By: Keelan Cook, Senior Church Consultant, UBA
May 16, 2019
All true believers should long for spiritual awakening. As those who belong to God's church, it is what we long for, what we pray for, and what we work for. We long for the Spirit of God to be poured out on us and others (Joel 2:28), because we believe with Peter we are experiencing that special moment in history where Christ is building his church in preparation for his glorious return to restore all things (Acts 2:14-40). We pray for the harvest (Luke 10:2), that God would send more laborers. We work for the growth of the gospel (Acts 12:24), that all may hear the good news of their salvation. And God is faithful to do these things. He has poured out his Spirit. He is sending laborers into the harvest. And the message of salvation is indeed spreading to the ends of the earth.
Often, these activities happen in ways we cannot see, imperceptible but known through faith (Matthew 13:24-43). At other times, however, God does the miraculous in plain sight, visible for all to see. In these times, God's awakening of hearts is no longer imperceptible but becomes unavoidable. We find these special moments throughout history, like the Great Awakenings in American history where men and women were turning toward Christ in ways that shook the very foundations of their communities. We even find these moments in Scripture. Luke recounts one such awakening for us in Acts 19.
This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord (Acts 19:10).
Paul's time and efforts in Ephesus were centered on the proclamation of the gospel. It was patterned. Paul would spend his energy daily speaking and teaching the gospel to all who would listen. It was consistent. He did this for the period of two years. Regularly and consistently speaking the good news. And the passage makes it clear that those who accepted the message of Christ from Paul went and did likewise. Once they became recipients of the message, they were compelled to share the message.
And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices... (Acts 19:18).
The gospel is no mere message. It is an announcement, but it is not merely an announcement. The gospel transforms the church. As people were added to their number, those who believed were changed. The transformation that occurred in their lives was so dramatic it was unavoidable.
"You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods" (Acts 19:26).
When the Spirit awakens the lost, and Christ builds his church, the results are often contagious. In Ephesus, Luke tells us that almost all of Asia was confronted with the gospel. The effects on those turning to Christ were so marked they were even threatening the local economy built upon idolatry!
So let us long for God to pour out his Spirit in this way, that we may see the kind of awakening Luke speaks of in Ephesus. Let us pray for more laborers for the harvest. And let us work for the growth of the gospel in our city and beyond. To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations (Eph 3:21).
God we pray for hearts that long for your Spirit. Pour out your Spirit on us and others. Send out your laborers from my church and others here in Houston, that the harvest may hear the message of their salvation. Send me, Lord, into the harvest with this message on my lips. Use us God for the growth of the gospel in this city and beyond, that every man, woman, and child may hear the only name that saves.