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When Heaven Touches Earth
By David A. DePra
What happens when heaven touches the earth? Revival. Of course, I am talking about special times, rather than usual times. In a very real sense, heaven touched earth a long time ago – when Jesus came. And since Christianity is CHRIST IN US, heaven touches earth continuously. But there are special times when heaven touches the earth. And those times usually result in REVIVAL.
However, I think it is important to understand HOW heaven touches the earth. And WHY. This is really a matter of defining true revival. What is true revival?
True revival is a return to, or a drawing to, or a embracing of, the Person of Jesus Christ. Many other things may happen during a revival, but if the goal of them all, indeed, the fruit of it them all, is not that individuals enter into a personal relationship with Christ, then things are off the track. Of course, it is possible for a revival to begin ON the right track and then get OFF. This has happened more often than not.
So the first thing that defines true revival is that revival is all about Jesus Christ. Note – I’m not yet even mentioning anything Jesus might do IN a revival. No. I am stating that if a revival is of the Holy Spirit, then the fundamental goal and outcome will be that individuals will come to know Jesus Christ. People will be saved, and the saved will come into a greater experience of Christ.
In John, chapters 14 through 16, Jesus stated seven things that the Holy Spirit would do when He came. Revival will always carry those seven works of the Holy Spirit. There may be other things the Spirit does as well, that are not mentioned among these seven. But these seven will be present and prominent. And all seven are about knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ.
Once we realize that a revival that is of God is about Jesus Christ, it tells us what a revival is NOT. A revival is not a, "side show," that focuses with supposed signs and wonders, supernatural manifestations, and chaotic behavior. Certainly, there could be some signs and wonders and some manifestations. But every one of them will be Biblical, and they will all work unto the edification of people in Christ.
I said earlier that even if a revival begins as a work of God, once it gets off the track, it is no longer of God. It would seem, as proven throughout history, that the greatest danger to a revival is for Jesus to take the background to signs and wonders. People flock to see signs and wonders, and these tend to become the center, not only of excitement and notoriety, but the signs and wonders often become a side show that can be used to make big money. People then try to keep the revival going, keep the people coming, and keep the money flowing. What might have been real miracles are replaced by fraud and psychic manifestations, if not something worse. Sadly, what began of God ends up a disgrace to Him. He left the building and hardly anyone noticed.
The responsibility here is upon leadership. If Jesus Christ is being glorified in a revival, who knows what miracles or signs God might do? But even if God does these, the focal point must be kept upon Jesus Christ. If it is, God will remain free to do as He pleases. If the focus is not kept upon Christ, God will stop – even if people try to keep it going. True revival is about the Person of Jesus Christ.
Christians often speak of, "movements," or, "the move of God." In reality, God has only ONE movement. It is the same movement that He began in Acts 2. Every REVIVAL – every time heaven has touched this earth in a special way since – is that same movement appearing again. "Revival," is exactly what the word means – it is the REVIVING of that which was God’s original intention.
In Acts 2, Jesus Christ came to dwell WITHIN people through the Holy Spirit. THAT is what God is doing today. Of course, included in that is the on going work of the Holy Spirit IN God’s people. But the idea that God is doing something new today, or that a new movement is going to come about that will be different from God’s original intention is error. Again – do you want to know what should be happening in any so-called MOVE of the Holy Spirit? Read John 14 through 16. Jesus told us what the Comforter would do when He came.
And yet today there are many movements going on. A number of them have to do with a supposed end-time revival that we are told will encompass this earth. We are told that God intends to give the church dominion over this world so that Christ can then return and pick up where we left off. This isn’t going to happen. There will be revivals to be sure. But the Bible doesn’t teach that the church will have dominion over the world in this age. In fact, despite revivals, the Bible predicts an end-time apostasy among the church that will deceive the many.
Revival is not when many people get excited about the same thing and all join together in one movement. That can happen even if God isn’t within a million miles – and it can happen among professing Christians. Neither is revival centered around a THING God is doing, or around signs and wonders. Again – revival is a joint obsession and experience of the Person of Jesus Christ.
Over the last few years there have been revivals characterized by holy laughter, gold dust falling from the ceiling, gold fillings in teeth magically appearing, gems being found on the lawn, people acting like animals, and by many other manifestations. The supposed revival becomes popular, not because of Jesus Christ, but because it is a spectacle – people flock to see the next manifestation that God will supposedly do. Or they come because they want something from God. Yet people totally ignore what the Bible says the Holy Spirit will do, and they ignore the commands given the church. There is a mentality among Christian people that assumes that God would never let them be deceived, or that if something appears to be supernatural, then it must be of God. This is dangerous.
God has already told us that if we ignore Biblical warnings and teachings that we WILL be deceived. He has already told us to, "test the spirits," which proves that there can be evil spirits present TO test and reject. But many today do not care. I submit that the reason many Christian people ignore the Bible on these matters is that they have been, "softened up," by false teaching in other ways, and have assumed that they are part of some, "end time move of God," that could not possibly get off the track. Millions think that they are part of an, "anointing," and part of an end time revival – and for them, this stamps all that happens in it as being of God.
But again – God is NOT in movements. God does not commit Himself to a group of people, or to a movement – no matter what they do, or how they do it. When will we learn this? Read the Bible and you will learn it. God is committed only to Himself, and to His own will and glory through His Son. WE must get on HIS page – and STAY there. Thus, even if God begins a revival, it ceases TO BE HIS REVIVAL once, "things," replace Jesus. And frankly, God begins very little unless He has already laid a foundation. Most of the events in history that we call revival were NOT of God, and those that were, quickly because about the revival itself, rather than about Christ.
People betray this fact when they reference such revivals. They point to the event, and to the signs, and to the movement it started. They continually try to recapture it. They constantly speak of it as what God is doing. But ask: Is revival about an, "IT?" Or about HIM?
How often, for example, when people talk about Azusa Street in 1906, do they talk about Jesus Christ? How often do you hear about how people became dedicated to Jesus? Not too often. What you more often hear about are the tongues, the signs, and the commotion. THESE are pointed to as proof that God was moving! People say, "God did wonderful THINGS back then!" Sure. And frankly, those THINGS and that IT are exactly what people try to recapture and duplicate today! But those things – even if they had been of God – are not REVIVAL. Revival is about relationship with Christ.
One wonders how many Christians would be interested in a revival that had NO signs and wonders, or crazy manifestations – but was simply about repentance and holiness, and coming into a deeper relationship with Christ. Well, the fact is, a revival like that is possible at any time. It begins with each of us. But does anyone today talk about that kind of revival? Some do. But most don’t. Sadly, people are more interested in the fantastic.
You can tell when a supposed move of God is more about IT, than it is about Christ. For example, Paul said, "Let all things be done decently and in order." He said, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." Both statements were made in the context of teaching about the manifestation of spiritual gifts. Do we really believe that if Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write such direction, that this same Holy Spirit is going to turn around and violate God’s own words, and inspire people to act disorderly, and inspire them to act like idiots? The answer ought to be clear to anyone who really wants an answer. But Christian people continue to ignore the Bible, assuming that whatever they are excited about MUST be of God. This is a dangerous position. Again -- if you ignore the Word of God, you are ignoring the Holy Spirit – the same Spirit you think is in the revival.
So the second thing we need to see about a real revival is that it is NOT a new movement. It is the SAME movement God began and intends to complete. And that movement is not a THING unto itself. No. Once again, all revival that is of God is to bring people to, and to edify people in, Jesus Christ.
Christ In Us
The third thing to know about true revival is that, yes, it is heaven touching earth in a special way. But almost always, it is heaven touching earth THROUGH GOD’S PEOPLE. Only if certain individuals have allowed Jesus to be Lord of them personally, and if they allow God to possess them personally, can God use them as instruments for revival. In short, if heaven is to touch earth in a special way, then God must have instruments through whom He can work unto that end.
Many times in the past, however, some of the people through whom God may have wanted to work, have turned the revival into an opportunity to promote themselves. This has happened a few times in a work God was actually IN. But more often, it happens when God isn’t in what is going on at all. Never think that just because a big movement begins, and that many people get excited about it, or claim miracles, or even claim they were helped spiritually – never think that this proves it is of God. No. Apostasy will have all of that! Rather, realize that revival may necessitate leadership and instruments of God’s use – but will never be about those instruments. It will be about Jesus Christ.
God wants to touch our lives. He wants His heaven to touch our earth. But there does need to be an entry point. It is not that God couldn’t just do it, and act upon people, and pour out His Spirit, but He usually doesn’t do it that way. Instead, He works through people.
People keep praying for revival. Well, if you want revival, let God work IN YOU. Or, to put it another way, if you want revival, GET REVIVED yourself. Give yourself wholly unto God. Then He can use you as He pleases.
Revival is when God gets to do what He wants. Amazing how seldom God gets to do what He wants, even among His own people! Well, this is because for God to do what He wants to do, He must have people through whom He can do it. Make no question – God can do anything He pleases, whenever He chooses. But God has most often chosen to limit Himself to working through people – His Body. Thus, if you want to know why God doesn’t do more today, this is the answer. People are too busy deciding what and how God ought to work. They don’t give THEMSELVES to Him.
So here we see one reason why revival is so scarce – and I’m talking about real revival, not all the claims of revival. Revival is scare because Christians themselves are not right with God. Some are looking for a THING to happen, or for miracles to happen, or for some big event to set it off. No. Revival is the outcome of individuals coming wholly under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and then the Spirit of God can flow through them to others.
