The God of Something New
By Larry d. Wright
The prophet Isaiah declared: “This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (43:16-19) [underlining mine for emphasis]
Most everyone agrees today that the modern church is not making an impact on the culture around her. This is true in part because the church has become too much like the world as ancient Israel became like the Canaanites in the occupied land. However, the disagreement is sharp when discussion turns to the solution. Is REVIVAL the answer to what ails the church? I personally feel that many most pastors and church leaders do NOT comprehend the complexity and severity of the current church predicament. They do understand that the church is lethargic and not healthy and believe that something needs to be done. The disease in the church is more serious than most leaders realize. Many think the church is sick with something akin to the flu, having caught the germs because of close contact with the world, and thus what she needs is a good dose of revival to recover.
So, I raise the question, “Is the prescription for the church’s condition REVIVAL?”
I have come to the somewhat controversial conclusion that REVIVAL IS NOT THE ANSWER! Or, I will say more clearly, not the old paradigm of revival we have known in the past. What God plans to do in the future is so new and radical that it would not fit our customary definition of “revival.”
This may seem a like a strange comment to make since I have hoped, prayed and preached for revival for many years. I am a student of the history of revival and a strong proponent for the need of renewal in the church and awakening in the land. Why have I reached this conclusion? I have come to this conclusion because revival, as we know it, is an old wineskin that cannot contain the NEW wine of what God plans to do. What God plans to do is as new and different as the church was NEW compared to the nation of Israel as a people of God. Please understand that I believe that God still desires to do a work in His people, the church, but the work He will do in the future is entirely NEW. Looking BACKWARD to old paradigm revivals certainly can be inspirational, however many sincere leaders look to the past and old patterns of revival as models for instruction. I feel this is a mistake! The fundamental principles of divine activity are changeless, but the outward shape of that activity changes according to a divine blueprint.
Some well-meaning men, who long to see God do a work in the church, are actually preventing God from working because they are promoting and expecting a duplication of something in the PAST. I am convinced that will NOT happen! I personally believe that God has no intentions of reviving the old church but He intends to restructure something new out of the old. “Renewal” means to bring something back to its former condition or state.” The word “revive” means to restore or put back what has been depleted or used.
Isaiah’s words to Israel were, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” As I studied these words of Isaiah, I discovered that the verb translated as “make” here really means “to turn something into something else.” So the Lord is not saying that He will make rivers in the desert, but that He will turn the desert into rivers. He will transform the desert into something entirely new, namely, rivers.
I believe these words are as appropriate today as when they were first written. We have a problem with the past. We are anchored to the past and there is an ocean side of God that needs to be explored! Why should this surprise us? God has always revealed NEW and exciting ways to know Him. He sent a baby born in a stable not a deliverer like Moses, Samson, Joshua, or Gideon. It doesn’t get in newer than that! Still, because the people of Israel were tied to the past, they fought and rejected that which was new. They could not see God’s NEW way (Jesus) of accomplishing redemption because they were focused on the PAST way: Temple sacrifices, a mighty deliverer like Moses, or prophet like Isaiah.
The word I feel the Lord has revealed to me about the REVIVAL of tomorrow, which is in reality something so totally NEW that we will need to come up with a new name, is captured in the following sentences. These “words of revelation” came to me from the Lord over a period of several years.
It will be a process, not a point in time (not an event).
It will be like a dynamo (flowing and continuous), not like dynamite (a powerful explosion).
The focus will not be on manifestations but transformation.
It will happen in the marketplace, not in the church.
It will not cause people to go to church, but cause people to be the Church.
It will not appear to be religious.
Therefore, because of points 4, 5, 6, it will be opposed by most religious leaders.
While people wait for it to happen, it will be happening.