How do we know something is genuine? How do mathematicians prove something? They observe, conclude and then create. Keep these thoughts in your mind as you think through this …
(1) “People are still flocking to Asbury University in Wilmore where a spontaneous revival that broke out on February 8, 2023 is still ongoing. The university is now changing some things to accommodate the thousands of people who are coming.”
(2) “Asbury University has ended the revival that drew tens of thousands of participants and generated global media attention across the past two weeks. The Christian school in Wilmore, Ky., said Feb. 20 it took the action in consultation with law enforcement officials. The campus chapel and local parking no longer could handle the surge of visitors seeking to participate in the revival that continued 24 hours a day since Feb. 8, the university announced.”
(3) “Asbury is no stranger to revivals; spontaneous worship has broken out multiple times in the past century, although the 1970 revival is perhaps the most well-known. Ever since, alumni and community members have prayed for God to grace the campus once again with a powerful experience of the Holy Spirit.”
How do you know something is genuine … and in this case, how do you know whether this happening at Asbury University was a revival or not? Many who have studied revivals have said the answer is to “wait and see”. This is like the mathematician … observe … conclude. There is nothing wrong with this approach. My thought is that it is not a revival but an awakening to the presence of God and a response to that. My reason is that if it was a real Holy-Spirit-brought spiritual revival, the university and law enforcement officials would not have been able to close it down. They themselves would have been caught up in it! Read the account of the Welsh revival! How do you know when conversions are genuine? Please read:
Ac 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
If you have the time please read the passage from verse 1 to 31.
1) Skeptics abound.
(1) Look at verse 1. The men referred to here can only be part of the group referred to in verse 5 … the party of the Pharisees. Their skepticism was a blanket refusal that no one becomes a Christian unless they become a Jew in practice … circumcision. We have people in the Christian Church today who prescribe that unless you have some experience or you personally do something you cannot be a Christian. Let’s try to understand why these from the Party of the Pharisees were so adamant and compare it to today’s Christian Church. Today we set the foundation for tomorrow.
(2) Outside of Israel. Circumcision was used as a magical / primitive rite for two reasons.
(i) As a sacrifice of redemption.
(ii) As a tribal or covenantal rite. Demons (idol gods of some sort) needed to be appeased. It is true to say Israel performed circumcision for these purposes as well. The heathen even devoted the first fruits to the demons (idol gods) of fertility and the field. Consider:
Lev 19:23 When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.
Verse 23 was important because if the other nations saw Israel eating the fruit, they would frown upon them. Verse 24 show the nations that Israel worshipped a different God to them. They “circumcised” the fruit for three years as the heathen did but they went further making the fourth years fruit an offering to the true God. The first three years was seen as a “foreskin”, cut off. The heathen also used physical circumcision for hygienic rites, puberty rites and marriage rites. Although such were also in Israel’s mind, for her the emphasis was the rite of circumcision of the new born boy child.
(3) An example from Moses. Although God gave Abraham the rite of circumcision as a covenant between Him and Abraham and his offspring, Moses has an experience that predates Abraham.
Ex 4:24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
Most of us glimpse over this passage without much thought. This act was a worldly tradition of circumcision rooted in “pre-Yahwistic” belief in demons. It seems as though Moses and Zipporah were not yet married before God. God was not pleased with Moses, but his spirited wife, grabs a stone knife (of all things, this was close at hand), circumcises her husband and the demon or demons that surrounded them (Zipporah was a heathen lady. Her father was a priest of some sort) that displeased God were banished when she touched Moses feet with the blood soaked foreskin, crying our … “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me”. At first you see a marriage rite … but soon thereafter you see a redemption rite.
(4) The Old Covenant into Hellenistic Rome. Israel understood the need for circumcision. She believed Abraham was the father of the Nation and he was their substitute relationally and in covenant before God. Even our Lord Jesus went through this rite. Then, there was a period when women who gave birth to a son and circumcised him, were put to death if the Roman Authorities found out about it. Praise the Lord we do not live under any of these “strange” rites. We live under the Lord Jesus and are governed by His New Covenant in His Blood. Tomorrow we shall continue with:
Ac 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Glorious God our Father, thank You that we live on this side of the Cross of Jesus and do not follow the Old Covenant. Though we are saved by grace through faith, help us not neglect our Gospel walk, nor take our salvation for granted. Amen.