Principles of Revival: Ezra Part 3

Posted: February 25, 2009 by Josiah Batten in Bible Study, Christian living, Deeper Life, Revival, The Church
Tags: , , , , , , ,

If we read Ezra 2 we may think “how dreadfully boring… it’s just a list of those returning”.  But truly there’s more to it than that.  First, I should like to point out that being the people of God meant something to the Israelites, so much so that they could prove it through their ancestry.  Today being part of God’s chosen people has nothing to do with a nationality, but it is amazing how in America it means nothing to call oneself a Christian.  We have the idea that nearly our entire country is composed of Christians.  This may sound harsh, but I think we need to require some people who call themselves Christians to prove it.  Granted, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).  But it doesn’t end there.  If you’ve truly believed in your heart your life will change and it will change radically.  You will not be who you once were.  You won’t be comfortable doing what you once did.  You won’t identify yourself by the same standards you used to identify yourself by.

When did we quit preaching obedience?  Is not obeying Christ’s commands the evidence that we love Him (John 14:15)?  You say you believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, then prove it by keeping Christ’s commandments!  Keeping Christ’s commandments is not nearly as difficult as we might think, because it is a by-product of our love for Him and His love in us.  Keeping Christ’s commandments is impossible if we don’t have love.  Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that relationship will evidence itself in obedience to Christ’s commandments.

I know some will shout “legalism!”.  It only demonstrates their ignorance.  Legalism says “enter relationship with Christ by obeying”.  Legalism makes obedience a pre-requisite for relationship.  What I’m proposing is that obedience is the result of relationship, not the requirement for it.  This also differs from liberalism in that liberalism says nothing matters but love.  I tell you, liberal theologians do not understand what love is; one characteristic of God’s love is truth, another is that it is a moral love.

At any rate I daresay much of our powerless, fluff theology comes from not spending any time whatsoever in the presence of God.  It is impossible to spend time in God’s presence and not be purified and refined to look more like Jesus.  Oh that we would pray!

The second part of Chapter 2 is very interesting as well.  Why?  Because in Verse 68 the leaders take the initiative in giving offerings to the work of the Lord!  I tell you, these are the kinds of offerings that hurt, the kind that require faith to give.  This was a sacrificial offering.  It cost them something to give this.

Today our Christianity has cost us nothing, we are willing to make no sacrifice, we will not give an offering.  I daresay if we want to see God move mightily on our behalf we’re going to have to make a commitment and an investment.  We are going to have to sacrifice.  We may have to spend less time watching a Sit Com, and more time praying.  We may have to spend less time at the theater and more time in the Word.  We may have to replace our volleyball courts with prayer rooms.  We may have to give up our traditions to afford God the opportunity to work.  We may have to give up our rotten individualism and theological subjectivity to commit ourselves to the truth of God.

When did we ever think we could follow Jesus without a sacrifice?  When did we begin to think that God exists as a convenient go-to person to serve our petty little needs?  We need to get over the idea that God is following us everywhere, we ought to be following Him everywhere (Batterson).  It will require a sacrifice.

I think of the countless prophets, missionaries, and ministers throughout the years who gave everything up to follow Christ.  Are we willing to identify with Paul and count all things as feces compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord?  We must remember that Christ gives us abundant life by means of death.

God bless!

Josiah

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Comments
  1. At any rate I daresay much of our powerless, fluff theology comes from not spending any time whatsoever in the presence of God. It is impossible to spend time in God’s presence and not be purified and refined to look more like Jesus. Oh that we would pray!

    “Many Christians are disjointed and aimless because they have no pattern before them after which conduct and character are to be shaped. They just move on aimlessly, their minds in a cloudy state, no pattern in view, no point in sight, no standard after which they are striving…

    All this vague idea of religion grows out of loose notions about prayer. That which helps to make the standard of religion clear and definite is prayer. That which aids in placing that standard high is prayer. The praying ones are those who have something definite in view…

    The praying ones want all that God has in store for them. They are not satisfied with anything like a low religious life, superficial, vague, and indefinite. The praying ones are not only after a ‘deeper work of grace,’ but want the very deepest work of grace possible and promised. They are not after being saved from some sin, but saved from all sin, both inward and outward. They are after not only deliverance from sinning, but from sin itself, from its being, its power, and its pollution. They are after holiness of heart and life.” – E.M. Bounds _Prayer and a Definite Religious Standard_

  2. sweetswede says:

    That is an excellent excerpt! E.M. Bounds had many divinely inspired insights.

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