Greg Laurie - The Bible And Revival
Greg: Okay so I have my friend here. Many of you have met him before, but how many of you saw the film "I Can Only Imagine"? Raise your hand up. That is a lot of you. This is the director of the film Jon Erwin. The way I met Jon is very interesting. We have a mutual friend name John as well, and so John said you have got to meet this guy Jon Erwin. He is like obsessed with the Jesus Movement. I think you were looking for someone to meet you who had actually been there, and I think it all started with this Magazine.
Jon: This is a Time Magazine you know in 1971. This was incidentally you know three or four years after time ran a cover story "Is God Dead"? First time cover without a picture. Just the words. Four years later Jesus is on the cover of Time Magazine.
Greg: We need him back there again.
Jon: I began to read this. This is such an amazing article. It is like a 10-page article. In fact, the photographers that were involved in this in life magazine came to Christ while they were covering the story. I am very just curious by nature. I'm not from L. A. I'm from Lower Alabama actually. Born and raised in the like the buckle of the Bible belt. In church all of my life. It is a huge part of my life, but I began to read stories from the Jesus Movement. It was so far beyond anything I had ever experienced or my generation had ever experienced. There's this sort of thing that we talk about a lot in film that we try to create when we make movies and we try to make you feel which is called FOMO. It is the Fear Of Missing Out. I sort of got FOMO-ed with the Jesus Movement. I want this to happen in my time and in my generation. I want to experience something like this. We haven't. I'm telling you we haven't. There's something more that God did in such a similar time. I just got obsessed with it and that was sort of the basis of our friendship among many of other things like watching movies and all kinds of other fun stuff. But it was just sort of this "Hey, tell me the story". I think we've talked a lot about it. I think the father of revival in America, at least one of them. Jonathan edwards said paraphrase: "Stories of revivals from one space spark revivals in another".
Greg: The fame of revival spreads the flame of revival.
Jon: Yeah, but you've got to read this article if you can find it on Ebay. It's amazing. I just think this could happen again. I think we are ready.
Greg: Yes. So after our conversations, we talked a lot and I started thinking a lot about it and so I ended up writing this book Jesus Revolution and wanted to tell a story, not to live in the past, but to say, "Let's pray that God does it again". I think we're ripe for another spiritual awakening. There's so many parallels between the late 60s early 70s and today. We explored that a little bit here. But there is something else you're thinking of doing with this story. Why don't you tell them that?
Jon: That needs to be a movie I think.
Greg: What?! You're going to make a movie about this?!
Jon: We have been talking about this for years. One of my dreams for three years now has been to make a major movie of the Jesus Movement called Jesus Revolution after this article, and based off a lot of things that happened, you know, with your life as a teenager and so many people. It started out here and it's such a compelling story. You know, the currency of the entertainment industry I guess is currency. It was the success of "I Can Only Imagine", it is the number one independent film of last year and the success of it has given us a little leverage.
Jon: We are doing many things now with Lionsgate - the studio we are working with. We are going cash some of that favor in to bring Jesus Revolution to the big screen.
Jon: You know, what is cool is I want it to happen... You know, revival, at least as I've studied it, it's always new and it's always slightly different. But this interesting thing that sort of happens if you study American history is sort of every 50 years is like a thing. You wouldn't have America without that the great awakening. It just happened before the American revolution. This movie is going to come out in 2020. I am not allowed to say that, but it is. But that'll be 50 years after all of this happened, and almost to the month. I am telling you, there's so many parallels to this generation, to the desperation they were feeling, to the emptiness that they were feeling, and what I feel today. I haven't felt sort of a cultural desperation like we've been in. We need God. I think that desperation can spark wonderful things. It certainly did for your generation. I think it can again.
Greg: Well, we are excited about your new film, Jon, and your passion for this project. That is what we are talking about in these Jesus Revolution nights here, so thanks for being here with us and sharing some of your thoughts.
Jon: Thank you. I love this church. I love being here. Thank you.
Greg: Thank you.
Jon: God bless you guys.
Greg Laurie: All right, why don't you grab your Bible and turn to acts 2 and Psalm 19? The Bible. I can tell you I knew nothing about the Bible before I was a Christian. I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I never read the Bible for myself. I was completely ignorant of it, but on my high school campus when the Jesus Movement was happening, there was a lot of young kids walking around with Bibles. These were kids I knew. Some of these kids I used to party with and hang out with. I thought why on earth would they carry a Bible publicly? That is so weird and so insane, and we kind of made fun of them. We laughed at them and thought they were all, you know, collectively one taco short of a combination plate or something.
