Restoration Vision for a Strong, Healthy American Church
Summary: In pondering and praying about the state of the American Church today, I find my heart yearning to see these important breakthroughs for the Lord’s Church in our day. Lord, may this be a season of restoration of the Church you gave your life for!
Acts 3:6-10; 4:4 Then Peter said [to the crippled man], “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” ...  He jumped to his feet and began to walk....  When all the people saw him walking and praising God,...  they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.... [4:4] many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name ...  they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
•• Our young people have grown up in such a high-tech world that they are not easily impressed. I recently bought an iPhone, and I am simply amazed at the things it can do.
• What will it take to reach for the Lord the youth brought up in this age of technological “miracles”? I personally believe we need to see miraculous healings as the early Church did. When Peter and John ministered divine healing to the crippled man, thousands came to faith in Jesus Christ from that dramatic healing and the preaching that followed.
• It will always — always! — require the sharing of God’s Word. But God doesn’t intend the Word alone to carry the entire burden of convincing people of the truth of the Gospel. To the contrary, the apostle Paul said, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance...” (1 Thess. 1:5, KJV).
•• I once studied the first ten revivals in the Book of Acts. I found that nine of these ingatherings of souls were clearly associated with a dramatic healing or miracle or other observable supernatural event.
• Habakkuk 3:2LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known.
• Campus revivals —
Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions...”
•• I was recently in a midweek prayer meeting at our church in Eugene, Oregon. I won’t presume to call it “a vision”, but I experienced a sudden great joy in my soul as I “saw” Jesus (in my mind’s eye) walking through the campus of our nearby university. I saw students coming alive spiritually in the presence of the Lord. I saw young men and women sitting on the lawns in groups, enjoying the Lord’s presence and speaking of Him.
•• Was this a prophetic “vision” from God? Perhaps. I don’t know. But it was very powerful and very compelling. And it has stirred my spirit to ask the Lord for a pouring out of His Spirit on the campuses of our nations. For the work of God on earth to go forward, we must see an entire new generation of on-fire Christians and new leaders arise. Where better to start reaching these young men and women than on our campuses?
•• My prayer: “Lord, pour out your Spirit on America’s campuses to reveal Jesus Christ, and let revival be stirred up there and spill over into our wider society.”
• Let us see “Pentecost” return to the Church —
Acts 1:5, 8; 2:1, 4 “...in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit....  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [2:1] When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. ...  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
•• Before Pentecost, Peter denied Jesus three times. After Pentecost and his reception of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly preached to the crowds in Jerusalem, and 3,000 were saved and baptized in water (Acts 2:41). This is the difference that Pentecost makes in the life of a believer.
•• Too many Christians have received salvation in their personal “Passover” — “...Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed” (1 Corin. 5:7) — but have not gone forward to embrace their personal Pentecost.
•• The Church in the 21st century must remember that Jesus did not permit His highly trained apostles to begin their own ministries until they had received their “Pentecost”:
• “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
•• My prayer: “Lord, pour out Holy Spirit power from on high throughout the world today. Let each hungry believer receive his or her personal Pentecost — the baptism with the Holy Spirit.”
• Spiritual gifts once again openly visible, as in the early Church —
1 Corinthians 1:7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
•• It is clear that the apostle Paul expected the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be in the Church right up until the second coming of Jesus Christ. A healthy Church is to “not lack any spiritual gift” right up until the coming of the Lord a second time.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
•• I’ve often said that if a man can be talked into faith merely by man’s so-called “wisdom”, he can probably be talked out of faith by Satan’s perverted but persuasive eloquence and “wisdom”.
•• The apostle Paul understood this. So he backed up his preaching and teaching with “demonstration[s] of the Spirit’s power”. That way, people’s faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. The spiritual gifts are vitally needed expressions of that divine power.
•• My prayer: “Lord, let church pastors throughout the world open their hearts (and their church services) to the moving and manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power.”
• “Jesus never had any trouble drawing a crowd” —
Matthew 4:25Large crowds ... followed him.
Matthew 13:2 Such large crowds gathered around him...
Luke 8:42 ...the crowds almost crushed him.
•• The point here is simple and need not be belabored — where Jesus is present, the people come.
•• A pastor friend in Alaska was in a group of preachers one day, and one pastor lamented that they were having a hard time drawing people to church services. My pastor friend replied, “Jesus never had any trouble drawing a crowd.”
• The point was well made. Let our churches be full of the preaching of Jesus Christ, of His cross, of His resurrection, of His (hopefully soon) second coming, of His love for lost souls, of His provision to us of His Holy Spirit, and the like. The apostle Paul had the key: “We preach Christ...” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Pastor, are you doing that as a main focus in your church?
•• My prayer: “Heavenly Father, let the Person of your Son, Jesus Christ, be once again seen as the central message of the Church to the world.”
• More church services rather than fewer —
Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
•• Unfortunately today, many churches are “in the habit of” having fewer and fewer church services. The prevailing standard has become “once on Sunday morning”.
•• But the saints need to be together, and together often — “all the more” (vs. 25) as we see the end of the age coming closer than ever before. We need the worship ... we need the preached word ... the fellowship with others of like mind ... the edifying influences of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... the corporate experience of the presence of the Lord ... and so much more.
•• My prayer: “Lord, prompt church pastors to provide more (not fewer) edifying opportunities for the believers to gather and for lost souls to come and be blessed.”
• Spirit-led worship, not just rehearsed “song services” —
Ephesians 5:18-19 ...be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
•• I have visited many churches and church services. In some I’ve been blessed to participate in spiritual worship. In others I was saddened to see the saints basically being spectators, watching and enjoying the music from those on the platform.
•• There’s no detailed definition in the Bible of what spiritual or Spirit-led worship is. But you’ll know it when you are in it! It transcends man’s skills and “order of the service” and goes right into the soul and spirit of each individual. It will sweep you into “...psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing[ing] and mak[ing] music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
•• My prayer: “Lord, help us move beyond just enjoyable singing in church. Capture our hearts and allow us to worship you deeply, from our innermost beings.”
• Let the word of God return to the pulpits —
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land — not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD."
•• That is the “famine” I see today in much of 21st-century American Christianity. Pulpits are filled with man’s thoughts, self-help messages, and no-offense-to-the-visitors sermons. What should be proceeding from the pulpits of the land is God’s thoughts ... His word ... “the Lord is my Helper” ... “Thus saith the Lord”.
•• A victorious Christian life must be built upon the Scriptures, the word of God — “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
•• My prayer: “Heavenly Father, bring the Bible, the word of God, back into a central place in the hearts of your people and in the pulpits of our churches. In Jesus’ name, amen.”