Matthew 3:1-3 “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”’
Kingdom thinking will want to see revival; that of bringing people into the Body of Christ and a transformation that puts God’s people in places of responsibility in order to bring change into the systems of our world.
There are three words that I hear being bandied about today that need some clarification: reformation, revival and transformation. The question in my mind is: How are these words being used and clarified in the New Testament? What comes first; revival, reformation or transformation?
Perhaps we first need the definition of each.
Reformation: Improvement in the existing form or condition of institutions or practices
Revival (one definition is): Bringing into activity and prominence
Transformation (probably the best definition is the word): change
However, when it comes to the Word of God I find that it gives us a better description of each. For example, in our text above (Matthew 3:1-3) we have John the Baptist coming on the scene. What is he doing? It says that he is a voice in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” In other words, to me Biblically speaking “reformation” is preparing the way for the Lord; telling people what Jesus Christ did for them when He came the first time and that He’s coming back with His Kingdom. How we need to pray for preachers to be raised up to prepare the way for the Lord.
Martin Lloyd Jones for many years was the pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London. He said that the best definition of revival is: “God passing by.”
He used the passage in Exodus 33:21-23 “Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’”
Transformation is change. Not only is the person changed, but society changes as well.
When we read the Gospels what do we find? First, we have John the Baptist and what is he doing? He is preparing the way for the Lord. Secondly, we then have Jesus arriving on the scene and what do we find? He passes by and when He passed by what happens? There is transformation in people.
Wherever He passes by there is life, there is newness, and there is change. There was a Zacchaeus paying back fourfold of what he took dishonestly, leprous people being healed, dead people being raised to life, people being encouraged everywhere as the Kingdom of God was preached and spread wherever the Lord passed by.
When we look back over the past 2000 years we see many powerful kingdoms that have come and gone into the dustbin of history, but the Kingdom of God is spreading and to fill the whole earth.
Several years ago I was in Dubai for a conference with some of the workers in that part of the world. Listening to the testimonies I kept hearing the phrase, “back to Jerusalem.” What was interesting to me was that in Acts 2:14 Peter stood up and preached in Jerusalem and the Gospel began to spread. What I was hearing in Dubai after almost 2000 years is that the Gospel has circumnavigated the world and is now coming back to Jerusalem where it started.
Jesus said: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Kingdom thinking will want to hasten that day; the day Jesus returns. So, “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12