Getting Ready for God #2:
There’s a story told of Thomas Aquinas who was a theologian who, one day, he walked into the office of this great beautiful church where the Pope was sitting, and he was counting all of his money. He had a lot of money—he had the gold all piled up on his desk, and the Pope smiled at Thomas, and he was quite pleased. And he said, “Thomas, no more can the church say, silver and gold have I none.” You know what Thomas Aquinas said to him? “Yes, but no more can the church say, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” We’ve become so institutionalized and organized, but the power of God is missing. We have a form of godliness, but we’re denying the power in our lives. And I want to see the power. I want it to be a reality—in our lives personally, and in our families, and in our church corporately as we gather together.
In the Book of Acts, on one day, when a man named Peter preached under the power of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people were born again. Three thousand people in one message responded to the Lord—they were cut to the heart, and they said, “What must we do?” Today if we see three people get saved, we think we’ve got revival. “Three people got saved today! God is moving!” And yet, we have thousands of churches that are preaching thousands of sermons in cities across our nation every Sunday, but how many people are touched by the power of God? People are going to church to hear sermons, not to meet with God.
We’re going to look at the life of a man named John the Baptist. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” (Matthew 3:1). “In those days.” What does that mean? John the Baptist was a prophet of the Most High God who came on the scene in a time where there was a wilderness—spiritually speaking—in the church. Now the Bible says that he came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, but there was also a spiritual wilderness in the land of Israel. For 400 years, there was no prophetic voice, there were no prophets and preachers of the Most High God who were standing up and proclaiming God’s message to the people. They were in a spiritual darkness where there was silence, where they were not hearing the Word of God. Then John the Baptist came as a light in that dark place, and he came preaching in the wilderness.
Matthew chapter three (that tells the story of John the Baptist) is so relevant for us today because I believe this is where the church, and our world, is at today. We’re in a wilderness, and we need the rivers of living water of the Holy Spirit to fall upon us to bring new life. So John the Baptist came in the wilderness of Judea in those days and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). He said repent, which means turn from your sins and turn to God. Because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. He is saying that God is getting ready to visit us, God is so ready to pour out His Spirit upon us, to reveal Himself to us in a powerful way, but the Bible says we need to repent before the Kingdom of God will be manifested in power. Repentance precedes revival.
For as long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve been in churches where we’ve sung songs like, “There’s Gonna Be a Revival in the Land,” “Send Revival, Lord,” “Revival Fire Fall,” and “Lord, Revive Us.” We’ve been saying we want a revival, but the thing we’ve missed is the fact that repentance precedes revival. Before God comes and revives His people, before the Kingdom of God is established, we must repent. And that’s not a popular topic nowadays. These days, people come to church and the pastor says, “You are loved.” In the Bible, the pastors and preachers would say, “You are lost…without Jesus.” Yes, God is love, and yes God loves us, but until we become a Christian and are adopted into God’s family, we are lost in our sins and separated from God. We need to repent of those sins, because we have broken God’s law. We have offended Him, and we need to come to Him and say, “God I’m sorry. I’m going to turn from my sins and turn to You.” Repent—because the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Pastor Chris Jordan