Recently, I took my mind back to the late 70s through the 80s and the early 90s and I remembered the revival fire of the Holy Spirit that swept across our country at that time. Unlike what we see today, it was pure revival! Unwholesome cinema houses closed down and emerging churches took them over as worship centres. Brothels and drinking parlours were not spared; many of them closed shop as the owners and many of their workers and clients were being apprehended by the revival fire. Idol worshippers who encountered the powerful Christ gladly burned their idols and surrendered their lives to Christ!
At that time, worship was worship, not entertainment. Born again Christians had genuine hunger for God and their zeal knew no bounds. Evangelism and Discipleship was treated as the primary duty of all believers and of churches at the time. Prayer vigils were prayer vigils indeed, not comedy nights! In fact it was fun to pray at that time and the gifts of the Spirit were in full manifestation in those prayer vigils. There was hardly any weekend that churches were not holding prayer vigils. The fire spread to the University Campuses across the country and many students were set on fire for God. I was on campus in the 80’s, so I witnessed the revival!
Also at that time, teachings on topics like New Creation Realities, The Holy Spirit, The Power of the Blood of Jesus, The Ministry of Angels, Righteousness, Consecration, Tongues of Fire, The Gifts of the Spirit, The Fruits of the Spirit, Faith, Hope, Love, The Resurrection Power of Christ, Healing, Deliverance and Restoration, and the like dominated the pulpits in the emerging Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. Many believers who had special gifts for ministry willingly offered themselves and volunteered to serve without charge. At that time gospel artistes were not charging fees to sing for God but warmly received and appreciated honorarium and love offering. At that time Preachers did not merchandize the anointing but willingly and freely preached the gospel trusting God to meet their needs, and God did meet their needs!
Again at that time, preachers were not seeking fame but genuinely sought to know more of Jesus and His resurrection power. At that time, preachers preached pure Gospel and did not substitute the Gospel with Junks. Many popular musicians, celebrities, rock stars, fraudsters, drug pushers and drug addicts surrendered their lives to Jesus and some of them received the call of God into full-time ministry. Pop Culture gave way to Kingdom Culture and many professionals laid down their certificates for the sake of the gospel. Interestingly, a good number of the founders of some of the modern churches in our country today (including my humble self) were fruits and beneficiaries of that revival.
Because the revival fire was so strong and intense, there was little or no room for false prophets to gain the spotlight or expand their evil trade. Orthodox churches were not left out, as many of them were forced to embrace the gifts of the Spirit and align with Charismatic and Pentecostal style of worship so as not to lose more members to the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement. At that time, Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches didn’t have many beautiful Cathedrals like we have today but the revival had visible and positive impact across the country.
Now fast-track to the last two-three decades! What we see today is a completely strange Revival; a Revival without order; a Revival without depth; a Revival in which many now substitute the gospel with all manner of junks; a Revival where many now elevate errors and false doctrines above the doctrine of Christ; a Revival that is full of religious activities but mostly isolates Christ and relegates the power of God; a Revival that is mostly devoid of the Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit; a Revival that encourages greed and breeds division and competitive jealousy. What we have today is a mockery of Revival! Indeed, today’s Revival is a REVIVAL WITH A QUESTION MARK!
WHAT OUR PRIORITIES SHOULD BE
At a time like this it is imperative to ask ourselves where our true priorities are as Christians and as Church of the Living God. It also calls to question what the focus of our best efforts should be. It’s beginning to be obvious to all of us that rather than focus on grooming church people into becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ, many are ill-advisedly busy putting more time, energy and resources into mundane things without adequate concern for the salvation and making disciples of the souls we gather in church. Sadly our edifices are now becoming nothing but vain structures designed and built to puff up our egos and bragging rights. Not as if building edifices for God’s glory is something wrong; I am all for decent, dignifying, adequate and comfortable facilities for worship centres. But whether this represents true revival in Christendom begs the question.
Ordinarily revival means renewal, restoration, recovery, revitalization, resurgence or stimulation. When we use this word in Christendom, we mean all of those but particularly spiritual awakening and vitality, soul salvation and deliverance from sin and the power of darkness; we also mean miraculous healings and spectacular wonders, especially when they lead men’s heart to come to God, believe in Jesus Christ and continue in the Lord. In recent time though, revival has erroneously come to represent large or cult followership of a religious leader, bustling membership of a church – whether or not those members are saved from sin and have become spiritually vitalized. This change in meaning is not only unscriptural; it is callous, insensitive and, if anything, dangerous. It is what has produced a spiritual shallowness that has made many church people insensitive, reacting to situations in the unseemly manner that smacks of blatant carnality, not spirituality.
UNDESIRABLE FRUITS OF A STRANGE REVIVAL
If there’s anything the social media has exposed in recent time, it is the quality of disciples we’re breeding. You only need to read the reactions and comments on Facebook of some presumed Christians and members of various churches, especially when commenting on issues or reacting to opposing views or opinions. Frankly, it’s increasingly becoming more and more difficult to spot the difference between believers and unbelievers. Without intending to be particular of any church, spiritual leader or minister, since we’re all involved; the time has come for the Church to holistically examine the essence of our churches’ outreaches and activities in the light of the quality of fruits we are producing.
