KEYS TO CONTINUOUS APOSTOLIC REVIVAL
If people do not long to have what we have, we don’t have what we should have. Here are twelve keys that will bring Continuous Apostolic Revival to every church.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine. . .” Acts 2:42
Much time and thought is given today to the subject of Revival. A careful study of God’s word reveals several things that are note worthy on this subject.
The New Testament Church had 120 charter members. These disciples had united in prayer waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. On the day God’s Spirit was enthroned, 3,000 persons net the qualifications for church membership. Pricked in their hearts these converts volunteered for baptism in Jesus Name. The Early Church could very well have reclined, folded her hands behind her head, and yawned in contentment.
But no. . . they were so full of the Spirit “they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.”
The members of that first congregation were “real apostolics”. They believed in Continuous Apostolic Revival.
The New Testament Church had a sustained evangelism. Luke, the New Testament historian, records that “the Lord added to the church daily” those who were being saved. Luke also notes outstanding characteristics of the Church which were the keys to this unending harvest of souls. God’s people carried with them the reasons for daily tallying of saved persons.
Key No. I – TELLING
It was a telling church. They testified to Jesus’ death and its meaning to them. They explained that JESUS WAS GOD come to deliver them from sin and remove the guilt of past evil behavior.
They willingly received the commission to “go and tell”. They had something to tell and felt compelled to go.
It is deceitful to refuse to talk about our Lord. In fact, to believe we can live the Christian life and not talk about Him is faulty thinking. This is Satan’s way of adding us to his list of helpers.
There will never be an Apostolic Revival where people remain silent, because they would be falling short of Christ’s commission.
Only an ungrateful person would refuse to tell what Jesus did for him.
Key No. II – STUDY
New Testament Christians studied diligently. They gleaned every bit of truth the apostles taught them. They had an open ear to all spiritual information. Doctrine stirred no fear within them. They “continued stedfastly” in it. They relished knowledge about Jesus.
A grave danger within God’s Church is ignorant adherents. Worse than ignorance is the repose of staying there. No attempt is made to tap the riches of Christ.
The wisdom of God is inexhaustible and endless. Real Apostolics should surge forward to gain new insights. They must be on the growing edge of new truth. Spiritual minds must be honed to a keen discovering something new about God. One reason souls were daily added to their number was because they could explain and apply from their learning the facts about God. This is so vital to Continuous Apostolic Revival.
Key No. III – FELLOWSHIP
The Early Church was known for its close fellowship. There was a quality of togetherness about them best described as a friendly acceptance and a loving concern. The popular thing was to eat together. It seems everyone was included – saint and sinner. No doubt this was a vital key to winning the lost and adding to the church daily.
Most Christians today consider themselves friendly, and they are — among themselves. These warm arms of love reach no further than those who are close and lovable.
Unfortunately, the stand-offish nature of many today is based upon an improper emphasis of James. 4:4. “Friendship with the world is sin against God” (free translation). It has been stressed that Christians do not associate with sinners.
We would never propose an association with worldliness in any way. However, we must recognize the fact we will never win the lost that we do not reach. We must recognize “we are in the world, but not of the world.”
The “world” can also mean the principle of wrong. The Church cannot be in agreement with evil, but to disengage ourselves from needy hearts is sin indeed.
Jesus prayed, “Holy Father. . . . I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil.” (John 17:15) Jesus was concerned about the spirit of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He warned, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”(Matt. 16:6)
Religious pride will kill revival. The spirit of Continuous Apostolic Revival is that of sensitive . . . searching concern for the world about us. The fellowship of the Early Church encircled everyone in need of God. They took fellowship so seriously that they went from “house to house”. Contemporary methods of fellowship evangelism have given added evidence to support the effectiveness of this attitude in a love-starved world.
This is a useful key to Continuous Apostolic Revival.
