Calling the Church to Confession and Revival

"The message of Jesus Christ cannot be proclaimed by people who have nothing to repent of." -- John Raines

Let me begin by directing all of my readers to two important places.  First, much of what I'm about to write is coming from my time of carefully and prayerfully reading through Christ Wright's critically important Cape Town 2010 Advance Paper entitled "Calling the Church Back to Humility, Integrity, and Simplicity." So many great papers have been submitted for the upcoming Lausanne Congress, but this is one that I especially hope the Global Church -- including yourself -- takes very seriously.  What Wright has done in highlighting and commenting upon thepoints in the Lausanne Covenant that express sorrow and failure may seem immensely simple, but it is nonetheless poignant and timely.  If you've not had a chance to read Wright's paper, I sincerely recommend pausing at this point in my article and doing so.

The second and (Wright would agree) more important place to point you to today is the Lausanne Covenant itself.  If you are not familiar with this, the Lausanne Covenant is a masterful work of the global Church created through the first Lausanne Congress in 1974.  The covenant has now become one of the most influential documents in modern Christianity. The Covenant is more than a statement of faith, it is a commitment (hence, "covenant") to a missional course of life. I and Trinity International Baptist Mission commend to you the Lausanne Covenant.  Our church and mission team has spent the past several months studying the covenant and have now officially adopted it, incorporating it into our church constitution.  I wish more churches and ministries would do the same.  It has been especially helpful to use John Stott's study guide of the Covenant, The Lord We Love, to guide our study.

What I offer to you today is perhaps even more simple than Chris Wright's paper.  I can only hope that it is somewhat as helpful. As I read through Wright's paper, I found myself writing down notes in my journal -- questions really -- related to each point of failure, sorrow, and shame that he was mentioning.  One thing led to another and I ended up with a list of self-examination questions.  My second step was to seek out pertinent Scripture verses and passages for each question.  Having done that, I took the time to sit before the Lord, reading and reflecting on the Scripture and confessing my sin.  The whole experience was quite important for me.  So much so that I've shared the list of questions and Bible verses with our church family encouraging them to do the same.  And now, I want to share this with you.

The reason is simple, there is a relationship between confession and revival.  They tend to lead to each other.  As Wright already referenced several Scriptural examples of this in his paper (specifically Deuteronomy 29-31, Joshua 23-24, 2 Kings 22-23, and Nehemiah 8-10), I'll cite a different kind of example. Take a look at the first six minutes or so of this interview with Ray and Anne Ortlund as they recount their experience of what happened one cold week at Wheaton College in 1970.

Note the connection between confession and revival, revival and confession.  It got me wondering.  God has done great things through such revivals in the past, but He's never before gathered such a group of leaders as what will come to Cape Town next month.  More than 4,000 of the best leaders the global Church has, from 200 nations.  What if God did more than inspire and enlighten our minds?  What if He started a revival among us?  What if?

Well, it is in that spirit that I offer you the following list of questions and Scriptures.  My encouragement to you all is that you will take the time to sit before the Lord (whether you are actually going to Cape Town or participating from afar) and ask yourself each of these.  Prayerfully read the accompanying  Bible verses as well.  Confess your sins and failures.  Let God cleanse you and revive us.  May He do so on a global scale.

Questions for Self-Examination & Confession
  1. How have we become conformed to the world? (Romans 12:2)
  2. How have we withdrawn from the world? (John 17:15-18)
  3. How have we concealed the cost of discipleship? (Matthew 10:38)
  4. How have we betrayed the gospel? (Galatians 1:6-9)
  5. How have we lacked a living faith? (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
  6. How have we lacked genuine love for people? (Romans 13:8)
  7. How have we lacked scrupulous honesty? (Ephesians 4:25)
  8. How have we identified the Church with specific cultures, political groups, or ideologies? (Matthew 6:33, Isaiah 55:9)
  9. How have we failed to respond to poverty? (Isaiah 61:1-3)
  10. How have we failed to respond to injustice? (Isaiah 61:1-3)
  11. How have we failed to adopt a simple lifestyle? (Matthew 6:19-21)
  12. How have we pursued church growth at the expense of church depth? (Colossians 1:28-29)
  13. How have we led as dominators rather than as servants? (Mark 10:42-45)
  14. How have we been deceptive about the Bible and gospel? (Romans 16:18)
Questions for Prayer, Discernment, and Obedience (following Chris Wright's "three key challenges" mentioned in his paper)
  1. How do we move from the idol of power to humility?
  2. How do we move from the idol of success to integrity?
  3. How do we move from the idol of greed to simplicity?
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."  (1 John 1:1-2:2)

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