South Shore Sermon Series: 2002
A Need For Revival
By Bernie Parsons May 13, 2002
South Shore church of Christ
Greetings, in the name of our heavenly Father and of our Lord Jesus, Christ. I am so happy to be part of this gathering in the name of the Lord. Thank you for inviting me. This is a special event for me, which I have anticipated with eagerness and joy in the Lord.
What brings us here tonight? Are we here because we "had to be"-that is, we think that it is required, either of our brethren, or of the Lord? Or are we here for to celebrate this privilege granted us by the grace of God, to fellowship in the word of God and to assemble in the name of Jesus? To study and learn of the will of God?
What did you come out to see? I have been told in times past that the word of God is ineffective, and doesnt carry much weight, if the bearer is not dressed in a suit. Hopefully you are not one of those people. In fact, Id like to see the preachers and speakers from this area start a trend by emphasizing the message, not the messenger!
I call your attention to one John, the Baptist, an effective messenger of the Lord.
Matthew 3: 1: "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3: For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5: Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6: And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
You might say, "That locusts-and-wild-honey diet sure turns my stomach, but at least he was classy-he dressed in leather!" See how Mark described Johns garb.
Mark 1:6: "And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;"
Heres John, the Baptizer, ranging through the waste places, the forsaken, out-of-the way places, eating locusts and wild honey-not the bee-hive kind that we enjoy-dressed in camel hair garments and an animal skin slung across his loins. Everywhere he goes, he keeps telling everyone to repent, because Gods kingdom is fast approaching!
We could come in here wearing bib overalls, a flannel shirt, and a pair of clod-busting boots, and preach Jesus and Him crucified! That would be fine with God! We have to look past the messenger and see the message! Jesus had this to say about brother John:
Luke 7: 24: "And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25: But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
26: But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27: This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28: For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29: And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30: But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
31: And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
32: They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
33: For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
34: The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
35: But wisdom is justified of all her children."
What have you come out to see? Not to see the latest fashion, or you will be sorely disappointed. Surely not to see how the upper crust lives, because I am no more than the burnt crust at the bottom of the pan! Its amazing that God even permits a weak man like me these opportunities to speak His awesome word.
I hope that our generation is better than the one that rejected our Lord and Savior. Jesus likened them to children playing games. "We pipe, and you dont dance!" they whine. "We have a pretend funeral, and you dont cry!"
On the one hand, they found John, that true Baptist, rather unseemly, and quite at odds with their notion of how a man of God ought to behave. He refused their pleasant food and their intoxicating drinks. He dressed in a peculiar fashion. "He has a devil!" they cried. "What a strange man! He doesnt eat and drink the same things as we, nor will he socialize with us."
Jesus, on the other hand, came eating and drinking at their social gatherings, their feasts, their parties-and they said of Him, "Look! A glutton and a drunkard! A wino! He hangs out with the rowdy crowd. Hes"-gasp!-"been seen in the company of the lost souls!"
Ah! Jesus said that wisdom is justified of all her children. Which is it? Do we embrace him that is wild-eyed and unkempt, shouting for repentance in the wastelands? Or do we embrace Him that is calm, neatly dressed, and quietly pleading for repentance among the "cultured" and the well-to-do? Or do we find fault with both?
My friends, it is the message that alarmed the Pharisees and their scribes, not the appearance, nor the location, of the messenger. The word of God spoken to them convicted them of their sins, and overwhelmed and overpowered their evil!
Here is my message to you tonight: we need a revival! Dont recoil in shock and disgust at the word, it is quite scriptural. Revive literally denotes to live again, or to come back to life. Revival carries with it the meaning of coming back to life-a scriptural concept.
Ephesians 5: 14: "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15: See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16: Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17: Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
We wring our hands and bemoan the fact that the days are evil in our own time, yet we seem paralyzed by the wave of evil that threatens to engulf us. Regard the words of the Apostle Paul, and redeem the time, instead of wasting it. To redeem means to buy back. We have wasted many years, now let us buy back that time by redoubling our efforts to understand God and keep His sayings.
