Part 4: Is There Hope for a Christ Awakening in America in 2016?
Fourth of a Four-Part Series
Today we find ourselves in another presidential election cycle. Are you excited yet?
As always, each candidate promises us just what every voter is desperate for—new beginnings.
Supposedly that will happen by replacing the current White House occupant with someone who can secure “change we believe in,” or help us “make America great again,” or assure us that (as FDR did in his slogan) “happy days are here again.”
But that’s plain politics. And we all know how much the “same old, same old” prevails in the end!
In contrast, the early church father Irenaeus concluded:
“Christ brought us every newness by bringing us himself [emphasis added].”
In other words, unlike professional politicians, Christ our King gives us a steady stream of life forever new—and then new again!
We can be sure newness will stamp Christ Awakenings in 2016 because by them—whether with individuals or entire congregations or a whole nation—God accelerates, intensifies, deepens, and extends in fresh and unexpected ways the incomparable newness Jesus secured for us by his cross and resurrection and ascension, and now by his ongoing reign.
That being said, in this final part of my series let’s ask: If such radical, transformative newness seems to be impending in 2106 for the American church, how should we go about getting ourselves ready for what is coming?
Getting Ready for the Coming Christ Awakenings
In the previous blogs we discovered:
- in Part 1, why God-given awakenings to the supremacy of God’s Son are the greatest hope the Father holds out to his own at anytime, including 2016;
- in Part 2, how the current crises in the church in America—above all, the crisis of a woefully deficient vision of the greatness of God’s Son—demands nothing less than Christ Awakenings nationwide without delay; and
- in Part 3, what are the seven major reasons we can pray and prepare for such a work of God’s Spirit without fear of disappointment.
Like the virgins in Jesus’ parable (Matthews 25), how do we get ourselves ready to welcome radical reintroductions to our Redeemer Bridegroom so as to follow him wholeheartedly wherever he intends to take us in the advances of his kingdom?
Part 4 offers several suggestions.
Assume Greater Expectations
Don’t count on current Holy Spirit-infused renewals to look exactly like previous awakenings witnessed by other generations (such as the First, Second, and Third Great Awakenings in American history). Our Father seeks to glorify his Son in and through his people above and beyond what they’ve yet known or where they’ve gone previously. Always with Christ there is more than before!
Move Past Superficiality
We must avoid the temptation to seek revival experiences rather than to seek the reviver himself, Jesus. The heart of any true awakening is the manifest presence and power of a person, God’s Son. Instead of being predominantly testimonial-fed or experience-driven, genuine awakening movements should primarily identify as Scripture-fed and Jesus-driven. The bottom line: To go deep, keep the focus on Christ for who he truly is as the beginning and end of every spiritual renewal.
Avoid Nationalistic Motivations
Sometimes Christ Awakening movements are pursued as a last-ditch effort to salvage a whole nation, when, in fact, they comprise a work of God promised primarily to and for the Church. Only secondarily do they hold potential for healing a surrounding community or culture. Our desire must be for God to get the greatest glory possible through the awakening of his people in whole new ways to the wonders of his Son even if the nation at large rejects this gracious work and undergoes consequent, sobering, divine reckonings—as happened with Jerusalem in AD 70 despite a Christ-focused, Spirit-empowered church in its midst.
Welcome Diverse Manifestations
Surprisingly, sometimes spiritual breakthroughs inadvertently divide Christians from one another because we’re unable to accept the diverse ways they get displayed. Outward demonstrations of an inward reviving work of the Spirit often get shaped by prior conditions within the community undergoing it, such as: pre-existing human survival needs; ethnic and cultural contexts; ecclesiastical traditions; the age or temperament of those being awakened, their previous spiritual experiences, their historic theological grids, or the extent of their current spiritual malaise. Even though there are common themes in every God-given revival—including the exaltation of his Son, sincere confession of sin, quickening of the truth of Scripture, increased love and unity of the brethren, and expanded outreach to the lost—still a diversity in how all of this gets manifested must be expected and not resisted.
Encourage Repentance as a Lifestyle
In every revival, repentance must become a way of life. Everything in us and in our congregations that grieves, quenches, resists, or disobeys the Holy Spirit—every sin, activity, or relationship that is incompatible with Christ himself who is the focus of the awakening—should be confessed to the Father and put away, daily if necessary. This is how we keep on drawing near to God, even as he keeps on drawing near to us. And he draws us to himself in order to give to individual Christians and whole congregations fresh installments of our riches in Jesus through splendid reawakenings to him as our King.