This we know, the quality of a revival is revealed by the fruits of that revival. Whereas pure revival produces ‘spiritual’ Christians, carnal Christians are the fruits of a polluted revival. Paul the Apostle touched on this in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 3, Verses 1 and 3, when he said:“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal … for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” The emphasis here is that a religious system, structure or body built on carnality can never produce the quality of disciples Jesus desires. True, revival may start well but if not properly managed by the custodians it can quickly degenerate into something undesirable. Sadly, this has been the case in our country. We started very well but could not manage the surge of revival. When growth and comfort came, we went to sleep, pride, greed and competition entered. The enemy also came in and began to sow tares which are now producing wild and evil fruits in multiplied numbers.
The very fact that these bad fruits can now use money to gain endorsements from respected and influential leaders in Christendom should be of great concern to the body of Christ. The fact that impostors can easily use money to gain acceptance, respect and recognition within the body of Christ is quite troubling; and it reveals the level of greed, carnality and spiritual blindness that has infected the body of Christ. I wonder how Jesus feels right now seeing that the gospel music we use for worship is now becoming too expensive for the church and some gifted gospel artistes are only willing to accept invitations from a few Churches that are willing to pay outrageous fees for them to sing for God. The fact that many leaders now comfortably decline from speaking the truth or confronting evil is equally worrisome. Even more troubling is the fact that when one dares to be on the side of Jesus and speak the truth, some supposed custodians of the truth think one is either stupid or not smart in line with modern trend. The fact that some of us who have been graced and positioned by God to be the voice of the Church and the voice of God in the nations think being smart is being docile and self-absorbed. This sidon-look attitude of apostolic leaders sums up how bad things have become.
FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
Make no mistakes about it, the Church cannot exonerate herself from the malady that has plagued our collective backsliding and the vagrant, errant and capricious behaviours of our people. We have not preached the gospel to produce the same convicting power and conversion expected of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Let it be known that the Spirit of Christ is uniquely different from the aberrations that have become the lot of many modern church people today. The Spirit of Christ is not arrogant, greedy, abusive, rude, vicious or offensive. Recall how Jesus forewarned His disciples who wanted to rain down fire upon a hapless village of Samaritans who had disrespected Jesus. “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? But [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them…” (Luke 9:54-56).
The point here is that we are made of a different kind of spirit. Born again Christians are different! The world should be able to spot this difference! We are the light of the world and the world remains in darkness so long as the Church fails in her responsibility to shine as light. Interestingly, no one ever receives this grace of Christ without first receiving the Spirit of Christ. Until this happens, and no matter how churchy one may be, he or she will remain spiritually shallow, violent, abusive, aggressive, rude, vicious or offensive. And I can assure you that no one ever receives the Spirit of Christ from the current wave of aimless and vain preachings that have become the bane of many churches today. We must return to the Bible, and preach the word of God that transforms lives; only by this will we get the people to repent and become transformed from the wayward lifestyle of unconverted people. “You must be born again,” Jesus vehemently says, as this is the only way one can be transformed and changed, become a new creature and receive the Spirit of Christ.
We must not fail to let people know that beyond the mere religion of Christianity, there is the true life of Jesus Christ that is signalled by the transformed life, which is where the true riches of God’s Kingdom apply. Ultimately, it’s about your own soul, really. What’s the point, I ask you, if your soul is not saved, to what purpose is all your religion anyway?
A CALL FOR TRUE REVIVAL
My opinion is simple: preachers and leaders in Christendom, including all professing Christians, should understand that revival does not mean just large followership or bustling membership of a church; it does not mean cult followership of a religious personality; revival must be of the soul, the type that brings about renewal, restoration, recovery, revitalization, resurgence and stimulation of the soul into faith and godliness. Usually this is what will result when revival produces spiritual awakening and vitality, soul salvation and deliverance. Truth is, the moment the life of our people is truly transformed and church people become truly converted and everyone becomes possessor of the Spirit of Christ, not only will our churches be saved from internal strife, our outward impact of the world will become positive; no saying what respect that will bring to the Church and its leaders.
Let me conclude by saying I am glad however that we still have a remnant, an emerging Charismatic force, a new breed of Word based, Spirit-filled, Christ centred, and Kingdom oriented Ministers of the gospel of Christ who have not sold their souls to Satan and will never mortgage their spiritual inheritance for perishable gains. I am hopeful, because I see a shift coming! I see a shaking coming! I see a spiritual revolution on the way. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain shall be brought down! I see a spiritual cleansing coming and every tree which our heavenly Father has not planted shall either be uprooted or begin to dry up and die out!
Once again, let me pause here. God willing, I’ll surely be back soon. I will also welcome your views and comments. But whatever your opinion, please be polite and discreet, as insults on any personality will not be welcomed on this platform! God bless you!
Bishop Emma Omon is a Revivalist, Civil Engineer, Author, Publisher, Inspirational Coach, The Presiding Bishop of The Radiant Church International and President of Emma Omon Global Outreach Inc.
Copyright © December 2016 Emma Omon. All rights reserved.
Published online on Friday, 30th December 2016 by emmaomonblog.com