Key No.IV – PRAYER & FASTING
New Testament Christians drew upon the resources of God by means of prayer. Prayer was not spasmodic, but habitually meaningful. The initial warriors of God made no claims to rugged individualism. They admitted their inadequacies in persuading men about the lordship of Christ. William Barclay wrote: “They always spoke to God before they spoke to men.” They knew the power of the name Jesus; but more than that, they had fallen in love with the person of that name.
The Early Church prayed often for guidance as well as boldness that they might do the will of their Lord. They recognized the unfailing promises of God and through prayer and faith in His name were able to appropriate its power.
Without prayer they knew their attempts in evangelism would be futile. Therefore they wisely found that prayer was a must in Continuing Apostolic Revival.
New Testament Christians were fully aware of the need for fasting. Jesus himself had instilled in His disciples the need of purity and simplicity of motives. He revealed the simple truth that the extraordinary things in His vast reservoir of power came only by prayer and fasting . . . In dealing with the deaf and dumb spirit that his disciples were unable to cope with, He stated; This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.”(Mark 9:29) Prayer and fasting together are vital and necessary keys to Continuous Apostolic Revival. The Early Church was instructed to . . .” give yourselves to fasting and prayer . . . that Satan tempt you not.” (I Cor. 7:5)
They learned well the value of fasting to their personal consecration to God. In fasting they not only kept their body under subjection, but in doing so they were through prayer obtaining the power so necessary to perpetuate the Apostolic Revival among the believers.
Key No. V – MIRACLES
Miracles took place among the believers in Luke’s day. The fasting and prayer and healthy atmosphere of fellowship set the stage for many miracles. When something is happening among the believers, it is much easier to “go and tell”.
Through miracles they were able to maintain a high level of faith in the continuing power of God’s word as He was ever confirming it in their midst. This attracted the sinner, needs were met, and a Revival Atmosphere prevailed.
When we think of miracles our thoughts fly to physical healings. This is indeed the miraculous work of God. It is often stated, “The greatest miracle of all is when God forgives and changes a sinner.” Both are acts that anyone will agree are out of the ordinary. These strange events convince men of the genuineness of God’s activity and power in the Church. One conversion naturally results in another and another. The Bible shows us that God reveals himself through mighty deeds.
A church where miracles happen is a spiritual church. God does not perform miracles through spiritually inept persons. Where there are no miracles there are no converts. Where there are few converts, there are few miracles. In a truly Apostolic church where Continuous Revival prevails, there are many miracles and many converts.
Key No. VI – GENEROSITY
The First Church was a generous church. The concern of its members thought of their material assets being at the disposal of God. When a temporal need arose, God’s people naturally and willingly sold their belongings to meet the situation.
There existed a deep feeling of concern for others. This sense of responsibility was prompted by genuine love. It is no wonder that people were attracted to this group of God-proclaiming people. Doubtlessly “spongers” took advantage of these generous folk. But the sincere were rightly impressed, recognizing that God had triggered this humanitarian activity.
Key No. VII – PRAISE
The first Christians praised God. Every opportunity that presented itself found these people worshipping. Worship was dynamic for them. It was packed full of praise to God. These Apostolics continually lifted the eyes of the world to the God who had changed their lives. Their gratitude expressed relief from guilt, and a heartfelt love for the Saviour. Credit was correctly placed in the hands of the Crucified One.
Neighbors and acquaintances were aware of the pre-conversion attitudes and activities of these Christ followers. Praising God was a radical change. Onlookers were impressed. When a person shows a drastically and different life-style, the natural assumption is either that “he finally came to himself” or “he slipped a cog”. The New Testament believers swept away any such conclusions by their religious adoration. God caused the change in their lives.
Key No. VIII – JOY
Ask anyone around in A.D. 50 and he would tell you, “These Apostolics, these Jesus-people are joyful all the time. It was a quality that drew people to them. Luke paid them a high compliment when he reported they “did eat their meat with gladness.” (If there is anyplace where grumbling-can be heart, it is at the supper table.)
