My Vision

There is a great difference of opinion in Christianity as to what, exactly, it is to be. There are those who see it as an evolving thing, adapting itself in each generation and in each culture to the felt needs of the times, organizing and re-organizing itself in response to those ‘needs.’ Then, there are those who see it as a static thing whose mission is to reproduce an acceptable (to God and good reason) duplicate of First Century Christianity in each century and in each culture.

To those who see it as an evolving organism, the Christianity of our day is doing perfectly fine, even thriving and growing. After all, we have some of the largest church buildings that have ever been built, some of the largest congregations that have ever been assembled, preachers who speak to more people via mass communications each week than some of the most prolific Christian speakers of history addressed in a lifetime. Money is flowing into religion at an amazing clip and is being spent just as amazingly. Church and para-church organizations have presences in almost every country on the planet and are organizing congregations of ‘Christians’ everywhere. Yes, if the modern view is the correct view Christianity is prospering and doing quite well.

If, however, the ‘static’ view is correct, if Christianity is to reproduce an acceptable replica of First Century Christianity in every place and every time in which it finds itself, there is a problem. The organism (or should I say ‘organization’?) that we see calling itself ‘Christianity’ today is far different than the model we find in the New Testament. In fact, the two are so dissimilar that some find it strange that they even are called by the same name.

Those early congregations busied themselves concerning the truths of God, the reformation of their lives according to His Word, and the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to their culture: ‘repent or perish.’ Their budgets were tiny. Their preachers were not seminary graduates. There was no television nor internet. The cultures in which they existed so hated their message that they were often persecuted or put to death because of it. And, still, they not only radically reformed their own lives but changed the world with their godly example and their message. God’s Spirit attended what they did and made their impact infinitely more powerful than it could ever have been apart from Him. They believed the Word of God, surrendered themselves without reservation to obedience to it, adored the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and the Lord drew thousands to them to be discipled into the Kingdom of God.

Now here is the thing that history teaches us. As the church ‘matured’ it changed. Men began to change and re-organize it according to their ‘felt needs.’ As they did, the Spirit of God backed away from blessing in the way He had at the beginning. Oh, the churches still grew but it was now more because of the methodologies and organizational skills of men than the moving of the Holy Spirit. Continuing down this path, the church began to grow corrupt, more centered upon men than upon God. Power struggles, infighting, and the consolidation of power produced an ever more centralized organization which grew steadily more perverse and moved radically away from the early model.

Some people recognized the error that had befallen the church and worked to reform it to a more biblical model but they were seen as enemies, as ‘heretics,’ and as dangerous criminals. To the degree that it influenced civil power the ‘Church’ persecuted, hounded, and at times even executed those dangerous souls. But where such small congregations could be founded and to the degree that they reformed themselves to the model of the First Century, the Holy Ghost came and blessed in power those faithful people, giving them many blessings, converting many in their communities, and conforming them to the teachings of Christ.

As we look back across history, regardless of what century into which we drop ourselves, we find this same struggle going on. Some are working at ‘evolving’ the church into a better organizational scheme and fighting to maintain what they have, continuing on a march toward an ever-larger everything. Others are working at building on the New Testament model and finding the assistance of the Power of God to do so. At times, the Holy Spirit would seem to move on an entire region, awakening and calling to repentance (and to the biblical model) hosts of people at nearly the same time. ‘Revivals’ (as we have now learned to call them) would break out and thousands would be converted. But the ‘Church Proper’ would frequently move to suppress, co-opt, or otherwise put to an end such things. Nevertheless, the old ‘static’ model of the New Testament church continued to live and, at times (under the blessing of God) prosper.

Each ‘Revival’ or ‘Awakening’ had something in common. Some individual or group of dear souls became burdened concerning the state of religion in their time. They began to pray that God would move and help them... and God would visit. The lives of common people would fall powerfully under the influence of God’s word, often connected with the powerful preaching of a man or group of men raised up by God. The people became convinced that life contrary to the Revealed Will of God was wicked and doomed to be rewarded with horrible and eternal punishment. They heeded the admonition of Jesus Christ to ‘repent’ and cast off their wicked behaviors, attitudes and dispositions. They grouped together in congregations to hear the Word of God taught in simplicity and in truth. And they lived their lives according to what they were being taught. It was obvious that something was happening to them that only the Power of God could do.

Fast forward now to the early nineteenth century. The previous century had seen a powerful move of the Spirit of God like those described above. Some undertook to reproduce that movement and, indeed, some powerful things happened and, undoubtedly, many were converted. But new and bizarre things began to occur as well which led to the upstart of several unorthodox denominations and the introduction of corruptions into some of the mainstream denominations. This movement is generally called The Second Great Awakening. "New Methods" of preaching, evangelizing, even conducting church services themselves were powerfully and permanently introduced to what we now know as Evangelical Christianity. Along with these "New Methods" was also introduced the concept that men might freely innovate on biblical models in order to discover what "worked" in gaining ever greater numbers of converts. The process of ‘evolution’ had now been adopted by those who had previously worked for ‘restoration.’ And a process was begun that has given us this wonderful New Christianity that we see all around us today. The biblical and ‘static’ model had been replaced in almost all corners of Christianity with the ‘evolutionary’ model.

