Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Was Paul Unsure of His Message?

A Quick Look at Galatians 2:2

 
“to make sure I was not running – or had not run – in vain”
 
 Did the apostle Paul go to Jerusalem
to make sure the Gospel he preached was correct?
 
Paul did not attend the council for a “meeting of the minds” as someone related to me.  His purpose was to set things straight (Gal 1:8-9).
 
“It is unlikely that Paul sought information [or confirmation regarding what he believed] about the essential message of the gospel.  If he had, his entire argument about being independent from the Jerusalem apostles would have been called into question.” (Full Life Bible Commentary to the NT, p.976).
 
“…Paul did not go to Jerusalem because he doubted the validity of his calling and message…his motives seems to have been more pragmatic then theological.  If the Jerusalem apostles failed to see what God was doing through Paul, his efforts would have been greatly complicated” (ibid, p.978; emphasis his).
 
Paul saw the danger of “having to conclude that his own work had been carried out in vain, bearing no fruit…For a negative stance [against Paul] on the part of the Jerusalem [church] would leave Antioch with only two paths: to abandon its circumcision-free mission to the Gentiles, or maintain that mission at the price of a rift with the Jerusalem that would have produced two churches.”  In any case, for Paul personally, everything in the epistle indicates that he would not under any circumstances abandon his call by God to preach the Gospel of salvation in Christ, a salvation on the basis, not of works of the law but the work of God through the Cross of Christ.”  The danger that Paul saw was not that he had erred in his message but “in the possibility that the Jerusalem leaders would fail to perceive something that was to Paul an absolute certainty: God’s powerful work in his own preaching to the Gentiles.”  Furthermore, it “would have destroyed his assumption that the one ‘truth of the gospel’ is in fact bringing into being one church of God made up of former Jews and former Gentiles.”  This possible rift between Antioch and Jerusalem was what Paul meant when he said, “lest…I was running or had run in vain” (ABC, Galatians, p.192-193; emphasis his).
 
To interpret the phrase of Paul’s fearing to have run is vain as a fear of making a mistake about the gospel “is inconceivable in view of Paul’s previous insistence upon the divine source and truthfulness of his teaching…Paul recognized that the decision reached could have terrible consequences for the church’s missionary outreach – if the doctrine of grace was not boldly and clearly upheld” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol.10, p.439).
 
The importance of recognizing the emphasis laid
in the context of Gal 1 on divine revelation and as it relates to Gal 2:2.
 
“I want you to know…that the gospel I preached is not of human origin [tn: “is not according to man”].  For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source [or means; tn: “I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it]; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ” (cf. Acts 9:6,16, NET.  See NET translation notes). 
 
1.     If Paul received his gospel by studying, even the Hebrew Scriptures, then:
(a)     His argument is no weightier than his opponents.
(b)    The issue becomes nothing more than the question of who interprets the text correctly.
(c)     It destroys belief in the revelatory nature of the epistle itself.
2.    To downplay Paul’s receipt of revelation, which he takes pains to emphasize, renders his experience of Christ’s appearance to him irrelevant, therefore, it would serve no purpose for him to make such a claim and he would have no basis to speak as a religious authority on matters respecting salvation in Christ.  Paul’s authority not only loses its force but it makes no sense and, therefore, the epistle loses all claims to divine inspiration.
3.    Without Paul’s emphasis on the revelatory nature of his message, his rebuke of Peter would be not only inappropriate but also arrogant: who is Paul to rebuke one who saw and heard, walked and talked with Jesus?
4.    To de-emphasizes Paul’s receipt of revelation dismisses altogether the reality, validity, and significance of receiving revelation today (Num 11:29; Isa 6:1f; Jer 31:33-34; John 16:13; 1 John 2:27).
 
That Paul’s concern at having “run in vain” was not with respect to his message – whether he got it right or not – but to the negative consequences to which the Church would be exposed if the Jerusalem council did not agree with his message but rather sided with the Judaizers, namely a schism between Jew and Gentile believers.
 
The way Paul received the gospel, as well as the gospel message itself, lay at the very heart of how we define the Church and establish its purpose.  For if the Church is not the consequence of divine revelation but rather simply the result of a studying or a method of studying Scripture, then it holds no divine authority and is endued with no divine life (including experiences of a revelatory nature); it is made to be no different than any other man-made and man-centered theology and institution.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Revival

What is Revival?
 
Where is the hope for Revival –
God’s Holy Spirit outpoured
Convicting of sin, and of judgment,
And righteousness of the Lord?
 
                   ~ Estelle Gifford Jackson[1]
 
 
A.     Basic Definitions by Christians:  

Webster’s Dictionary, 1828

Return, recall, or recovery to life from death, or apparent death; (2) Return or recall to activity; from a state of languor; (3) Recall, return, or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity, or depression; (4) Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.

With specific reference to the subject of revival in a religious sense:
 
Jonathan Edwards

In his description of certain revivals, he writes:  

“When this work [of revival] first appeared, and was so extraordinarily carried on amongst us…others round about us seemed not to know what to make of it.” 

