8/5/18 “Let Revival Fire Fall”

The title is “Let Revival Fire Fall.” And I’ve been in this series for many months entitled Theology on Fire. So God’s word—theology—on fire, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now let me clarify for you because depending on if you’re conservative or charismatic or Pentecostal or whoever (and there’s a lot different people watching and listening to this), I need to clarify this word revival. And it’s actually not weirdness. It’s not being loud. “We’re having a revival service all week!”—and that’s not revival. Revival has little to do with evangelism, although evangelism will follow. Revival, straight and simple and to the point, is God reviving His people. “Will thou not revive us again?” Why? So we can rejoice in You. So we can know You at a deeper, more intimate level. Revival is a release, it’s a recovering, it’s a rebuilding, it’s a reclaiming, it’s a realigning. You see the re means a lot there. Reviving, renewing, restoring, reestablishing, bringing people back to God.

So unless God brings revival, there is little hope for our nation, there is little hope for the world. It is God awakening His church. You picture your teenager sleeping and you going in and throwing on them a gallon of water. “What? What?!” Reviving—get up; there’s work to do! So it’s a restoring. It’s resupplying. It’s readjusting. It’s redeploying the troops. So in short, it’s reviving, restoring, and rekindling that fire that maybe you’ve never had. Maybe you had it, and you’ve lost it. But the way God gets His people back on track is to revive them, restore them to wholeness.

I don’t have a problem with this word. A lot of churches do. I unfortunately went to a conference a few years ago where they actually mocked and poked fun at those who said, “Lord, send Your fire.” They mocked that. “Oh, those guys don’t know they’re praying.” Oh, yes, we do. See here’s the confusion. Yes, fire is destructive if it’s coming as a form of judgment, but if that revival fire is a purifier, it can represent the power and presence of God; we should desire that. See, so it’s all where your heart is at.

Yeah, you don’t want an unbeliever or somebody just living in sin to say, “Bring fire, God,” because watch out! that’s often a consuming fire. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). Judgment is often represented by fire, but so is His presence, so is power, the manifest power of God. When fire falls the altar and the sacrifice are consumed, and God visits His people. And throughout the Bible You would see Him visiting His people, and even in the New Testament, even throughout church history. I love to read about revivals, God awakening and bringing this presence that’s not normally felt.

Here’s the difference. It’s a difference between a little running stream about this wide and a dam bursting. What would you rather be in? Well, obviously safety-wise, right, the little stream. But to be refreshed and the power—see when that dam breaks, it will move enormous boulders. It will knock down the forest and redo the entire landscape. That’s a downpour. That’s a revival.

So God’s always here. The Holy Spirit—you know, people will even laugh at that song—“Fill me up, fill me up.” “Oh, that’s brainwashing.” No, it’s not. What would you rather be praying? “Keep me lukewarm, keep me dry, keep me dead, move on to the next song, please”?  No, that’s the heart getting ready. “God, fill me up.” I don’t know about you, but I have to say it a few times. I have to press in. I have to fight the flesh. I have to overcome the pull of the world and say, “Lord, fill me up with Your power, with Your presence. God, I’m asking, I’m knocking, I’m seeking, I need more of You.” Like A. W. Tozer said, “I want the presence of God Himself or I don’t want anything to do with religion.” That’s what I’m after. I don’t know about you, but most of us didn’t come to play church. That’s why I say that. We didn’t come to have a social club. We came to meet God.

So there’s nothing wrong in saying that. The reason people will mock this type of message is because they’ve never experienced it. And they’re afraid of what they’ve never experienced. They want comfortable Christianity. They want God in a box. Like I said before, we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Word. “Don’t talk about the Holy Spirit stuff.” Don’t talk about the Holy Spirit stuff? “Yeah, because people can get too carried away.” Well, they can also get on fire in the right direction. The Holy Spirit is the power and presence of God.