I will not launch into a tirade here against what I am seeing as the modern results of this influence. If you have enough interest in the things of God to have studied the matter of Revival at all, you know what we are facing.

If you believe in and seek for Awakening and Revival in our time, then you must understand that we must ‘turn back the clock’ in our minds, seeking a much older model than the one that has been held up to us as the ideal. We must divest ourselves of the corruptions that we absorbed by having been brought into Christianity downstream of Charles G. Finney, those like him, and those who have taken him as their model.

We must seek the restoration of the church to the ‘static’ model that has always been blessed by God and forsake completely the idea that Christianity ‘evolves.’

We must seek the restoration of Biblical Christianity in our souls, learning to believe, pray, worship and preach according to the examples and instructions of scriptures, forgetting and rejecting the ‘new methods’ that have been devised by men and taught to us as the ideal. We must lock ourselves to the Word of God and take up in our souls the admonition of Isaiah, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." 8:20, KJV

We must, as the writer of Hebrews admonishes us, "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," 12:1, KJV

We must seek and find the Face of God for ourselves through prayer, the study of His Word, and the complete giving of ourselves over to Him. The Face of God is revealed to us in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, "who loved us and gave Himself for us." We must completely surrender ourselves to Him as servants "bought with a price," seeking in every way to live out His instructions and the examples His apostles left behind.

2 Thess 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. KJV (‘disorderly’ means ‘out of step’ or ‘out of rank’)

We have every reason to expect and believe that the Spirit of God might enable us to do such a thing, that He might visit and bless our efforts, and that He might use us in yet another Awakening.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Prayer Meetings01

Unfortunately, we live in a day when churches have rarely been visited by the Spirit of God in power.  As a result, there is a dimness of vision concerning what Awakening might mean and what it might produce.  Thankfully, God has provided us with records of times past when He did visit His people.  Consider the following quote from "The Year of Grace," by William Gibson, 1860.

"Frequently our prayer-meetings have experienced a sudden, mysterious, overpowering impulse, swaying the whole assembly as one man, and leaving all weeping, praying, rejoicing.  Men have felt as if the Lord had breathed upon them.  They were first affected with awe and fear---then they were bathed in tears---then filled with love unspeakable.  Such a scene as this occurred about a month ago in the midst of the ordinary services of the Sabbath."

Such events remind us that the power of God is largely absent from our church meetings, that we are far down the road toward the Laodicean spirit if not outright apostasy.  Records like this should bathe our hearts with a longing for the Return of the Spirit of God.  Our hearts should ache with desire for such times.  We should not consider them as relics of a bygone day, unattainable to us, nor should we consider them the errors of an ignorant and primitive people.  These people were led by good, godly and well-trained men who recognized that they had indeed been witness to the outpoured Grace of our Mighty God.


  1. If that is a prayer meeting, then they are in very short supply in our day. We are satisfied to say words, but it seems that they were not satisfied with anything less than the presence of God. We think we have finished praying when we have come to the end of our words or the end of our set time, but they were not satisfied until God was present.

    "Men have felt as if the Lord had breathed on them." May the Lord breathe on us.

  2. Submitted by Curtis Knapps.

    Amen to everything you have written on the blog. I am reading Walter Chantry's book "Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?" In the intro he writes,

    "Those who believe in God's Word have been grasping at the same superficial solutions that liberalism has adopted. Relevance, respectability (whether intellectual or social), and especially unity have become the aims of God's people with the hope that these will revitalize a weakened church. 'If only all Bible-believing people join together, the world will sit up and listen,' thinks the church. Let's merge our mission boards to pool our funds and our personnel. Let's join giant evangelistic projects. If every evangelical joins in a common organization, we can have greater depth of evangelism. Thus organizational unity becomes the aim of gospel churches. Having accepted the theory that unity is all-important for world evangelism, both the church and the individual must lower their estimate of the value of truth. In a large congress on evangelism we could not insist on a truth of God's Word that would offend any brother evangelical. Thus we must find the lowest common denominator to which all born-again Christians hold. The rest of the Bible will be labeled 'unessential' for missions. After all, unity (among Christians) is more essential than doctrinal preciseness. It is just for this reason that mission societies have been unwilling carefully to examine the root problem in preaching. Mission boards are hesitant to answer the question, 'What is the gospel?' Thoroughly to answer that would condemn what many of their own missionaries preach. It would destroy the mission society, which is a federation of churches who have differing answers to that question. To adopt the position of one church would be to lose the support of five others. The whole system built on unity and generality would crumble. The local church may not get too specific about truth either. It may affect its harmony with the denomination or association. To define the gospel carefully will bring conflict with the organizations working with teenagers. It will prompt irritating problems with mission boards and embarrassing disagreement with missionaries supported for years. It may condemn the whole Sunday School programme. Giving too much attention to the content of the gospel will mean friction with other evangelicals. And unity is the key to success."

    Sermons found at