5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Kor. 3:5-6)
A few years ago, I attended an ecumenical prayer meeting for the nation. One of the leading pastors entered the platform and stressed the importance of that we must repent from all of our sins, so that God can send revival upon the land. He referred to Joshua chapter 7 in the Old Testament about the sin of Achan. Achan had taken some of the spoils from the battle of Jericho and hidden it, contrary to God’s direct instructions. Because of Achan’s sin, the people of Israel lost the first battle against the city of Ai. The pastor’s point was that the sin of one single individual – and nothing indicates that Achan was among the leaders of the Israelites – led to that the whole people lost the battle. Likewise, the pastor concluded, the sin of one single individual can hinder revival from coming to an entire nation.
However, is this story from the Old Testament an accurate picture of how revival works today? Is it consistent with the revelation of the Gospel and the New Covenant? Definitely not! If the condition for God to send revival is that every single individual believer must have repented from all of their sins and live 100 percent correctly all of the time, we will never even come close of seeing revival. If the condition for you and me to be used by God were that we must be perfect, none of us could ever be used by Him. There is only one single person who has been qualified to serve God – Jesus Christ Himself, who was without sin. All the rest of us are hopelessly unqualified in ourselves. One of the greatest leaders in the New Testament, the Apostle James, said:
“For we all stumble in many things…” (Jm. 3:2)
However, we don’t have to despair! Through the death of Jesus on the cross, God reconciled the whole world to Himself, and no longer imputes the world’s sins (2 Cor. 5:19)! When we receive Jesus as our Lord, we also receive His righteousness as a gift. Jesus took our sin so that we could receive His very righteousness!
”For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14)
Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the believer has become “perfected forever”. We are qualified – for all future – because of what Jesus has done for us!
Not seldom, we hear that revival can only come to our nations once all believers in the body of Christ are completely united. However, the person that was most used by God to spread the Gospel, was probably the Apostle Paul. Note that Paul and Barnabas had a conflict in Acts, regarding whether Mark was supposed to be allowed to join them on their missions’ trip (se Acts. 15:36-41). The conflict became so serious that Paul and Barnabas separated from one another. So much for keeping “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”! Later we see that Paul (in Col. 4:10 and 2 Tim. 4:11) speaks well of Mark and refers to him as an important co-worker, which likely is an indication that Barnabas had been right, and Paul had been wrong. However, the disunity between Paul and Barnabas – and Paul’s apparent misjudgment of Mark – did not stop God from using Paul continuously, wherever he went to preach the Gospel!
If we study the New Testament, we find that God used imperfect people, to reach an imperfect world, with the Gospel. Revival came as the believers boldly shared the good news about Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of the world, and His resurrection from the dead. Already during the first century, the Gospel had reached all of the then known world (Col. 1:23, Acts 17:6).
It works the same today. If we want to see revival, we first need to understand the Gospel ourselves, and then share it with others. Before this can take place effectively, the body of Christ needs to have a complete makeover when it comes to understanding the true Gospel. Legalism and the mixing of truths from the Old and the New Covenant must be removed from our Gospel presentation, so that only the Gospel of grace and the New Covenant remains.