Press On in Joyful Prayer
Accounts of biblical and historical revivals reveal that often when God is ready to reawaken his people to the glories of his Son he stirs them to pray passionately—whether together in small and large groups, or each prayer warrior in his or her own “prayer closet.” Today we rejoice in the unprecedented concerted prayer movement for Christ Awakenings that God has ignited in churches and communities across our nation and the globe. We should do everything possible to strengthen this initiative inside our own congregations and in our own lives. Press on! The answers to our prayers are not far behind! These are the kinds of prayer the Father longs to fulfill.
Proclaim the Hope Before Us
Since “faith comes by hearing the message of Christ” (Rom. 10), spiritual revolutions must be Word-anchored revolutions. Therefore, as “messengers of hope” Christians should minister to each other by reinforcing among ourselves the hundreds of biblical promises God has given us for personal and corporate renewal. In addition, we should spread reports of what God has done in the past and is doing today in Christ Awakenings all around the world—to help God’s people deeply yearn for and excitedly anticipate the potential magnitude of such a blessing in their own generation and in their own lives.
Test the Legitimacy of the Claims
Four key dimensions of the newness in Christ the Spirit creates among us can help us test the legitimacy of anything claiming to be a Christ Awakening (whether for one person or one thousand):
Does it exalt Christ in deeply personal ways, revealing him more directly and clearly as the one who has the supremacy in everything, especially for believers? Does God’s Spirit unleash among God’s people deeper levels of care for one another and ministries to one another that spring specifically from our shared, growing affection for and intimacy with the person of God’s Son on his throne? In other words, do we love each other more for who we are because now we love Jesus more for who he is?
Does it reproduce evidences of Christlikeness in individual disciples and in congregational life? Are godly compulsions compelling Jesus followers to apply his principles of righteousness to the social, moral, and spiritual ills that plague our generation, and to work for his kingdom priorities with believers and unbelievers alike? In other words, are we so alive to the supreme Justifier and Reconciler and Peacemaker himself that we gladly serve him by working for his kind of justice and reconciliation and healing in the world around us?
Does it sharpen and empower the shared life of local congregations in such things as worship, teaching the Word, prayer, spiritual gifts, love for one another, and outreach with the Gospel? Does it encourage unity among Christians from various streams of the Church so that they labor together to magnify Christ in new ways?
Does it encourage a passion for the Final Revival? That is, does it increase our eagerness for the consummation of all things under Jesus as Lord? Does it reinvigorate Christians to serve Christ with agenda in keeping with that Great Day, as we extend his kingship through social reforms, compassion toward the poor, the pursuit of justice, reconciliation, and community transformation, and as we accelerate our outreach to earth’s unreached peoples?
Let me conclude this four-part series with these final thoughts:
Together the four parts of this series provide all of us a working document to continue the conversation about the promise of Christ Awakenings in this critical hour.
In fact, you might say they form a “poor man’s version” of Luther’s 95 Theses, nailed as it were to the wall of the Internet because they call for a new kind of reformation in terms of how we see and seek and serve God’s Son in the full extent of his supremacy.
They highlight what theologians more formally might term a “consequential Christology”—a vision of Christ so comprehensive that it necessarily impacts and reforms every aspect of the Christian life.
So, here is my appeal to serious-minded Christians everywhere who long for such a gracious move of God as this: It’s time for us…
to wake up to more of Christ,
to rise up with fresh hope in him,
to reach up in prayer for this God-given reformation,
to speak up to foster Christ Awakenings wherever we live.
That means it’s also time for us to link up—to rally fellow believers to join an army captivated by Jesus and ready to serve him in realizing the hope for a nationwide Christ Awakening movement—nothing less!
Do you remember I said at the beginning of Part 4 that pervasive newness is the heart and soul of all Christ Awakenings? Well, now you know how convinced I am that such an unparalleled, incomparable, unsurpassable newness awaits us—a newness in our vision of the greatness of Christ and a newness in our life under the lordship of Christ—the holy and happy reformation that our Father desires to bring to the Church in America in 2016 and beyond.
It’s the newness Christ alone embodies; the newness his reign alone can bring; the newness that makes him alone our destiny.
What more could we want?
Are you longing for that kind of newness for yourself in your own walk with Jesus?
Then I invite you to join me on a free, 55-day email video journey as I share with you the riches of Christ explored in The Christ Institutes, a video series available as one of our many resources, which are all designed for the very purpose of preparing our hearts to be awakened to ALL that Jesus is!
Why don’t we get started today?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, a ministry whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of five books, including Christ Is ALL! Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son.