The time for New Year’s Resolutions has come, but the mature among us know that they will rarely last the year. Does that make them vain? I think not. Better a good intention tried than never begun. Better to set a high goal and reach some of it, than never to set a goal at all. A good man once taught me: “If you have no dreams do not set goals. But if you dream dreams and do not set goals, I promise you despair.” I dream dreams, and I hope all who read this do as well. If they are dreams that have been placed in our hearts by the living God, we must resolve to reach for them.
One of my dreams is to live to see revival again.
I came to a living and true faith in just such a time. A small Anglo Catholic parish, in an out of the way University town in England, entered into a remarkable season of years when the Spirit of God was being poured out upon us. Dozens and dozens of men and women came alive in Christ Jesus. The parish was changed, the town was changed, the whole of North East England was changed, for a season.
Of course the fires of revival always die down, and they did in Durham. But not before countless lives were made new, and not before many were scattered to the wider world to take the Good News of God’s love to others. Some day I pray to be allowed to know, in heaven, the extent of the impact of that time for the spread of the kingdom of God. The thought of it gives me joy.
What might I do beyond think and pray? Revival, if it is truly from the Lord, is not the product of man made manipulation or planning. We cannot set a goal for God. But we can know his heart for the world he created. “He sent his only begotten Son into the world that all who believe might not perish, but have everlasting life.” He has spoken through the prophets and a day will come when “the earth will be covered with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the seas.” And the reason this will happen is his great love wills it. And so too does his true church.
What then of a slumbering church? Can she have a part in that great day if she is asleep? Or worse, can she have a part in that day if she is filled with cultural Christians who are not themselves reborn? Dare we speak of a church that is not reborn?
No student of the Holy Scriptures can be ignorant of the answer. The church that is the church is only made up of the reborn. There is no such thing as a “fleshly, unborn, church.” There are such men, but not such churches. No other than those called and chosen of God will see his face, when the great church triumphant is gathered around the throne of the Lamb. That is the church.
But still, with the liberty of the modern English language may we dare say it? I think so. We need the organized, visible, historic church to be reborn. God wills it.