spark a national revival. You can't start a fire with wet wood, and the wood in many of our churches is wet. Go into many churches and you'll find uninspired worship, dull sermons that fail to speak to anything that people are experiencing, a lack of passion for God, little awareness of sound doctrine, and a refusal to evangelize. Until the church is revived there can be no national revival.

What is needed for such a revival? Many are calling for prayer, and certainly prayer is an important component of any revival. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 if you want to know how to pray for revival.

Along with praying for revival the church must recapture a sound theology. I recently finished reading The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson. They correctly state that "the renewal of the church depends on a renewal of the church's theology." Too many in the church lack an understanding of even basic theology, and their lifestyles reflect this. They do not know how to incorporate their Christian faith into their life choices and behaviors.

Good theology will not always be considered politically correct, and many will be offended by it. Preach it anyway. Some religious leaders have abandoned sound theology preferring instead to tickle the ears of their listeners with messages that are more politically correct. They will criticize you. Preach it anyway. Some heavy financial supporters will threaten to leave. Preach it anyway.

Hiestand and Wilson remind their readers repeatedly that the pastor is the primary theological teacher in a congregation. Teaching sound theology is the responsibility of the pastor. This means that we must first have a solid understanding of biblical theology before we can teach it to others. This requires that we be lifelong learners and that we spend the time each week necessary to prepare theologically sound messages.

America will never turn back to God until the church first humbles itself, confesses its own sins, prays, and recaptures sound, biblical theology. Those of us in pastoral ministry must lead the way.

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