Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival
“Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness. The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:159, 160, NKJV).
How can we discern between true revival and a counterfeit revival? The answer to that is to study the true revival. Learn it so well that anything out of place is glaringly evident. Now, revivals are spiritual, and spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2: 14). False revivals will look real, except to those who are truly spiritual. Our enemy is a clever foe. His schemes are so subtle and sophisticated, that even the very elect would be deceived if it were possible (Matthew 24: 24). So, it is only the Holy Spirit that keeps us from being deceived. He is the true safeguard of revival.
One of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to converted people is discernment, which in simple language means the ability to recognize the truth in difficult situations. A detective can recognize an incriminating clue in a murder case. That’s discernment, something most of us don’t have.
The apostle John gives us a clue to recognize the difference between a false prophet and a true one, between a false christ and the true Christ: He says, “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In other words, don’t let yourself get fooled! You don’t want to end up taking the mark of the beast! John’s clue? “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist” (vs. 3).
Two Christs are clearly distinguished in Revelation 13:8—the power behind the Beast, and the Lamb. The latter is the term Inspiration uses to designate Christ as the Crucified One, “the Lamb slain.” Thus the true Christ is the Christ of the cross; the christ of Babylon the one who spurned the cross. It follows that the true Christ is the One who will draw men if He is lifted up as the Crucified One (John 34, 33; Gal. 3:1). The false christ is the “radiant,” winsome, lovable, kindly one who draws all men literally (except those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life) when he is lifted up, but not signifying what death he should die. In other words, the power of this “christ” to appeal is in his winsome lovable ways to make people happy, relaxed, integrated, and to give them an “abundant life,” apart from the appeal of the cross. The false christ will have absolutely everything the true Christ has, power to heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers, set people free from anxieties, worries, etc., feed thousands, smile (constantly), a radiant personality, everything absolutely except the nail prints of the cross.
In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul describes how low Christ went in order to save us.
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Paul states this not only to uplift Christ, but to encourage us to be like Christ,
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phillipians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Paul says in verse 3 how this would look like, “…in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” John agrees with Paul. He states in 1 John 3: 16,
1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Christ said He came not to be served, but to serve others. A revival in which men glorify themselves is not a true revival. This echoes Ellen White’s thought on this subject. She says,
“In many of the revivals which have occurred during the last half century, the same influences have been at work, to a greater or less degree, that will be manifest in the more extensive movements of the future. There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false, that is well adapted to mislead. Yet none need be deceived. In the light of God’s word it is not difficult to determine the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God’s blessing is not bestowed.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 464.
The key is “self-denial and renunciation of the world.” When asked, “What is justification by faith,” Ellen White answered, "What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself" (TM 456.3). In true revival man will uplift Christ, abhor himself and repent in dust in ashes (Job 42: 6).
Where do miracles fit? Can we just ignore them? Someone said that miracles are for the non- believer and prophecy is for the believer. Then why did Jesus use miracles? Our Lesson states,
“The healing miracles of Jesus testified to the fact that He was the Messiah. As our compassionate Redeemer, the Savior was concerned with alleviating human suffering. But He was even more concerned with the salvation of everyone whom He touched with His healing grace. The purpose of Jesus’ redemptive ministry was to “seek and save” lost humankind (Luke 19:10). Speaking to the religious leaders regarding the paralytic, Jesus declared, “ ‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ ”—then He said to the paralytic, “ ‘Arise, take up your bed and go to your house’ ” (Matt. 9:6, NKJV). The crowd’s response to this miracle was to glorify God (Matt. 9:8).
Miracles were an outgrowth of Jesus’ redemptive ministry, but they were not the main reason He came to earth.”
This statement while accurate still ignores certain historical context of the Jewish life. Indulge me while I set this up. You will recall when Jesus was speaking to the young rich ruler (Luke 18: 18 – 30). After the young man left, Christ indicated that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom. The disciples responded, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples thought that riches – and what came along with them - were an indication of God’s favor. Consider another anecdote: When Jesus heals a blind man who is sitting by the wayside, the disciples asked, “Who sinned: this man or his parents?” In other words, to the disciples this man’s misfortune was punishment for Sin (John 9: 1 – 41).
If, the disciples were a microcosm of the people, then we can tell that the Jews had an erroneous picture – schema – of God. If a widow lost her son, she thought God was punishing her (Luke 7: 11 – 16). She felt God had cursed her. Remember, in her society, the loss of the son meant she had no one to look after her. She would be alone and destitute. Why would God do this to her? Christ resurrected her Son. Not only to show that He was the Messiah, not only to relieve the woman of her suffering; but, to reveal the true character of God. God loved her and cared for her. She left the scene thinking and feeling differently about God. She was grateful to Him. Yes, she gave God glory.