Revival: Why Persecution?

July 23, 2015 at 11:01 AM 1 comment

These folks either got tired of standing up or they are "slain in the spirit"

These folks either got tired of standing up or they are “slain in the spirit”

In our first part of this series, we went over aspects of religious revivals; what they mean, what they were intended to accomplish, and what they actually did. We really have just started scratching the surface though. In this part, we want to continue to break down the concept of the religious revival and continue to discuss the ramifications of the historical events known either as revivals or great awakenings here in America. We also want to get to the point of understanding whether or not a national revival is something that could happen if Christians will only get (and stay) on their knees, fervently approaching God with humility and honestly of heart.

We’ve basically stated that as far as religious revivals are concerned, a revival is a renewal or an awakening within a person or people that compels them to take their relationship with God more seriously. Revivals are designed to “wake” people up to the need to understand the living relationship we have with God (for those who are saved) and to call people into that living relationship with God (for those who are not saved). This is from part one.

REVIVING EMOTIONS
Unfortunately, as we view the landscape of America’s history, we will see that revivals that have occurred often seem to have been guided by pure emotion. Based on the emotional fervor, people have “committed” or “dedicated” or “rededicated” their lives to God. But did decisions like these that were heavily based on the power of emotion have any lasting value or effect on society as a whole or even in part, locally where the revival is said to have occurred?

The person who argues that emotions never waned following a revival either does not understand the power (and even addictive powers) of emotion nor its instability. Things change. Feelings go away. How many times have you tried a new food or drink only to declare this is your new food or drink?! You love it so much you want to have it every day! So, you are off on a new adventure, a love affair with some new flavor and you happily continue with your life and the new flavor. You’re convinced that you will love it forever. The problem? After a while, you find yourself getting tired of it. You aren’t drawn to it as much. Eventually, you can take it or leave it and finally, you wind up leaving it for something else.

Shhhh...master charlatan at work.

Shhhh…master charlatan at work.

It’s the way we do anything when our emotions are involved. However, if a doctor tells you that you must take this pill twice daily or you will become sick and eventually begin developing heart problems that could take your life, what do you do? Generally, you will do as your doctor instructs, won’t you? It doesn’t matter if the pill is terrible or hard to swallow. You will simply follow your physician’s instructions because you believe him/her when you are told that taking that pill twice daily will save your life. That decisions could impact your emotions, but your decision is not based on your emotions. It is based on truth which is not determined by emotions. Your doctor did not say “Look, if you believe that this pill taken twice daily will improve your heart condition by lowering your high blood pressure, then you should take it.” That would be absurd, wouldn’t it?

Yet, when it comes to religion, we do what we don’t do when it comes to medicine. In fact, we don’t even live the way we believe we should when it comes to religion in any other relationship we have with someone, including a person who is supposed to be closest to us, our spouses. Most of us understand the up and down nature of relationships in general. Beyond this, we also understand that ups and downs exist and are part of a healthy marital relationship. It’s the people who don’t grasp that end up divorcing or cheating on their spouse because they are making decisions based on their emotions and not common sense and logic.

Revivals are designed to do just that – revive our waning emotions when it comes to God. We feel “dry,” or dusty in our relationship with God and we want “more.” That “more” is generally seen as something that only our emotions can fulfill. This is why there are often so many antics and almost a circus-like atmosphere in many revival tent meetings of old. We read about how fearful people were that they were going to hell, so they are overtaken with emotion and choose to change their lives right then and there! It doesn’t last. Can you imagine if you felt compelled to go to a high-energy marriage seminar where you were brought to tears as your love for your spouse was tested and as you “caved” into your emotions, admitting that you didn’t love your spouse enough? But what if you do? What if you have a quiet, almost reverent way of loving your spouse? Does that count or is it not good enough? Would you feel like you needed to be “slain in the spouse” every time you felt your love and devotion to him/her waned?

BIRTH OF THE CHURCH

HEY! I said to be SLAIN in the spirit! Shush.

HEY! I said to be SLAIN in the spirit! Shush.

In the first century, the Church was born in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost (the Jewish Festival of Feasts). God specifically chose that time because of all the Jews from all parts of the Roman Empire that would be in Jerusalem during that time. After the 120 were anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in power and grace, Peter stood before a crowd and did exactly that. Because of what he spoke and because of the presence of the Holy Spirit (as evidenced by people speaking in unknown languages to them, but understood by others), 3,000 people were saved. Three thousand people believed that day and were added to the Church! Just as many, if not thousands more did not believe and rejected the message.

Why didn’t this start a thorough revival throughout the entire Roman Empire? Why don’t we see the Church continually growing, alive, vibrant? While we see that for a while, only a short time later, Rome began to seriously clamp down on Christians and Christianity. In fact, just 20 years after the birth of the Church, Nero reigned as Emperor of Rome (AD 54 to 68). We all know what he did and how he viewed Christians. In fact, he believed they were the perfect patsies for the fire that he likely set. Christians were treated horribly for some time after that. It wasn’t until AD 313’s Edict of Milan that persecution against Christians finally began to subside.

Why did God allow this? Clearly, the Christians weren’t praying enough, were they? They weren’t living the life of a Christian, were they? They blended in with Roman citizens and all the corruption that existed at that time in Rome’s history, right? No, absolutely wrong!

The very reason that Christians were persecuted is because they were living lives that were completely opposed to the valueless humanism of the Roman Empire! Insincere believers fled the flock! Read the New Testament epistles and you’ll see a recurring theme. One writer or another exhorting the early Christians to be patient, to submit to God, to pray for those who treated them so terribly.

God used that persecution to strengthen the lives of His children and to cause them to take the Gospel with them (for those who were able to flee from direct conflict with Roman authorities). In essence, those early Christians all became evangelists, taking the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth! Had there been no persecution, that would not have happened.

While there were clearly problems with the early church – noted by Paul and others – it is still very clear that those Christians who remained loyal to God and His Word became objects of ridicule and persecution. So-called Christians today who do not stand out as someone who belongs to Jesus will not experience persecution at all. They’ll be left alone because those so-called Christians have blended with the world. There is virtually no difference between the way they live and the way the world lives.

A true Christian, one who understands his/her living relationship with Jesus will choose to live in a way that pleases God and that will place him/her in direct opposition to the world and the world’s views. That Christian doesn’t even have to say anything. It will be obvious in the way they live.

But we need to talk about America specifically because too many Christians in America toss around all sorts of Scriptures that appear as though they are all-inclusive promises by God to America. Are they? Do these verses speak to America as a nation or do those verses speak to something else. We will look at two sections of Scripture specifically in our next article so I hope you’ll join me then. We also need to discuss what effect, if any, revival has on a nation.

Entry filed under: Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

Revival: Should We Pray for It? Revival: Big Top Experience

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