Allen Jackson - When Revival Comes - Part 1
It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic is "When Revival Comes". You know, I had mistakenly imagined that when the Spirit of God moved in the earth, that it would banish evil, that we would see the triumph of the kingdom of God and the complete recession, the darkness would just disappear. But I don't believe that's the case. You know, when God called Gideon to lead a renewal movement, he began that at night because he was afraid of his adversaries.
Well, we're gonna have to have the courage to take the truth of Jesus Christ and stand in the public square in the face of voices that don't agree with us. We don't have to be angry or belligerent or mean-spirited and certainly not violent, but we're gonna have to have the courage to hold an opinion that may not be completely embraced by the broader culture. Jesus is Lord and his truth will triumph, but he needs you and I to be messengers, ambassadors for his kingdom in this most unique season. What an exciting time to serve the Lord. Grab your Bible, get a notepad, most of all, open your heart.
I struggle, titles are the hardest part of what I do. The messages themselves aren't so challenging, but the titles, I'm always kind of stumped. So, but I think "When Revival Comes" is where I would like to begin this. And the word "revival" is a little overused. It can be an awakening, it can be an outpouring of the Spirit of God, it can be a moving. It's when God takes us from one state of being to a completely different one. And typically, it's God-initiated. It's not something we do, it's under his control. But I believe that we have actually entered into one of those periods.
We've talked about it a lot through the years. We have some friends who have an anointing as an evangelist, and we've done a lot of things through the years. We've gotten to Bridgestone Arena, and we have traveled. And we've gone outdoors and indoors, and we put one foot in and one foot out. And I don't believe any of those things were inappropriate or wrong, but God's doing something right now that I've never seen him do before. And I can't really attribute to anything other than a moving of the Spirit of God.
You know, it was two weeks ago tomorrow that I got on a plane to leave, and we've had two weeks of unprecedented breakthroughs, just unthinkable, unimaginable, unplanned. And when I'm outside the gravitational pull of the nation and the media and all those things and my calendar's busy, you know, God is moving in the midst of confusion and turmoil. He didn't stop the turmoil and eliminate the confusion. He's just right in the midst of it. He said, "Watch this". You know, we've watched Roe v. Wade be overturned, which is unimaginable.
And as marvelous as that is, all it's really done is taken the discussion away from the courts. That was imposed upon us without the will of the people. And so now we're in a place where it's returning the choice regarding the sanctity of human life back to the people. Each state is going to have to decide. Much of the messaging that I've been hearing, and I've just been hearing it in snippets 'cause I've been busy and I was out of the country, but it's really disingenuous and misleading. All that was said was the judicial fiat is not gonna impose the ending of the lives of our children. Will I get to like it to have a voice in that? So it's a very significant time for the church.
You know, one of the things it seems to me that is being peeled back in these most remarkable days, and they are most remarkable days, is the charade of our faith being separate from our larger lives has been completely exposed. It's just been completely exposed, and we were duped into this or walked into it willingly or we did it with hearts that were misguided but for decades, Christians have been told that our worldview is unwelcome in so many, many places. You can believe in God, if you wanted to. You could have a Judeo-Christian, a biblical worldview, but we were told you shouldn't bring that many places. Have you heard that? I have heard that. You certainly shouldn't bring it to the public schools. We didn't want Ten Commandments there. We couldn't read our Bibles there. You shouldn't pray there. If the kids want to pray, go find a flagpole.
There was very limited access to college campuses, and they've been increasingly intolerant. And certainly in corporate settings, they didn't want you praying. I mean, I have many friends who work in the medical arenas or legal communities and we've talked about, you know, how can you pray without risking lawsuits? We've lived in that world, right? Have I got the right group of people? Decade upon decade upon decade, and it's become more and more narrow and that biblical worldview, they say, "Don't bring that into the public, it's not welcome". Until now. And the logic that was provided for us, as we were conceding the field, was rooted in the idea that if one person was offended, then the majority should be silent out of respect for that offended individual. And we all nodded quietly and said, "Well, okay".
So we stopped praying at work or taking our Bible to work or praying with our kids or praying at the ball fields or praying in our schools. So I've watched these last couple of weeks. Now we have corporate America offering to pay travel expenses for abortions or to reimburse employees if they're arrested for protesting the ruling of the Supreme Court, which happens to protect children. Well, I have a question. I'm a part of this, and I'm not throwing a stone, I'm holding up a mirror and I'm in the picture that's looking back. But where has the Christian leadership been for the last four or five decades? What are we gonna say? We've been either distracted or just bullied into silence.
What would our nation look like today if we'd spent the last 50 years being advocates for godliness and righteousness with the same enthusiasm and determination that we see being demonstrated by those with a very different worldview now? Does that feel right to you? It's awkward. It's a little uncomfortable. I mean, I was in Israel, not very many years ago, a handful of years ago when the Supreme Court ruled on a different topic, redefined marriage in that Obergefell case. And I saw pictures in the media internationally. I wasn't home. I saw pictures of the rainbow projected on the White House. And I came back and all the messaging was about being tolerant and understanding and open-minded.
I have to tell you, God is moving and I believe because of many things, many of which have been initiated since we were introduced to COVID-19 and this expression of authoritarianism that we hadn't seen before. We are awakened in a way we've never been. And I would submit to you, we can be silent no longer. We're gonna have to use our voices. We don't have to be angry or belligerent or condemning or critical, but we're gonna have to be advocates for the truth. I think protection of our children is a wonderful thing. Now, I don't imagine everybody will agree with that. I don't imagine we're gonna get unanimous response, but I can't imagine, under the umbrella of a biblical worldview, a Judeo-Christian worldview, that we would think we can sacrifice the lives of our children on the altars of convenience. Some choices we're not allowed to make. There is a God.
Again, we don't have to be angry, but we're gonna have to have the courage. Now, here's the awkward truth, abortion has touched all of us directly and indirectly. We're more than 60 million lives into this. So we're gonna have to be willing to help one another. We'll have to walk gracefully through this in forgiveness and healing and restoration and renewal, but with the determination to honor God in our nation. He is showing us a possibility of a new future, a new response to him. We would scarcely have dared to even ask for this in prayer just a few months ago, and now we're standing and looking at the reality. God is moving.
So I want to take our time and see if we can start to understand. What will that look like? All of my life, I've heard about revivals and renewals and outpouring of the Spirit and at the end of the age, there'll be this wonderful move of the Spirit of God. You've heard versions of this. Some people have charts and graphics. I mean, there's libraries written on this. Well, I believe we're just on the front end of watching that. The outcomes are beyond me. I don't apologize for that. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to the Lord to reveal things. He's made, not everything God tells us. And I don't think it's particularly helpful to try to spend your time figuring out what God said he's not gonna tell you. I don't know about you, but it's just almost overwhelming for me to keep up with what I know to do. That loving your neighbor as yourself thing, that's a full-time job for me 24/7, and I've got pretty decent neighbors.
There's two things, and I've told you this before but I just had another firsthand visit with it, that are going to happen in the months ahead, and they're going to accelerate, they're going to grow. You'll have to look, you'll have to pay attention because the majority of the people that have microphones and put people in front of them will not affirm these things any more than they will affirm the Supreme Court's recent ruling as a remarkable breakthrough for grace on the behalf of children and families. An affirmation of the greatest parts of our heritage as a people, that every life is sacred before God, no matter how strong or weak, no matter the color of our skin, that every life is valuable. There's a possibility. It's not a fait accompli, but there's a possibility that one of the darkest chapters in our history could come to a close.
That's a wonderful gift, but you're going to see, with increasing activity from God and increasing antagonism from his opponents, this re-gathering of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. There's still an enormous part of the Jewish population scattered throughout the earth. In Ezekiel 36 and verse 24, God said, he said, "I will take you out of the nations". If you want to have a little game, circle all the times in this passage where God says, "I will". He's not looking to somebody else. God says, "This is what I'm going to do". And I would just suggest for your own reflection, if the creator of heaven and earth says he's gonna do something, that's a good position for you to hold. He said, "I will take you out of the nations; and I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove you from your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. And you will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. And I will save you from all your uncleanness. And I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you".
I've been visiting Israel since I was a boy. It was very much, at that time, a third world country. The roads were two-lane, many of them were not paved well. The primary agricultural crops were citrus. They struggled in the hotels where we would stay. You couldn't eat the food unless it was cooked or you could peel it. You certainly wouldn't have eaten the salad or something fresh. They just weren't to the place yet that was safe for those of us who were visiting. Today, Israel has the finest fruits and vegetables. They sell them to the most elite markets of Europe. They have one of the leading high tech corridors in the world, more high-tech startups than any place other than Silicon Valley. They're one of the most technically sophisticated nations in the world, one of the most robust economies. They've come from over 100 nations. We've heard of startup companies.
Israel is a startup country, and they've done it in the midst of the most brutal neighborhood. But the part that's most exciting to me, and it's as remarkable and as dramatic as our own Supreme Court rulings of late, is what God is doing in the hearts of the people. If you read the sequencing there, he said, "I'll bring them back from the nations of the world, and then I will begin to change their hearts". They came back after World War II, broken, decimated. It's impossible for me to even understand the depth of the rejection that the Holocaust represented. There were no nations in the world that wanted them. There was no place for them to go. The process that the UN put forward at the urging of the United Nations was really just trying to solve a rather inconvenient global problem because the world knew they were being annihilated systematically.
God said, "I'll bring him back, and then I'll begin to change their hearts". He is. I have some of the dearest friends in my life who are Israelis. And there are many points on which we don't agree, but every time I see them, there are more and more points on which we do agree. It wasn't very long ago I would have told you that the typical Israeli on the street was far more comfortable with a Muslim than they were with a Christian. That's a little blind to us because we understand that the neighborhood in which they live and how difficult it is. The Israelis have conceded the point, at least the man on the street will concede the point that the Iranians will have a nuclear weapons in spite of all the chirping that our talking heads do. And they believe that when they say as soon as they have the capability, they'll do their best to deploy it against Israel.