Isaiah wasn’t afraid of this, was he? You know the prophet Isaiah? The Scripture we taught on months ago—“Oh, that You would rend the heavens.” Isaiah said, “Oh, God, oh!”—and I guarantee it wasn’t a quiet oh. He was saying, “Oh! Would You rend—” Do you know what that is? It would rip. “Lord, would You rip up the heavens? Would You rip up heaven and come down that the mountains might shake at Your presence?” Have you ever driven by Mount Whitney? Seventeen thousand feet and that mountain would shake in His presence. Go to Everest—twice that size—and that mountain would shake in the presence of God. “Oh, that You would come down and rip the heavens!” I hope that’s your heart cry. I hope. Because that’s the only way that lasting change will occur. That’s the only way you’ll be on fire for God—passion for God, for His Word, for worship, for prayer. Because that fire wants to be extinguished or fueled? The fire of God wants to be fueled. That’s why we want church attendance. We want to get in His Word. We want to sit with other Christians and talk about the goodness of God.

So let me just read a few things. I want to increase your appetite for revival. This is from the book When Fire Fell. I’ve got a lot of books on revival. I’m reading one right now on the great awakenings that occurred on our college campuses back in the late 1600s and 1700s. Did you know that Yale was founded as a Christian college? Harvard? All these colleges, and God brought revival and renewal. They would drift off course, and He would bring revival. God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants.

So I’ll just tell you this upfront (I was going to wait till the end). But when I talk about revival—the title is “Let Revival Fall”—the key word there is let. Because you provide the sacrifice, God provides the fire. And Charles Finney caught some heat in his book on revivals because he said, “If you create the atmosphere, God is compelled to move.” Now I partially agree, and I partially don’t, because we can’t tell God what to do. We can’t have a revival conference next week, and God’s going to bring revival. However, we can create an environment. You see all these forest fires in California? I don’t see them in the dead of winter. Why? Because the environment isn’t conducive. So we can prepare the environment, the condition of our heart, for fire to fall, for God to fall on that.

Jonathan Edwards gave himself to prayer and the ministry of the Word for eight years.

Not microwave Christianity, right? You’ve got to press in. You’ve got to continue to pray and continue to push in.

Then suddenly the fire fell. Mr. Shearer gives a graphic picture of the scenes that were witnessed as the Spirit of God came down upon the people. . . . “In the early months of 1735, the people pressed into the church daily, and for a time Northampton was literally filled with the presence of God. In almost every house parents were rejoicing over their children, and in the sanctuary the tears of [repentance], of newfound joy, and deep compassion flowed freely. The whole congregation became like a heavenly choir, and praise was a sweet and holy sacrifice [when fire fell].

In Scotland, in the year 1630, a young minister named John Livingston was invited to preach to a great assembly of people. Realizing the importance of the meeting, groups of earnest Christians formed themselves into little companies and spent the night in earnest prayer for God’s blessing upon the gathering. The young minister himself, John Livingston, was [also part of those prayer groups. And afterwards] . . . for two and a half hours this young man spoke with burning lips to the great audience. The heavenly fire fell upon the multitude, and the scene was like another Pentecost.

 I could sit here for the rest of the day and read examples from China to Africa. You got Andrew Murray in Africa, you’ve got the Inland Missionary Alliance in China, you’ve got South America, you’ve got the Great Awakenings. God is moving. God moves among His people. One of my favorites—I love to read his journal—David Brainerd, he actually came to America and was a missionary to the Indians:

Brainerd realized more and more that it was only through the mighty power of God, and the fire falling from heaven, that the hardened hearts of the stolid Indians could be changed. He decided to give himself unreservedly to intercessory prayer. It was said “whole nights were spent in agonizing prayer in the dark woods, his clothes drenched with the sweat of his travail.” As the result of such intense fervent prayer it’s little wonder that the windows of heaven were opened and the fire fell.

Now here’s the theme throughout all the books I read, throughout the Bible—one theme and one theme alone: Pray and humble yourself as if revival depended upon it, because it does. It does. Lukewarm, carnal Christianity that doesn’t feel the power and presence of God will never break free of that unless they press in, unless they pray and travail and humble themselves, even if it takes years. People say, “I tried to pray for a few hours. It just doesn’t work.” Are you expecting to walk on clouds right then, or are you pressing in?

I had Hebrews 12:29 up on the screen, actually a few verses there, and I just really want to grab the main thrust of that. Hebrews 12: “For our God is a consuming fire.” So that’s your God. He’s a consuming fire. One commentary said this about the passage in Hebrews that’s up there: “If those who ignore earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundation. This time He will also rock the heavens.”  So we do see fire as judgment. This context of Hebrews, especially chapter 12, is our God is a consuming fire. It’s this picture of consuming and taking up and because of judgment.

But there’s also a picture throughout the New Testament, and the Old, of God’s fire falling upon a prepared people, a prepared heart, and consuming the works of the flesh. See, something is consumed when fire falls. The works of the flesh are consumed. Carnality is consumed. And what is left is the filling of the Spirit.

And then also 1 Kings 18, a very familiar story: “The fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust—” Can you believe that? “—and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God” (vv. 38–40). I bet they did. The story of course is Elisha, right? Mocking the prophets of Baal and saying, “Cry out to your god! Cry out to your god!” And they’re cutting themselves, and they’re crying out, “Oh, come on, god, answer!” And he’s not answering. He’s probably on vacation. He’s sleeping. “Where’s your god?” he said. And then he said, “Let the God who answers by fire, let him be God.” And they covered the entire altar with water and more water and more water, put water around it, and then fire fell from heaven and consumed everything and licked up the dust. That’s the presence and power of God. That’s fire falling. That’s God’s presence and power in a mighty way.

And the Scripture that many of you are probably thinking of is Romans 12:1. Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” So Paul is saying, “Listen I beseech you,” in another translation. There’s a beseeching. There’s a begging. I can feel Paul in some of this. I don’t know if you can. But what do you think Paul would do? Would he just sit up here and use a chair and just talk? I bet he’d be down there going, “I beg you! I beseech you! Present your bodies as a living sacrifice. That’s your reasonable service. That’s what’s holy and acceptable to God, a living sacrifice.”

And I’ve learned the more you say, “Lord, whatever You want to do,” He will do—and more He will do, and more He’ll do through you. The more you give up, the more He does. The more you hold on, the more He doesn’t do, because He wants a willing vessel. “The humble He teaches His way” (Ps. 25:9). Who’s going to pray, “Lord, bring revival fire; I’m going to do whatever I want”? The fire is the anointing, the unction, the power of the Holy Spirit working through your life to make a difference in the lives of others. That can’t be a selfish prayer. “Lord, give me power so I have power.”

I believe that’s one reason why many people don’t experience the power of the Holy Spirit. “Oh, if I could just have healing. If I could just preach like that person. If I could just . . . oh, I would just be so great.” Isn’t it we often want that power? But see, you’ve got to get to a point where you say, “I don’t want the power; I want God. I don’t want the gifts; I want the Gift Giver. I want to know You, God. Whatever You have for me, I want to know You.” And that’s the person God will use.

So when fire falls it consumes the old, and the spiritual life is reborn. When fire falls it purifies, and it removes contaminants. When fire falls it changes the landscape forever. Another verse that’s very relevant is Matthew 3:11. Check out this scene. John the Baptist is down at the Jordan River. He’s baptizing people, and he said, “I baptize you into repentance, repenting of your sin.” But he said, “There’s One coming after me whose sandals I can’t even carry,” and what will He do? “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

It’s funny how people mock that, yet it’s in the Bible. “Conservative church would never say that! Baptize with the Holy Spirit?” Well, that’s what the Bible says. I’m just reading the Bible. Now people take that, and they do weird things, things that are not biblical, and they do it in the name of the Holy Spirit, and “Oh, brother, you just need a baptism of the Spirit.” And we give it a wrong name, but the bottom line is that is Jesus is coming. That’s why He’s called the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. He will overwhelm a person with God’s power and God’s presence. “That’s who’s coming after me,” John the Baptist says. “I am nothing. I’m a nobody. I’m just baptizing you into repentance, but when Jesus Christ comes He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” which as a result is fire. If somebody’s filled with the Holy Spirit they’re not going to be filled with ice. It’s always fire, always filled with fire.

And I asked this question last year, I think, and it’s really relevant today. If the Scripture says, “When you believe Jesus He will baptize you with the power of the Holy Spirit,” and Jesus Himself said, “If you believe on Me, as the Scriptures say, out of your belly will flow rivers of living water.” The prophet said, “His word is in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I can’t hold it back.” If you have not experienced this, you might want to check your surrender. How many of you in this room can say that?

Listen, I don’t say that to be mean; I say it to motivate. I say it to encourage you. If you can’t say, “His word is in my heart like a burning fire,” if you can’t say, “Yeah, when I believed on Him out of my belly flowed rivers of living water,” then there’s a kink in the water hose. There’s a kink in the water hose. “There’s nothing coming out.” Well, the problem’s not with the water. It’s on.

See, and I truly believe that you have all of the Holy Spirit as a believer, but does He have all of you?  There are kinks in the hose. There’s not allowing—and most of us know what that is, right? We say, “I know I need to . . . fill in the blank.” “I know God wants me to . . . fill in the blank.” “But, Shane, it’s my one little vice.” See, we know what’s preventing that outflow of the Holy Spirit, that downpour from coming in our lives, and I believe God wants to challenge us this morning. He wants to challenge me. So when He challenges me, I’m challenging you, how’s that? Fair deal?

So Jesus is coming. It just cracks me up because people will get offended by this title. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire. The Bible says that. To me that’s not just normal Christianity, that’s not boring Christianity. That’s the fire of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I did this study “Theology on Fire.”

So I do want to ask some questions. I’ve asked them before, maybe in a different way, but, Bible student, have you received fire? Bible student, you know who you are. You love theology, but have you received fire? You love pneumatology, the study of the Spirit, but have you received the fire of that Spirit? You love to dissect Greek and Hebrew, but have you received that fire? Have you received this mighty filling of the Holy Spirit?

You know, it’s so interesting. Many years—I think it was a hundred years ago—when I am reading some of the things back then, we do things a lot different now, you know? I know a church locally; I’m not going to say names. There was a position that opened up, many years ago. A youth position, I believe it was, young adults. I went in and said, “Hey, I might be interested. I believe God’s calling me to this.” “Well, we can’t even interview you.” Why? “Well, you didn’t go to seminary.” Oh, well, pardon me. A hundred years ago they would never have asked that question. They asked one question: Has he received his baptism of fire?

Now theology is important, right? We all agree. I’ve got books to the ceiling. We study it. We love it. It’s the study of God. But theology without fire is dead. Fire without theology is chaos and confusion. You have to have both. So that was the call. “Here’s a pastor coming.” “Okay, has he received what Jesus said—his baptism of fire?” I don’t care if he has a PhD in church history. I don’t care if he has a master’s degree in hermeneutics and homiletics. I don’t even know if they give that degree. But they said, “Has he received his baptism of fire?” Because that’s how you get the pew on fire is the pulpit has to be on fire. That’s the only way.

Because the fire of God works through an empty vessel who’s broken before God and says, “God, unless You speak I don’t even want to go up there.” And that fire that’s in the heart, that burning fire “that’s burning, and I can’t shut up,” that goes out, and it sets the pew on fire, then that pews sets the Valley on fire, then that Valley sets the state on fire, then the state sets the country on fire, and revival fires are burning again, because God brought the first flame.

See that’s how it works. Has he received his baptism of fire? But have you? Mom? Dad? Because people say, “Well, you need that because you’re a pastor.” I think I need that more as a parent. “Well, Pastor, you’re preaching.” Yeah, but you’re a parent snapping at your children, yelling at your children, can’t keep your emotions under control. How much more do you need the power of the Spirit in your family? I’ve got a couple hours on Sunday, but I’ve got a whole big week around people. So have you received that fire? Church member, have you received that fire?

