Jesusí Revival Words
For This Hour
By Mark Bubeck
Edited from a message delivered at the "Heart-Cry for Revival" Conference near Asheville, North Carolina, May 23-27, 2000.
The Lord gave me an assignment to pray for revival when I was very young, and for over fifty years now God has held that assignment upon me. It hasnít always been encouraging, but one of the ways God has encouraged me from time to time is helping me discover things in the Word that I never saw before that have to do with revival.
Heís even encouraged me with dreams. I have had a practice for many years now, before I go to sleep at night of committing my mind, my will, my emotions, and my body on the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious level, into the shepherding Lordship of Jesus Christ, into the sealing and in-dwelling work of the Holy Spirit and into the provided protection of holy angels. When I have a dream that is significant, the first thing I do is ask the Lord what He was saying.
I was in Ghana ministering with Sammy Tippet to about a thousand pastors in a pastorsí conference. The next day was to be the last day. I was to speak on revival, and I had a burden for that. That night I had a dream. It was a recurring dream that Iíd had a number of times in my life. Perhaps youíve had a dream like it where youíre trying to get some place and you move in slow motion. It seems like youíre never going to make it. This was one of those dreams. I was trying to get to the church that I had once pastored to preach. It was time for the service to begin. I couldnít find my Bible; I couldnít find my shoes. I was trying so hard, and then finally I was running down the sidewalk to the church. I knew it was time for me to be in the pulpit. The worship time was over and I was all stressed out.
All of a sudden in my dream, someone came up behind me, scooped me in His arms, and we began to move at a tremendous rate of speed. I didnít need to look. I knew He was my Lord. The thing I remember most was a sense of joy and peace and freedom that replaced all that stress.
When I awakened I said, "Lord, what did that mean?" He reminded me that I was speaking that day on revival and that Iíd been praying and preaching about the need for it for over forty years, and that when revival came, it would be like that. It would be something very sudden, very dramatic. Except for those praying, it would be totally unexpected. God would do something to shock the whole world to get the attention of humanity. Those who have prayed will suddenly realize that the God in heaven has stepped in to do what only He can do. In the mightiness of grace and sovereignty, borne on the wings of the prayers of those who have been interceding, He will do what only He can do.
I believe itís coming! Revivals are very sovereign. Theyíre all of God and all of grace. But theyíre also very human. They involve human interaction. They effect human change. They move forward on a wave of human transformation, and the overflow of joy that comes to such a revival awakening as happened at Pentecost. I believe that will characterize what God wants to do in our day before our Lord returns.
Iím convinced that the words that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) comprise one of the greatest promises of revival we have in the Word of God. Most of us have not looked at that passage in that way. I didnít for many years, until God seemed to take the blinders off and He showed me what was really being said. It has to do with the Lordís offer of revival to the Laodicean church. I understand these words that He spoke are revival words to a very weak church, a corrupted church, a spiritually crippled body of believers.
As youíre aware, there are different ways to look at the seven churches. First of all, the most obvious is that they were historic, real churches that existed when the Lord literally dictated His words through John to these churches. They were literal churches.
Others have seen them as representative of Christendom as it is in any particular time in history. I think thatís true today. I have visited churches that were like Ephesus, having lost their first love, and like Philadelphia, where God was wonderfully working and people were being miraculously transformed. The Brooklyn Tabernacle on Flat Bush Avenue in Brooklyn is such a place in our country today, where God is moving.
But I think the predominant characteristic of churches today is Laodicea. Iíve traveled many parts of the world and our country, and if I know my own heart before God, I have no tendency to want to be critical--God has not built that into me--but Iíve never seen such apathy, such carnality, such worldliness, such impotence. Thatís a third way to look at these churches--that the Laodicean church is a prophetic picture of how the church in its visible presence would be at the close of the ages. If you donít press it too far, I believe thatís a legitimate way to look at it.
Revival Words To The Laodicean Church
Let us see what Jesus says to the Laodicean church from the perspective that He is giving revival words to this church. First of all, consider the fact that His words are competent words. Jesus has competent character credentials.
"And unto the angel [unto the messenger] of the church of the Laodiceans, write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:14-16).
Jesus is competent in His character in the fact that Heís the "Amen." Oh, thatís so precious! Heís the "so be it" one. He makes it happen. Furthermore, He is the "faithful and true witness." You can trust what He says because Heís faithful even when weíre not. He doesnít just speak the truth; He is the truth.
