You Can't Have Real Revival without a Heart for the Lost
There are many things that will mess up a move of God, but few are as fatal as neglecting the lost. How dare we receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit and keep it to ourselves. How dare we “saturate” and “soak” ourselves in the living waters of God while forgetting about the famished, drought-stricken sinners who are dying outside of our doors for lack of the smallest drink.
Step back and consider how all this looks to the Lord. The Heavenly Father loved the people of this world so much that He sacrificed His only Son on their behalf. Jesus, sent on a mission by His Father, suffered and bled and died to pay for the sins of this planet full of rebels and offer us a free and gracious pardon. Then, He rose from the dead and sent His Spirit to empower His followers to take the wonderful message of that pardon for sins to all humanity – and I mean all. Wherever there was a people, a nation, a tribe, a family, an individual, the Lord’s followers were to go, spreading the good news and offering hope for a dying world.
Jesus made it emphatically clear: The Spirit would come upon His followers to enable them to fulfill this great commission. That is why He was sent! As Jesus explained to His disciples immediately before ascending to heaven, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8).
And so these first disciples, baptized in the Spirit’s mighty power, sacrificed and labored, following in their Master’s footsteps One of their most devoted leaders, a Jewish man named Paul, went as far as saying, “. . . I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
That says it all: Paul’s race was to win souls; Paul’s task was to win souls; the whole purpose of Paul’s life was to win souls. After all, it was Paul’s Savior, the Lord Jesus Himself who said to the very first men He called, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
God’s heart beats for souls! That’s why John Wesley, who carried God’s heart, said to his workers, “You have one business on earth – to save souls; therefore, spend and be spent in this work.”
Unfortunately, as worldliness and compromise and lethargy and complacency set in among us, we, the followers of Jesus, lose sight of our mission, our task, and our calling, instead putting almost all the emphasis on ourselves – our lives, our needs, our desires, our goals, our aspirations, our dreams. We forget about the Father’s love for the lost; we forget about the Son’s sacrifice for the lost; we forget about the Spirit’s mission to the lost. We backslide! In fact, one of the surest signs of a backslidden heart is the lack of burden for the lost.
It is tragic but true: The burden that drove Jesus to the cross and drove missionaries to the ends of the earth doesn’t even drive many of us to our knees. Yes, this passion for the lost that moved the Lord to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf doesn’t even hold the interest of our backslidden hearts.
And this is where revival comes into play, because God, who is relentless in His determination to have mercy on humanity, rebukes and chastises and calls back His sleeping saints, urging us to return to Him that we might enjoy His favor and be used by Him to touch the world. He puts a hunger and a thirst and a burning desire in our hearts to experience His presence afresh. And when we call out to Him with fasting and prayer, He sends revival from heaven. He answers in power and glory. He refreshes and renews His weary and beaten-down people. He makes us alive again!
But I tell you in the strongest possible terms: If we neglect His heart and passion, if we turn His blessing inward on ourselves instead of outward on the lost, we will quickly grieve His Spirit. He is touching us so that we will touch the world. He is changing us so that we will go and change our generation. He is pouring out His grace on us so that we will pour it out on others. He is giving and giving and giving to us so that we in turn will give to those who have nothing.
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