“This remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God, which extended from one end to the other of this county, was not confined to it…”

“But this shower of divine blessing has been more extensive…” 

“This seems to have been a very extraordinary dispensation of providence; God has in many respects gone out of, and much beyond, his usual and ordinary way.”[2]

Charles G Finney

Revival is a “supernatural visitation from God which awakens hearts and produces joyful obedience.”[3] 

“It presupposes that the Church is sunk in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the Church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners.”[4] 

“A revival is not a miracle…The revivals in the apostles’ days were connected with miracles, but they were not miracles.”[5] 

“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”[6]

 

A.W. Tozer
 
“Revival is essentially a manifestation of God; it has the stamp of deity on it which even the unregenerate and uninitiated are quick to recognize.”[7]
 
Vance Havner
 
Revival is “work of God’s Spirit among his own people…[it] is simply New Testament Christianity, the saints getting back to normal.”[8] 

Dr. Michael L. Brown

A revival is a "season of unusual divine visitation resulting in deep repentance, supernatural renewal, and sweeping reformation in the church, along with a radical conversion of sinners in the world, often producing moral, social, and even economic change in the local or national communities.” 

B. The term “revive" refers to being restored to life after having experienced death or of something being restored to its original state, whether figuratively or literally, in various contexts.

1.   Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) 

Word translated “revive”, “revived,” “reviving”, “quicken”, and “quickened” in the KJV is the Hebrew verb chayah[9] (or, hayah), which “indicates ‘life’ or ‘having life’.”[10]  Chaya can “also indicate revivification.  It is an amazing truth that God, who is said to live in a high and holy place, is also with those who are lowly in order to haya (NIV, ‘revive’) their hearts.”[11]

References to revival:
ü  Genesis 45:27, emotionally: of the patriarch Israel being encouraged after learning his son Joseph was alive after being very depressed for years believing he was dead.
ü  Judges 15:19, physically: of Samson’s strength returning to him after, having exhausted himself killing 1,000 men with only the jawbone of a mule, he drank water that God provided.
ü  1 Kings 17:22, from death: of Elijah raising a widow’s son, whom had died, back to life.
ü  Nehemiah 4:2, figuratively: the enemies of the Jews mocking their rebuilding of the temple in an attempt to discourage them from the work, saying, “Can they revive these stones from the dusty rubble?”[12]
ü  Psalm 85:6, spiritually: where the psalmist seeks in prayer for God to restore his fellowship with his people and awaken them to the reality and awareness of his saving power and presence. 

2.  New Testament 

From the Greek anazaō, meaning, “to recover life, live again”[13], appears in:
ü  Romans 7:9, spiritual: however, in this text reference is to one becoming consciously aware of his having transgressed the Law (“sin revived”) and, consequently, having spiritually died (“and I died”).  Here the text illustrates how one is revived to sin and dead to God.
ü  Romans 14:9, physical: with reference to Christ’s resurrection accomplished to secure his Lordship over all men.
ü  Luke 15:24, figurative: the father’s description of his prodigal son’s return.  KJV: “my son was dead, and is alive again.” 

Other Greek words used in the NT that, within the context, refer to the concept of reviving, having life again:
ü  Ephesians 2:5, spiritually: having dead in sin, God’s grace gives us life again in Christ: KJV: “when we were dead in our sins, [God] hath quickened us.”[14]
ü  Philippians 4:10, emotionally: of being concerned again for another.  KJV: “your care of me has flourished again”.[15]
ü  Romans 8:11, physically: if the Spirit raised Jesus from death, He can also raise to life after death our mortal bodies.[16]
ü  1 Corinthians 15:45, spiritually: whereas the “first man” was made merely a “living soul” whose life was derived, Christ possesses life in Himself and is, therefore, able to give life, revive where there is no life; Christ is a “life-giving”.[17] 

C.  The Need for Revival: 

“God has found it necessary to take advantage of the excitability there is in mankind to produce powerful excitements among them before he can lead them to obey.  Men are so sluggish, there are so many things to lead their minds off from religion and to oppose the influence of the Gospel, that it is necessary to raise an excitement among them, till the tide rises so high as to sweep away the opposing obstacles.  They must be so aroused that they will break over these counteracting influences before they will obey God.”[18] 

“There is so little principle in the Church, so little firmness and stability of purpose that unless it is greatly excited, it will go back from the path of duty, and do nothing to promote the glory of God.”[19] 

D.  Finney offered seven indicators for when a revival is needed:[20]
1.  There is a lack of love and an attitude of indifference among believers.
2.  There exists party spirit, jealousies, and gossip.
3.  The community of believers looks and acts no different from the behavior of the worldly and godless.
4.  Christian leaders and members fall into gross and scandalous sins.
5.  When there is arguing and controversy within the community of believers.
6.  When the world of unbelievers ridicule and scorn the Church (largely because of her own hypocrisy), and overcome her, commanding greater moral influence in their local community and the world.
7.  When sinners and professed believers become careless and stupid. 

