By James Albrecht
All vital Christians know the thrill of the new birth—that point in time when they came to life spiritually. What a great surge of joy and relief came to their mind and spirits as they became alive and free from sin and its consequence, death. This was a moment of beginning a new and vibrant relationship with God. But many Christians have long since lost that early enthusiasm of the spirit.
The daily tug of war between the flesh and the spirit have taken its toll of joy and victory in the every day experience of life. Recently, I discovered a five-part formula that will bring renewal individually or within the congregation. Let me share it with you.
Just as our physical bodies have to be continually renewed in sleep, cleansed with oxygen and pure water, and repaired with good nourishment, so our spiritual bodies demand continual renewal to stay in good health. If we fail to take this into account, we will become stagnant and stale. The moment we fail to be renewed in the spirit, we will begin to die spiritually. We cannot live long on the momentum of past experiences. Revelation 3:1–6 gives us a five-part formula for renewal. Read it in The New English Bible for clarity.
“I know all your ways; that though you have a name for being alive, you are dead. Wake up, and put some strength into what is left, which must otherwise die! For I have not found any work of yours completed in the eyes of my God. So remember the teaching you received; observe it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I shall come upon you like a thief, and you will not know the moment of my coming.”
Notice the five steps necessary to revitalization: (1) Wake up; (2) Strengthen what is left; (3) Remember the teaching your received; (4) Obey it; (5) Repent. Look at each of these more closely.
Wake up! When Christians are lulled into sleep, either through tiredness or indifference, they are in dangerous territory for temptation. When the three confidants of Jesus slept in the garden, Jesus said to them, “Sleep on…The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This was not a justification for indifference, but a recognition that we are human. Wake up. Come to terms with your situation. Take a good look at your life, your service to God, and your place in the church. Do you size up the situation as God sees it?
Strengthen what is left which otherwise must die. Many good causes languish and fail for want of attention. Much essential teaching of Christian doctrine is ignored and even scoffed at. What residue of faith lies dormant in your life? What gift is being neglected in you that ought to be put to work for God? Paul wrote to Timothy and instructed him “not to neglect the gift which is in you.” Are there good intentions that have never been given a chance?
Remember your teaching! As mature Christians, we are to build on the truths we know, not having to be retaught continually. No pastor wants to keep on teaching the ABCs of the faith. Most people fall into sin because they have ignored their “good teaching.” They have been swept off their feet by attractive sounding philosophies or new ideas whether they be labeled the “new morality,” “situation ethics,” or “mental enlightenment.” “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor 13:5).
Obey it! The prophets of old said, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Surely God is much more pleased with obedient children than he is with those who do as they please. Jesus himself said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Few people are lost spiritually because they do not know the truth. God has written his law into human nature, as well as into the physical universe and the Bible. Are you putting into practice the truth already revealed to you? Don’t ask for new revelations or new power until you put into practice what he has already shown you. There is great wisdom in the words of 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin.”
Repent! This is the strongest measure and perhaps the most important for spiritual renewal. When a Christian has let slip valuable truths, when he has become indifferent or unconcerned, when he has become disobedient to God’s will and way, he must repent. Repentance is being sorry enough to change. You have changed your mind and your direction. You are willing to make amends. Repent that you have not done your duty. Repent that you have lost your first love. Repent that the work of Christ has been laid aside in your life.
The results will speak for themselves. You will once again find radiant joy. You will find the secret of inner strength. You will discover the process of renewal. You will realize that heaven is not gained in a single bound, but through continual reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide you step by step, moment by moment.
James and Betty Albrecht have given their lives to ministry as Church of God pastors, missionaries to Egypt, and regional directors for Europe and the Middle East. This article was originally published in the February 21, 1971, issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission. Across the United States and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Give life! Donate today at give.jesusisthesubject.org.