Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Preaching for Revival

Rev. Al Baker,
In a day when many seem to be mitigating the preached Word of God, calling us to a neo-sacerdotalism (emphasizing the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism over against the efficacy of the preached Word of God)1, we all the more need preachers who will preach for revival. How are we to do it? The church and her preacher have only two weapons — prayer and preaching. Nothing else will work. So, how do we preach for revival? First, the preacher and congregant alike must believe that revival is necessary and possible. Surprisingly, this is not even on the radar screen of many western believers. I will go further and say that the revival culture of Acts is normative, that this is always the benchmark of the church and anything short of it is dishonouring the One who gave himself for us. Second, we must pray with the intolerable burden of which I have so often spoken and written in the past. We can have revival in our day if we are willing to pay the price for it — if we are willing to pray, fast, and weep like Ezra (Ezra 10:1) and Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1-4); if we are in such anguish over the state of Christ’s church that we will pull the hair out of our heads and sit down appalled like Ezra (Ezra 9:1-3 ), that we will pull the hair from the heads of our brethren, like Nehemiah (Neh. 13:25); if we are willing to pray with deep humility, confessing and repenting of sin like Daniel (Dan. 9:1ff). Without this kind of sustained burden we have no reason to believe our prayers are effectual. We must pray prayers of supplication, intense passion (Dan. 9:3; Zech. 12:10). Third, as the preacher proclaims God’s Word he comes to his great calling hot with Christ, after hours of prayer, study, and meditation on the Word to be preached; after filling up his heart and mind with the glory of Christ, after feeling deeply and passionately the truths he will proclaim; after believing in the total sufficiency and efficacy of the preached Word through the Spirit’s anointing. He knows he must have the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit fall on his preaching. He knows his gifts, charisma, training, or experience will not bring revival fire. He labours in his preaching and every aspect of his pastoral ministry with the expectation of revival. This kind of preaching brings action. It demands a verdict. Preaching for revival affects the conscience, heart, and will. No one could listen to the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul, or Isaiah the prophet without being moved in heart, mind, and will. Some loved the message and embraced it fully. Others despised it and wanted to kill the purveyors of it. When the Holy Spirit falls upon such preachers and their preaching, then the devil and his minions are awakened from hell. They come after the preacher in many forms — discouragement, financial or health crises, sexual temptation, severe opposition from within the church leadership, hatred and disdain from the world. But with the Apostle Paul, the preacher and the congregation are able finally to say together, 'We have fought the good fight. We have finished the course. We have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for us the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to us on that day, and not only to us, but also to all who have loved His appearing' (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
Read the rest here. Rev. Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011.

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