E.  The Christian’s Responsibility to Save the Sinner:

Although it is true that strictly speaking only God saves, it is not true without the qualification that God uses men as believers as a means to save other men as sinners.  That is, in salvation God uses men as an instrumental means.  Only God can actually regenerate, but men, in accordance with the divine plan, are necessary to bring men to that state, that is, conversion, where regeneration that be divinely effected. 

As Charles G. Finney stated, “There are many passages [in the Bible], which represent the conversion of sinners as the work of men.”  Furthermore, he adds that the Bible “ascribe conversion to four different agencies – to men, to God, to the truth, and to the sinner himself.”[21] 
 
Since it seems Christians are familiar with those well-known Bible texts that ascribe God as the one who saves, I have listed below only those texts that also ascribe to men their own salvation and that of other sinners:
 
Since Christians seem to be more familiar with Bible texts that ascribe salvation as the work of God, I thought it would be helpful to point out below some verses that ascribe salvation also to man. 

1.  Men save themselves:
ü  Ezek 3:19 – “you will have saved yourself” [22] (cf. v.21)
ü  Ezek 18:27 – “he will save his life”
ü  Ezek 18:31 – “make for yourselves a new heart”[23]
ü  Mark 8:35 – “whoever loses his life…will save it”
ü  Luke 7:50 – “Your faith has saved you”
ü  Luke 28:42 – “your faith has healed you”[24]
ü  1 Tim 4:16 – “you will save both yourself and your hearers” 

2.  Men save others:
ü  Prov 11:30 – “he who wins souls is wise”
ü  Rom 11:14 – “in the hope that I may…save some”
ü  1 Cor 9:22 – “by all possible means I might save some”
ü  1 Tim 4:16 – “you will save…your hearers”
ü  James 5:20 – “Whoever turns a sinner…will save him”
ü  Jude 23 – “snatch others from the fire and save them” 

“There is a man who has been very ill.  How natural it is for him to say of his physician: ‘That man saved my life.’  Does he mean to say that the physician saved his life without reference to God?  Certainly not…It is true, then, that the physician saved him; and it is also true that God saved him.  It is equally true that the medicine saved his life, and also that he saved his own life by taking the medicine.”[25]

 
Biblical Examples* of Revivals

Old Testament 

Joshua 5:2-9; 1 Samuel 7:1-6.
Elijah, 1 Kings 18:17-40.
Jehoash and Jehoiada, 2 Kings 11, 12 and 2 Chronicles 23, 24.
Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:1-7 and 2 Chronicles 29-31.
Josiah, 2 Kings 22,23 and 2 Chronicles 34,35.
Asa, 2 Chronicles 14:2-5; 15:1-14.
Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 33:12-19.
Jonah, 3:4-2-10.

New Testament

Peter, Acts 2; 4; 5:1-21; 9:32-43. 

Through the community of believers:
ü  Acts 6:7-8,15
ü  Acts 11:19-21
ü  Acts 12:24 

Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:1-3; 21; 19:11-20. 
 
Suggested Reading 

Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion. 

V. Raymond Edman, Finney Lives On (a smaller and lighter as an alternative to the Lectures above). 

Dr. Michael L. Brown,
- From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire: America on the Edge of Revival
- Let No One Deceive You.
- The American Gospel Enterprise
- How Saved Are We?
- Whatever Happened to the Power of God?
- It’s Time to Rock the Boat

Mel Tari, Like a Mighty Wind.

Winkie Pratney, Revival: Principles to Change the World. 

Leonard Ravenhill,
- Why Revival Tarries
- Revival God’s Way 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival 

James Gilchrist Lawson, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians 


End Notes
 
[1] Leonard Revenhill, Revival God;s Way (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1983), 16.
[2] Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, ed. Edward Hickman (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1984), 348,349.
[3] Bible Research (BRC) Corporation: Classical Theological Library CD, vols. 1 & 2 on Revival
[4] Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion abridged (Revell), 7.
[5] Ibid. 5.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Winkie Pratney, Revival (Springfield: Whitaker House, 1983), 18.
[8] Ibid. 6.
[9] Strong’s Concordance #2421, 2425 and pronounced khaw-yaw’.
[10] William D. Mounce, Complete Expository of Old & New Testament Words, “revive” (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2006), 589.
[11] Ibid.  See Isaiah 57:15
[12] NASB.  The sentence reads in its entirety, “Can they revive these stones from the dusty rubble even after the burned ones?”
[13] Strong’s Concordance #326.
[14] SC #4806, “to reanimate conjointly with (fig): -- quicken together with.”
[15] SC #330, “to revive; -- flourish again”
[16] SC #2227
[17] Ibid.
[18] Revivals, 2.
[19] Ibid. Emphasis his.
[20] Ibid. 17-19.  I have reworded Finney’s list.
[21] Revivals 217-218.
[22] All verses quoted from the NIV unless otherwise noted.
[23] Interlinear Bible by J.P. Green
[24] “healed” – same Greek word as in 7:50 there translated as “saved”.
[25] Revival, 218.
* List is in the same order as that found in the 1974 revised edition of Nave’s Topical Bible under “revivals” (p.1069).