Abiding in Christ Means Being Right with Our Brother/Sister

Personal Revival Means Right Relationships with People (Chapter Three)

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7 NLT)

In Chapter Three of The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, Hession examines my need for transparency in relationships. If I want to experience on-going personal revival, I need to be in right relationship with my family and friends. Remember that personal revival is heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. If my heart is really different then the way that I treat people will be different too.

As the spokes get nearer the center of the wheel, they get nearer to one another. But if we have not been brought into vital fellowship with our brother, it is a proof that to that extent we have not been brought into vital fellowship with God (pg.36).

As a pastor, I have heard expressed many times, “I love Christ, but I can’t stand people,” or ” I love Christ, but I don’t care for his Church.” However, it’s not possible to claim that you love Jesus without being in love with his people. First John teaches that my relationships with people reflect my relationship with God (1 John 2:9; 3:14-15; 4:20).

Everything that comes as a barrier between us and another, be it never so small, comes as a barrier between us and God. We have found that where these barriers are not put right immediately, they get thicker and thicker until we find ourselves shut off from God and our brother by what seem to be veritable brick walls. Quite obviously, if we allow New Life to come to us, it will have to manifest itself by a walk of oneness with God and our brother, with nothing between (pg. 36).

First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another . . . .” As Hession states, “Light reveals, darkness hides.” Darkness is sin, it is hiding my true self. It is hypocrisy–my hypocrisy–I act one way toward others, but inside I am faking it. Sin is there, but I pretend to be righteous. “So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth” (1 John 1:6 NLT).

Sin made our first parents hide behind the trees of the garden and it has had the same effect on us ever since. Sin always involves us in being unreal, pretending, duplicity, window dressing, excusing ourselves and blaming others – and we can do all that as much by our silence as by saying or doing something. This is what the previous verse calls “walking in darkness” (1 John 1:6). With some of us, the sin in question may be nothing more than self-consciousness (anything with “I” in it is sin) and the hiding, nothing more than an assumed heartiness to cover that self-consciousness; but it is walking in darkness none the less.

However, there is freedom from personal hypocrisy, freedom to treat others with sincerity and truth, and freedom to love people as Christ loves them. In the most precious words of First John 1:7, ” . . . the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1:7 KJV). At the Cross, I find-and you find–the forgiveness of sin, the guilt of sin removed, and the power of the Holy Spirit in victory over sin.

Everything that the light of God shows up as sin, we can confess and carry to the Fountain of Blood and it is gone, gone from God’s sight and gone from our hearts. By the power of the precious Blood we can be made more stainless than the driven snow; and thus continually abiding in the light and cleansed by the Blood, we have fellowship with God (pg.39).

At the foot of the Cross, my cleansing from sin is not just about me, but my cleansing is also about others.

In 1 John 1:7, of course, the purpose of “walking in the light” is that we might “have fellowship one with another.” And what fellowship it is when we walk this way together! Obviously, love will flow from one to another, when each is prepared to be known as the repentant sinner he is at the Cross of Jesus. When the barriers are down and the masks are off, God has a chance of making us really one. But there is also the added joy of knowing that in such a fellowship we are “safe” (pg.42).

Lord, I pray that on our journey toward personal revival, you would convict us of our wrongful attitudes and actions toward others. I pray that you would cleanse us, renew us, and restore us. I pray that the newness of life that you generating in us will be seen by others as the work of your gracious grace. Amen.

Comments (2)

Brokenness: A Heart Yielded to God

Brokenness is the Beginning of Personal Revival (Chapter One)

“My way or the highway” is what I say to myself since I do not have the audacity to say these stubborn words to God. My fallen nature wants to be first, go first, and to be thought of as first. My selfishness is my biggest problem: I want it my way. Everyone should center their lives around my needs and desires. What I want, what I need, and what I like: all my demands should be everyone’s concern.  However, Christ died to change my motivation from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness. Christ changed my heart and made me a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Cor 5:14-15 ESV).

