Revival: Our Great Need
Leading Question: Which is more likely to spark a revival, thumping those who need it, or celebrating those who are already experiencing it?
1. Coming down hard on the Laodiceans. In the letter to the Laodiceans (Rev. 13:14-15), John the Revelator is rather pointed with the Laodiceans. Now Laodicea was only one of the seven churches. Were the other churches better off spiritually? What made the difference?
Note: In early Adventism, our forebears claimed the high road of the Philadelphian experience as their own, while pointing to the lukewarm Protestants as the Laodiceans. Some twelve years after the Disappointment, however, in 1856, James White dropped a bombshell in The Review and Herald: Adventists are not the Philadelphians, but the lukewarm Laodiceans!
In his Tell It to the World, Mervyn Maxwell includes this comment about the results of that article. “With a subscription list below 2000, the Review received more than 300 letters over the next few months, thanking Elder White for speaking out and expressing humility and rededication. A genuine revival began and many victories were achieved.” – Tell It to the World (Pacific Press, 1976, 1977), p. 149.
2. The Unpleasant Discipline of the Lord. In Hebrews 12:7-13, the theme of discipline is the focal point. “Hardship is discipline from the Lord.” “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
How can we know that our hardship is from the Lord and not from the devil or from our own foolish choices? Or does it make any difference?
The last two verses in this section take a different approach, an admonition to remove as much of the “discipline” as possible for those who are struggling: “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” The NIV note indicates that the “level path” line comes from Proverb 4:26 where the original passage suggests self-improvement. But in Hebrews, the admonition is in the context of making life easier for the lame.
Is this a place where one could apply the “cruel kindness” quote from Ellen White?
An important corrective for those who are pre-occupied with the hard discipline of the Lord, is the buoyant passage from Paul to the Thessalonian believers where he told them make it their ambition “to lead a quiet life.” “You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” – 1 Thess. 4:11-12, NIV
3. The foolish virgins who were left behind. In Matthew 25:1-13 is Jesus’ parable of the 10 virgins, five of which were ready, but five were not. From a pastoral point of view, what would likely be the effect of simply reading this parable to a church that is in need of revival and reformation?