He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ the Son of God who is to come into the world.
John 11:17, 21-27 NKJV:
The above conversation between our LORD and Martha has a lot to teach us, as regards the matter of labouring with Him in Revival.
Martha was a principal seeker of Jesus for the deliverance of Lazarus. She took the lead in sending for Jesus; but something seemed to have happened to her faith in the whole thing. This was revealed in her discussion with the LORD, on the way.
Let us note here that the determination of Jesus to come this far was not in consultation with Martha. It was Christ’s deliberate choice. He was already on His way with a clear focus “I am going to wake him up.” But two miles to the spot of his intention, Martha kept him at a standstill, while she fussed around in an act of unbelief, which appeared to be a genuine display of knowledge.
1. Beware of Empty Doctrine
“LORD, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give You.”
This was all correct theologically. It was all well laid out in terms of expression. It was very brilliant but it lacked latent ingredient in the heart. Martha was committed to doctrine so much that she could not see the personality of Christ standing right there with her. “Your brother will rise again” was the Master’s firm declaration because he had come to wake him up. It was a determinate counsel he took far away in Judea, even before He started on the journey to Bethany. Martha could have asked: when and how will it happen? And that would have left a room for divine instruction and impartation of faith … but she retorted almost by reflex: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
The presumption that we all fall into severally is to claim to know, rather than all at His feet to learn what He is currently doing and teaching us. We fix permanent interpretations to Scriptures and expect nothing new or different. We quote scriptures copiously, insisting that we know what the Author has in mind when he first gave the inspiration. It turns us to become rigid, unbending, non-compassionate scribes of the holy writ, without the grace of His presence. True, Martha quoted what she must have heard the Master teach in one of His teaching sessions with the disciples but she missed a matter here. All Scriptures only become alive and relevant when He comes and quickens them again. While we must be faithful to the context of Scriptures all the time, we must live in the consciousness that it is the Spirit (who is presently, currently and continuously abiding and seeking to unveil the mind of Christ and the purpose of God to us) that brings life and reality to the Word we read or quote.
Martha was unwittingly rendering the personal presence of Jesus unnecessary, by holding to the Scriptures she earlier learnt. This was the same mistake of the Pharisees. They learnt all the Scriptures. They gave excellent exegesis of the word of God, but when the WORD Himself came, they stumbled at Him because of unbelief. They expected Him not to have come the way he came. This actually was because “they knew not the scriptures nor the power of God.”
This to me is the first hindrance we must watch in our lives. Many great Bible scholars and even well-meaning evangelical Christians miss out on the move of the Spirit of God and of the power of God in revival, because, their commitment to Scripture would not allow them give attention to Him who has come to the shores of their situation. They become so rigid at applying the Scriptures that they become critical and suspicious of anything or anyone who does not fit into what they used to know. It becomes more dangerous, when we silently resist Jesus and His Spirit at work, with our mental knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.