The United States needs an awakening! You have heard this, and I have said it, but now it is our time to do more: it is time for the church to respond. Before the founding of the United States as a nation, we were influenced by the first Great Awakening. A significant voice of the first Great Awakening was John Wesley. The United States was ripe for the Great Awakening as part of the “new world.” This new world, although colonized by European countries, was not under the burden of its history. It is important to understand most European nations had established state churches over the people, so people saw themselves as Christian by birth, or national heritage. Many of the churches had the name of the country, or an ethnic designation, that would even separate them from the Christian denomination they were a part of. In the first awakening, there was an emphasis on a personal experience with God, without the cultural constraints of those nations. It was under this freedom that an independent church was able to flourish. Since that time, there have been two streams of Christian influence in the protestant movement: those who emphasize the response to the gospel to inherit eternal life, and those who teach about the need to believe in Christ, as well as the power of God to change lives.
John Wesley was a major force in the new America, as he proposed the concept of “Christian Perfection.” His theology expressed the need to grow into God’s perfect love that would, in turn, produce a people of love to reach out to the world. John Wesley encouraged the need to be saved, along with the need to allow the Word of God access to your heart and life. This became the foundation for the Holiness movement, which led to the Pentecostal movement, and most recently the Charismatic movement. The Holiness movement emphasized holiness, the Pentecostals emphasized sanctification, and the Charismatic movement emphasized renewal. Those of us with this foundation need to be mindful of our great heritage and what it means for us today.
Are You Ready to Go on to Something More?
In this recent season of the Lord, I have noticed the waning of the Charismatic renewal. I know that this is of God, because it is time for a new move—something more. Through the charismatic emphasis on the authority of the believer, we have seen much less emphasis on the need for the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit for personal renewal, and much more emphasis on the Holy Spirit for personal enrichment. As I look for this new move of God, I am convinced that it will include a return to a significant part of our foundation: God’s ongoing development in our lives, or the “more” that is needed. In Hebrews 6 it says, “…leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection…” This was John Wesley’s message, and it should be our message today. The word “perfect” here does not mean flawless, but complete or mature. Let me remind you, God’s eternal plan was Jesus Christ, the first born of many brethren. This is our call to action in this last day move of God!
Today, many voices are saying things like, “Isn’t the most important thing that people just get saved?” I have even heard people say, “The things of the Spirit are a hindrance to winning people to Christ” because it puts the focus on other “less important things.” For many, filling up heaven is the goal, but it has always been God’s desire for all the earth to be filled with His glory. When the children of Israel came to the Promised Land, they were afraid to confront the giants in the land. They said, “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight...” They saw themselves in relationship to the giants, rather than in relationship to God. God was ready to give up on them until Moses made intervention on their behalf. Then, God made a declaration that should resonate in the heart of every believer, “But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord…” This is God’s desire; what is yours? Our tradition from long ago should make us desire the transformation of the Holy Spirit, not just the changing of our heart. We need a move of God to take us to another place of the glory, so we can truly help God with His plan to fill the earth with His glory.
Will you join me in making perfection, or completion, our spiritual desire so we can demonstrate His glory? The Apostle Paul made it clear how God would accomplish His goal in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. “
It is time for another awakening—it is time for more!