Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I include another statement from Bishop Festo Kivengere when he was interviewed by Christianity Today (May 21, 1976). He was asked about “the revival that was and is.” I was particularly taken with his responses to two questions.
CT: What does this revival mean to the people involved in it?
FK: It is when Christ becomes a living, risen Lord in the life of a believer. For the non-believer, it is when he is brought into a confrontation with Christ and accepts him as Savior, thus completely changing his life morally and socially. In other words, revival is when Christ becomes alive in a life, changing that life. The person is born again, and if he has previously had that experience, then his life is changed in such a way that it affects all his relationships.
CT: Is it visible to an outsider?
FK: Absolutely! Go back to a village a week after a man comes to the Lord in a meeting in the market. The whole village knows something about it. He has paid the debts he owes. He has gone to people he hated and said, “I’m sorry. I’m a changed man.” He has apologized or asked for forgiveness. He’s now telling them what Christ means to him. He has carried his new belief into his business practices. In other words, it isn’t something he sits on as a comfortable experience. If anything, it is terribly uncomfortable.
This leads me to four key observations/conclusions:
First, receiving Jesus Christ is more than just accepting doctrine. Though it is certainly not less than receiving the propositional truth that “Jesus Christ is Lord!,” it is more – it is receiving the living Lord Jesus Christ. We believe and receive the truth of the Word inscripturated (in the Bible, doctrine), which is the foundation for believing and receiving the Word incarnate (the living, resurrected and glorified Lord of glory).
Second, believing and receiving the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ leads to a transformed life. Kivengere states that one’s life is completely changed morally and socially. Everything is new; everything is changed; everything is in process of being transformed.
Third, when God the Holy Spirit moves in this way, the fruit is both redemption in that the spiritually dead are made spiritually alive, they are born again, they become Christians, and renewal in that the spiritually lethargic and nominal have been spiritual awakened.
Fourth, all relationships have been changed, and are in the process of being changed, and this new life is lived very publicly. Though this redemption and/or renewal happens to an individual, it does not remain privatized in that it has implications in life with others.
Lord, pour out your Spirit afresh such that we experience redemption and renewal, for the good of your church, and for your supreme glory!