Friday, July 04, 2008

...because the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, the glory of God and the Lord Jesus Christ are not being reverenced

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; 
break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, 
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
-Hosea 10:12

John Gill says this on this verse above:
Sow to yourselves in righteousness…
Not the seed of grace, which bad men have not, and cannot saw it; and which good men need not, it being sown in them already, and remaining; rather the seed of the word, which should be laid up in their hearts, dwell richly in them, and be kept and retained by them; though it is best of all to understand it of works of righteousness; as sowing to the flesh is doing the works of the flesh, or carnal and sinful acts; so sowing "unto righteousness", as it may be rendered, is doing works of righteousness; living soberly and righteously; doing works according to the word of righteousness, from good principles, and with good views, with a view to the glory of God: and which will be "sowing to themselves", turn to their own account; for though such works are not profitable to God, as to merit anything at his hands; yet they are not only profitable to others, but to those that do them; for though not "for", yet "in keeping" the commands of God there is "great reward", (Psalms 19:11) . Reap in mercy; or "according to mercy" not according to the merit of works, for there is none in them; but according to the mercy of God, to which all blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternaL, are owing; and such who sow to the Spirit, or spiritual things, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; not as the reward of debt, but of grace; not as of merit, but as owing to the mercy of Christ, (Galatians 6:9) (Jude 1:21);

break up your fallow ground;
that is, of their hearts; which were like ground unopened, unbroken, not filled and manured, nor sown with seed, but overrun with weeds and thistles; and so were they, hard and impenitent, destitute of grace, and full of sin and wickedness, and stood in need of being renewed in the spirit of their minds; which this exhortation is designed to convince them of, and to stir them up to make use of proper methods of obtaining it, through the efficacious grace of God; see (Jeremiah 4:5) ; 

for [it is] time to seek the Lord: 
for his grace; as the husbandman seeks, prays, and waits for rain, when he has tilled his ground, and sowed his seed, to water it, and make it fruitful, that he may have a good reaping time, a plentiful harvest; and as there is a time to seek for the one, so for the other: 

till he come and rain righteousness upon you;
that is, Christ, whose coming is as the rain, (Hosea 6:3) (Psalms 72:6) ; and who, when he should come, whether personally by his incarnation, or spiritually by his gracious presence, would rain a plentiful rain of the doctrines of grace, and the blessings of it, such as peace pardon, righteousness, and eternal life by him; particularly the justifying righteousness wrought out by him, which is fully manifested in the Gospel, the ministration of that righteousness, and is applied unto, and put upon, all them that believe: or "till he come and teach you righteousness"; as Christ did when come; he taught the word of righteousness in general, and the righteousness of God in particular, and directed men to seek it; declared he came to fulfil all righteousness, and taught men to believe in him for it, and that he is their righteousness, and the end of the law for it; as well as he taught them to live righteously and godly; see (Joel 2:23).
Now that would be a sign of genuine revival beloved!  

Is this what is happening in Lakeland, FL?  Is that what we are seeing on night and day?  Is this what the leadership of that "outpouring" are calling people to do?  With a heavy and burdened heart - no it is not.

Biblical revival cannot be organized,
cannot be subsidized, and cannot by advertised.
As my late colaborer in Christ, Leonard Ravenhill, used to say,
"Whatever else we say about revival we have to recognize this,
that revival is an act of mercy in the sovereignty of God."  Amen.

So why does revival still tarry in Florida? Here are a few reasons:
  • There is little or no conviction and contrition over sin
  • The focus is on hollow miracles not repentance of sin
  • The objective is physical healing (which they cannot do), not holiness
  • It is led and manufactured by men, and not sovereignly led by God
  • It is not marked by a holy season of unrelenting solemn prayer
  • There is very little preaching or exposition of God's Word
  • There is very little proclamation of the gospel of justification by faith alone (if at all)
  • It is not marked by brokenness and humility, but by hilarity and silliness
  • And the result is not the glory of God or the exaltation of Christ, or being filled with the Holy Spirit - it is the fame of man.
Consider Psalm 2:11:
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Notice two things in regards to biblical worship: 

1. We are to serve the Lord with fear - that is, with reverence, divine respect.  We are not to come to Him in a casual, cavalier way - in any manner we so choose.  We are to serve Him with reverence. Literally, as the Psalmist would say, in the beauty of holiness. 

