Monday, December 14, 2015

When God Depends on Us

    I'm just a bit frustrated tonight... you know, my sister made the comment last year that I am a "sucker for punishment." It's a regular habit of mine to look up arguments and viewpoints of people who hold very different theological opinions as I do, and quite frequently, that winds up getting me frustrated. I'm working on just dealing with what I can and letting the rest roll off me, but it's a work in progress that isn't done yet. :)

    So just this other evening, I looked up some arguments for KJV onlyism. Honestly, I don't have a big issue with KJV onlyism. I personally use NASB the majority of the time, but it's not a hot topic issue for me. I've had plenty of KJV only friends that I've gotten along with fine. But the denomination that generally argues most vehemently for KJV onlyism is a denomination that I used to be a part of, so I spent a little bit more time poking around on some of their websites, mostly for old time's sake (or maybe my sister's right and I'm just a sucker for punishment). That was where I ran across this.

     Anyone who has spent any amount of time in that particular denomination knows that there is a big emphasis on "revival", a time of mass conversions and change in our country. I've heard both individual sermons and multiple month series on what is necessary for revival to occur in our country, so it's a concept I've heard a lot and honestly hadn't thought of in several years since I'd moved out of those circles and into more mainstream Christian theology.

     Anyhow, all that to introduce this statement. "If we're going to see revival, there must be: prevailing prayer, powerful preaching, personal purging." Now, I want to make something very clear. Strictly speaking, there is nothing incorrect about this statement (well, there might be a couple questionable points, but for the most part, it's not a bad alliteration). I mean, it's debatable whether or not you really need those things in order to have revival, but sure, as an opinion, that's fine. There's nothing theologically wrong with the statement, except for maybe the idea of purging being something I do on myself, but that's a side issue for the moment.

     Where I take issue with the statement is mostly because of my background in that denomination that makes me look deeper into the attitude behind the statement. There's something wrong if your formula for revival doesn't mention anything about the work of Christ or the working of the Holy Spirit. In fact, if you can get through your revival formula without mentioning God, something's wrong.

     My issue tonight is with the idea that the key to soulwinning/revival/missions is me. Yes, me. No, you won't hear it said that way, but that is the heart of the message. The key, the missing link to successful soulwinning/revival/missions is you! You need to do this, or that, try harder or present the gospel better or preach more powerfully or pray more prevailingly or purge more from your life. At the end of the day, God is waiting on you to get your act together (either you as a person or you as a church or you as a collective body of believers in America. The use of "you" varies) before He's able to continue on with His plan.

     He wants to send revival, but you're just not quite there yet, so He's stuck. Waiting on you, wishing you'd shape up. Poor God. Poor almighty Creator of heaven and earth, stuck, waiting for men to get their act together so He can get on with His plan!

     I hope the sarcasm above just gave you a glimpse into the problem with that attitude. If revival is basically dependent on me, we're in sorry shape and so is God's "sovereign" (that isn't so sovereign) plan. In fact, the beauty of God's sovereignty is gone. Instead, God is enslaved to man's self sanctification, waiting for men to fix themselves (a hopeless situation according to Scripture), whether the self sanctification is in the form of more powerful preaching or more personal purging or more prevailing prayer. In any of those cases, God is stuck waiting for man to get to work so He can continue with His plan.

     Basically, my hope is that we can get over ourselves. We're not the beginning and ending of God's plans. He's not waiting for us to get our act together so He's free to act. Actually, revival happens when God's Holy Spirit moves among people, drawing the lost to Himself and the saints closer to Himself. The idea of revival depending on us is not only daunting, but downright discouraging!

     How much "powerful preaching" is enough? How much "prevailing prayer" is enough before revival happens? Is God watching us as we vainly struggle to preach more powerfully and pray more prevailingly, waiting for us to purge just enough in ourselves for Him to finally be free to work? How much must we purge out of ourselves before God decides we're holy enough to do "His" part (as if the salvation of souls is divided in any way into God's part and my part)?

     I believe the things this quote doesn't say are, in point of fact, the more beautiful of the facts about salvation! That God saves those whom He chooses despite every difficulty and every conflict, despite a lack of powerful preaching, prevailing prayer, or personal purging is more beautiful by far! God has chosen for Himself a royal priesthood, a peculiar people in whom to reveal Himself, and He will save them, regardless of the state of the church at the time or of the country or of the world! He is not bound by humanity or by our shortcomings.

     Part of the beauty of Christ's sovereign plan of redemption is that it is not able to fail. He will not fail in saving those whom He intends to save. He cannot fail! God doesn't need us to accomplish His will, either in revival or anything else. He's God.


  1. Sadly this reality spreads far beyond the KJV only group, it is a sickness that is becoming more and more deeply rooted in the church world wide. In adopting the idea that it is up to us we (the church) are adopting the idea that we have a weak God (an idea that should never be found in any true Christian church). This post is a good reminder of the power of just one thought.

    1. You're right on. This attitude glorifies man in and in return, demotes God to a position as our helper or our assistant in doing good things rather than recognizing our rightful role as simply a tool in our Father's service.

      Thank you for reading, elambert321!