Jesus’ Revival Words For This Hour
By Mark Bubeck
The Lord gave me an assignment to pray for revival when I was very young, and for over fifty years now God has held that assignment upon me. It has not always been encouraging, but one of the ways God has encouraged me from time to time is helping me discover things in the Word that I never saw before that have to do with revival.
I believe revival is coming! Revivals are very sovereign. They are all of God and all of grace. But they are also very human. They involve human interaction. They effect human change. They move forward on a wave of human transformation, and the overflow of joy that comes to such a revival awakening as happened at Pentecost. I believe that will characterize what God wants to do in our day before our Lord returns.
I am convinced that the words that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) comprise one of the greatest promises of revival we have in the Word of God. Most of us have not looked at that passage in that way. I did not for many years, until God seemed to take the blinders off and He showed me what was really being said. It has to do with the Lord’s offer of revival to the Laodicean church. I understand these words that He spoke are revival words to a very weak church, a corrupted church, a spiritually crippled body of believers.
As you are aware, there are different ways to look at the seven churches. First of all, the most obvious is that they were historic, real churches that existed when the Lord literally dictated His words through John to these churches. They were literal churches.
Others have seen them as representative of Christendom as it is in any particular time in history. I think that is true today. I have visited churches that were like Ephesus, having lost their first love, and like Philadelphia, where God was wonderfully working and people were being miraculously transformed.
But I think the predominant characteristic of churches today is Laodicea. I have traveled many parts of the world and our country, and if I know my own heart before God, I have no tendency to want to be critical – God has not built that into me – but I have never seen such apathy, such carnality, such worldliness, such impotence. That is a third way to look at these churches – that the Laodicean church is a prophetic picture of how the church in its visible presence would be at the close of the ages. If you do not press it too far, I believe that is a legitimate way to look at it. Let us see what Jesus says to the Laodicean church from the perspective that He is giving revival words to this church.
First of all, consider the fact that His words are competent words. Jesus has competent character credentials.
"And unto the angel [unto the messenger] of the church of the Laodiceans, write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth" (Rev. 3:14-16).
Jesus is competent in His character in the fact that He is the "Amen." Oh, that is so precious! He is the "so be it" one. He makes it happen. Furthermore, He is the "faithful and true witness." You can trust what He says because He is faithful even when we are not. He does not just speak the truth; He is the Truth.
Reading on it says He is the "beginning of the creation." He is the author of it. It could not hold together without Him – everything that is around us (the trees, the sky, the heavens...) and everything within us. He knows you; He made you; He holds you together. He knows every heartbeat, every muscle twitch. He is the Creator.
He is competent in His omniscience. Notice above He says, "I know...." Ah, that is precious! There are many people we say we know that we do not really know. I have lived with my wife for over fifty years now and I think I probably know Anita better than I know anybody else in the world, but every once in a while I am startled, and I realize that I really did not know her. Only the Lord really knows us. He knows our thoughts. He even knows the intention behind the thoughts of our heart. So when He speaks, He is competent because He is omniscient.
He says, "I know your works." I know what you are doing and I know you are "neither cold nor hot." I wish you were one or the other, either "cold or hot." We know what hot is. That is when somebody is fervent in serving the Lord. We pretty much know what cold is. That is when somebody is turned off and they are walking away. The Lord says He wishes we were one or the other. I think the reason is that when He chastens a cold-hearted person who has been a Christian and knows what grace is about, when the chastening comes, that person begins to know that it is of God.
But when one is lukewarm and chastening comes, when he is going to church every Sunday and maybe teaching Sunday school, or singing in the choir, and chastening comes, he says, "What, Lord? Why are you doing this to me?" He never gets the message. He never responds. So the Lord says, I wish you were cold or hot. I know what you are.
Then Jesus gives some contradicting words to us, and these are tremendously important:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked..." (Rev. 3:17).
Notice He contradicts our perceived condition. Look at the first part of verse seventeen: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing...." What a description of those of us who are prosperous Christians. We make our plans for retirement...our investments...our cars ...our trips to the beauty shop...our TV sets – materialism. It is the plague of the body of Christ today.
This is a contradictory condition to what we think we are. We think we have need of nothing, but He contradicts with a truthful diagnosis. His truthful diagnosis is, "Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
When I read those words I see a homeless person all bent over, hardly any clothes on, shaking, defeated, no security and yet he may think he is doing okay because he has enough to eat. He sleeps in his box wherever he is at. That is something like what Jesus is saying here spiritually. The body of believers is to glorify God and claim people for Jesus Christ. And our Lord sees the function of these lukewarm believers as wretched ...miserable...poor...blind...naked. Before you get too defensive, remember who this is speaking. This is the Lord Jesus. He knows! He really knows!
A Counseling Word
Then Jesus has a counseling word to us. I love this because one of the great things of Scripture is the dignity that the Lord always assigns to our personhood. He is not intrusive like Satan and his kingdom. He comes only to minister to us with our permission and our invitation. When He speaks to us He does not demand it. He did that in the law, I know, but we are in grace, and so He counsels. He is a wonder of a counselor. There is no counselor ever like Him. Jesus says:
"I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Rev. 3:18).