We need to turn off the television sets and tune in to the world around us. Who in our community is in need? What are our children being taught at school? What are they learning from television, movies, games, and songs? We had best be about our Fathers business, which requires that we understand what our Lord would have us do.
1 Corinthians 15:34: "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
As Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, some have not the knowledge of God. He called this a shameful condition of the Christian. How can we do that which we do not know, or understand? This awakening refers to revival from the dead, which thing we need.
I Corinthians 15:16: "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
Romans 13:11: "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12: The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13: Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14: But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
And what are the lusts of the flesh?
Galatians 5: 16: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18: But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20: Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21: Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
The Spirit of God teaches us to recognize those things of the flesh. We need no list to follow. But even so, I am glad that the inspired, Holy Apostle of God enumerated some of them. For in this list to the church at Galatia we find some horrendous things: "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:"
How thankful we are that we are no murderers, no adulterers, no witches, no idol worshippers, and no drunks! Yet, consider this:
Luke 18: 9: "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
We must examine our list once more, for we often overlook the balance of what it says: "hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, and such like:"
Hate comes from a root word that means of bad temper, to cause trouble or distress. Before we say that we have no hate in us, we ought to examine ourselves to see if we are of bad temper, and if we cause trouble or bring distress to others.
1 John 2:8 "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
9: He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10: He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11: But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
1 John 3: 14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
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."
We say we are no murderer, yet if we trouble and distress our brother, we are a murderer.
Variance bears the meaning of bending, or making different from one another. Do we work to turn others away from one another? One of the seven abominations mentioned in Proverbs 6:19 is "he that soweth discord among brethren". It turns Gods stomach. Our Lord prayed that we all be one in Him and the Father, to signify to the world that we are the children of God.
John 17: 20 "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22: And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
What of emulations? That word means to try to outdo the other fellow. Our goal is not to rise above the other-for that is arrogance-but rather, to humbly serve one another.
Luke 22: 25 "And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26: But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
27: For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."
Rather than to lord over one another, we need to serve one another, as did our Lord Jesus.
Wrath means fury, or rage, from a root word that means to storm. Are we stormy, and out of control, at times? If so, we have wrath.
Ephesians 4: 26: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
27: Neither give place to the devil."
Let us not relent to the onslaught of the Devil, but let us purge wrath from our hearts.
1 Peter 1:22: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:"
This brings us to another work of the flesh, which is strife. Strife means to quarrel and contend, an oft seen work of the flesh among our members. Quarrel means to complain, and contend means to compete and to oppose. Guess who gave birth to envy & strife?
James 3:13: "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
14: But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15: This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16: For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18: And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
What about seditions, which means to stir up by bringing discontentment, as in an attempt to overthrow authority?
Hebrews13:7 "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
Hebrews13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
Let us also examine heresies, which are schools of thought contrary to official doctrine. What doctrine is more "official" than the Holy Scriptures as the inspired word of God? If we school ourselves in that which is contrary to the Holy Writings, we become heretics.
2 Timothy 4: 2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4: And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
1 Peter 4:11 "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
The rule of thumb that I adopted 30 odd-years ago is that if the Bible says it, I believe it!
The next word to look at is envyings. To envy means to have ill will toward someone because of what they possess, or their station in life.
1 Corinthians 3:3 "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
James 3:16: "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
Friends, we dont want confusion and every evil work in our lives, and in the church. Let us make the most of our time, seeing that the days are evil. Let us unite and work together in the love of God Almighty, and His obedient Son, Jesus, who is the Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:5: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
Let us examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, and Christ in us.
Mark 16:15-16 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
If you are here, outside of the faith, the Lord asks you to believe; you need to repent, turning your heart and your life over to God; confess your faith in His Son, Jesus, as the Christ; and we will baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the remission of your sins. Then, you too can make up for lost time by spending the rest of your earthly life diligently seeking God, serving Him in all things. Times wasting, lets get busy!