That’s why I titled it “Let—let—Revival Fire Fall.” You create the environment. You create the environment. We forget that. I think sometimes we pray, and we ask God, “Lord, would You do this?” God says, “You provide Me the environment. I’ll do it.” How many people are praying but not obeying the Word? James says those who hear but do not do are living in deception. And they come to prayer meetings, “But, Shane, God’s not answering my prayer.” Well, are you doing? Are you obeying? “Well…maybe someday. Let’s start with the answer.” No, the answering comes after the obeying.

Rebellious children think they can negotiate with God. It might work with your parents but not with God. Not with God. “You provide the fire, and I will provide the sacrifice.” There are even ministries that make fun of that song. They might not like it, I got it. There’s preference. We love the old hymns. We love the new stuff. But I’ve noticed that those who poke fun at it have not received it. Those who don’t like emotional songs, those who don’t like things like this have not experienced it, because when you experience it, you love it. That’s why those of you who have been saved and set free, you love “Amazing Grace.” Go tell an unbeliever to listen to that. They’ll be convicted and shut it off. Why? Because they’ve never experienced the amazing grace; it brings conviction and not comfort.

And you have to pray. So many all the revivals I read about, that I’ve been praying for, they start in the prayer closet. They start by men and women saying, “Lord, bend us. Break us. Let it begin with me. Let it begin in my home. Let it begin with me.” We’ve got to get our eyes off of California, off of Washington, off of whatever, and get our eyes fixed on who we are before God, because God will say, “I’ll take that one person.” Gideon had thousands and thousands and thousands of his army. God said, “Get them down to three hundred. “Three hundred?” “Yeah, just Me and you.” Actually, God and Gideon would have been fine. Actually, just God would have been fine.

So you and God are the majority. That’s why God says, “You bend, you break, you humble yourself, and I will honor that atmosphere. I will honor that environment.” “Lord, let Your fire fall. Consume mediocrity, consume my carnality, crush my hypocrisy and my pride.” He who yearns, he who thirsts, he who hungers shall be what? Filled, shall be satisfied.

And real hunger—we can say, “Yeah, I’m hungry.” No, you know what real hunger looks like? You’ve got to find somewhere to eat. Real thirst—you have to find something to drink. I talk about it in my book, Desperate for More of God.

Some of you remember this story; I’ve told it before. But I headed out on the aqueduct for miles, fifteen miles, and I realized I was out of water. And I’m not drinking that yet, right? It’s not been treated yet; it went through treatment plant. So, I’m out of water, so by the time I get to my truck, you’d think I would put my bike down, put the kickstand. No, drop my bike, open the truck, and just drank and drank and drank and drank. Where’s that passion for God? Where’s that desire? “Lord, I want a drink. I thirst!” “He who thirst for Me will be filled. He who hungers for Me will be satisfied.” It’s a deep yearning, a deep thirst. You can’t just say it; you have to feel it. “I want more of God, or I don’t want to have anything to do with religion. I want God’s presence. I want God’s power.”

That’s why fasting is so important. You tell your flesh, “I smell the fajitas, but I want God more. I want God more. Lord, I’m going to deny the flesh to be filled with Your Spirit.” It’s not some mystical thing, it’s a denying of the flesh. That’s why you often see fasting and prayer connected with revival. Because I can’t pray well if I’m full and I’ve got grease dripping off my mouth and turkey on the plate, and “Oh, I’m so full.” He says, “Starve yourself. Starve your flesh, and then seek Me with all of your heart, and you will be satisfied. You will be full of My Spirit.”

However, this is why a good majority of people leave Spirit-filled churches. They say, “I don’t want fire; I want comfort.” This Shane guy is trying to train me for the CrossFit games; I want to be a couch potato. You ever see those things? Those guys are crazy. But that’s training. That’s how Christians should be. Not physically, but there should be some soldier in you, some fight in you, some warfare. This is how we fight our battles—and worship and prayer—with the fire of God.

This isn’t a bad thing. Jesus received the fire of the Holy Spirit. Shane, can you prove that? Sure, just start in the Gospels. After His baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus—epi—it’s a preposition, Greek preposition, meaning “upon,” fully immersing Jesus in the power of the Spirit. He came up out of the wilderness after fasting and was filled with the Spirit of God. The fire of God. Everything He did, everything He touched, was because He was filled with God’s Spirit. Now we’ll never reach the level Christ was at because we don’t know God’s will. Sin is still in us and fighting against us. But we can be filled with God’s Spirit.

