As someone who has been on a Pentecostal pew since birth or so, I've seen a lot of “revivals.” I grew up attending the church pastored by Bro. Jerry Dillon, which meant that at least two weeks out of the month, you would be attending revival services. It was a great way to live, and it taught me a thing or two about what revival really is – I lived it, saw it, and witnessed the changing power of God flow out on many lives. As a result, I think I am also familiar with what revival is NOT. There are some “revivals” that Satan won't stop – in fact he will encourage them – because they fit quite nicely within his purpose: keeping the Church as a body from reaching the lost.
“My what a service we had!”
“Did the power of God fall?”
“That was an awesome move of the Holy Ghost!”
“You weren't even IN church if you weren't at MY church last night.”
OK, so we've all said those things. And most of the time they are meant to convey that the presence of the Lord was in a service. What concerns me, however, is a growing tendency I've seen among some churches. As long as there are “good services” where “God moves” and people “feel the power”, they think everything is great in their assemblies. And yet . . . hearts are not changed, the lost are not won; outward appearances may line up, but there is no true victory in the lives of the people who are attending these regularly “powerful” services. They attended Holy Ghost blow-out after Holy Ghost hoe-down, and yet when the smallest problem came into their life, they were distraught and giving up on God. And their lives are not impacting the lives of the lost and the hurting around them. I asked myself, “What is going on?” That didn't do much good, so I asked God. And this is what I got.
Satan doesn't care about our “powerful services” . . . he doesn't care if we “shout the walls down” . . . he doesn't care if you can't see the carpet for the hairpins . . . IF those powerful services are just that. If they don't lead us to greater dedication, deeper commitment, a more burning desire to help others. If we are unchanged, if we don't impact our world, Satan is perfectly content to let us dance all over church on Sunday, because he knows that when we leave the building, it's over.
You've seen these churches. You've probably been envious when they've talked about how the power falls. Especially when you compare their experiences to your own (not a good idea, but difficult to avoid) – their lives don't experience much trouble, and yet it is a Pentecostal Power Hour every time they show up. What gives?
Simply this: it is possible to bask in the presence of the Lord, enjoy the “feel good” that His anointing allows, and leave completely and utterly unchanged. A lot of people like a church like that. They feel good while they are there, but they feel absolutely no compunction to change anything about their lives or share Jesus with others. They simply use God's presence as an anti-depressant – they get just enough of a “fix” to make it to the next service – but they don't allow the changing power of His spirit to penetrate their hearts and lives. As a result, they cannot handle difficulties, and they don't reach out to the lost.
Why would Satan object? As long as he lets them be comfortable, complacent – sleeping, really – he has little to worry about. They'll continue feeling good in church. But they won't spread the word. (Somebody might sit on their pew or, God forbid, take their solo.) They'll show up faithfully to every service. But they will leave unchanged. (That would require sacrifice and searching themselves for sins that are not quite as obvious as others.) It's a quarantined virus, in Satan's eyes, and I'm convinced he allows it, encourages it, and hopes other churches will emulate it. Gives him freedom to take the rest of the city to hell while that congregation of 30, 50, or 150 gets their “fix” and moves on to another week. And then later, when they don't expect it, he can hit them with a big problem, and it will destroy what faith they have. This kind of revival is a win-win for him.
Think I'm talking out of school? Check God's word:
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. . . . And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
II Timothy 3:1-9
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
James 1: 22-24
It is vital that we understand that we must have a relationship with Christ that goes beyond feeling good, shouting, and worshiping. Those things are good; they are vital. But if you are not seeing the fruit of the spirit in your church, in your life – it's time for an inventory. You are either a weapon in the kingdom, or you have been given your pacifier (Hebrews 5:12-13). Good services where you feel the power are not enough. If souls are not being born into the kingdom, are you really fulfilling your purpose? If not, whose purpose are you fulfilling? Dangerous question, if you dare to ask it.