In my first two articles I established the importance for theology in revival for the Church both in Scripture and in Church history. I need to address the question of what sort of theology do we need to aid revival in our day.
God centred. It is vital that our theology starts with right views of God, we must see him in all his glory. I remember Bob Gordon used to say that “all true renewal starts with an Isaiah 6 experience” he did not mean that we all need to have an identical experience, but rather we see God in all his holy glory and transcendence that causes us to bow in worship.
A God centred Theology will be a thoroughly Trinitarian theology which will acknowledge that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all have specific roles to play in the story of redemption and the application of that redemption to humankind. At this point we need to be very careful that we also affirm the unity of the Godhead, if we concentrate on the roles of the economic Trinity too much we can be in danger of falling into tritheism.
In Scripture we see a pattern of the Father planning and initiating salvation, The Son being sent by the Father and carrying out the work of redemption and the Holy Spirit applies that work.
We need as Paul teaches in Ephesians to see the glory of the Father’s plan for us in Christ Jesus; here we see the glorious certainties of divine election which give a bedrock of faith for the believer. Paul in that same letter shows us what Christ has done for us, and all this is linked to the working of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
Cross Centred. The cross is at the very centre of our thinking because in the cross we see the amazing grace of God. Salvation by grace alone is not just some abstract principle but rather something which honours Christ for what he did upon the cross. As we contemplate the cross we will see that Jesus gained the victory over sin, death and hell, we receive the fruit of this victory as a gift from God. There are so many facets to the work of Christ upon the cross and anyone who wants to understand this better should read John Stott’s book “The Cross of Christ”.
Honouring the Holy Spirit. We need a real openness to all the Scripture teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit. We need to assert in the strongest terms that nobody becomes a Christian without the internal working of the Holy Spirit drawing that person to Christ. It is also the Holy Spirit who reveals the love of God the Father to us, giving us a deep assurance of faith. He dwells within us and we are commanded to be full of the Spirit at all times. but beyond that we need to be open to all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which he has given for the building of the kingdom of God. We need to be open to all the gifts whether it is prophecy or preaching, speaking in tongues or serving. These gifts are to be used under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and always tested by the word of God in scripture.
The importance of the church. We need to see that the church is not just an institution but also a living organism created by God to be his people’s spiritual home. In the book of Acts we are told that when people become believers they are added to the church. The church has a structure but is one that allows the believer to grow in the faith. The church is a place of fellowship where we can look out for one another. It is also the place where God has ordained to carry out his purposes for reaching lost humankind with the gospel. The leadership of the church is there to serve God’s people not to dominate them. According to the Scriptures the leaders should lead but is all for the purpose of seeing the church equipped and edified.
In my next post I will consider some more aspects that we need to emphasize in a Church that is being revived.