You know my story. I was walking across the front lawn of my campus. I saw the Christians singing their songs about Jesus, and I sat down close enough to listen in on what they were saying, and for the first time I heard the Gospel that was the day I accepted Christ into my life. So that weekend I had planned to go and do some drugs and use that very drug Jon was talking about called lsd. I had become a Christian and I thought "Well, okay. I'm a Christian, and I'm just going to go do drugs as a Christian". That's great, isn't it? I was all alone and I was sitting on a rock and I was getting ready to get high and that same still, small voice that I heard on my high school campus spoke to me again. The Lord said you don't need that anymore.
I said all right, God, if you are real, you are going to have to prove it to me because I don't know if I believe this even though I prayed and asked you into my life. So I threw my little baggie of pot away and my little pipe and I said help me with this. So I went back to school the next Monday. I didn't know where to fit in. I didn't feel comfortable around my old druggie friends because they just got high every day pretty much and I didn't want to be with them: but the Christians were a little too intense for me. A little too much "Praise the Lord, hallelujah". They were like "Praise God, man. I love the Lord. Praise Jesus". I'm like okay. Whatever.
So I was sort of in that in-between spot. You know how that can be when you're a brand-new believer. So I'm walking across my high school campus and some guy yells out my name. I don't even know this guy. He is yells out "Greg"! I turned. He goes, "Brother Greg"! I am not your brother unless you are brother from another mother. He goes "Bro"! I said "Yeah". He's like, "I got something for you, bro". I said, "What did you get for me"? He says "This"! And he holds up this Bible. A really big Bible and it was suede. Back in those days, we covered our Bibles with fur and suede and all kinds of things. Who knows why? It had popsicle sticks glued together in the shape of a cross. "Bro, praise the Lord! Read it. It's God's word". I am like oh, man.
So he leaves, and I'm so embarrassed by this Bible, so I shove it into the pocket of my coat because I didn't want anyone to see that I was carrying a Bible. So I decided to go over to my old friend's house where I basically used to go every day at lunch time and get high. No wonder my grades were so low. You get high your grades are low. So I walked in and I hadn't seen these guys since I had become a Christian. I walked in and they said "Laurie," that's what they called me, "How you doing, man"? I said I'm fine. And they said, "What have you been doing"? I said "Nothing". "Where have you been? We haven't seen you". "I haven't been doing anything".
One of them said, "Hey, man, we got some good pot. You want to get high"? I said no. They said, "Laurie, what's wrong with you"? I said, "There's nothing wrong with me. I don't want to do that. I don't want to do it". I am sitting there for a moment. Oh, I left out a really important part. That's probably drug damage from years ago. I went over to my friend's house. This Bible that was in my pocket. I pulled it out and I put it in the bushes in front of his house because I didn't want them to see it sticking out of my coat pocket. So I put my Bible in the bushes. I was a very bold witness for Christ wasn't I?
So anyway, so we are back in the house and my friends are asking me why I don't want to get high with them. I'm telling them I don't want to. I really sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "Tell them about Jesus". I'm saying, "No way. I'm not telling anybody about anything". I'm just trying to keep it all inside. All of a sudden the front door opens up and one of my friend's mom is there, the one who owned the home, and she's holding my Bible. She says, "Who does this belong to"? I'm thinking, "What is wrong with this woman? She has kids doing drugs in her house at lunch time and she's alarmed by a Bible"? Who does this belong to? Like it some weapon or something. Well, maybe it is, right. It is the sword of the Spirit.
Every eye in the room went to the Bible and they went back to me. They made the connection. I said, "Th-th-that's mine". She said, "What"? I said, "That's mine". "What is that, Laurie"? "It's a Bible". "What?"! "It's a Bible". "What?"! "It's a Bible"! I grabbed it and then one of my friends said, "Oh, Greg, praise the Lord. Are we going to be a Christian now"? I said, "No. I am going to hit you in the mouth, now". See, because I hadn't read 1 Corinthians 13. I hadn't read anything. I was trying to hide the Word of God. Since then, I have found it's much better to hide the Word of God in your heart, not in the bushes preferably.
That was my first opportunity to share the Gospel which I failed miserably, but it was a reminder of the power of the Bible. The power of the Word of God. We have talked about things that we did back in the days of the Jesus Movement. We talked about how, you know, contemporary Christian worship was born before our eyes and also how we loved to talk about the soon coming of the Lord. We talked about that recently, but one of the big things that was happening back in those days is almost everything we went to was a Bible study. Every service that we would have we would open up the Word of God. And then there were home Bible studies, and Bible studies on high school campuses and Bible studies on college campuses. We couldn't get enough of the Word of God.
