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“Church revitalization will only ever happen in answer to faith-filled, prevailing prayer. It is greatly to the glory of God to revitalize a church of humble, prayerful people. But it is greatly dishonoring to him to suppose this transformation can come about any other way.”

~ Andrew M DavisRevitalize, 94.

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“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.6-7).

“Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”

~ J.I. Packer

“Real revival does not begin with joyous singing. It begins with conviction and repentance on the part of Christians.”     

~ Vance Havner

Vance Havner

The Willing and Eager Heart of Christianity

Article by David Mathis

Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

One of the most liberating discoveries of my life has been coming to find that God does not pursue his people through coercion but by winning us from the heart. True Christianity cannot be coerced. God works — through his word and his Spirit — from the inside out. The faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) is indeed at its heart a faith, not an action, as it advances not by the sword of coercion and military campaign, but by the sword of the Spirit and the movement of souls.

What God says to, and expects from, pastors tells us how he wins people. It’s powerfully revealing. Church leaders are first and foremost sheep, and not above the flock. “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you,” says the good shepherd, “but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). And what Peter has to say about how pastors should serve is an insightful description of the heart of the everyday Christian life: “not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2).

Linger with me over what it means for our faith not to be “under compulsion” or “for shameful gain,” but willing and eager.

Not Under Compulsion

Where do we find compulsion in the New Testament? On the darkest day in the history of the world, Roman soldiers compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, to carry Jesus’s cross (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21). And three times in Galatians, Paul mentions false teachers trying to force Gentile Christians to do what they do not want to do, namely, be circumcised (Galatians 2:3, 14; 6:12). Roman soldiers and false teachers don’t major on making appeals to the heart. They aim at external conformity, not the joy of faith (Philippians 1:25; 2 Corinthians 1:24). They seek to force or compel others to do what they don’t want to do. But such is not the case with Christianity.

Rather, when Paul, as an apostle, could have commanded Philemon, he chooses instead, for love’s sake, to appeal to him (Philemon 8–10). “I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord” (Philemon 14). And when he invites the Corinthians to contribute to the relief of the impoverished saints in Jerusalem, he wants each person to “give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

God wants us to be willing, not feel obligated. His people rejoice to give willingly, with their whole hearts, “offering freely and joyously” to him (1 Chronicles 29:9, 17). He wants our generosity to be “as a willing gift, not as an exaction” (2 Corinthians 9:5). It is “a willing spirit” that tastes the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12), and it is a glory to our King when his people “offer themselves freely” to his worship and service (Psalm 110:3). Christian faith cannot be forced. God wants to win us from within, and empower Christians by his Spirit to live willing, freely, from the heart.

Not for Shameful Gain

But “inside out” alone is not enough. Some desires of the heart are holy, righteous, and good; others are not. Whereas “compulsion” or “force” comes from the outside, the desire for “shameful gain” comes from within. So 1 Peter 5:2 is not just saying don’t be forced from without, but also don’t be driven from within by sinful (selfish) desires, but rather by righteous desire.

So, what does it mean to be motivated by shameless desire, instead of shameful? C.S. Lewis helps us with the nature of rewards and righteous desire in the Christian life:

There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by its very nature, seeks to enjoy its object. (The Problem of Pain)

It is not enough that we would live simply from desire and willingness, and not compulsion and obligation. We want to live from righteous desire, not for shameful or sinful gain — desire that is fitting to its object. But don’t think that means we do not live for gain!

For the rest of the post…

“Revival is an infusion of new spiritual life imparted by the Holy Spirit to existing parts of Christ’s body.”

~ Richard Lovelace

Richard F. Lovelace

Devotional by John Piper

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

There is a practical holiness without which we will not see the Lord. Many live as if this were not so.

There are professing Christians who live such unholy lives that they will hear Jesus’s dreadful words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Paul says to professing believers, “If you live according to the flesh you will die” (Romans 8:13).

So, there is a holiness without which no one will see the Lord. And learning to fight for holiness by faith in future grace is supremely important.

There is another way to pursue holiness that backfires and leads to death. Paul warns us against serving God any other way than by faith in his enabling grace. God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). Any effort to serve God that does not, in that very act, depend on him as the reward of our hearts and the power of our service, will dishonor him as a needy pagan god.

Peter describes the alternative to such self-reliant service of God, “Whoever serves, [let him do so] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

For the rest of the post…

“Oh for a great and general revival of true religion…Let us pray for such a visitation of the Holy Ghost with our whole souls. It is not only desirable, it is essential; we must either be revived by the Lord Himself, or the churches will descend until error and ungodliness swallow them up. This calamity shall not happen but only divine grace can avert it.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon

“O, prostitute Church, you have displayed your foulness to the whole world and you stink to Heaven. You have multiplied your fornications in Italy, in France, in Spain and in all other arts. Behold, I will put forth my hand, says the Lord, I will smite you, you infamous wretch… O priests…you whose example has entombed this people in the sepulchre of ceremonial, I tell you this sepulchre shall be burst asunder, for Christ will revive His Church in His Spirit.”

~ Savonarola (shortly before his martyrdom in 1498 when he was burnt at the stake)

“The one thing needful for the church, and the thing which, above all others, men ought everywhere to seek for with one accord and with their whole heart, is to be filled with the Spirit of God.”

~ Andrew MurrayThe Full Blessing of Pentecostvii.

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