“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” – Acts 2:42
“Revival is a season of breakthroughs of God’s Kingdom in word, deed, and power that ushers in a new normal of Kingdom experience and fruitfulness.” This is the definition James Choung and Ryan Pfeiffer offer for revival in their book, Longing for Revival. When revival comes, there is first and foremost a breakthrough of the word of God. The words of the Bible become fresh, real, and powerful in the lives of people. The ideas of God, the thoughts of God, the story of God begins to shape and transform the interior lives and mental models of his people.
For many people in our culture the Bible feels old, dusty, antiquated, outdated, and irrelevant…but when the Holy Spirit comes in revival, one of the key things the Spirit does is to illuminate and apply the scriptures to our hearts and lives. All of the sudden, the scriptures take on a fresh relevance and meaning. They even expose the idolatries and falsehoods that have captured our surrounding culture.
Consider the revival under King Josiah, found in 2 Kings 22-23. By the year 624 BC, Israel had all but forgotten God. A long string of idolatrous kings and bad leaders had led the nation into apostasy. It had gotten so bad that there were literally idols in the Jerusalem Temple. It was as if Israel had become blind to its idolatry and injustice, numb to its brokenness like a frog dying in a pot of slowly boiling water. How had things become so bad? Israel had lost touch with God’s word. Losing touch with God’s word is like what is happening out West right now – there is a drought. As rain and snow fall from heaven and cause plants to grow, so is God’s word. (Isaiah 55). When we lose touch with God’s word, it brings spiritual drought. Whenever revival comes and human culture is renewed and refreshed by seasons of divine grace, it involves a recovery of something that has been lost…the word of God.
Our own culture has lost touch with the word of God. In 2019 the American Bible Society in conjunction with the Barna Group reported that only 5% of American adults considered themselves to be Bible-centered (regular bible usage and church attendance). And millions of American Christians who hold a positive view of scripture are simply not regularly engaged with it in any meaningful way that might actually transform their lives. Like Josiah and Israel in his time, we have lost touch with God’s word.
In 623 BC, during a building project, Josiah discovered the Book of the Law. It was found by temple workers in some dusty room in the temple during a routine maintenance project. This maintenance project turned into a full fledged revival when Josiah read the scroll of the book of the Lord. And then had the people read it and renew the broken covenant with Yahweh. Thus began a cleaning of God’s house. Idols were removed. The people of God understood their spiritual state. They saw how far they had fallen into apathy and apostasy and repented. A revival swept through Ancient Israel in this time.
In the same way, in Acts 2 – the church centered herself on the word of God. They believers “devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching.” That is to say, the Old Testament, which was the written scripture of Jesus and the apostles, as well as the apostolic traditions and teachings (which eventually became the New Testament), became central in the revival of the early Church in Jerusalem after Pentecost. And they have been central in every period since then. We need them to become central today as well.
- Read through 2 Kings 22-23 and reflect on the recovery of the word of God.
- Consider how you want to upgrade your own engagement with Scripture this year.
Let’s pray for God to stir up in us and in the whole church a hunger for the word. For the Holy Spirit to illumine the meaning of the Scriptures and apply them to our hearts.
Pray for the preaching of the word to be powerful and inspired in Sanctuary and in other churches this year.
Pray for God to activate theologians and teachers in the life of the church to teach the scriptures.
Pray for children and young people to meaningfully engage with the scriptures.
Pray for organizations like the Bible Project and YouVersion to help more and more people, including at Sanctuary, engage daily with the Scriptures.
Pray for God to use scripture in our time to expose our own idolatries and falsehoods and reveal truth, calling us to repent and turn to Him.