Unity Invites Revival
By A. E. Reinschmidt
During recent years the conviction has come to many religious leaders that before any real revival can come, there must first be the closest spiritual relationship among those who seek revival. Consequently many Revival Fellowship groups have been brought together. In some of these groups the fellowship is very blessed. So much so that some of us wonder how we ever got along without it and why we never thought of it before.
Nevertheless, it must be admitted that there has been no revival as yet commensurate with the numbers engaged and the time spent in meetings, though the need of revival increases every day and hour. Only a few have been revived. There must be a reason for this. There were only “about an hundred and twenty” of the brethren in the fellowship of the Upper Room when the Holy Ghost came upon them “as a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:1). It goes without saying, that such a “one accord” group was a prerequisite to that initial outpouring of the Spirit and also to any subsequent outpourings. Why doesn’t something comparable to Pentecost come upon our fellowship – seeing that many times “an hundred and twenty” have met together and often?
Might it not be that what is needed most is not greater numbers, nor more meetings, but a deeper spiritual relationship with one another than is present even in the best fellowships? As it appears to us, we are not coming close enough together in our deepest hearts. It is unity we need, and fellowship is not necessarily unity. However, fellowship may greatly approximate unity. If the approximation of unity can be so blessed, how much more the actual unity itself!
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psa. 133:1). Great revival will come when a few hearts shall come sufficiently close to unite – like drops of water blending together in one.
The first man was created to dwell in unity with God and with his fellows. In this relationship, “the Spirit of life” dwelt in him; he possessed both natural and spiritual or age-lasting life. But in the transgression, the unity was broken and “the Spirit of life” was lost. Spiritual death resulted, as God had said it would (Gen. 2:16-17). Disobedience, breach of unity, loss of the Spirit, death – was the order in man’s departing from God. In returning, the order is obedience, unity restored, the Spirit returns, everlasting life recovered.
In other words, as spiritual death came by a breach of unity and the loss of the Spirit, so life comes when unity is restored and the Spirit returns to His place in man. This is the way of revival! “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2). It is all very scientific, not mere theological dogma.
Revival Is Based on Unity
A resurgence of life, which is revival, is based on unity with God on the one hand, and unity between the brethren on the other. Some say, “O, let’s bring on the revival, and unity and the rest will follow.” Our answer is, we have been long enough to “bring on a revival” without a nucleus of spiritual unitarians to start it. Now let us try God’s way.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments: As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psa. 133). This is a picture of revival, and it is based on unity, especially unity among brethren.
The Spirit of life from God cannot enter into a man unless he will come close enough to God through faith in Christ, to be united with Him. And the Spirit of life cannot flow from one man to another unless they will come close enough together to unite in one. We have stated above that even our revival fellowship, good as it is, seldom brings our hearts close enough to unite as “one heart” (Acts 4:32). For all our fellowship, we instinctively hold back our hearts from uniting with one another.
The human ego is very canny. Each specimen trusts in itself, but distrusts most all others. It will not trust another fully until perfect confidence has been built up. Perfect confidence in another doesn’t come until perfect loyalty has been proven. So long as nearly everybody shows signs of disloyalty to somebody or other, by the way they speak of one another in their absence – how can a man trust himself in their hands?
For instance, if one whom you trust, whispers about a friend of his in your hearing, you cannot help feeling that he will do the same to you, and you just cannot trust him. This is only one reason why unity is “as scarce as hen’s teeth,” even though good fellowship may be plentiful. Fellowship as a rule, is not so exacting as unity is. Fellowshippers may wear a sort of “venetian blind” over their hearts, but not so those that would “dwell together in unity!”
In even the best Christian fellowship to be found among us, our hearts do not come close enough to unite as one. This is mostly because of a fear which every self has toward those who have not been proven true and above suspicion of disloyalty. Our fellowship looking to revival is in the right direction, but it often doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t “take the little foxes.” It isn’t sacrificial enough. It is only when we shall endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), that the revival burden will be felt. We have so little burden.
Fellowship doesn’t cost very much. But to reach real unity, even between two (Matt. 18:19-20), requires strict self-discipline. Hearts do not unite as one unless they first come close to each other. They will never come close while the self in each is allowed to pursue its own selfish way. For two hearts to unite and stay united requires the utmost of self-discipline in both parties. It is the nature of the self to do many things that repel and push the other off, instead of wooing him. “Let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3), is a principle which must be constantly kept in mind by those who would “keep the unity of the Spirit.”
There is no easy way to unity, but unity must be found if we are to have revival of the real sort. Fellowship is not enough. Fellowship is in the direction of God and brethren; but unity is being in God and in one another (John 17:20-23).
Have you ever tried to live for a week without offending anyone’s ego or allowing your own ego to take offense at anything anyone else did to you? That is what it will mean, for one thing, “for brethren to dwell together in unity” and pave the way for revival. Supposing you are willing to live that way always as the normal way of life, willing to repent – both Godward and manward – every time you violate the law of the unity. Do you know another person who would be willing to make a covenant with you?
Unity Is Heaven’s First Law
Where there is unity, “there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” But in disunity there is death. What folly, therefore, to dream of revival, which means a resurgence of the Spirit of life, while we disregard the universal prevalence of disunity among ourselves!
The fallen ego which is in every one of us, doesn’t like personal unity. He prefers the ecumenical way: wholesale union. The self of the first man Adam, by his breach of unity with God, plunged the whole world to ruin. His offspring prefer to keep it that way rather than suffer what it costs self “for brethren to dwell together in unity” and have “life forevermore.”
Hearts are not united in Christ and one another in big meetings, not even in big fellowship meetings. That is a more private matter betwixt “two or three” persons (Matt. 18:20). Build fellowship, yes. But except we will follow through to that point of manifest unity like that for which Jesus prayed and is still praying (John 17:20-23), real revival – the kind that would cause the world to believe and know that God sent His Son into the world “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17) – cannot come.
Perhaps if we better understood why unity invites revival, we might be more vitally interested in the subject: the undisciplined self is the deadly foe of the Spirit of life. For several persons to become “of one heart and of one soul” involves great self-crucifixion, and this invites the Spirit who Himself is revival. Our small, mean selves are the “little foxes that spoil the vines” and wreck unity.