2. We are to rejoice - there should be celebration, praise, adoration and joy in the presence of the Lord.  But notice, it is to be marked with trembling. Our celebration should never be marked by carnality.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

-Isaiah 66:2b
Again, notice the Lord's emphasis on trembling.

When was the last time that one of these so-called revivals broke it that it was marked by worship, reverence, godly fear, trembling at His Word and before Him?  This is absolutely necessary; for genuine heaven sent revival is God's people getting right with God.  It is to plow up the fallow ground, to repent of sin, to come before the Lord in brokenness and contrition, humbly seeking His forgiveness and restoration.  It is driven by a passion for His glory and love of His Word.  It is bathed in tears and evidenced in holiness with a recovery of gospel centered proclamation and a harvest of souls by God's sovereign grace and electing love.

"What God wants is not to fill up empty pews.
He is not concerned about filling empty churches,
He is concerned about filling empty hearts.
And empty lives, and empty eyes that have no vision;
Empty hearts that have no passion,
And empty wills that have no purpose."

-Leonard Ravenhill

If measured by these things, what is happening in Lakeland, FL is not revival - it is a show, a carnival, entertainment, a sham.  Now, are there sincere people coming there looking for revival or seeking a miracle in their lives?  I am certain.  But you don't need to go to Lakeland for that do you?  You can right now in the quietness of your home get things right with the Lord.  You can confess unrepentant sin to Him; you can read His Word and pray out of brokenness and contrition to be restored in your walk with Him if you have been in the far country for a season.  If you are hurting, burdened, and troubled in your life - He knows this already.  Find your rest and comfort not in an event, find it in Him alone.  Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.  Call your pastors and have them pray with you. Contact a few others in your church and begin to meet regularly in small group home fellowships with each other. And may Sunday not be just an hour you go to once a week, but a genuine time to be worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and to be equipped to do the work of the ministry.

Is revival taking place in Lakeland?  No.  But it needs to after what has been taking place there and the foolishness they are doing in the name of the Lord.  If you want to go to Lakeland go to call them to repentance and away from the chaff of their own maginations and moorings.

I close with these powerful words of Spurgeon on Psalm 2:11-12:
"Serve the Lord with fear;" 
let reverence and humility be mingled with your service. He is a great God, and ye are but puny creatures; bend ye, therefore, in lowly worship, and let a filial fear mingle with all your obedience to the great Father of the Ages. 

"Rejoice with trembling,"—
There must ever be a holy fear mixed with the Christian's joy. This is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet smell, and we must see to it that we burn no other upon the altar. Fear, without joy, is torment; and joy, without holy fear, would be presumption. Mark the solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. It is an awful thing to perish in the midst of sin, in the very way of rebellion; and yet how easily could his wrath destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger should be heated seven times hotter; let the fuel kindle but a little, and we are consumed. O sinner! Take heed of the terrors of the Lord; for "our God is a consuming fire."

Note the benediction with which the Psalm closes:—

"Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." 
Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles:—"Lord, increase our faith."


jen elslager said...

I am deeply grieved and concerned with what is going on in Lakeland. I was born and raised there, and the town has changed a lot since I moved away. It's just full of crime and gang related violence.

Over at Slice, Ingrid asked where law enforcement is in regard to the on stage violence. I'm not sure if it's actual violence or more of a WWF wrestling-style show. Either way, it's a tragedy. I wrote an email to the sheriff of Polk County, who is well known for seeking wisdom from the Bible as well as the code of law. My hope is that he will check it out, and expose BAMBAM Bentley with his findings.

Kirby L. Wallace said... stir them up to make use of proper methods of obtaining it...

That stuff about "make use of proper methods" sounds more like something Charles Finney would have said. Especially when put along side a header such as "Break up your fallow ground." Didn't Finney actually have a sermon entitled with that name?