With every new year, there is a yearning for a breakthrough and a spiritual awakening. Believers all around the globe plead with the Lord for God to stir within their hearts as well as in the hearts of those who do not know Him. Churches all throughout the United States of America gather together to plead with God so that He may strengthen hearts, move among His people, and lead many to come to know Him.
God’s work is being fulfilled. We know this because a portion of His children still remain in this world, and His glorious return has not yet occurred. Life is not to be lived in vain. The hours we are given are a blessing from the Father to be used to glorify His name and to proclaim His Kingdom to those who do not believe. I join the brothers and sisters who pray that God may do great things and that His name would be proclaimed in such a way that would cause the world to humble before the majesty of the King of Heaven.
My prayer is very specific as it is evident to all that the majority of Christians are very much lacking in their relationship with Christ. They are lacking in their desire to evangelize to their family, friends, and even strangers. I can’t stress the urgency to pray that the Holy Spirit would cause great work to be done for the glory of God. My fervent prayers rest on three specific things I hope God will change in the year of 2017.
1) An esteem of God’s sovereignty.
As the world continues to preach the false assurance of mankind, it seems that Christians are lured into secular enticing. We seem to have given up esteem of God for self-esteem. We have forgotten that our identity is not based on our own goodness but in the shedding of Christ’s blood. We seem to have forgotten that the gospel doesn’t even revolve around us, but the gospel instead proclaims of the goodness and sovereignty of God: while we were still sinners, Father God prepared a way for salvation which His son carried out unto death.
The world was not created for our own enjoyment. The very fact we are able to laugh, enjoy, and delight from anything is because of God’s mercy. James 1:17 (ESV) makes it clear that it is God’s doing and not of our own that we can attain any good: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” He is the sovereign, eternal God who is not only to be recognized, but also glorified.
In 2017, I want evangelicals to return to the theme of the greatness of God and His majesty. I want to hear more sermons, hear more songs, read more books, and see more recognition of the biblical view of the sovereignty of God. God has made it abundantly clear that He is worthy of all praise, so therefore I desire that all focus on man’s esteem be gone. Let the phrase “soli Deo gloria” ring true in the lives of believers.
2) An awakening to biblical theology.
The majority of the modern day evangelical youth is convinced that the word theology is a bad word. Whenever I bring up the subject of theology among most Christians, I always expect the conversing individual to respond with boredom, carelessness, or offense. Why do people forget that all who are in Christ should have a desire to learn more about Him through His word?
Too many people have come to believe in Christian gnosticism (God speaking His word to an individual) to the point where they believe that the word of God is just a life lesson book. Biblical theology is a valuable part of our walk with Christ and many are being taught that instead we should expect God to speak to us personally. God does speak today to all people, but it is through the infallible and perfectly written word. If one wishes to hear the word of God audibly, then tell them to read the Bible out loud.
It is sad when Christians believe what they are told to believe, rather than using the Scriptures as the primary source for all verifiable truth. I also hope that pastors and preachers return to exegetical preaching in which the one speaking will interpret a given passage from Scripture. The Lord desires that all will come to grow in knowledge of Him. Shall we not at least consider His desire? Oh, how I hope the Lord will move Christians to search the Scriptures for deeper knowledge rather than through gnostic mysticism.
3) An urgency to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There have always been introverts and extroverts in the sense that some people will be more outgoing, while others will be more shy and reserved. I am considered to be a major extrovert. I love to socialize, and I love meeting new people. Personal evangelism has become a normality for me, but this is not so for many. I can understand why some may believe that it is easy for the social ones to minister, but it is not the case.
Preaching the gospel is a matter of how much of an effect Christ has on your life, and just how willing you are to obey His commandment to preach the gospel to anyone. Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you don’t save others, you are not saved yourself.” What if Spurgeon is right? What if people don’t evangelize because they don’t know the Gospel to begin with? That is one of the reasons why I hope pastors will have the courage to preach the good news every now and then, even if the congregation is full of Christians.
Furthermore, I hope God reminds us that while we must live out the Gospel through the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification, we must never forget that we are to preach the Gospel. There is a saying, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.” I beg all Christians to remove this phrase from their minds. It is though the preaching of the Word of God that people know who is the true God. We must feed the hungry, encourage the weak, and help the poor, but may God remind us that the bold declaration of the saving power of Christ is valuable to His Kingdom.
These things I hope God will allow to come to pass in this coming year. We must never forget the seriousness of our purpose. God called us into life and He bestows unto His children a unified purpose: preach the Gospel, make disciples, and wait for His return. I refuse to allow myself to believe that my God-given purpose is anything but what God has commanded of me to do in His word. Hopefully, 2017 will be the year in which a massive revival occurs within the bride of Christ, and in which the Holy Spirit moves the Father’s chosen people to great glory as they glorify their Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria.