Renowned preacher Vance Havner often compared revivals to a great department store sale. A sale gets most of the press and excitement, but it isn’t the basic business of the store, which is the day-to-day faithful merchandising of its products. In the same way, revivals get most of the press in the church; they’re exciting and needed when they come, yet overall, they are but a small fraction of the church’s true work.
I believe we are presently in a time of revival. And because of the nature of what revivals are sent to accomplish, this may be one of the most exciting experiences many of us will have in our lives. It’s essential to remember, however, that revivals aren’t the end of the move of God but the beginning. Once the church has been revived, it has much work to do. If we transition properly into the next phase, God’s work won’t stop but go both higher and deeper. If these shifts are done with wisdom and strategy, revivals will not give us the sense that we are leaving something behind, rather the sense of going to something instead of from something.
Years ago our ministry was shown through various dreams, visions and words that we were like a rocket being launched. The metaphor proved to be accurate and helpful through the stages we’ve passed, and I believe it applies to what is now coming upon the whole body of Christ.
During a rocket’s first stage of flight, its “booster” needs to burn off all its fuel for the rocket to get to the place where the next stage can begin. Revival may just be the first stage for the church, but we will not make it into the “high orbit” to which we are called if it is cut short or the next stage fires prematurely.
If the first stage, reviving and encouraging the church, accomplishes its purpose, then the next stage—the salvation of the lost—will be far greater than if we focus too much on reaching stage two now. For the next two or three years, encouraging the church will be the most important job we can do.
There isn’t a more powerful, effective evangelistic force in the world than an encouraged church. But it’s hard to be encouraged if you’re sick, oppressed or afflicted. That’s why the emphasis on healing, miracles and deliverance for the church is so crucial now.
Once we arrive at stage two, it’s crucial to let the “rocket” burn for its entire term before stage three—the transformation of society—begins. We must reach this third stage at the right speed and altitude because this is a major purpose of what is now unfolding. The last trumpet or message of God in the book of Revelation is “Our God reigns” (see Rev. 19:6), or the gospel of the kingdom. That gospel hasn’t been preached since the first century, and it must be preached throughout the world before the Lord will come. The church is being prepared to preach that gospel from a position of living in the power of the kingdom. We are being readied to prepare the way for the Lord.
If we try to prematurely jettison stage one so that we can fire stage two of this rocket before we have reached the needed speed and altitude, we’ll fall far short of accomplishing our purpose. This is likewise true for the transition between stage two and stage three. Many people are being prepared for stages two and three, and it’s understandable for them to want to get on with their job, but they will not truly be ready—nor will the church—until the proper time.
Those who have been prepared for each stage feel that their stage is the most important and is what the whole mission is about. Although that’s a relatively narrow and limited view of what is actually happening, it’s understandable since we all “see in part” and “know in part” (see 1 Cor. 13:9). Few Christians can see beyond their part, and no one sees it all except the Lord.
We should also keep in mind that this metaphor of a rocket being launched breaks down, like all such prophetic types and metaphors, if we try to make it perfectly mirror what is happening. In this move of God, we can expect some to start firing stage two (evangelism) long before stage one is finished. Some may rightly start firing stage three (societal reformation) even before stage one is finished. These are principles, not laws. Principles have exceptions; laws do not. When we try to make principles into laws, such legalism doesn’t leave room for true life.
The point is that there will likely be a transition time between the stages where the previous stage diminishes as the church’s main emphasis, while the coming stage emerges in importance. For instance, in terms of revival, stage one will impart healing, miracles, deliverance and faith in God for great things, and will continue to be an integral part of church life from now on. All that is accomplished by stage one will continue on into orbit as a basic part of the vehicle. However, what we are now calling revival will eventually be normal church life. Miracles far beyond what we are seeing now are going to be commonplace.
I have known several astronauts, and they have all remarked about the incredible shaking that takes place during a launch. Those who experience it for the first time often think the shaking is so great that there is no way for the rocket to hold together.
Today we’re seeing the launching of something significant, and we can expect the whole church to be shaken by it, even to the point where many will wonder if the church might just fall apart. It won’t, but we need this shaking. As we’re told in Hebrews 12, everything that can be shaken will, so that what’s from God will remain. We can be sure that everything that is from God will survive the shaking.
I believe this move of God has barely left the launch pad and has a long way to go before stage one is finished—which means the shaking will likely get much more violent and remain that way throughout this first stage. It will not be over until we are finally in the assigned orbit.
Much of the shaking will come from persecution, most of which will come from religious people. Historically, the worst persecution of emerging moves of God came from the leaders of the previous moves of God. This great tragedy has undoubtedly nullified much of the fruit accomplished by these leaders and even helped prepare for the coming move that they persecute.
When persecution of a move of God comes from one that we esteem because of their previous great leadership, it can be even more confusing and discouraging, but this has been the pattern in both Scripture and history, and it should not surprise us. (See Daniel 11:33-35 for a warning about this.) Even so, the Lord uses this great shaking to purify those who will go forward with Him. This has in fact been the pattern in almost every revival, movement, or reformation of the church. If we would learn from history, maybe we would not be doomed to keep repeating it.
For now, tighten your seatbelts. We are in for the ride of our lives! Getting there may not be easy, but being there will be worth it.
Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Publications and Ministries near Charlotte, N.C. Author of more than 20 books, he also serves as senior pastor of the multisite MorningStar Fellowship Church.
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