Man, the Old Testament writers were just so convicting. They would say, “I set my heart on God. I set, I set my heart on God. I engage my heart towards God.” There’s engaging, there’s a setting that happens. Think about this for a minute. What man condemned to death would not fully surrender his life to the one who set him free? All of us were condemned to death, were we not—eternally, before we became believers? What person condemned to death, being set free—eternally, not temporarily—being set free would not fully surrender their life and say, “Master, whatever you want me to do”?

It’s interesting. You’ll see in recent translations they translate the word doulas to “servant.” The actual meaning is slave. Doulas—“I’ll become your slave.” The problem is we don’t want a master because we want to be master. We think, “God will ruin all the fun, God will take all my money, go put me in the mission field, and I’ll just sit at home crabby, crabby, crabby.” I found that most people are crabby, crabby, crabby who haven’t done that, because it’s not fulfilling.

True fulfillment, true joy, comes from being filled with God’s Spirit. When you wake up going, “I’m doing what God wants me to do. I reached out to that person like God wanted me to do. I went to the hospital homes like God wanted me to do. I’m doing His will. I’m obeying His word. I’m raising my family. I’m leading people to the Lord. I’m loving God. I’m doing what God’s called me to do.” There’s tremendous joy there. That’s where joy comes from. Joy comes from obeying God and doing His will.

And when the flesh takes over and says, “No, I don’t want to do that. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m miserable. I have no joy. I’m anxious. I’m irritable. Oh, this stinks. But I’m a Christian—what’s wrong? I know what I can do. I’ll get a prescription. Or I’ll drink. Or I’ll . . .” and we try to fill in that void, and it doesn’t work. It only works when a person surrenders everything. I found that I don’t worry about finances as much or my life as much or how things are going. “Lord, You have this. That’s Your deal. That’s Yours. I’m just the slave. You’re the master.”

So think about that this morning. What man condemned to death would not fully surrender his life to the one who set him free?

And what we do usually, we try to do it on the first of each month, is we have Communion. We have communion at the front. We have communion up top at the balcony as well. And during worship—I’m not going to come back up—but during worship you come, and you partake of Communion, and what we do is we look at what Christ has done. You know the songs we love to sing? “Oh, the blood, oh, the blood. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” And we remember that time of Communion.

So Communion is a wonderful opportunity to get back on track, because Paul also says, “Do not take it an unworthy manner.” This is the time to do heart surgery. Don’t go to your cardiologist; go to God on this kind. Don’t get on a V-fib or an EKG or any of that. Go to God on this type of heart surgery. And say, “God, cleanse me. Clean me. Is there anything in here that’s not right, that’s not honoring You? I don’t want to take Communion in an unworthy manner.”

And for others, you go up, and you take Communion, and you can go back to your seat or whatever. You can stand, pray with your spouse, and you just want to be encouraged, maybe—you need to remember what Jesus did. Remember the cross. Remember how He died for us. And we remember. Isn’t it important to go back and remember? Because we forget. “Oh, that’s right. That’s why we’re here.”

Can you imagine if Jesus was out front on the cross like He was in that movie? You might come out a little different. I don’t know if I could get through the front door. Weeping at the front entrance, weeping and saying, “Oh my God, not for me, for me?” and you’d see before He’s the risen Savior, you’d see Him on the cross. That would change your worship. There would not be a dry eye in this building. So that’s what Communion does. We remember this. We remember what happened.

And then finally, as always, if you don’t know Christ, if you have religion but not a relationship. You’ve been going through the motions. You’ve maybe been trusting in your parents’ salvation, or you were raised in a good Christian home, or you went to a Christian school. You’re going to have to do business with God individually. You have to get your heart right before taking Communion because you’re remembering what Christ did. If Christ hasn’t done anything for you, you can actually take that in vain, blaspheme what Christ has done. So get your heart right. The Bible says repent and believe. And then partake of Communion.