Quarter 3, 2013: Revival and Reformation
by: Mark Finley
In every generation, God’s Spirit strives to bring revival to the hearts of His people. Revival is an ongoing, daily experience. Each of us should identify with an old hymn that says: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” Deep within, we know these words are true.
Our hearts are, indeed, prone to wander. Our minds drift from the eternal to the mundane. Our thoughts turn so easily from the heavenly to the earthly. Too often we seem to be in bondage to deeply entrenched habits. At times our own attitudes and reactions baffle us.
And that’s because, as the result of sin, our natures are fallen (Jer. 17:9). Our natural tendency is to turn from God’s way to our own (Isa. 53:6). With the apostle Paul we cry out, “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 7:24), and with David we plead, “Revive me, O LORD, according to your lovingkindness” (Ps. 119:159, NKJV).
Revival is all about a God of lovingkindness seeking to deepen His relationship with us. The initiative in revival is His. His Spirit creates longings within us. His Spirit convicts us of our need. His Spirit reveals Jesus’ goodness and grace.
Throughout history, God’s Spirit has moved mightily in revival. When Israel drifted from God’s plan and purposes, God used the young King Josiah to lead the nation back to Him, and a mighty revival followed. At the dedication of the temple, God said to Solomon: “ ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ ” (2 Chron. 7:14, NKJV). God’s heart longing was for Israel to meet the conditions of revival, experience the power of revival, and reveal the light of His love to the entire world.
When God’s people responded to His appeals for revival, He worked mightily in their behalf. This was true for the New Testament Christian church, the Reformation, and the Advent Movement. It will also be true for God’s end-time people. His Holy Spirit will be poured out in its fullness and the earth will be “illuminated with his glory” (Rev. 18:1, NKJV).
This quarter’s lessons focus on the varied aspects of revival and reformation. Together we will probe such questions as, What are the conditions that God has given for the outpouring of His Spirit? Is God waiting for some magical moment to pour out His Spirit on His last-day church? What does it mean to live a Spirit filled life? Is there anything we can do to cooperate with God in order to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit now? Where does revival and reformation begin?
Ellen G. White described the importance of revival in these words: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs.”- Selected Messages, book 1, p. 121. Heaven places priority on revival. What could be more important? This quarter, as we study such topics as prayer and revival, the Word and revival, witnessing and revival, a finished work and revival, and other related subjects, let us pray that God will powerfully speak to our hearts and draw us closer to Him.
Why not open your heart to the moving of His Spirit right now? Why not ask Him to do something extra special in your life today? He will answer your prayers, and heavenly blessings will flow in ways that you have not yet imagined.
A native of Connecticut, USA, Mark Finley, an internationally known evangelist, was a vice president at the General Conference from 2005-2010. After retiring from full-time employment, he became an assistant to the president of the General Conference to work part-time with the Revival and Reformation initiative. Pastor Finley and his wife, Ernestine, have three children and two grandchildren.
Memory Text: “ ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me’ ” (Revelation 3:20, NKJV).
Laodicea is the last church in Revelation’s sequence of seven churches. The name means, “a people judged.” It is also a fitting symbol for God’s last-day people.
Laodicea was located in an open valley in southwestern Turkey. It was an important financial capital, a fashion mecca, and an educational and medical center. Its inhabitants were independent, self-confident, and rich.
The one vital natural resource that the city lacked, however, was water. The water was piped in via Roman aqueducts from a spring five miles south of the city. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm. Jesus used that symbolism to represent the lukewarm condition of His last-day church, described as self-confident, complacent, apathetic, and spiritually indifferent. It is a church that has lost its passion. It is a church that needs a spiritual revival.
Nevertheless, the Laodicean message is filled with hope. Christ speaks to His people in love, offering to meet their heart needs and revive their deepest spiritual longings.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 6.