In spite of that, they weren't more afraid of the Muslim communities; they were more afraid of the Christian communities because the Christians have killed far more Jews through the centuries than the Muslims have ever dreamt of. And I don't mean just the Nazis. And most of the European nations, prior to the World War II, they weren't welcome to own property. In Shakespeare's writing, the Jewish characters are greedy, selfish, self-absorbed. In Spain and in the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century, the Jews' property was confiscated. They were expelled from the nation. I could take you through country after country. In Russia, the pogroms, if there was a famine or a drought or some sort of a plague, it was common for the Orthodox church to blame the Jewish communities. And they would release the Cossacks on them, and that they would slaughter the people.
"Fiddler on the Roof" gives you a little window into that mindset. But I'm grateful to tell you in the last few years, that even the Israeli on the street has come to understand that the best friends they have in the world are evangelical Christians. God is changing their hearts. The second thing I can tell you God is doing, and I've told you this before but it's intensifying, there's a shaking taking place. The middle's in trouble. If you're straddled the fence, you better get off. It's gonna get increasingly difficult. In my mind, it's, you know, we used to have, we were taking care of horses, and there would oftentimes be wooden fences. But if the horse was too aggressive, you'd put an electric wire around the inside of the fence. And I think God... anybody here ever touched an electric fence?
Those wonderful summer mornings, there's a lot to dew on the ground and your feet are good and wet. You touch that fence, you can feel the anointing. Well, in my mind's eye, the picture I have is there's been a lot of us sitting on the fence, and God's about to turn on the electricity. I'd move before he does 'cause it's gonna be fun watching. But he's gonna purify his church. He's gonna purify his church. In Matthew 16 is a verse that changed my life when it became a living thing in me. Jesus said, "I'll build my church and the gates of Hades, hell will not overcome it". But he went on to say, "I'll give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. And whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven".
You see, there's a very, very significant role for the church to play in the conclusion of this age. And to do that, we have to allow the Spirit of God to clean us up. We've been sloppy and casual and indifferent. We've stood so close to the world that it's as if we were in camouflage, in our language, in our dreams, in our aspirations, in the things we were hoping for, our children and the things we were pushing them to achieve and become. They were really indistinguishable from the people who were not honoring the Lord. And now God has begun to say that he's called us out of darkness. You see, he can't entrust us with the authority that is gonna be needed at the end of the age to take the place. We'll have to stand against the darkness that is emerging.
The brazen ungodliness and immorality and the boldness, the heinous things I have heard in these demonstrations in these last few weeks are almost beyond comprehension. And to have the courage to stand there without anger or condemnation and to say, "No, I don't agree," we're gonna have to allow the Spirit of God to do something in us. We'll have to find mercy and forgiveness where we have participated in ungodly things and have been silent or haven't used our voices. See, we'll have to be clean. We'll have to desire to be clean. Look at Ephesians 5. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word".
Now, here's the description of the church that Jesus is coming for. "To present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless". We've had a lot of discussions and a lot of sermons and a lot of books written on the gift of righteousness and the righteousness is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, and I believe in that. We are righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. But our response to that gift of righteousness is to choose to lead righteous lives, not to earn our way into heaven or to qualify for the blessings of God. With the appropriate expression of gratitude is a heartfelt desire to lead righteous lives.
And if we aren't interested in living righteously, we're gonna have to start to talk to one another and help one another go, "What are we thinking"? We've lived so presumptively around the grace of God, we're so cavalier with, "Oh, he'll forgive me of this". You hold your employer, typically, in higher esteem than we hold the Lord. You wouldn't imagine stealing from your employer or abusing your co-workers or intentionally lying or misleading or ignoring corporate policies.
If you know you're breaking those things, do you think you could just go to your supervisor and go, "Oh, sorry. Hey, look, you know, I've been stealing for years. How do you think I got that third home? But I've really got about all the real estate I want now, so I just want you to know, I'm not gonna take anything else I don't deserve. All good, right"? No, I don't think it would be. And yet we've treated the Lord that way. "No, I mean, I don't really give. You know, I don't know about that giving thing. I mean, the morality deal. I mean, God, you know, I don't, I just kind of did what felt good or what I wanted to do".
We have been so loose and sloppy. And then the part that's so uncomfortable to me is we think we could just casually say to the Lord, "Oh, hey, no harm, no foul. Everybody's doing it". No, folks, we've gotta come with sincere hearts and say, "God, I'm a broken person. I'm inconsistent. There have been chapters and seasons in my life that were far less than sterling. I want to come to repent of that and, in humility, acknowledge to you that I am not that".
You see, we spend more time trying to hide our ungodliness from one another than we do coming to the Lord and asking him to be clean. I know because I interact with lots and lots of people. And our primary concern is someone might know we struggled, not that we willingly walked into the struggles. See, I think it's far more destructive for us to hide our sin than it is to say to the Lord, "Lord, I need to be clean".
Hey, God is purifying his church. That's not somebody else. That's me and you. We've gotta yield our hearts to the Lord more completely than ever. Let's pray:
Holy Spirit, you're welcome. If there's anything within us that limits what you would do, we choose to cooperate with you. In Jesus's name, amen.