So let's go over to Acts chapter 2. This is when the Holy Spirit is poured out on the day of Pentecost and people speak in unknown languages. They speak in tongues. Then what happens after that? Acts chapter 2:16. Peter stands up and says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: 'In the last days', God says, 'I will pour out My Spirit upon all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophecy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams'".
Here's an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, supernatural phenomenon is taking place, and Peter stands up and says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel". This makes a very important point: Everything that we do as christians should be informed by the Word of God. There should be a biblical basis for what we do. So when we talk about making a decision or should we do this or should we do that, we go to the scripture. What does the Bible say? Does the scripture address this at least in principle? If not, specifically? Peter was standing up and saying this is the biblical basis.
Sometimes in what some might call revival meetings or things where there's a lot of excitement, a lot of passion, sometimes things happen that frankly are not biblical and people will say this is a new work of the Holy Spirit. It's new. Listen to this: if it's new, it's not true: and if it's true, it's not new. We don't need a new thing. We want to do a biblical thing, and when God pours his Spirit out we want to have a biblical basis for what we're saying and doing. That certainly is what happened there, but then what happened after the Holy Spirit was poured out? This is a very important thing: they began to dig into the scripture.
We don't read "And after the spirit was poured out they ran around like chickens with their heads cut off". I bring this up because I've seen meeting, sometimes it's on Christian television, where people are screaming and writhing on the floor and yelling and making animal sounds and people say, "This is the Holy Spirit". I don't know what Holy Spirit it is, but I don't see anything like that in the Bible. The thing is that's how some people are. "Oh, this is the Holy Spirit. Let's just be crazy and insane". No. God gave that power to the church for them to change the world: he gave them power to be a witness.
So what did the church do after the spirit was poured out? Look at Acts 2:42. "They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers". They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine. They dug into the Word of God. Listen, if you want to be a spirit-filled, revived Christian, you need to be digging into God's word each and every day because if you don't you're going to fail spiritually. So when you're a healthy Christian, when you're a spiritually revived Christian, when you were a spirit-filled Christian, you will desire God's word in your life. So if to you reading the Bible is a drag, if it's a drudgery, if it something you dread, if it's something you do in a token way that is not a good indication.
I think the real indication of you being a spirit-filled believer is that you are hungry for God's word. You know when I don't eat, I get kind of cranky. My wife figured this out a number of years ago. I'll just be in a bad mood. I'm sort of snippy. She says, "You're just hungry". "I'm not hungry"! "No. You're hungry". And she'll throw a sandwich at me. It works every time. I catch it with my mouth. That is how it can be. The reason you're not feeling that well, the reason you're kind of cranky, the reason you're kind of depressed, the reason you're lethargic is you need a meal. I don't just mean food. I'm talking about you need the Word of God. That's why you need to take time every day to open up God's word and read what it has to say to you.
The Word of God is powerful. I'm amazed at how I've read certain verses many times over the years, but how they will just jump off the page and come alive for me. Do you know what am I talking about? That verse just sent from heaven and it is just exactly what I needed to hear in the given moment. How is that going to happen if I don't open up the Bible? I can't just hold it up to my head and pray it all just makes its way in there I need to read it. I need to commit scripture to memory.
I memorized scriptures when I was a 17-year-old kid that I still remember today in my 30s... Times two. They're still with me - those verses - like Psalm 1. "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the word of the Lord and in it does he meditate day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. His leaves shall not wither and whatsoever he does shall prosper. Blessed is that man". I learned that so many years ago. It is still with me. It still helps me. How about 1 Corinthians 10:13. "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God who is faithful will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it".
I am not doing this to impress you. You can do this. We can all do this. "Oh no. I can't remember anything". Give me a break. You remember lines from films. You remember lyrics from the lamest songs of all time. You remember the scores of super bowl games going back forever. You remember all that trivia. Don't tell me you cannot remember the Word of God. You just take time to get it into your mind and get it into your heart and that will never be time that is wasted.
Let's go over to our second passage Psalm 19 and we will close with this. This is just the Word of God telling us why the Word of God is important. Psalm 19:7. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandments of the Lord are pure enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey in the honeycomb. Moreover, by then is your servant warned and in keeping of them there is great reward".
That sounds like a song, doesn't it? It's beautiful. It's beautiful poetry, but it is actually also the inspired Word of God. Here are just a few takeaway thoughts.
1. The Word of God is perfect. In the Bible there is no fake news: there's just good news that you can depend on because the word of the Lord is perfect. As you open up the Word of God, it can be fresh to you each and every morning. The Bible says his mercies are new every morning. The word perfect means it's whole, it's complete, and it's efficient. Listen, everything you need to know about God is found in the Bible. You don't need to go anywhere else. It's one stop shopping right here. This is God's message to each and every one of us. 2 Timothy 3 says all scripture is breathed by God.
