Reformation and Revival

July, August, September 2013

Want to learn more about Reformation and Revival? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Revival: Our Great Need (Revelation 3:14-21)
They say that lukewarm water is best for you. Not so cold that is shocks your stomach. Not so hot that it burns your mouth. Just nice and lukewarm. (Gag.) They also say that eating dark green vegetables is good for you. I'm hoping that they mean watermelon. I worry that they mean kale, since I suspect that watermelon (a fruit) does not qualify. The Bible speaks of lukewarm, and it gives hope to those who (like us) like cold and hot, since it suggests that God shares our view! This week we begin a new series entitled "Revival and Reformation." Just like our preferences in beverages, our goal is avoid being slightly warm. Let's dive into our lesson and learn more!

Lesson 2: The Heartbeat of Revival (Acts 1 & 2, Matthew 6)
How do we start a revival? Can we start a revival? Last week we learned that the church of the end of time is spiritually lukewarm. We discussed ways in which we can personally move from lukewarm to hot. What about moving the entire church to hot? When I was in college, I experienced revival. There are times at Regent University, where I teach, that I feel the Holy Spirit and the spirit of revival. How do those things happen? Let's dive into our study of the Bible to see what we can do to spark a revival in our church!

Lesson 3: The Word: The Foundation of Revival (Hebrews 4, John 5, 1 Peter 1, 1 John 2)
Our study is about the Bible being the "foundation" of revival. That seems a bit odd at first glance. If the lesson claimed that the Bible was the foundation for reformation, that would make perfect sense. Who reads the Bible to become converted? It seems that you hear the gospel, give your heart to God, and then read the Bible to better understand. Well, maybe not. Consider how our series started. We learned that we are living during the "lukewarm" age of the church. Those already in the church have heard the gospel. Thus, if we want to revive those (like us) who are already in the church, we need something more than the initial excitement of being converted. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to discover its role in revival!

Lesson 4: Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival (Acts 8)
Have you ever asked, "What is in it for me?" This is the most basic approach to converting others to Christianity - we tell them how it will make their life better. God uses that approach. Consider Deuteronomy 28 where God says obey and be blessed, disobey and be cursed. Tithing promises tangible benefits (Malachi 3:10-12). Heaven is promised to have gold even in its streets! (Revelation 21:21) This approach creates a tendency to remain focused on self even after we are converted. Our lesson this week challenges us to look outward. Let's dive into the Bible and find out more!

Lesson 5: Obedience: The Fruit of Revival (Acts 9 & 26)
Two weeks ago, in our discussion of Hebrews 4:1-6, we saw two groups who heard the gospel, but only one accepted it. One group accepted the gospel because they combined it with faith. With that acceptance, the group entered into God's rest. Hebrews 4:6 continues to say that some will not enter into God's rest "because of their disobedience." If obedience is the fruit of revival, what does it mean to obey? Let's dive into our Bible and review some chapters in the life of Saul (who became Paul) to better understand the meaning of obedience!

Lesson 6: Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival (Acts 5, Psalms 51)
What is your attitude toward sin? Are you mostly concerned about what others will think about you? Or, are you concerned about how your sin impacts God? When I was growing up, my father would encourage good behavior by saying, "I don't care what other boys do, you are Don Cameron's sons!" If my father's point was that sin is a matter of personal reputation, that would not be good. But, if he was standing in the place of my Father in Heaven, then his advice was perfect. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more about sin, confession and repentance!

Lesson 7: Unity: The Bond of Revival (1 Corinthians 12, Luke 11, Matthew 7, John 17, Romans 8)
What does unity mean? Does it mean that we give up personal opinion? Does it mean that we no longer compete with each other? Does it mean that we look, talk and act like other church members? When Jesus prays that we will all be "one," in the same way the Trinity is one (John 17:21), what does that mean? If unity is essential to revival, and it seems it is, we need to understand what unity means. Our lesson this week is about unity. Let's dive into study of the Bible and learn more!

Lesson 8: Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival (Matthew 12 & 24, Mark 9, Acts 2)
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the discerning of spirits. 1 Corinthians 12:10. Why would God give this gift? Apparently, because not all spirits are good. Jesus warns in Matthew 24:24 that false Christs and false prophets will perform miracles with the goal of deceiving Christians. This means that we are to be alert to those who falsely claim the power of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Jesus warns us of the extreme danger of attributing to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:32. Let's dive into our study of what the Bible teaches about how discernment can safeguard rival in the church!

