To be honest- I let Tanner's message deeply challenge me: What lines do I need to be willing to cross to love Jesus more deeply and glorify God more?
C.S. Lewis mentions this in his book, Miracles:
An impersonal God- well and good.
A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness inside our own heads- better still.
A formless, life surging force...a power we can tap- best of all.
But God himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband- that is quite another matter.....
There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling with religion suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant to come to that! Worse still, supposing that He had found us?
This then is what we desire- we want to move beyond a historical or speculative faith into a saving faith. And the reality is this: it has to be a regenerative work of God's Spirit.
I thought it was interesting that B.B. Warfield saw value in the historical faith. He saw part of apologetics as staging the ground for saving faith. I see this in my work with students. I am not trying to argue them into the kingdom- I am actually demonstrating that my faith is reasonable. But mere reason will never produce saving faith just as writing/speaking about fatherhood serves as a substitute for the actual birth experience.
At some point- we ask that God intervene and pour out His Spirit on an individual and change their inclinations- a heart that responds in repentance and saving faith.
This is where I am the silliest- I prepare my chats- my words- my writings- my arguments- my analogies and stories- but how often do I pray? Have I ever fasted for it?
I end today with a sincere question- Do I want revival? It seems like a simple question. But I am not so sure. A.W. Tozer argued that a revival of the current Christianity would be a tragedy which would set the church back a hundred years.
So let me re-think this. What 'R' word do I want? Reformation? Renewal? Restitution? Revelation? Realization? Resolution?
No- let me start with regeneration. Lord, keep regenerating me- Holy Spirit empowered sight and hearing. Let this regeneration lead me to repentance. Let repentance lead me back to You! Then there will be reformation. Then there will be renewal. Then there may come revival. I will drink in deep refreshment!
Move our faith/ my faith off of the merely speculative or historical- I'm tired of 'holding to a form of godliness but denying the power' (2 Timothy 3:5).
Psalm 85:4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever?Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again,that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,and grant us your salvation.
How often I forget one of the most important prayer requests. How can I forget to cry out as the Psalmist here does? “Restore us please!”
As I pray this, I am reminded of God’s glory and His sovereignty. “Revival is a work of God where He enlivens His people by accelerating and intensifying His work in individual’s lives” (Jonathan Edwards). If enough people have this personal renewal at any one time and in any one place, then the reality of God’s presence is demonstrated in spiritual sensitivity and a community pursuit of holiness.
So as I pray this, I am reminded that revival begins in me.
Isaiah 64:1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
2 as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
Do I really desire this? Is there not a sense of fear that God would actually do this? Is there not a subtle secret doubt that God actually can or will do this anymore?
J.I. Packer gave a lecture at a “Desiring God Conference” in 2003. He made some interesting points about the nature of revival that come from his study of the theology and thoughts of Jonathan Edwards.
#1 Revival is more about holy living than new conversions
#2 We cannot pray revival down – we cannot force God’s hand. It happens in His timing.
#3 Revival will not solve all of the churches problems. It can even create more!
#4 Revival is tied up in a deep desire to glorify God.
#5 Revival causes a deep repentance, responding in holy living, which draws outsiders in.
I ask that Saints everywhere join me in keeping this a regular request-
I was especially encouraged by the response today- students praying- confessing sin- and it was in the spirit of LOVE and not condemnation. A lot of hugs and 'thank-you's". I was really impressed. God is GOOD!
I saw a lot of genuine- gospel fueled- desire to glorify God- lift high HIS word- and not any man. Thanks students! You made my day!