2. The word of the Lord revives us. Look at verse 7 of Psalm 19. "The law of the Lord or the word of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple". This word convert could be translated revive, restore, and transform. When you read God's word you will be revived, restored, and transformed. Psalm 119 has the Psalmist saying, "Revive me according to your word". So God's word will revive you. You want to be a revived Christian, you want to be a spirit-filled Christian? Then study the Word of God because it will revive you.
3. The Word of God gives incredible wisdom. Look at verse 7. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple". This is an interesting phrase in the Hebrew because this word simple speaks of an open door sort of like your mind is an open door. And this speaks of a person that just lets anything come in, anything go out. They are totally naive. They are open to everything. They are open to anything. They are closed to nothing. The Bible says it can make you wise so you don't be that person. So we have a person that learns to think logically, but that logic is built on scripture you know it is a funny thing.
Sometimes people want to dismiss Christians as unthinking fools when in reality I didn't really learn to think until I became a Christian. To be honest with you, I didn't even learn how to study until I became a Christian. Not just the Bible but other books to really think things through and get a biblical worldview. Because if you don't have a biblical worldview, nothing in this planet makes sense. If you think man is basically good, you must be having a lot of troubles right now: but if you believe what the Bible says that man is not basically good, man is essentially sinful separated from God and that's why he does the things that he does, suddenly a lot of things start making a lot more sense. So we need to not be that simple-minded person that just marches in lockstep with whatever is the trend or the thing that we're supposed to believe and start thinking for ourselves.
God says in the book of Isaiah, "Come and let us reason together," says the Lord. Christianity is a reasonable faith. It's a logical faith, so that's what this will do for you. The Word of God will give you that kind of mind. Sometimes the question is asked "What you do when you don't agree with the Bible"? Someone asked me that question a while ago. "What do you do when you don't agree with the Bible? I said "Well, change your opinion because you're wrong". I mean, what do you want me to say? "Oh, well, let's just edit that out".
I was just in the Museum of the Bible of Washington DC which is an amazing place. It is a fantastic place that it just tells shows you how reliable God's Word is. I recommend everyone go and visit it. But one of the things they had there was a copy of Jefferson's Bible - Thomas Jefferson - one of the presidents of the United States. One of the ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution. A very important figure, but Jefferson had a Bible, and Jefferson was a man who believed the Bible had good moral messages in it. So he actually went through a Bible and cut out the parts about miracles and the supernatural and kept what he thought were the moral lessons of the Bible in it. So it's called Jefferson's Bible. That's not how it works. I don't know if I really like this part. I think I will just cut it out. No. All scripture, the Bible says, is inspired by God, so we don't want to do that. If you don't agree with the Bible, change your opinion because the Bible is right.
4. The Bible, or the word, of God is right. Verse 8, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart". So it's going to help you to know how God wants you to live. It is going to show you the promises that God has for you. That's what you want to read through books of the Bible and ask yourself the question: is there a promise here for me to claim? Is there a victory here for me to gain? Is there a blessing here for me to enjoy?
And my last point, keeping the Word of God makes you happy. Psalm 19:8 says the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. That word rejoicing means just making you happy. You want to be a happy person? Read the Bible. You want to be an even happier person? Do what the Bible tells you to do. I would add to that don't do the things the Bible tells you not to do. Luke 11:28 says happy are the people that hear the Word of God and keep it. I know this goes against the logic of some. They think the Bible keeps you from happiness. If you live by what the Bible teaches it's a restrictive life. It's a miserable life. It's a tortured life. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite.
Life without the Word of God, life without Jesus Christ is the miserable life. I know, I've been on both sides of the fence, life without Christ is a restrictive life because you're bound with the power of sin, life without Christ is a torturous life because you're tormented by your guilt for the sins you committed. No. If you want to be a happy man, you want to be a happy woman you do what the Bible tells you to do.
One last thing. The Bible tells me how to get to heaven. The Bible tells me how to find the meaning of life. The Bible tells me what I should even be thinking about and living for each and every day because, most importantly, the Bible tells me about Jesus. That's the message of the Bible in a nutshell. It's Jesus. He is in the Old Testament concealed. He's in the New Testament revealed. But from Genesis to Revelation it's all about Jesus. The Old Testament is pointing to Jesus. The New Testament is showing all those things that Jesus fulfilled. It's all about the simple message God loves humanity. Humanity sinned against God. God longs for relationship with us. So he sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place and pay for all of our sin and rise again from the dead and if we will put our faith in Jesus we can have eternal life and we can have a life on earth that is worth living.