…Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:37-42 — English Standard Version
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
Acts 4:1-4 — English Standard Version
Asahel Nettleton, an evangelist during this time period (one of the New England revivals), stated that;
“…during a period of four or five years, commencing with 1798, no less than one hundred and fifty churches in New England were favoured with the special effusions of the Holy Spirit; and thousands of souls, in the judgment of charity, were translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, Jesus Christ.”
No gimmicks. No entertainment. No rock bands. No carnivals. No games. No come and eat as much free food as you want. No festivals. No light shows and…gimmicks…just trusting in the word, having faith, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, just believing and trusting in the gospel — which is Jesus Christ. He alone, crucified, resurrected from the dead, the only way to God and eternal life.
Speaking, preaching, expounding on the inerrant infallible living and active word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit of God to work in the hearts, spirits, and minds of men and women.
And thousands came to the Lord.
And you know what my dear friends, visitors, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the SAME God, it is the SAME Jesus Christ the Lord, it is the SAME Holy Spirit.
Why do we imagine we have to alter everything and entertain, be like the world muddying the message, placing so much in front off, around the message of the gospel — which is Jesus Christ — it’s as if we’re embarrassed, ashamed of speaking the clear, plain word of God, preaching the word of God to those in the world, in darkness, non-repentant and destined for the lake of fire for eternity.
We’re more concerned with them listening to basically rock music, given a show, a performance, games, rides, attractions like they are attending a worldly fair or homecoming day carnival in their hometown and making sure we have enough hot dogs, buns, mustard, and potato chips — and the word of God comes after all of that.
Why don’t we just remove all the obstacles to the truth, to the word, and speak, write, preach, expound on the word of God? And let the Holy Spirit work as the Holy Spirit works? The VERY SAME Holy Spirit, no different than the Holy Spirit that worked when the apostles Paul, Peter, James, John, and the rest walked this earth in the flesh.
Speak the word from the word. No variance. No adding. No subtracting. No personal interpretations. Preach the word to the unbelieving, the sinners just as we were sinners, just as we are now sinners yet made free, being perfected in Christ, forgiven of our sin through and by the gift of grace from God. Not of our doing. But by our faith alone. By God’s grace alone.
And by the hearing of the word.
Not all the noise of the world.
By the hearing of the word alone we come to know Christ alone. He that lived, died and rose from the dead to stand at the right hand of God.
It’s all in the Holy Bible. That isn’t enough?
You really think it’s the games, the entertainment, the free food, the rock music, the light shows, the gimmicks that are required for a person to hear, see, and come to know the Lord and have their hearts, minds, spirits transformed so they become a new creature? So that they think differently, live differently?
How does the entertainment, the games, the music not discernable from tuning into any rock station on a radio, the free food and all the gimmicks offered up, all the worldly things supersede the message of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit?
Did Jesus need these things, these worldly gimmicks, and attractions? Did the apostles? And later on, in the 17th and 18th centuries did George Whitefield, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody among many others need worldly fairs and carnivals, pop music, free food, entertainment, and gimmicks for the revivals they are associated with?
Or, if you take the time to do some homework, a bit of research on your own did they preach from the word, did they preach about sin, about repentance, and about the only way a person can ever come to see God and have eternal life?
They taught directly from the word of God regarding the conviction of sin. Of repentance. Of hell. Of eternity.
And you now think what? That message won’t play in the 21st century? It won’t work among today’s modern man or woman? You know something more and better than does God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit?
We ought to then trust in your word and not the word of God since you know the living word of God will no longer work? But all that worldly entertainment, all the pop music, the free hot dogs will convict folks of their sin, reach into their hearts and spirits and transform them in a Supernatural way to lead them to Christ and eternal life sparing them the fiery pit of hell?
No gimmicks. No worldliness. No distractions from the pure, plain, clear message.
Jesus Christ the Lord, the Son of God, the Sacrificial Lamb did take upon Himself the sin of mankind. Who came to earth, and is coming again one more time, who lived among us while fully God, fully man, who was rejected, who was murdered. Who was crucified (and for a bit of more homework read about why that is important) and who conquered death to be resurrected from the tomb on the Third Day. To never suffer death again. To then be witnessed by more than 500 people over a course of 40 days before ascending into heaven before His apostles.
Just the word dear ones. Just Jesus.
Isn’t that more than enough?
It’s all about, only about the message folks. We need to begin to focus on and get the message right. First, we need to remove all the clutter, all the worldliness, all the thinking we need to someway grab people, somehow through lights, camera, action! get the show going to bring them in!
No. Get the message right. Present the right message.
Let the Holy Spirit do what the Holy Spirit does. Have some faith brothers, have some faith sisters…
Now, I’ll let you continue on to Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr.’s fine article below…
Saturday, May 15th, 2021
ACP — A Crooked Path Made Straight By the Word of God
Want Revival? Go Back to What Works
Innovation is great but when it comes to dealing with sin, there’s only one tried and true way.