If revival is about Jesus Christ, then you can be sure that the seeds of a revival are about Jesus Christ. In other words, if God is to use people as His instruments of revival, then those people must have already had their personal revival. Notice the first revival in Acts. God began with 120 people. And then He used them. Do you think they had any clue as to how to START what was about to happen? Do you think they had some special power, or influence? No. God did it – God must always do it – but He wants to do it through those who have already come under the Lordship of Christ.
If you want heaven to touch the earth in a special way, let heaven touch YOUR earth. This is the key to revival – people whose lives can be used of God to impact other lives for Christ. God isn’t going to trust people to be used of Him unless those people are made true and faithful through their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The fourth thing to see about revival is that it is OF GOD – i.e., we don’t own it. Miss this Truth and you won’t have real revival. Forget this Truth and God won’t stay around too long.
We cannot decide to START a revival. Rather, as already mentioned, we can decide to get our own lives right with God. Then, if God chooses, He can use us, or not use us. But the point is, a Christian is not supposed to belong to himself. So how can any ministry belong to me? Or any revival belong to me? It cannot. It is all God’s.
The definition of FAITHFULNESS is that I do not take ownership over the things of God. That makes me FAITHFUL to God. Sure. If you had a servant or employee that took ownership over YOUR possessions, you wouldn’t like it. If we take ownership over the things of God, God won’t bless us in them. Why? Because if you are taking ownership over the things of God, it is almost surely because you want to USE THEM for your own purposes. Perhaps to feed your pride, gain the admiration of men, or for the purpose of making money. This is all sin. And God won’t hang around.
If you take ownership over the things of God – over a revival – you are then operating in the FLESH, and not in the Spirit. Your use to God will quickly evaporate, for everything you touch won’t be exclusively for God’s glory. It may be for YOURS.
One way people take ownership over a revival is by attempts to keep it going. If God were to heal someone because you have preached Christ, it is likely that many people would begin coming to your meetings – many would come just for healing, or just to see a spectacle. The temptation would be to try to force healings with, "miracle services," or through some of the means you often see on TV – because you think you need to keep the revival going. But if you do that, you are forgetting why God was free to heal – you were preaching Jesus Christ. The answer is to keep preaching Jesus Christ and let God glorify Himself any way He pleases. If you didn’t start the revival, why do you think you need to keep it going? – or CAN keep it going? If God wants to completely STOP signs and wonders or healings – if they were of God to begin with – do you have a problem with that? God wants to use people who are surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus in a revival, but taking ownership over a revival is the opposite of that.
Never turn a revival into an EVENT, or a THING, or a CIRCUS. Never make the mistake, as so many do, of making the focus of revival the revival itself – in other words, never allow a revival, or move of the Holy Spirit, to become a thing unto itself. Again – revival is not about revival. Revival is about Jesus Christ.
When heaven touches earth, God is visiting people. They ENCOUNTER Him. Contrast this over and against people encountering signs, wonders, or emotional experiences. The purpose of revival is NOT that people encounter a THING or experience, called, "revival." No. The purpose is that people encounter and experience Jesus Christ.
When people encounter Jesus Christ, the result is always repentance. Not only unto salvation for unbelievers, but also repentance by Christians for any number of sins and unbelief. The result will be FREEDOM, and holiness. This will necessitate the centrality of the Cross.
Any revival that talks only of all the blessings that God wants to give us, and never mentions the Cross as the first step towards them, is already off the track. Revival isn’t God’s way of making us happy, or of giving us stuff. No. Revival is God’s way of bringing us to the Cross of Christ so that we might lose our lives to find HIS.
When people encounter Jesus Christ, the result will be freedom from error by the Truth. I’m not talking merely about freedom from theological error. No. I’m talking about freedom from lies about God. For when you encounter Jesus, you encounter LIGHT. And the error and darkness will be broken.
Because of this, there will be a continual need for sound, Biblical teaching.
When people encounter Jesus Christ, they will become hungry for God – even after the height and excitement of their initial encounter dies down. The change in their lives through the revival will be permanent. That doesn’t mean they won’t have doubts or problems – indeed, the encounter with Christ will insure these. But their lives will be changed forever.
There are other characteristics or outcomes of revival. Satan will attack any revival that is of God. Expect it. And many people won’t realize what is happening to them at first – this is why God uses those who do understand because they have gone ahead.
Lastly, a real revival of God will separate the sheep from the goats. What I mean by this is that everyone who truly wants Jesus Christ will be able to come to Him through the revival. But everyone who isn’t there for Christ will not long be able to pretend. Why? Because a true revival isn’t going to offer anything but Jesus. So if you are there for other reasons, you will soon lose interest.
The fruit of a real revival is that years later, Jesus Christ continues to grow in the lives of those who experienced it. When heaven touches this earth through a true revival of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ comes to live in people. That is permanent and real.
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