Talking about signs, wonders and ministries, what about the greatest “church” of all time -- the Wilderness church. It had the best pastor ever – Moses! All the ministries -- Aaron plus his four sons – fivefold! God’s presence! Cloud by day. Fire by night. Miracles. Signs and wonders. Real big ones! Provision. Manna. Quail. Shoes that never wore out!
And there was even God’s edition of the purpose-driven church -- in stone! But they grumbled, groaned and rebelled. The pastor had “burn-out.” Lost his temper! Was removed! And only two made it into the promised land!
God has a recipe for revival – locusts and honey! Locusts swarm, devour and destroy. Biblically they symbolise plague, judgement and retribution! They are not nice! But one man thrived on them – John the Baptist. A locust-and-honey sandwich was the ultimate food for him! Yes, God chose long-haired, leather-belted, locust-eating John to “prepare the way,” to herald Jesus Christ. That same spirit, the spirit that raised and prepared John is the only way to revival and the only precursor to the way, the truth and the life.
In Luke, Chapter 3, the introduction tells us that mighty Caesar was around, so were the governors, tetrachs and priests -- but God chose John to be the messenger. It’s not about politicians and world leaders, the rich or the famous. God raised and prepared John in the wilderness, a separated place, and he was to be God’s mouthpiece.
God chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. The bible tells us that “my Word, from my mouth, never returns void.” God’s word in black and white on a page is not the power. The power is “my mouth” – the Holy Spirit working through His chosen agents.
John was sent out preaching sin and repentance. That’s the Holy Spirit! John highlighted man’s hard heart and sin’s consequences and affect. John told them they needed to turn around, not just be remorseful. The egos needed to die and there was no room for pity-parties. Radical stuff! Indeed.
Jesus spoke very straight in Matthew 15. He knew man’s heart and the hypocrisy! Defilement comes from an impure heart, evil comes from deep inside. Nobody is good.
Diagnosis is fundamental to cure. Defining a problem, acknowledging it is more than halfway to the remedy. We know that with drugs, alcohol and marriage unless we accept that we are part of the problem we can never be part of the solution. But arrogant, self-righteous man refuses to see anything wrong with himself. After all, that’s negativism – negative confession!
With absolute impunity man blames everyone else, including even God, as Adam did –“that woman you gave me.” We think there is nothing wrong that education, science or the right politics won’t mend. We believe that man is basically good, compassionate and loving and is a victim of his circumstances and environment.
We are, after all, made in God’s image! We lost it! Yes, when we died spiritually in the Garden of Eden, we lost it. It’s only now retrievable in Jesus Christ.
We just love pointing outwards. Everything else is wrong except me. Everyone else is an idiot and that’s the accusing game we play as we sit in front of our TV sets watching the sport and the news. We are blundering, blaming and messing with the symptoms and ignoring the roots.
Man’s biggest problem is self -- his big, fat ego! And the biggest problem in the world around us is godlessness. Crime, racism, poverty, Aids, hate and vengeance are all just fruit of the root problem – GODLESSNESS!!
John the Baptists said “produce fruit” as evidence of repentance. Jesus Christ changes lives but unless there is fruit in a life or in a society you can rest assured that there is no Jesus!
Jesus Christ cursed the fig tree because there was just foliage, there was no fruit.
“Stop claiming Abraham,” said John. In other words, stop claiming religion.
Religion is not the answer. It might be a way to appease the conscience or it might pretend to be God’s way or agency, but that’s all it is. It just doesn’t produce any answers. There is no fruit! It’s just a system, a club or a philosophy of life!
The axe is at the root. That means that God knows where the real problem is and that’s the crux of the matter.
I recall, just after I got “born again,” picking up a booklet on the subject of inner healing. On the one page there were about 60 words describing sin. As I read those words, for the first time in my life I got 100 percent in an exam!
Yes, I was every one of those things. Prior to my commitment I would have denied the lot! But now under the ministry of the Holy Spirit I realised that I was all those dreadful things.
I panicked. I phoned a friend. “Relax,” was the advice. “Just keep your eyes on Jesus.” But the truth hit me about those 60 words. They were all inside words! Hate, resentment, pride, jealousy… Yes, that was the real me. That was the “me” God knows, not the one I had painted to the world. And in the moment of revelation I realised that only the Lordship of Jesus in my life takes away those sins. The axe was at the root. Change was on the way!
Preach sin – that was John’s mission. Jonah at Ninevah and Peter at Pentecost had a similar call. The response? “What shall we do?” cried the hearers. Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ! The clarion call for revival is clear. Don’t compromise! Don’t sugarcoat! “Stop editing my word. Stop apologising for Me,” is the voice I hear.
No fancy stuff! It’s all about weeping and brokenness before the Lord.
That’s revival! Come, Lord Jesus!