Friday, May 14, 2021
By Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr.
Reprinted from American Family Association
Just about every approach that can be imagined has been tried to revive the country in general and the church in particular in America…with very little to show for it. Most church growth gurus will tell you that the vast majority of churches experiencing growth are simply getting their members from other churches. There is a lot of shuffling going on but not a lot of brand new born-again believers. Consequently, there was the brilliant idea that church growth would explode if we’d “build it and they will come.” So church revitalization has given way to church planting. It sounds good, promising, and exciting until you find out that once again when the truth is finally revealed, all you’ve done is relocated members from one location to another. To the unchurched, I’m sure all they can see are church building programs engaged for the purpose of making those who already attend church more comfortable.
America has gone beyond “heading in a certain direction.” We are almost there. And the sad reality is that the church’s impact on society and culture has been negligible. It’s no wonder that the faithful are calling, praying, and hoping for revival. Second Chronicles 7:14 is making the rounds again, but taking an honest look at reality reveals it’s not initiating any kind of mass renewal/revival. Maybe we should try what the Bible reveals actually works.
Let’s try the Jonah approach! For brevity’s sake, I will skip how Jonah’s initial rebellion to God’s calling to confront the Ninevites led to a most uncomfortable time at sea. But there are parallels that shouldn’t be ignored. Like the modern church’s absolute unwillingness to speak with authority on the subject of sin. Just because the media and Hollywood have successfully pigeonholed evangelical Christians as bigoted fools who constantly harp on puritanical ideals of human sexuality doesn’t mean there is no place anymore for the church to unapologetically address the issue of sin.
Or, how personal repentance must absolutely precede corporate revival. Part of Jonah’s prayer as he lingered in the midst of the bowels of the sea creature included “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you…” It is significant that a man called by God to speak for Him had forgotten Him. It seems pretty obvious that the church in America is far more concerned about being accepted by culture than it is about being found faithful to God.
Pick an issue (marriage, immigration, government, terrorism, etc.) and you’ll find Christian leaders wanting to be seen as compassionate. Rather than address how sin is at the heart of any of the issues and provide some much-needed guidance and correction, they want to come off as sympathetically kind-hearted. Or, in more direct language…accommodating. That is to say ‘in sync’ with cultural mores. What a disaster it’s been. How forgetful our spiritual leaders are of the holy and righteous God.
We’ve tried everything from implementing John Maxwell’s leadership principles to abandoning old churches for new plants, to accommodating sin, and the nation is no closer to revival while the church continues diminishing in number and influence. Why not try what has already been proven to succeed? Jonah’s message turned around one of the largest cities in the known world at the time. While I believe in education, Jonah’s seminary stint was a three day visit in the belly of a sea creature that Jesus later referenced as a metaphor of hell.
Authentic revival isn’t a program developed by Ph.D.’s in the hallowed halls of religious academia. It’s personal accountability and faithfulness to God. Plain and simple.
Jonah’s revival message? One sentence:
Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! (Jonah 3:4).
Remember when sermons revealed the terrible consequence of unrepented sin?
As in the First Great Awakening, for example. It began with a sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.” Or the Second Great Awakening led by the “camp meetings” and Methodist Circuit Riders where the fundamental message of repentance was the emphasis? Is that where our religious leaders are afraid we’d revert to if the message of impending divine judgment were faithfully preached?
It’s not like Jesus never broached the subject of judgment:
And then will I declare to them ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).
Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:32).
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you…” (Luke 12:20)
That’s just a tiny sampling of what Jesus had to say about judgment. Likewise, there is much to be found concerning Jesus and compassion and forgiveness. But the latter is seldom tempered by the former in today’s American church. Many church leaders have thrown out the Bible message of judgment believing everything will work out if we only preach compassion.
It should be obvious that proclaiming a God of compassion at the expense of a God of holiness (which implies judgment) isn’t working. Our nation is proverbially going to hell in a hand-basket. The biblical message, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) is conspicuously absent in many churches and entire denominations.
Revival will not come until the message of judgment is faithfully preached. I realize it is not a very popular message. But don’t sell it short. Many people know they are living in sin and intuit that something bad lies ahead if they don’t stop. They’re just waiting on someone with the gumption to say it to them (I know this is true from my own experience).
That brings me back to Jonah. Just a brief message from a rather unwilling prophet about imminent judgment and look what happened: “the people of Nineveh believed God”! (Jonah 3:5). And when they demonstrated repentance “God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them…” (Jonah 3:10).
What a novel idea! Inform people that if they continue living the way they are living there will be a price to pay. Maybe we should go back to that. I mean, how many people are being saved and joining churches with the “God created you that way and doesn’t want you to do anything different” approach?
The first message Jesus preached was “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Throughout history, that is the message that has preceded and prompted true revival.