Last week we explored prayer as an essential component of any revival that leads to needed reformation. But there is another vital facet in this equation that leads to reformation, and its omission can have dangerous results. We must include Bible study, if we are to have a truth-filled body of believers who will not be open to errors of doctrine that would lead them away from the faith.
We will see this week how the study of the Word leads to the in-filling of the Holy Spirit that is present in any great revival and reformation. Both prayer (our talking to God) and reading the Bible (God talking to us) make up the total communication model needed for us to be at one with God and with each other.
Memory Text: “Plead my cause and redeem me; revive me according to Your word.” Psalm 119:154 NKJV
This verse includes the Word of God, embodied in Scripture, as a tool for survival and revival. There is just no substitute for serious Bible study that follows heartfelt prayer for deliverance and guidance. But how does one embark on a program of study that is most conducive to the desired revival and reforms? Our lesson study this week helps us understand how to make the most of our Bible study.
Sunday: Revived Through the Word (David in the Psalms)
King David recognized that the foundation of revival is found in the new life as revealed in God’s Word.
Here are some of the spiritual benefits David derived from this foundation:
- “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130 NKJV [understanding]
- “My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:81 NKJV [hope]
- “This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.” Psalm 119:50 [comfort]
Besides these benefits, David also found promises of deliverance, forgiveness, guidance, and new life.
Personal Thought Question: Is it possible for me to have a deeper relationship with God by including intensely searching His Word, as was David’s experience with God?
Monday: The Word’s Creative Power
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sward, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 KJV
The word “quick” in this verse does not mean fast, as we’re inclined to believe at first glance. The original Greek word means “alive”.
Thought Questions: What makes the Bible alive for us? In what way is God’s Holy Word different from counsel we might receive from human authors?
God’s spoken Word accomplished the creation of our earth and universe. His written Word can re-create human lives, in many cases providing them with an extreme “makeover”. And Jesus is mysteriously in the middle of it all…John 1:14 tells us, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
I liked the way our lesson study clarified how we are to read God’s Word:
“A casual reading of God’s Word very seldom produces spiritual revival. Studying the Bible to prove one’s own position, or to convince someone else of his or her mistakes, does very little for our own spiritual life. Change comes when we prayerfully read God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to give us the power to be more like Jesus. Real transformation takes place when we ask the God of creation to re-create us in His image. Change comes when Jesus’ teachings in Scripture become part of our lives, and we live ‘by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God’ Matthew 4:4 NKJV”
This is not to say that we can’t read our Bibles casually or that we may, on occasion, find it helpful to use the Scriptures to prove our position on some doctrinal point. But it is not at these times that the most life-giving forces are at work for us personally. For our own spiritual life to benefit, we must include asking the Holy Spirit in prayer to help us follow the Word and transform our natures.
Tuesday: Jesus and the Word
Read John 5:39, 16:14-15, which says:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
Thought Question: How are the functions of the Word of God and the Spirit of God similar?
Many feel that supernatural signs and wonders must be present when revival happens, but perhaps we look for the wrong type of miracle. As the lesson pointed out, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not about our power to work miracles, such as tongues or healing. It’s about God power to transform lives, which is a miracle in itself, and are what revivals are really all about. The reformations are real when the revival is real. And the Word and the Spirit work together to make it happen. They both testify of Jesus.
Strong emotions alone will lead to a shallow experience and may even lay the groundwork for false teachings and deception. Such emotion-packed worship has an illusion of spirituality, but does not lead to genuine reforms and godliness. We must begin with the written Word and our prayers, and then emotions will follow.
This was illustrated beautifully with Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion. Jesus opened to them the Scriptures that spoke of Himself, and they later recognized how their hearts burned within them while He walked and shared with them from the Scriptures. See Luke 24:32
Here was an example of true revival, given by the Lord Himself!
Wednesday: Revival, Faith, and the Word
How does faith make or break any attempt at revival, both individually and corporately? Jesus indicated that faith would not be plentiful in the end times when He said, “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 KJV Therefore, we would be negligent if we didn’t consider faith as we seek revival in our lives today.
Many do no more than think of faith as asking God for something and then fully believing that He will give it to us, if we have enough faith. But is faith centered in our desires? Sometimes, our desire-seeking world would have us think so.
The world abounds in prosperity-based religions and churches these days. Some see no further than the next blessing God will shower on them, because of their devout faith. But is this what God promises His believers? Quite the contrary…Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. No where does He say to take up our blessings and follow Him.
Yes, our faith should be in God, not in His blessings. Granted, we must believe in His promises for our good, but our faith should be centered on His will, not on our desires. We must trustingly listen to God’s Word and then put it into practice in our lives.
But even practicing the Word, if devoid of faith, is dangerous. Hebrews 4:2 says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” KJV
But how do we get faith? Just listening to or reading the Word will not produce faith or make it grow. Growth comes as we internalize the Bible and its promises. We must believe that what we read really applies to us personally.
We are each given a measure of faith. See Romans 12:3. And as we exercise our faith, God promises it will grow.
Thursday: The Word: Revival’s Guardian and Safeguard
The apostle Paul was very concerned for the spiritual safety of the believers at Ephesus. He warned them repeatedly about false teachers that had crept into the church, grievous wolves, he called them, “not sparing the flock”.
One method of counteracting these deceptive elements would be to follow the Word. He tells them in Acts 20:32:
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” KJV
Other disciples also admonished the church to stay close to the Word. Peter says to obey the truth of His Word (I Peter 1:22-23). James says to receive the Word with humility and do what it says (James 1:21-22). John tells us we can overcome the wicked one by abiding in His Word (I John 2:14).
Even Isaiah in the Old Testament was aware of revival’s great safeguard. He warns us in Isaiah 8:20:
“To the law and to the testimony:if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Finally, we have this counsel:
“The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, p. 593
Your contribution to the class: What role do feelings have in our walk with the Lord, and what role do they not have? (Respond in the comment box below.)
Next Week: Witness and Service