Treasury of Faith index
Lord, Show Us Thy Glory
by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058
copyright � 1998 by J. W. Jepson
All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.
*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.
(First published in The Pentecostal Evangel, February 26, 1989)
* * * * *
I heard a Christian statesman say, "Christianity began as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When it went to Athens, it became a philosophy. When it went to Rome, it became an organization. When it went to Europe, it became a culture. When it came to America, it became an enterprise."
I have since heard this variation: When Christianity came to America, it became a business.
Real Christianity remains what it has been from the beginning--a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whatever deviates from this is a distortion of Christianity, the result of the tendency to conform Christianity and Jesus Christ himself to cultural traditions and norms, national and political ends, and personal desires and ambitions.
Both history and current events abound with examples of deeds committed under the name Christian that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and are contrary to His Word and His way.
Others define Christianity in the context of social activism. Christianity is useful because it provides a moral base for their agenda. They fail to get beyond the social implications of the gospel to the gospel itself.
Also in a society that demands heroes and celebrities, some evangelicals rally around personalities and push them to the pinnacle of public recognition. Then if their star plummets to the ground in disgrace, they are humiliated. In some cases their faith is devastated.
Selfishness and superficiality are exposed to public view. A confused world looks on cynically, its heart still empty, its Savior hidden from view beneath the rubble of reproach that covers His name, His church, and His gospel.
For evidence that Christianity in America has become for many an enterprise (a business), look at the proliferation of competitive (and in some cases commercially motivated) personality-project-product promotions. Often the religion page of the newspaper reveals not only our healthy diversity but also our confusing division.
So where do we go from here? Do we just take our lumps and go on with business as usual? Or do we face the situation squarely, address the issues honestly, and make changes where changes are called for? The former is unacceptable; the latter calls for a spiritual revolution.
Where does such a spiritual revolution begin? It begins with humility before God on the part of believers. With contrite hearts we must repent and do our first works. We must confess our self-glorying, our exaltation of the human personality, our vanity and show, our pride in externals, our dependence on our own resources, our illusion of social acceptability and political power.
Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Recognizing our helplessness, we must throw ourselves on God in total dependence on Him. We need God. Only a sovereign visitation of the Spirit of God will revive and purify the church; remove our reproach; restore power, authority, and credibility; and awaken an indifferent, careless world.
We need a revival that analysts cannot account for except by acknowledging that God has visited His people. This imperative should drive us to our knees in earnest, believing, prevailing prayer. This kind of praying God takes seriously. It demonstrates to Him that we mean business about the things that matter to Him.
This is no time for pessimism. Rather it is time for a chastened optimism based on God's faithfulness. God has promised to answer His people when they call on Him. He has declared He will manifest His glory on the earth and He will glorify His name. And the manifestation of His glory is exactly what we desperately need.
In the Bible when God revealed His glory during spiritual crises, the manifestation of His glory resolved the situations immediately and effectively.
In our Lord's prayer for the Church, recorded in John 17, Jesus prayed that all believers would be one in Him and in the Father, so the world would believe the Father had sent Him (v.21). He continued: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (v.22).
The world will believe if we are truly one, and the only thing that will make us one is the glory of God. As God manifests His glory, we will be drawn to Him. As we are drawn to Him, we will be drawn together. Then the world will believe the gospel is true. Therefore, the immediate and urgent need is the manifestation of the glory of God in the church.
What will be the characteristics and results of a sovereign manifestation of God's glory? First, God will be exalted totally and exclusively. Revelation of the glory and power of God will not provide an occasion for fulfillment of some personal project or ambition. On the contrary, when God manifests His glory, the human heart bows in humility before Him. God alone is exalted.
Also, believers will have a healthy appetite for God. Earnest pursuit of God will precede a genuine revival. When God prepares to do a mighty work, He calls His people to himself and creates in their hearts a hunger for Him and for His blessing. God is sought, not as a means to an end, but for himself as the chief end, the "joy of man's desiring." This holy craving begins with a few earnest and sensitive souls and then grows until the hearts of many are set aflame with the sublime quest.
Love for God does not exist in isolation, but quickly manifests its true nature in love for others. No one can draw near to God and not sense the heartbeat of His love for the world, His compassion for the sick and suffering, His grief over sin, injustice, poverty, hunger, and all that dehumanizes and degrades the masterpiece of His creation.
In a spiritual awakening people take priority over projects. Projects exist only to serve God and people as once again it becomes clear that people are God's project.
The deep work of the Holy Spirit that creates in believers a hunger for God also creates in them a corresponding hunger for His Word. This is more than an academic of literary interest. It is the deep desire of the soul for a fuller knowledge of God, His will, and His ways. The Bible becomes the book in people's lives. It corrects their values and behavior and puts their priorities in proper order. It lines up their thinking and living with the truth. The result is a holy and happy life of discipleship. Such a life is distinctly different from the empty, ego-centered status quo and beckons all who would truly live to come and "take the water of life freely."
Another result of the manifestation of the glory of God in His church will be a new commitment to the church on the part of believers. The Church is God's creation. Christ is its exalted Head. It carries His authority.
The church has a divinely-ordained leadership. It maintains scriptural doctrine and order. It is the fabric of corporate spiritual life and the biblical base for ministry.
God has set every believer in it in a local fellowship (1 Corinthians 12:18). Believers who live in relationship with the Head but in isolation from His body are out of order. In a spiritual revolution Christians who are now doing their own thing will find their place in His church.
The authoritative proclamation of the Word of God is another feature of renewal in the church. Opinion-sharing gives way to "thus saith the Lord." When ministers speak with biblical authority, their listeners know they have heard from God. The results are conviction and clear-cut belief.
Such preaching must be confirmed by signs following. This is the biblical pattern. Jesus Christ himself and the early preachers set a clear example for us to follow. What they said and did are rooted in the very character of God and in the essence of His redemptive work. They transcend dispensational considerations. The need for the confirmation of the Word of God by miracles is as great today as at any time in the history of the Church.
The manifestation of the glory of God is supernatural. Such a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit will transcend pedantic theological theorizing and convince he sincere soul that God Almighty is indeed among His people. Paul said that under his ministry the Gentiles were made obedient by word and deed, through signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God (Romans 15:18,19). This is still God's way.
Revival will generate in believers a compassion for the needs of humanity. It will awaken us to the lostness of people outside of Christ and will energize us to evangelize. Our motive will not be the growth of our church (although that will happen), but a pure love for lost souls. We will be liberated from the "bless me" mentality and will be imbued with the urgency of 2 Corinthians 5:10-20. So may the love of Christ constrain us.
Lord, show us Thy glory.
* * * * *
Treasury of Faith index