Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Psalm 85:6
It’s probably no coincidence that our weekly Bible study began with the book of Ephesians as what many are calling “revival” broke out at Asbury in Kentucky and apparently now on college campuses all over the country. Paul began his ministry in Ephesus in Acts 19 and 20 and it became a two-year revival. It’s a pretty eventful tale that includes mass repentance and occult books worth 50,000 pieces of silver (50,000 days’ wages) being burned. There was a riot and the seven sons of Sceva got the tar beaten out of them by demons. The tale ends with Paul wishing the Ephesian elders a tearful final farewell with a warning before he left to be imprisoned and eventually beheaded in Rome.
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. “Also from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts 20:28-31
The Letter to the Church in Ephesus in Revelations Chapter 2 may provide insight into who these “perverse wolves” were, namely false apostles and the Nicolaitans.
I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. verse 2
Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. verse 6
The Nicolaitans were licentious, antinomian, and practiced syncretism. Antinomian can be likened to “greasy grace” today. Syncretism was the unhealthy compromise with pagan society and the idolatrous culture of Ephesus. I am told that similar to the allegorists in Alexandria, the Nicolaitans taught that scripture could only be correctly interpreted by them the elite clergy thereby elevating the “interpreter” above the word itself.
Perhaps you can identify similar patterns within the global Body of Christ today.
If I think of revival in the context of Ephesians I see normal Christianity being practiced in an abnormal setting. It looks like dead people raised Eph 2:1-10 and sleepy people waking up. Eph 5:8-14 Some are more excited than others about the light Christ gives.
American revival (awakening) history began in 1741 when Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”. The fear of God fell and sparked mass repentance that continued into the 1770s. There were at least four more major awakenings that followed. I say four because there was little if any contention regarding the validity of the welsh and Azua street reveals near the turn of the previous century. That being said, it occurs to me that in addition to profound spiritual renewal, the years surrounding every great awakening were marked by various crises, socioeconomic upheaval, and major wars. One might even wonder if genuine revival is God’s way of saying,
“Wake up! A storm is coming!”
“buckle up check your eternal destiny and fill your lamps with oil”.
Whatever our conclusions regarding the definition of “revival” today, we must be mindful that God’s end game is not intermittent encounters with His presence but rather a spotless bride, a wedding, and a wedding feast. 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 19:7 In that sense what people call revival might be likened to a shower in which the bride scrubs the dirt off her hands and feet – by the washing of the water of the word. Eph 5:26
Finally, the bride is not represented by one stream, form of worship, experience, or denomination but by those who abide in His word, John 8:31 and keep His commandments. John 14:15-31
The prerequisite of these is to know what His word says.
Not only what our favorite teachers say about it.
Our goal is to study His Word deeply and together. If you are in Greeneville Tennessee and not doing anything special on Thursdays, maybe join us at the Rock at 6 pm. There’s a handful of Acts 17:11 modern-day Bereans who will be in the main sanctuary searching the scripture for pieces to the puzzle set before us.
You just might have the piece we’ve been searching for.