For the Bible-believing Christian, anything that could be called a true advancement will be in a direction leading to basic, New Testament Christianity. So in a sense, it will be going back.
If we will see revival, we must get back to the basics:
1. Back to Prayer
Prayer is one of the most talked about, but least practiced, spiritual disciplines in the ministry.
We know that God moves through prayer. We know that prayer precedes revival.
Even the verse we often speak of when we discuss our longing for revival, is a prayer:
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?—Psalm 85:6
If we want to see revival, we must pray—faithfully and fervently.
2. Back to Biblical Preaching
God choose preaching.
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.—1 Corinthians 1:21
A simple read through the book of Acts reveals that preaching was a staple of early churches—both in declaring the gospel and maturing believers.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.—Acts 8:5
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.—Acts 10:42
Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.—Acts 15:35
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.—Acts 20:7
I have read the studies about dialog versus dogma, and I believe there is a place for dialog. I believe in personal mentoring through discipleship. I believe in relationships. I believe in listening and investing and ministering. I believe in hospitality and fellowship. These were all practices in first-century churches.
But I don’t believe they should replace or be viewed as conflicting with preaching.
I was called to preach.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.—2 Timothy 4:2
Along these lines, our preaching must be biblical (i.e. we must preach the Word), but it also must be regular.
Don’t lose interest in preaching—as a preacher or as a listener.
Remember, God chose preaching.
3. Back to Purity
One of the early convictions of the independent Baptist movement was an adherence to the doctrine of separation—ecclesiastically and personally.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,—2 Corinthians 6:17
This doctrine is rooted in the holiness of God and in the fact that God Himself called us to holiness in our lives based on His holiness.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.—1 Peter 1:15–16
True revival always leads to greater purity. In the days of Hezekiah, national revival was predicated by Hezekiah cleansing the land of idolatry (2 Kings 18:4). In the days of Ezra, revival resulted in God’s people cleansing their lives of sin (Ezra 10:12).
A fresh glimpse of God always calls us to a greater hunger for God-focused holiness in our lives.
4. Back to Personal Evangelism
One indicator of a healthy local church is its fervency amongst the congregation to reach the community. A healthy church is not content to let the pastor and the staff do the work. It is a church family that has owned the Great Commission as a church.
Some of the earliest churches in Acts were started before the first missionary journey of Paul. Common laymen—not the apostles—were scattered by persecution and shared the gospel everywhere they went (Acts 8:1).
Two chapters later, we see there were churches established in these very cities:
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.—Acts 9:31
Personal soulwinning—sharing the gospel one-on-one with another person—is a staple of first-century Christianity. And it is vital that our churches make personal evangelism a priority.
5. Back to World Evangelization
Of course, a church that owns the Great Commission personally will see beyond its community to “all nations.” It is a missions-minded church.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20
6. Back to Participation with the Brethren
Could I just say it bluntly? We have too much isolationism amongst churches and polarization around schools and personalities.
I know, I know. There are good reasons to separate from some and to keep a distance from others.
But does it not seem that when we agree with another leader on every single doctrinal point and have the same basic ministry philosophy but share a different alma mater or are associated with a different leader, we could still enjoy fellowship together? And perhaps we could still learn from the other?
Let’s guard against elevating personalities and institutions as our test of fellowship. Again, to put it bluntly, it’s carnal.
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?—1 Corinthians 3:3–4
7. Back to the Local Church
I’m grieved to see large metropolitan cities, especially here on the West Coast, with few to none Baptist, gospel-preaching churches. I’m grieved to see churches around the nation sitting empty or closing their doors.
And frankly, I think the Lord is grieved as well.
…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;—Ephesians 5:25
A basic of the basics for New Testament Christianity is the local church—its doctrine, its polity, its leadership, its adherence to truth, and its propagation.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.—Acts 20:28
I love the local church, I pray for a revival of church planting—here in the United States and around the world.
The Way Back
If we long for Acts-type blessings through our witness and in our churches, we must return to Acts-type practices of obedience to God’s Word and submission to God’s Spirit.
If we will see revival, we need to get back to the basics.