Everyone enjoys happy people. They make delightful companions. The Christians joy is not necessarily a boisterous thing; it comes from deep within the heart. Joy is an expression of peace that God gives. As the Spirit flows through the life of a real Apostolic, more joy surfaces. It is a growing and increasing thing.
It wasn’t difficult to form fellowship groups when happiness existed. Besides, who is there who does not desire a deep, settled joy? Joy counted greatly in evangelism.
Key No. IX – UNITY
The original Apostolics were united. This means far more than being together in proximity. Church members pulled together in the same direction, achieving the identical purpose — evangelism.
The Early Church had built into their hearts a “singleness of heart.” They were accomplishing the assignment Jesus had left for them. — a mission possible.
Peter and his colleagues had a unity of purpose because they had a unity of experience. They had been baptized into one body by one spirit. They had become identified with Christ by baptism in His name.
This new birth experience promised to them by Jesus Himself had brought peace to the battlefield of their soul.
Key No. X – THOROUGHLY FURNISHED
The Early Church was THOROUGHLY furnished to good works. Empowered by God’s Spirit, and molded together in His own love, they relied heavily upon the “furnishings”” so necessary to their life’s task.
In all their going and telling, study and fellowship, miracles and deeds of generosity, praise and joy, expressions of unity and collective accomplishments; they knew that without the divine touch and direction of God these things could not be.
They relied heavily upon the Holy Ghost for their direction. They wanted to do not only that which would seem good to them. . . but to the Holy Ghost.
They recognized well the divine furnishings of God’s Church. This church furnished by divine order of which Jesus Christ is the foundation and head. The Church of which our Lord is the chief cornerstone.
They reverently honored the position of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for they knew they were for the perfecting of the saints. This respect was so necessary to work of the ministry, in their edifying of the body of Christ. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto a measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephes. 4:12)
They believed in and yielded to God’s divine direction through the nine spiritual “gifts of His Spirit”; and their lives were marked by the display of much “fruit of the Spirit”.
For proper growth and spiritual maturity they were THOROUGHLY furnished in every way.
Key No. XI – FAVOR
Finally, Continuous Apostolic Revival happens because a church has “favour with all the people.” William Barclay characterizes the New Testament Church as “people whom others could not help liking.” It was an attractive Church.
There is a mistaken feeling among many today that they must be hated and disliked in order to be Apostolic. This is a malady of sickness that will destroy Revival and render Evangelism to utter extinction.
This feeling of being repulsed is due largely to the oft-preached and misunderstood concept of separateness. It is true that the world hates God’s people. On the other hand there is an attractiveness about a true Jesus-Name, Apostolic, Church. One marked by the beauty of holiness and a Christ-like spirit. One who possesses the beautiful fruit of Himself. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. These attributes of our Lord are loaded with “drawing power” . . . “against such there is no law”. (Gal. 5:23)
As we lift him up in truth . . . in power. . . in faith. . . he takes pleasure in drawing “all men” unto himself. But this is done through the medium of His people. You and I.
Jesus had a winsome personality. He was warmhearted, open, receptive, and His disciples should be too. If people do not long to have what you have, you don’t have what you should have .
The hard and narrow way of Christianity is not attractive to the sinner, but the faith that puts God in control is beautiful. People are seeking the equilibrium that results from faith. The world longs for the peace evident in the true Apostolic Believer – peace that is unruffled in the face of life’s overwhelming circumstances. “Oh, for the subtle assurance that it is well with my soul.” That joy — Can I have it too? Yes, be a joyful Christian with positive and firm personality – not the giggly brand, but one with gallant joy.
Continuous Revival, Continuous Evangelism, resulted among these Early Apostolics because the Church demonstrated lovely — yet powerful life characteristics. These were used of God to attract the soul of the world, drawing people to the person and the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we discipline ourselves to this same spiritual and functional position, our results will be the same.
CONTINUOUS APOSTOLIC REVIVAL . . . resulting in perpetual Apostolic Evangelism to the lost near and far.
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