After my conversion, when I yielded my life to Christ at the foot of the Cross, the Holy Spirit changed my motivation. When my Lord Jesus Christ became God incarnate in human flesh (Phil. 2:3-11): my Lord became a servant, my Lord laid down his rights, my Lord did not retaliate, my Lord became my substitute, and my Lord took my punishment (Mark 10:45). Christ lives in me, therefore, he will live the same selfless life in me that he lived on earth (Col. 1:27). Christ has conquered the root of my selfishness, but self-centeredness can still pervade avenues of my thinking and control areas of my heart. Sanctification, Christian growth, is the Holy Spirit working through people, circumstances, and the Word to address the selfishness still resident in my life. Therefore, the Lord sovereignly puts me in places of weakness that I would depend solely on him (Heb. 12:5-11).

By nature we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

[Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.]

The Lord works in my heart making it pliable and open to his will. Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. When I yield my heart’s desires to him, a sweetness of the Holy Spirit begins to pervade my life.

The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the odor, with the sweetest odor (John 12:1-8). Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness.

[Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life (Fort Washington, Penn.: CLC, 1985), 281.]

If I want an anointed ministry, then saying “yes” to the Resident Boss, the Holy Spirit, is a requirement.

Emptiness, yieldedness, brokenness-these are the conditions of the Spirit’s outflow.  Such was the path taken by the Prince of Life to set free the flood-tide of Pentecost.

[Lilias Trotter cited in They Knew Their God, Vol. 1 by E. Harvey and L. Hey (Shoals, Ind.: Kingsley Press, 1974). ]

In chapter one of The Calvary Road, Hession calls on us to yield everything to Christ:

If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we learn is that our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is being “Not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20), and a “C” is a bent “I.” The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

[Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Fort Washington, Penn,: Christian Literature Crusade, 1950), 21.]

The path to joy, fulfillment, and freedom in Christ is brokenness.

And whoever does not take his cross and  follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 10:38-39).

Lord, we pray, change our hearts and transform our lives that we might reflect the selflessness of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Inward Content of Revival

Revival Begins on the Inside of Each of Us (Preface)

Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging my thoughts on the book, The Calvary Road, written by noted speaker and author, Roy Hession. The Calvary Road was written over fifty years ago, but the book’s sales never diminish. Why the lasting impact? Hession speaks to the great need of every believer’s heart–personal revival. Sin darkens my spirit. My selfishness steals away my joy in God and stifles my on-going experience of the presence of the Lord. I need healing, restoration, forgiveness, and renewal. Hession’s book brings me to the foot of the Cross, where Christ’s blood is ready and available for cleansing and heart-change.

I read Hession’s book many years ago (July 1979 to be exact) at Crystal Springs Institute, the training school for Agape Force ministries, Lindale, Texas. However, I have been asked to read the book again. Bishop Chuck Jones, Diocesan Bishop, Central Gulf States Diocese, C.E.C., has directed the presbyters and deacons of our diocese to read The Calvary Road as preparation for our up-coming clergy Lenten retreat. The retreat is scheduled for the first week of March, so I thought I would get started reading Hession’s book now.  I am excited about what God will do in my heart, as well as, the change that the Holy Spirit will bring in all our clergy’s lives.

I begin this series with Hession’s definition of revival. Hession’s definition is important because we often confuse revival with excitement, falling out, dramatic healings, and/or powerful worship. All these outward manifestations can and do occur during a genuine revival, but these outward signs are not necessarily a sign of revival. Revival is personal heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. Revival is the restoration of God’s glory in his church. Revival is the manifested presence of the kingdom of God in and among his people actively bringing the lost to salvation and the lukewarm to renewed passionate devotion in Christ.

The outward forms of such revivals do, of course, differ considerably, but the inward and permanent content of them all is always the same: a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the Cross of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part for brokenness, repentance, confession, and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power to do His own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus.

[Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Fort Washington, Penn., Christian Literature Crusade, 1950), 11.]

John Piper has a similar definition of revival that is also helpful:

Revival is the sovereign work of God to awaken his people with fresh intensity to the truth and glory of God, the ugliness of sin, the horror of hell, the preciousness of Christ’s atoning work, the wonder of salvation by grace through faith, the urgency of holiness and witness, and the sweetness of worship with God’s people.

[John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, Ore: Multnomah Books, 1997), 111.]

Dear Lord,

We ask that you would change our hearts: convict us of our sins, forgive our many transgressions, and renew your Holy Spirit in us. We beg you to use The Calvary Road to bring us into personal revival.