Reading on it says Heís the "beginning of the creation." Heís the author of it. It couldnít hold together without Him --everything thatís around us--the trees, the sky, the heavens... everything--and everything within us. He knows you; He made you; He holds you together. He knows every heartbeat, every muscle twitch. Heís the creator.
Heís competent in His omniscience. Notice above He says, "I know..." Ah, thatís precious. There are many people we say we know that we donít really know. Iíve lived with my wife for over fifty years now and I think I probably know Anita better than I know anybody else in the world, but every once in a while Iím startled, and I realize that I really didnít know her. Only the Lord really knows us. He knows our thoughts. He even knows the intention behind the thoughts of our heart. So when He speaks, Heís competent because Heís omniscient.
He says, "I know your works." I know what youíre doing and I know youíre "neither cold nor hot." I wish you were one or the other, either "cold or hot." We know what hot is. Thatís when somebodyís fervent in serving the Lord. We pretty much know what cold is. Thatís when somebodyís turned off and theyíre walking away. The Lord says He wishes we were one or the other. I think the reason is that when He chastens a cold-hearted person who has been a Christian and knows what grace is about, when the chastening comes, that person begins to know that it is of God.
But when one is lukewarm and chastening comes, when heís going to church every Sunday and maybe teaching Sunday school, or singing in the choir, and chastening comes, he says, "What, Lord? Why are you doing this to me?" He never gets the message. He never responds. So the Lord says, I wish you were cold or hot. I know what you are.
Then Jesus gives some contradicting words to us, and these are tremendously important:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked..." (Revelation 3:17).
Notice He contradicts our perceived condition. Look at the first part of verse seventeen: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing..." What a description of those of us who are prosperous Christians. We make our plans for retirement...our investments...our cars...our trips to the beauty shop...our TV sets--materialism. Itís the plague of the body of Christ today.
This is a contradictory condition to what we think we are. We think we have need of nothing, but He contradicts with a truthful diagnosis. His truthful diagnosis is, "Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
When I read those words I see a homeless person all bent over, hardly any clothes on, shaking, defeated, no security and yet he may think heís doing okay because he has enough to eat. He sleeps in his box wherever heís at. Thatís something like what Jesus is saying here spiritually. The body of believers is to glorify God and claim people for Jesus Christ. And our Lord sees the function of these lukewarm believers as wretched ...miserable...poor...blind...naked. Before you get too defensive, remember who this is speaking. This is the Lord Jesus. He knows! He really knows!
A Counseling Word
Then Jesus has a counseling word to us. I love this because one of the great things of Scripture is the dignity that the Lord always assigns to our personhood. Heís not intrusive like Satan and his kingdom. He comes only to minister to us with our permission and our invitation. When He speaks to us He doesnít demand it and command it. He did that in the law, I know, but weíre in grace, and so He counsels. Heís a wonder of a counselor. There is no counselor ever like Him. Jesus says:
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Revelation 3:18).
"Buy from me..." This is apocalyptic symbolism. Iím not sure of all it means. But I know the "gold" means real spiritual riches. When you have that kind of riches, of which Paul writes in Ephesians (1:7,18; 2:7; 3:8,16), youíre truly rich. Then Jesus talks about white clothes. I donít know all that means, but I know it has something to do with moral cleanness and moral purity. That, by the way, is not in our churches, at least not very much. I think it also has something to do with our impotence.
Keep in mind, friend, that the world we live in is the world for which we have been responsible. These things that are out there have happened on our watch. The killing of the unborn...the wretched violence...the drugs...the immorality... the mocking of God in high places. The shame of our nakedness is there to see.
Jesus counsels us to get an eyesalve so we can see through Godís eyes--have wisdom. Now He says, "Buy this from Me." I know youíre thinking, how do I do that? We donít have time to preach that sermon, but Iíll show it to you from Isaiah 55.
The Bible always interprets itself when you come up with questions like that. How do you buy? Isaiah 55:1 tells us: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
What God is saying is "Come...and come...and come..." Thatís what youíve been hearing in this conference. The place of prayer and revival is where people donít stop when revival doesnít happen when we think it should. But we just come and we come and we come because we know itís in the will of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Itís our responsibility to believe Him for it. So weíre consistent and we keep coming in prayer to buy from Him.
Then in Isaiah 55:2 and 3 He talks about listening. He says, "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live..." So when youíre buying, youíre not only coming in prayer, but youíre listening. Youíre listening through your own saturation of your heart with the Word. You go to conferences like this and you sit under the teaching of God-anointed pastors who shepherd you and teach you, and you hear from God. Iíve heard from God since Iíve been at this conference. You listen to buy.
In Isaiah 55:4 thereís a tremendous statement, and Iíve circled the word "Behold" and the word "him." Verse four is really a messianic promise: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people..." And He goes on and expounds that which I donít have time to do. But when you buy, you see the Lord Jesus as the only answer and you come to Him and you come to Him and you come again. You see that Heís the answer. Heís the only answer.
Then in verse seven He begins a passage that has to do with repentance...a changed life...obedience...putting away of sin: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Then beginning with verse ten to the end of the chapter you have revival. When you buy that way and when you keep coming and you keep listening, you see Him and you begin to repent. Itís going to come. I donít know when, but one day Godís going to say, I want to be with those people; Iím going to do what theyíre asking me to do. God will do it because weíve been buying, faithfully buying.
A Correcting Word
Then God has a correcting word to us. Notice in Revelation 3:19: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." "As many as I love..." Desire His love, but know where thatís leading: "I rebuke and chasten." God has to refine away the dross and He will do it. "Be zealous therefore, and repent." That means zealous obedience tied in with repentance. Repentance is not just admitting the wrong. Itís correcting the wrong. Itís letting Him correct the wrong.
A Consoling Word
Then God has a consoling word, and this is so beautiful. Might God burn it into our heart. Notice verse twenty: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me." "Behold, I..." The NIV translates it, "Here I am," and this is in keeping with what the Greek says. This is the Lord Jesus. "Here I am." Heís ready: "Here I am."
Youíll notice that He doesnít just offer Himself. He consoles us with a persistent offer. He says, "I stand at the door" and He hasnít even stopped there; He speaks. "If any man hear My voice" --Mark...John...Mary... He is so personal, wonderfully personal. He says that "if any man hear My voice, and open the door..." The Lord Jesus is waiting for you to say to Him, "Oh, Lord Jesus, I need You to come into my life!" But Heís waiting also for you to say, "Lord Jesus, I need You to come into my church. I want you to come into the whole body of Christ. Iím inviting you to do that. I want you to come." Thatís what revival is. Itís the near presence of Christ. When He draws near, nobody remains standing. He is Lord!
Then weíre consoled by a precious offer. He says, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me." Thatís revival! Oh, dear friends, thatís the Lord Jesus saying it! Heís waiting for you to buy. Heís waiting for you to hear and invite Him, I mean really invite Him. Persistent, insistent, consistent. You donít give up.
A Coronation Word
God has a coronation word for us. Notice what He says in verse twenty-one. Itís such a gracious word that it almost overwhelms me. He says: "To him that overcometh"--the person who buys--"will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." For people who are buying and overcoming Heís preparing a special place of honor. Dear friends, donít think even for a moment that when you respond to your Lord Heíll be indebted to you. He will not. You may not get your understood reward He has for you until you get to glory, but when you get there, it will be there. There will be many different levels of rewards, but it seems one of the noblest kinds will be for those who hear what He says to His church--"If you open the door, and you hear, and you buy, Iím going to have a place right beside Me in the glories of heaven."
A Consequential Word
Then He leaves us with a consequential word. He says that "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches..." You can hear or not hear. You can buy or not buy. He will not coerce you. He will only invite you. He waits for you to respond. I wonder if you hear Him today. Iím hearing Him. Iíve been hearing Him all during this conference. Iíve waited for the time when I believe that God would bring us together corporately to buy. I believe that this is the time.
Letís gather around and have some corporate buying power. Pray through what youíve heard. Open your Bibles to this passage. Iíve done it a number of times. I pray the passage back to the Lord. Itís a good passage to confess. Confess how your value system is all out of order, and you donít understand how wretched you really are. Admit it. Come and buy! God is waiting...Heís knocking...calling you by name. As you bow, pray through what youíve heard. God will hear your heart.
Dr. Mark Bubeck is a former pastor and is founder of International Center for Bible Counseling, Sioux City, Iowa.