  1. Caution Discerners!

    1. Read Matthew 12:22-23. Jesus performs a great miracle, what are the people asking? (Read John 7:41-42 and Isaiah 35:4-5. The people knew Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would perform this kind of miracle. They believed the Messiah would come from the line of King David, therefore they are asking, "Is this the promised Messiah?")

    2. Read Matthew 12:24. What is the opinion of the religious leaders about Jesus' miracle-working? (They say Jesus' miracles come from the wrong spirit, they come from Satan.)

    3. Read Matthew 12:25-26. What is Jesus' logical argument against the opinion of the religious leaders? (Satan cannot drive out Satan. If he did, Satan's kingdom would collapse.)

    4. Read Matthew 12:27-29. What logical argument is Jesus' making about tying up a strong man? (Jesus is driving out demons. How is it possible to drive out demons unless you first tie up the head of demons - Satan?)

    5. Read Matthew 12:30. What does this teach us about discerning spirits? (We look at the big picture. Is this person advancing the Kingdom of God?)

    6. Read Matthew 12:31-32. What terrible warning are we given about calling the work of the Holy Spirit Satanic? (It is the sin which cannot be forgiven!)

      1. Would you prefer to be given a less dangerous gift than the discerning of spirits?

      2. The Holy Spirit is just one part of the Trinity, why is blasphemy against the Spirit worse than blasphemy against Jesus? (John 16:7-8 tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. If we cannot discern the Holy Spirit from demonic power, we are in big trouble when it comes to understanding sin.)

    7. Read Matthew 12:9-13. Recall this occurred before the Pharisees alleged that Jesus performed miracles by the power of Satan. What role does the Sabbath play in the Pharisee's opinion of Jesus' miracle?(Likely the Pharisees thought Jesus' miracle came from Satan because of their theological differences on the Sabbath.)

      1. What lesson does that suggest to Sabbath-keepers? (This is another caution.)

  2. The Discernment Test

    1. Read Mark 9:38-40. By what spirit was this man driving out demons? (The Holy Spirit.)

      1. How do we know? (Jesus gave His stamp of approval to his work.)

      2. What test did Jesus use to discern spirits, and what test did John use to discern spirits? (John's test was "Is he one of us?" Jesus' test was "In whose name did he perform the miracle?")

        1. How would you state John's test in today's terms? (Is he a member of our church?)

      3. Look again at Mark 9:39-40. What should we conclude if someone does a miracle in Jesus' name? (Jesus' approval is very broad. This is the same logic as He used in saying that Satan cannot drive out Satan: miracle-workers are on one side or the other.)

    2. Read Isaiah 8:19-20. Mediums and spiritists are obviously the wrong spirits. What test is applied here to discern that? (Consulting the dead is an obvious clue. The broader test is whether the spirit speaks in accord with the Bible.)

      1. Read John 16:12-15. What does this say about how the Holy Spirit will speak? (He will only speak in accord with the other Members of the Trinity. We can test the spirit speaking to us by asking whether the message is in accord with the Bible generally.)

      2. Does this square with Jesus' statements that miracle workers are on one side or the other? (This is where the Pharisees and the Sabbath healing are important. The test is not whether a fellow Christian agrees with us on all points of doctrine. The test is whether the miracle-worker is promoting Jesus or not. If we make the test too narrow, we may find that we are blaspheming the Holy Spirit!)

    3. Assume you saw a man smoking a large cigar and he told you that he had been healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Would his smoking be relevant to the issue of what power healed him? (No! The relevant question is whether he is promoting Jesus, not the minor theological issue of smoking. How many people who fail to exercise, eat unhealthy food, are overweight, or fail to take their medicine pray for healing? The relevant question is whether the person promotes Jesus. A God who only healed those who perfectly followed the health laws would only forgive those who perfectly followed the moral laws.)

  3. Spiritual Discernment and Excitement

    1. Read Acts 2:1-3. Those of you who know this story, what was the purpose of this Pentecost experience to the early Christian Church? (It is the kick-off of the revival movement just after Jesus returned to heaven.)

      1. Why is the kick-off like this? (This gets the attention of the people.)

    2. Read Acts 2:5-8 and Acts 2:12. What actually happened because of the sound, fire and tongues? ("A crowd came together." A crowd who wanted to know more. A crowd who was asking questions.)

      1. What should we think about a revival that has exciting things happen? (It is consistent with the first great Christian revival.)

