Last December, we published a list of 12 themes that we believed would characterize the church in the new year. You may find it helpful or interesting to read back through the 2021 list before coming back to see what we’ve put together for 2022.
As we begin, there are two reminders worth mentioning. First, when we say the church, we mean this:
The Church, as we readily know, is not an entity as much as it is a body. It is not an organization as much as it is a bride. And it is of this body that is being prepared as a bride that we speak today.
And second, this isn’t designed to be prophetic in the sense of the future foretelling of something new, rather it is prophecy that is in line with what we believe to be the primary voice of the new testament prophet:
The primary message of the New Testament prophetic voice must be, “Remind, remind, remind!” For everything that needs to be said has been said already. This is the sufficiency of Scripture we take so much comfort in.
So let us be reminded again of things that perhaps we have forgotten, neglected, or taken for granted. Let us take up the prayer of the psalmist, who cries out, “Renew a right spirit within me!” This is a prayer that the Lord will not despise.
13 Ways the Church Will be Renewed in 2022
A renewed reverence, trembling, and fear of the Lord. We will start here because it is both the sorest need and the beginning of wisdom. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalm 2:11) “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3) “How with fear and trembling you received him.” (2 Cor. 7:15) “Be obedient…with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5) “As you have always obeyed…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
And so we must ask ourselves, “Are we those who fear Him?”
A renewal of the joy of our salvation. As the morning sun can only be contained by the tallest hills for a short period of time, so is the joy of the believer, coming forth as a visible emotion from an internal change. We have been promised a river of living water on the inside, and such a stream cannot help but break out in joyfulness. We will see our overflowing joy once again restored.
A renewal in the “more abundantly” life in Christ. This is a life that is superior, far above, and more than necessary in both quantity and quality. This is the life that He came to give us and we will know it personally again. (John 10:10)
A renewal of holiness, sanctification, and a being set apart for the Lord. There will be a breach from everything else - friends, family, recreation, careers - a breaking away, a setting down of the nets, a leaving early in the morning and heading up the mountain to the altar of sacrifice. “Come out from among them and be separate,” is the command - that He may call you forth to send you out as sheep among wolves. You will take nothing with you, no knapsack, change of clothes, or moneybag, yet you will have enough, everything you need, and lack nothing for the entire journey.
A renewal of powerful confrontation. Before men - we will confront with the beatitudes. Meekness in the face of arrogance, peace in adversity, blessing and prayer for our enemies, giving at our own expense to see the one who hates us restored, forgiveness even when we have been wronged, a kind and gentle word in response to wrath, and a shutting of our mouths to come to our own defense, preferring the pleasure of God to the favor of men.
His complaint was that those who proclaimed to be followers of Christ demonstrated no difference whatsoever in their lives and he needed to see an example that there was a real invisible kingdom - something other than words we profess.
The Lord brought just such an example into Rees’ life - a Jew who lost everything to follow Christ.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit, and the like? This man knew. He lost his business, his inheritance (for his parents had written religion into the will), his wife, his newborn child, his freedom (he was thrown into the insane asylum based on accusations he was hearing voices).
But he had found the kingdom, he had seen the worthiness of the King, and all else paled in comparison.
Before God - we will wage war in the heavenlies, knowing that the weapons of this battle are not carnal, but mighty in God, as we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6, Ephesians 6:12)
A renewal of prayer and answered prayer. (“We must confess we personally know very little of this reality.”)
A renewal of the teaching of the whole counsel of the word of God.
Yet how can we believe if we have not heard and how will we hear without preachers who once again preach the whole counsel of the word of God?
Therefore, we who carry about as the witness must ask ourselves, what do we preach about?
We must get back to the whole counsel of the word of God again. We must know Him as He truly is. We must remember His holiness. We must humble ourselves and longingly search for Him with weeping.
Then revival will come. Perhaps our 20 years have finally passed.
A renewal of the refusal to compromise and make unholy treaties. There will be no more accommodations made in the name of unity. “For the good of all,” is the cry of the world, while we will live always and only, “For the good of the One.” Regardless of perceived necessity (usually financial) or because of the potentially positive impact (usually scale or reach), we will not yield.
Amy Carmichael, a missionary who spent 50+ consecutive years in India serving girls and boys who she helped rescue from extreme poverty and a life of slavery to do whatever the temple idols demanded of them, knew what it was to need all the help she could get. Yet she refused to compromise, “If our children were to grow up truthful they must be taught by those who had a regard for truth; and not just a casual regard. On this point we were adamant.” She expounds on this thought in her book, Overweights of Joy:
There may be weakness, compromise, lack of determination to keep the winning of souls to the front, the use of unconsecrated means, unsanctified ways of getting money, unconverted workers…God forgive us and make us more in earnest.
We will see the church move from the mindset of “What works?” to, “What does God require?”
A renewal of the fire, the shaking, and the winnowing fan of the Lord. We will see the dead branches burn, the foundations not build on Jesus Christ shaken, and the wheat separated from the chaff. For a period of time, all have grown together, as was foretold, but once the harvest comes, the truth of the root will be made manifest to all. (Matthew 3:12, Hebrews 12:27, John 15:6)
A renewal in the belief in and hope for true revival. Nothing manmade, orchestrated, planned, or put on the calendar in advance. Rather we will ask in faith for a rending of the heavens as God once again draws near, takes the field, and lays all men low.
A renewal in the preparations and adornment of the bride. This church will once again be a bride who makes haste to keep watch. As Jesus instructs, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning,” that when the master returns and knocks you may open immediately. This girding of the loins referencing the manner in which we must always be ready and prepared, “And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste.” Make haste to keep watch! (Luke 12:35, Exodus 12:11)
A renewal in our commitment to wait for and wait on the Lord. We will refuse to move without His presence, to build for ourselves a tower to access heaven, or to keep ourselves so busy with works that we no longer know what it means to be still.
Leonard Ravenhill put it this way, “More and more I see that so much of the work of the Lord is done in the flesh. It seems to be a forgotten art to be still and know that He is God.”
We will once again understand that everything happens at His word and at His appointed time. Man shall live by every word that proceeds forth from His mouth. He speaks, creation responds. He will bring forth fruit in due season. We will wait, without worry, refusing to put on a show of worship in order to cater to the demands of the people.
The children cried out and the Lord raised up a deliverer. Have we, like little children, cried out to the Lord for a deliverer? Have we depended on Him to this degree?
Or have we, as Saul, grown impatient at the perceived delay? For Saul, ‘waited seven days,’ but couldn’t wait any longer in the presence of a scattering people. His impatience was counted by the Lord as foolishness and it cost him the kingdom, “For the Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart,” a “better man” than Saul. (1 Samuel 13:8-14, 15:28)
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” Matthew 21:43
A nation full of men and women after God’s own heart, a better people. And yet there is a more excellent way…
In closing, the times are not dire (for there is always hope), but they are serious. We’ve neglected the old paths for too long and are now seeing the effects. I pray you join with us this year, either in unified prayer, or in your own pursuit to seek the Lord and His renewing.
“The joy of our heart has ceased;
Our dance has turned into mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our heart is faint;
Because of these things our eyes grow dim;
Because of Mount Zion which is desolate,
With foxes walking about on it.
You, O Lord, remain forever;
Your throne from generation to generation.
Why do You forget us forever,
And forsake us for so long a time?
Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;
Renew our days as of old.”
This post was, in part, inspired by a section from Iain Murray’s book, “Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes.” Click on the below tweet image to read the thread.