Dr. Bert Bauman
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." II Chron. 7:14
This verse is a prelude to almost every revival meeting . Men seeking revival turn to these instructions as a formula for success. Seldom, however, does anything momentous result from such seeking -- for revival is not produced in this way. Revival does not come because a people or a church obey this verse as a formula in the way it is usually interpreted.
Revival has come, however, in our day. We are not yet in a floodtide, but just as a shower begins with small drops, so has revival begun, and the tempo is increasing today even as rain drops grow into a downpour.
From around the world we hear reports of showers of revival Some places have been soaked in these heavenly showers and have overflowed into a river of blessing to us all. But these streams that reach us are not revival. They merely wet our tongues, making us thirst for the abundant waters. Revival is our own personal shower from God.
However, when we look at what God has done for others we discover that He has done the same thing for us in a measure. Perhaps others have had more of the shower, but the mercy drops we receive are part of the same shower. We need to thank God for the drops that have fallen. We just need more and more of the drops falling faster and faster until the shower becomes a stream. We need to consider this scripture, II Chronicles 7:14 in the light of what God is doing for us today. We are commanded to humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from wickedness. But I feel strongly this formula must be obeyed by us in the light of Christian revelation. For us grieving over sins, fasting and much praying will not call down God’s blessing from heaven. Although all this is implied in this Bible verse, the one significant detail about this formula for revival which seems to have escaped us is that it is in the Old Testament! New spiritual principles have been revealed to us on this side of the cross and I believe we must understand II Chronicles 7:14 in the light of the New Testament Gospel.
We are not living in the Old Testament but in the New Testament. We have Jesus Christ and our problem is that we will not hear Him! In the New Testament to humble ourselves means that we are to put Jesus first in our lives and to begin to do what He says--humbling ourselves to do His will, not our own. That kind of humility will bring revival! Such humbling produces life for it will bring forth the life of Christ which is within us, and when Jesus is lifted up in our lives, He will draw all men to Himself. To humble ourselves in the sense of putting aside our own ideas and in accepting Jesus in His fullness ness will bring revival, for HE IS REVIVAL, HE IS LIFE . And when the world sees His life in us, they will come to Jesus. But if they see us "humbling" ourselves in the Old Testament sense, tearing apart our personalities, fasting, praying, crying out to a God who does not seem to hear, they will not be drawn to Jesus. To understand this verse in the Old Testament sense, with only the light in the context, will not produce revival. Well meaning pastors and evangelists have quoted this verse and challenged others to deeper commitment and repentance which involved deep heart searching even to going over the past searching cut sins formerly considered forgiven to make restitution and nothing has resulted except more deadness. Because the letter killeth! The more we preach this Old Testament concept to the people of God the more it will quench and kill the Spirit. Jesus MUST shine forth or only death will result.
All of God’s revelation concerning life is Christ-centered. That means Jesus has to be centered in us -- visible in us. The Bible reveals only one way to have Christ manifest in us and that is by faith, and not by works. By faith, as a gift of God’ s love to us -- not only because we repented, not only because we confessed our sins, not only because we humbled ourselves, but because we have faith in the risen Christ -- faith that He is in us, and can express Himself through us. We must believe God so that He can fill us with the Holy Spirit. We are His witnesses only when the Holy Spirit lifts up Christ in us--THAT is revival. Praise God! It is not by works of righteousness which we have done.
But we do need to repent. The message to the Christians is always repentance. But how to repent, and of what? Grovel in the dust? No. Rather repent of our own ideas as to who we are and what we are, and begin to accept the testimony of God concerning who we are and what we are. I mean by this, not only to accept the negative of what God says we are not but to accept as well the positive of what God says we are in Christ. That is repentance--to believe God.
To believe God is to believe that Jesus is ALL we need, not just buried in our hearts but shining through our souls, expressing Himself through our bodies. As God asked Moses when he complained that the people would not believe God was sending deliverance by him, "What is that in thine hand?"--so today He asks us as we complain that people will not hear our message, "What is that in thine hand?" We are not able to call down any more power from above than God has already put in our hands, in our hearts, in our lives, and in our spirits, for He has put Jesus there, and the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwells in Jesus, and we are complete in Him.
It is no longer a matter of getting God to hear from heaven as is written in II Chronicles 7:14. The fact is that He has already heard from heaven. He has already poured out His Spirit upon His people. The fact is that He has given us Jesus Christ. Romans 10:6 asks "Who shall ascend into heaven (that is, to bring Christ down from above). What saith the Scriptures? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach." God has already heard. He has given us Christ, our every answer to every need. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
So when does revival come? I believe it has begun when people believe what they are in Christ and begin to act upon it, obeying God. That is revival. When I believe that Christ is in me in His fullness, and that He will use me and pour Himself through me and put the fullness of the Spirit upon me, and when I begin to believe that the Holy Spirit will make me a witness, that is the beginning of revival in my life. Just as a downpour of rain consists of individual drops so revivals are made up of many individual Christians each getting revival in each individual life.
We are always waiting for God to do something in a mass way -- somehow to pour out blessings from above so that with the mass of people we get caught in the flow. But it does not come like that. It comes when each one of us begins to stand in the place God has chosen for us, humbling ourselves in that we relinquish our own ideas and our own ways, and say, "God, I am going to do it your way." That is the humility with life in it. When we humble ourselves in this way, the power of God is released in the world, drawing people to Jesus. And when they come, responding with the same humility, the revival becomes a flood of living water that even the Gates of Hell cannot stop! Then are the sick healed, the brokenhearted bound up, the prison doors opened and the captives set free!
Revival will come to pass when we humble ourselves through believing what God says instead of what the devil tells us, instead of what our feelings tell us, instead of what preachers tell us, instead of what tradition tells us. It will come to pass when we begin to believe the Lord our God and act upon His word. Praise the Name of the Lord! We are a rich people! Revival is when the people of God begin to realize their riches, and act upon it! Revival is when Christians truly believe their Gospel of Grace.
But that takes repentance, the kind of repentance willing to give up trying to make it in our own strength and willing to turn to the God who is in our hearts, who will flow through us. That is the kind of repentance we need.
II Chronicles 7:14, in the sense of its context, has in it the implication that if we do something God will do something. That is the LAW. It kills. The New Testament teaches that God has done everything already. He has given all things to His people through the precious Blood of Christ. Jesus did this so that God could do something for man. He has fulfilled every requirement of the law, and we can repent and sacrifice and fast until we perish, and if it is not based on the work of Christ, nothing will come to pass. We are not heard for our much praying, nor because we fast or abuse ourselves. We are heard because Jesus did it all. And our confidence, therefore, has to be in Jesus. That means we must leave our own ways. God says our best works are as filthy rags in His sight. Our repentance, our humility, our fasting, our praying, if it comes out of our own soul, is as filthy rags in God’ s sight. It will produce nothing. Then repentance and the turning from our wicked ways that God speaks about is simply leaving those natural, soulish ways that are so beautiful to us. They are WICKED. To think our ways will accomplish anything for God is WICKEDNESS.
Repentance is not just stopping our sinning. If that is what it takes to produce revival, then the world is lost. Christians have never been able to do that perfectly. But we can confess our sins. We can say, "Lord, I want Jesus to come forth in me. I can’t stop this wicked thing, but my faith is in thee, Jesus." It is not sinlessness or holiness that draws the world, but life. The world can see Jesus coming forth in our lives even when we sin if we repent and show the sweetness of Jesus by asking forgiveness and making things right. That kind of humility, that kind of confession of sin, will draw people to Jesus.
God does not bring revival because we are a holy people. He brings revival because we have faith in the righteousness of Christ, and in the life of Christ within us. Our place is to stay broken and humble before Him, recognizing our weaknesses before God. We are to stay in that place of humility before Him, but we are also to stay in the place of faith, reckoning that His life in us is potent enough to live through us to overcome sin.
Such reckoning and humility requires a walk of faith. It is through faith, in spite of our imperfection, God brings forth life. We see this life of Jesus even when we sin, by promptly going to a brother with an apology to make things right with him. Thus God turns defeat into a victory, letting Jesus’ sweet Spirit shine in our lives.
The life of Jesus Christ is the foundation for revival. When we repent of our wicked ways, our own self-righteousness, our own fasting, our own praying, our own self-effort, and depend on Jesus Christ we have revival. Anything short of depending on the work of Jesus Christ is wickedness.
For that reason God had to send Jesus at such dear cost -- because His work alone is acceptable. We are to hear Him and believe what He says: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock:" Matt. 7:24
We are to do His sayings, those things He tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, in His strength and through His enabling, indwelling life. Revival, in short, is when Matthew 5, 6 and 7 is operative in the lives of God’s people. We should be satisfied with nothing less than this expression of the life of Jesus in our lives. We have come to revival when we realize that we cannot live this expression of God in our own way. We must pray, "I can’t live this life. I can’t witness, I’m ineffective, shot through with sin and hopeless in myself. I need thy Holy Spirit." Instead we find Christians arguing against the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit. We have come to revival when we realize that we need all the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives if the life of Christ is to be duplicated in us. However, it is not because we are exercising the gifts that revival comes. It is because the Holy Spirit flows through us, and we are in a place of brokenness where we know it HAS TO BE GOD or it WON’T BE AT ALL! For Matthew 7:24 says that we must begin to practice the life of Christ described in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says that is the way His people are to live. He says, "judge not" but we are rather to overlook a person’s shortcomings, pray for him and love him -- thus expressing the sweetness that is the life of Jesus in us. But it has to be God, for our own efforts will not produce this life of Christ. The Lord Jesus said it was expedient that He go away so He could send the Holy Spirit upon us. It is His work to lift Christ up in our lives. Jesus said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself." We need to begin to believe that.
We need to repent of our strengths and of our abilities and to come and receive the Holy Spirit in our life. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the beginning of revival in us. From that time on Jesus wants to build our lives on what He says and we are to trust the Spirit of God to work it out in and through us.
The world sees the sweet Spirit of Jesus in our life when they see the judgmental attitude removed, when we no longer rake down hell-fire and brimstone on them, but when we in tenderness say, "God loves you so much He is not counting your sins against you." Such grace is beyond understanding but that is what God says. That kind of attitude will break the heart of a hardened sinner.
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting their trespasses against them. He has given to us the ministry of reconciling them. He has also given us the equipment for it. When we repent of our own equipment and put on God’s equipment, that is revival. We just need more of it -- more repentance from our own equipment, more entering into faith in God’s wisdom; more repentance from our own knowledge and more entering into the knowledge of God.
That is revival. We are not walking in His fullness yet, but God will send forth rivers from our innermost beings as
we repent of our own adequacy and begin to take HIS supply.
Praise the Lord! We do not have to call revival down. He has already given it to us. We must begin to use God’s provision, but we cannot use it as long as we rely upon our own. That is why repentance is necessary. But we do not have to call anything down from God. He has already done all He can. It remains for us to walk in it as a free gift of God’s love to us and to the whole world. God, grant that we will become people who really believe it. REVIVAL COMES BY FAITH!
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Revised: September 16, 2009
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