R. D. Ice
"Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. 'Listen to me, Asa!' he shouted. 'Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you.'" 2 Chronicles 15:1-2 The Book Version
"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it...." Psalm 127:1
Surely the Lord’s church is indestructible. Jesus said the "gates of hell" (powers of death) could not prevail against Her. Compare Revelation 12:10-17. The God of Power whom we worship could raise up Christians from the very stones themselves (compare Matthew 3:8-12).
My computer has a refresh button which resets the original program. God raises up men and women over the centuries who "click the refresh button" to return to the original "program." The "church" then experiences renewal as the Resurrected Christ is confirmed as Lord of our lives.
From time to time the church must ask: "What are we trying to restore? If we click the refresh button, what changes would take place?" We are talking of renewal. We as the church must be renewed again and again to keep our focus on the glory of the Lord and John 3:16-17. Note Jesus came to be the world’s Savior!
When a congregation experiences Renewal, certain things happen. God in effect says: "By your faith, command Me." We are to first ACT and then God will grant us RENEWAL!!!
1. GOD COMES DOWN - in the sense that He gives a deepened awareness of His inescapable Presence as The Holy One, mighty and majestic, dwelling among His people. Renewal experience begins with being forced, like Isaiah in the temple, to realize the intimacy of the supernormal and the closeness of The Living God. Note Isaiah 6:1-7.
2. GOD'S WORD COMES HOME - in the sense that the Bible, its message and its Messiah reestablishes the formative and corrective control over faith and life that is the Christian's by right. In renewal the divine authority of the Bible is realized afresh, and Christians find that this collection of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures is still the means whereby God speaks to us and feeds our souls.
3. GOD'S PURITY COMES THROUGH - as God uses His Word to renew consciences. The perverseness, ugliness and guiltiness of sin are seen and felt with new clarity. The depth of one's own sinfulness becomes obvious as never before. So then forgiveness of sins becomes the most precious truth in God's promise to us! 1 John 1:6-10; 1 Peter 1:15-16. But not only forgiveness; we Christians are being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit!
2 Corinthians 3:6-18.
4. GOD'S PEOPLE COME ALIVE - Joyful assurance of salvation, conscious communion with a Living savior. A spirit of prayer and praise. A readiness to share a life in common with other believers. A love that reaches out to all in need. These are characteristic marks of renewed Christians. Old fears and inhibitions dissolve; a new frankness in speech and initiative in action come to take their place. The church at Ephesus (Revelation 2) was commanded to do this. They needed to learn to love Jesus again and to do the first works.
5. OUTSIDERS COME IN - drawn by the moral and spiritual magnetism of what goes on in (among) the church. People are not impressed by a "words only" gospel, but by transformed lives and the living community of Faith. Compare Mark 1:4-5; Romans 14:17.
6. TESTING RENEWAL - We are to test all things. Jesus is Lord; He came in the flesh; He was tempted in every way that we are; He died on the cross; He raised from death to life again! He is coming again in power!
a) Doctrinal Does this renewal produce a spirit that honors and praises the Christ of the Gospel??? Paul stakes the entire Gospel on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. See 1 Corinthians 15:20,54-58.
b) Ethical Does this renewal produce character that is Christ-like??? Because HE is holy, we are to purify ourselves and act ethically toward everyone in the world. Compare Matthew 25:31-46.
c) Holy Joy Does this renewal produce joy unspeakable and full of glory??? We Christians should rejoice with a joy and glory which words cannot express! Compare Acts 2:46-47; 1 Peter 1:8; Nehemiah 8:8-12.