Spiritual Awakening and Renewal for an Unhealthy American Church
- Summary: The American Church today is not healthy. Biblical illiteracy is widespread. Too many churches imitate the trends of secular society. One respected researcher declares that Christians in America are hardly distinguishable from unbelievers. But there is much room for hope of a spiritual awakening. God’s Word reveals His plans for the spiritual restoration of the Church. Come and see!
Isaiah 58:11-12 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Acts 3:19-21 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
- •• These Scriptures clearly show that God’s heart for His people and His church is spiritual renewal. Notice the key words that God uses, indicating His heart to bring His followers to a place of newness and recovery:
- • rebuilding the ancient ruins
• raising up the age-old foundations
• repairing that which is broken
- •• If you have fallen into the trap of seeing a bleak future for the Lord’s Church in our time, I want to cure you of that erroneous thinking today and fill your heart with optimism.
- • God has promised both times of refreshing and heaven-sent restoration (Acts 3:19, 21).
• God intends that His people participate in His plans for rebuilding and raising up the age-old foundations, for repairing the things that are broken down.
• “Your people will rebuild ... and will raise up...” (Isaiah 58:12).
• “You will be called Repairer ... Restorer” (vs. 12).
• If you think that the Church in materialistic America lies in ruins in the early 21st century, then know this — God intends to “rebuild the ancient ruins and ... raise up the age-old foundations” (vs. 12).
- •• I believe that spiritual restoration is coming to the Church! Let’s look at some biblical things that are likely to be seen in God’s times of refreshing and restoration.
1. Widespread, heartfelt repentance and a hungering and thirsting for righteousness and personal holiness.
Acts 2:37-38 “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent!...”
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
- •• Expect the Spirit of God to move in the hearts of multitudes to repent of their sins and to begin to pursue lives of holiness before God.
- • In many revivals in time past, virtually entire cities turned to the Lord in repentance and faith. Bars closed down. The police found their work to be easy. Why? Because in times of heaven-sent spiritual awakening, people’s hearts had turned to the Lord, and they were pursuing His righteousness.
• Expect to see these things in our day!
Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- •• Don’t let the Church be robbed of this blessing. It is for the Church today, just as in the first century.
- • Jesus Christ, the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11), is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He poured out His Spirit on the early Church; He does the same today! Expect it, believe it, look for it.
Ephesians 3:21 To Him be glory in the church...
- •• Expect and believe God for dramatic manifestations of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit and the almost tangible sense of the Presence of God.
•• The early church of the Book of Acts was indeed a glorious church. Believe for the same in our day — Habakkuk 3:2 LORD, 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...
•• The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today! Don't relegate them to "time past" or only to the Pentecost recorded in Acts 2.
4. I anticipate a renewed hunger for the word of God, the Bible.
Acts 17:11 These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- •• In the remarkable charismatic move that peaked in the decade of the 1970s, millions of young people carried their bibles with them — to church, to coffeehouses, wherever they went. They joined bible studies. Many attended bible schools. They hungered for God’s word.
- • I expect to see in our day a restoration of that spiritual hunger for God’s holy word. Among the youth, among the elderly, in every segment of society.
• Expect a new generation of “Bereans”, who “receive the word will all readiness of mind and search the Scriptures daily...”
5. I visualize a generation arising who will honor once again the absolute preeminence of Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
- •• Picture a nation in which Jesus is honored, His Name is heard in reverence rather than in cursing, and the Church bought by His blood is once again the most influential institution in the land.
- • These things have happened in time past. Can you believe God to see these things again?
6. Expect to see widespread acceptance of, and many moving into, the full “fivefold” ministry, as well as biblically qualified elders and deacons.
Ephesians 4:11-12 It was he [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
- •• The Church has been handicapped for too long by the rejection of contemporary apostles and prophets. It will take all five of the listed ministries to “prepare God’s people for the works of service” that He desires that we do.
•• Are there false apostles out there today? False prophets? Certainly. There were such in the early church as well. But don’t let that dissuade you from embracing all these needed ministries that Jesus has placed in His church for the duration of the Church Age.
•• For further examination of this topic, I recommend our detailed bible study entitled "Are There Modern Day Apostles and Christian Prophets Today?"
7. I anticipate a restoration of the concept of totally “selling out” to the Lord, as we saw in the early Church.
Matthew 19:27, KJV [Peter to Jesus] Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee.
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
- •• Christian researchers today — most notably, George Barna — are seeing the emergence of a growing body of Christian believers who, compared to the complacent, are being tabbed “revolutionaries”. They have a passion for Jesus and a determination to serve Him fully, no matter the cost.
- • May a renewed passion for the Lord sweep through our hearts and across this land.
Summary: As in the temple of the Old Testament, may it once more be said of the New Testament “temple” (that is, the church) that “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former...” (Haggai 2:9). May God’s heart for spiritual restoration bring the Church of our day back to, and even surpassing, the glory we read of in the first-century church.
Habakkuk 3:2 LORD, 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.
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©1995, 2007, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.