Rely on God’s Word, Not on Techniques

Revitalization is nothing less than the transformation of individual human hearts—by either conversion or sanctification—on a church-wide scale. This work of comprehensive salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, and Romans 10:17 says saving faith comes by hearing the Word. It doesn’t matter what other things happen in your church; if the Word of God isn’t central to the revitalization effort, no genuine, long-lasting transformation will ever occur.

 

The powerful Word of God has built Christ’s kingdom since the beginning of redemptive history. It has never been defeated, and it never will be. Satan has been opposing God’s Word since he slithered up to Eve in the Garden of Eden and questioned God’s authority, recruiting humanity through Adam to join his rebellion. But since that dreadful moment, God’s Word has been destroying Satan’s kingdom, pushing back the darkness and rescuing the elect captives. Satan has never been able to tame the Word, chain the Word, stop the Word, or make the Word extinct.

And so, if a church is to be revitalized, it will only happen through the Word of God alone. The more revitalizing leaders trust the Word of God alone, the more powerful their efforts will be.

Revitalization is nothing less than the transformation of individual human hearts—by either conversion or sanctification—on a church-wide scale. This work of comprehensive salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, and Romans 10:17 says saving faith comes by hearing the Word. It doesn’t matter what other things happen in your church; if the Word of God isn’t central to the revitalization effort, no genuine, long-lasting transformation will ever occur.

Death to Life, Darkness to Light 

Perhaps the clearest verse in the Bible on the essence of regeneration is 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” This is the miracle of regeneration, of being made a new creation in Christ. Paul likens the power of God to speak life into a dead soul to the power he displayed at creation in speaking light into a dark universe.

This moment of spiritual creation is the basic “building block” of any church revitalization effort. A subsequent work is like it: the Spirit’s increasing illumination in the hearts of existing regenerate church members. This progressive work of illumination reveals God’s radiant glory in Christ, as well as God’s purposes for our lives and for his church. Faith is the eyesight of the soul (Matt. 6:22) by which we see invisible realities, including the way the local church is falling short of God’s plan.

Therefore, the centerpiece of the ministry of the Word of God in the pulpit, in Sunday school, and in all Bible studies and discipling relationships must be the clear proclamation of Christ crucified and resurrected as the only Savior for sinners. Though the ongoing preaching of lesser doctrines is essential to a complete ministry of the Word, the gospel of Christ must be paramount. As Paul said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2). Here, Paul is rejecting the human wisdom that was the glory of Greece and the envy of the pagan world of his time. The wisdom of God for the sinful human race is the cross of Christ. Lift it high!

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