    3. Read Acts 2:13. What spirit did this group think was behind all of the sound, fire and tongues? (Wine! A spirit of drunkenness.)

    4. Read Acts 2:15-16. What test does Peter suggest should be applied to the issue of which spirit is behind this event? (He uses logic - it is too early to be drunk. More important, he turns to the Bible and cites the prophecy of Joel.)

    5. Read Acts 2:18-19. What does Joel predict will happen when the Spirit of God is poured out in the last days? (Signs and wonders. Smoke, fire and blood.)

      1. If we are living in the last days, and our revivals do not involve signs and wonders, what should we conclude?

    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. What will Satan orchestrate in the last days? (Counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.)

      1. What does this teach us about signs and wonders? (Signs and wonders are not the test. Both the true and the false use signs and wonders.)

      2. What test can we find in these verses? (The point of Satan's revival is to disbelieve the truth and to delight in wickedness.)

      3. Why does the Bible refer to "counterfeit" miracles, signs and wonders? (This shows the true work of God also has miracles, signs and wonders.)

    1. Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. How difficult is it to apply the proper discernment test? What does this say about the people who are deceived? (They want to be deceived. They delight in wickedness.)

    2. Read Matthew 24:23-24. How difficult is the test here? (Jesus says it is a powerful deception.)

    3. Read Matthew 24:26-27. How difficult does the test seem to be to you? (Comparing a world-wide event to local claims seems easy.)

      1. Notice something. Recall that earlier we concluded that a broad test - does the person promote Jesus - was the proper test. Here, we have a test that is much more narrow. What does this teach us? (We need to know our Bibles to really understand what promotes Jesus and what does not.)

    4. Friend, will you pray for the ability to discern spirits? Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will power your revival efforts?

Lesson 9: Reformation: The Outgrowth of Revival (1 Corinthians 3-6, Romans 8)
Two weeks ago we learned that we need to have unity with God by having the Holy Spirit live in our minds. This allows us to live a Spirit-led life. Last week we learned about spiritual discernment, judging whether the spirit speaking to us is God or demonic. If we have these two things down, that we invite God's Spirit every morning to live in us, what is next? We need to do something, right? What is it that we need to do? That is our topic this week. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 10: Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change (Luke 9 & 15, Mark 10, 1 John 2)
We started this series of lessons with the warning that we are the church of the last days, the Laodicean church. Revelation 3:15-16 tells us that our church is "lukewarm," and God would rather it be hot or cold. If we are lukewarm, we are not willing to grow and change. What, exactly, does it mean to grow and change? What will motivate us to grow hot? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see if we can find the answers!

Lesson 11: Reformation: Thinking New Thoughts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 10)
"Garbage in garbage out," is what people say in the computing world. Is that statement also true when it comes to our minds? The entertainment world rates what is acceptable to come into our mind based on our age. The idea being that age makes a difference; older minds are less susceptible to bad influences. Is that true? Frankly, I think garbage in garbage out applies at any age because people of all ages are influenced by those around them. Ask yourself, do you use expressions that your friends use? I have an old friend who refers to a small detail as a "featurette." Because of him, my wife and I refer to "featurette" from time to time. Let's plunge into our study and find out what the Bible teaches about our minds!

Lesson 12: Reformation: Healing Broken Relationships (Matthew 18)
Sometimes unity is hard work! Many years ago, I was at a meeting where our local church leadership was meeting the new conference president and our new pastor. As Lay Pastor, I was the leader of the local church. The new conference president asked each of the local elders their thoughts about the church. A newly elected elder said things were fine, except their was something wrong with my theology and the church leadership had a problem with racism. My immediate thought was that unity would be best preserved if I walked over and strangled him! The two of us had never had a personal discussion about theology. He had just transferred to our church, and although he was of a minority race, within a year we had elected him an elder - unlikely actions for a group of racists! This unexpected and unwarranted attack on my reputation and the church leadership created hard feelings in my heart. What should we do when things like that happen? Let's dive into our Bibles and see what we can learn!

Lesson 13: The Promised Revival: God's Mission Completed (Joel 2, Matthew 28, Revelation 14)
We come to the final lesson in this series about revival and reformation. After these studies, what do you now think is the goal of revival and reformation? Would you agree that it is to get to know God better so that we love Him more? What is the purpose of getting to know God better and loving Him more? To get ready to go home to live with Him forever? To take with us as many as possible? Let's plunge into our study to contemplate how we finish the work God has given us!

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