"Buy of Me…." This is apocalyptic symbolism. I am not sure of all it means. But I know the "gold" means real spiritual riches. When you have that kind of riches, of which Paul writes in Ephesians (1:7, 18; 2:7; 3:8, 16), you are truly rich. Then Jesus talks about white clothes. I do not know all that means, but I know it has something to do with moral cleanness and moral purity. That, by the way, is not in our churches, at least not very much. I think it also has something to do with our impotence.
Keep in mind, friend, that the world we live in is the world for which we have been responsible. These things that are out there have happened on our watch. The killing of the unborn...the wretched violence...the drugs...the immorality... the mocking of God in high places. The shame of our nakedness is there to see.
Jesus counsels us to get an eyesalve so we can see through God’s eyes – have wisdom. Now He says, "Buy this from Me." I know you are thinking, how do I do that?
The Bible always interprets itself when you come up with questions like that. How do you buy? Isaiah 55:1 tells us: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
What God is saying is "Come...and come...and come...." The place of prayer for revival is where people do not stop when revival does not happen when we think it should. But we just come and we come and we come because we know it is in the will of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is our responsibility to believe Him for it. So we are consistent and we keep coming in prayer to buy from Him.
Then in Isaiah 55:2-3 He talks about listening. He says, "Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live...." So when you are buying, you are not only coming in prayer, but you are listening. You are listening through your own saturation of your heart with the Word. You sit under the teaching of God-anointed pastors who shepherd you and teach you, and you hear from God. You listen to buy.
In Isaiah 55:4 there is a tremendous statement, and I have circled the word "Behold" and the word "Him." Verse four is really a Messianic promise: "Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people...." When you buy, you see the Lord Jesus as the only answer and you come to Him and you come to Him and you come again. You see that He is the answer. He is the only answer.
Then in verse seven He begins a passage that has to do with repentance...a changed life...obedience...putting away of sin: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Then beginning with verse ten to the end of the chapter you have revival. "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
"So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
"Instead of the thorns shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
When you buy that way and when you keep coming and you keep listening, you see Him and you begin to repent. It is going to come. I do not know when, but one day God is going to send the revival that His people have been asking Him to send. God will do it because we have been buying, faithfully buying.
A Correcting Word
Then God has a correcting word to us. Notice in Revelation 3:19: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." "As many as I love…." Desire His love, but know where that is leading: "I rebuke and chasten." God has to refine away the dross and He will do it. "Be zealous therefore, and repent." That means zealous obedience tied in with repentance. Repentance is not just admitting the wrong. It is correcting the wrong. It is letting Him correct the wrong.
A Consoling Word
Then God has a consoling word, and this is so beautiful. Might God burn it into our heart. Notice verse twenty: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me." "Behold, I...." Another version translates it, "Here I am," and this is in keeping with what the Greek says. This is the Lord Jesus. "Here I am." He is ready: "Here I am."
You will notice that He does not just offer Himself. He consoles us with a persistent offer. He says, "I stand at the door," and He does not just stand there, He also speaks. "If any man hear My voice" – Mark...John...Mary…. He is so personal, wonderfully personal. He says that "if any man hear My voice, and open the door…." The Lord Jesus is waiting for you to say to Him, "Oh, Lord Jesus, I need You to come into my life!" But He is waiting also for you to say, "Lord Jesus, I need You to come into my church. I want you to come into the whole body of Christ. I am inviting You to do that. I want You to come." That is what revival is. It is the near presence of Christ. When He draws near, nobody remains standing. He is Lord!
Then we are consoled by a precious offer. He says, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me." That is revival! Oh, dear friends, that is the Lord Jesus saying it! He is waiting for you to buy. He is waiting for you to hear and invite Him, I mean really invite Him. Persistent, insistent, consistent. You do not give up.
A Coronation Word
God has a coronation word for us. Notice what He says in verse twenty-one. It is such a gracious word that it almost overwhelms me. He says: "To him that overcometh"– the person who buys –"will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." For people who are buying and overcoming He is preparing a special place of honor. Dear friends, do not think even for a moment that when you respond to your Lord He will be indebted to you. He will not. You may not get your understood reward He has for you until you get to glory, but when you get there, it will be there. There will be many different levels of rewards, but it seems one of the noblest kinds will be for those who hear what He says to His church – "If you open the door, and you hear, and you buy, I am going to have a place right beside Me in the glories of heaven."
A Consequential Word
Then He leaves us with a consequential word. He says that "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches...." You can hear or not hear. You can buy or not buy. He will not coerce you. He will only invite you. He waits for you to respond. I wonder if you hear Him today. I am hearing Him. I believe that this is the time.
Pray through what you are hearing from the Lord. Open your Bibles to this passage in Revelation 3. I have done it a number of times. I pray the passage back to the Lord. It is a good passage to confess. Confess how your value system is all out of order, and you do not understand how wretched you really are. Admit it. Come and buy! God is waiting...He is knocking...calling you by name. As you bow, pray through what you are hearing from God. He will hear your heart.
– Edited from a message delivered at the 2000 "Heart-Cry for Revival" Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. Used by permission. Reprinted from April 2001 issue of Herald of His Coming.