During a stay in Scotland with my family, I bought several books on the theme of “spiritual awakening” in various parts of the world: Scotland, the Hebrides, Wales, France… As I was reading, a question often occurred to me: “what is the source of spiritual awakening?” Several possible answers presented themselves:
- The Holy Spirit sent by God to touch a person, people, nation.
- A realisation of God’s presence.
- The confession of sin, repentance.
- The Word of God, read or preached, at work in people’s hearts.
- A new thirst for the Word of God and the desire to spend time in prayer…
I am sure that you have experienced moments of awakening in your life: at your conversion for example, the day of your baptism or when God touched your heart through a verse or sermon! We can define these moments of awakening with a verse from the Bible: “times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:20) or “a moment of replenishment, rest and happiness” (A. Kuen). When listening to Christians during my travels and visiting different Churches, I have noticed that a lot of Christians live in the past, others are led by their feelings, even if this is in complete contradiction with the Word of God. Others cling to their pastor or a favourite preacher on the internet. Be careful, my friends, this is a long way from the source of biblical awakening! So what is the source of a real awakening? How were Jesus’ disciples able to evangelise and have such a significant impact on the world at that time? Let’s return to the source of awakening:
Response: “Were not our hearts burning within us” (Luke 24:32)?
If you read the context of this verse carefully, you will see that the disciples and those around them are paralysed by doubt (v. 11); overcome with sadness (v. 17); disappointed (v.21); slow to believe! We are the same sometimes: disappointed in others, discouraged by a lack of results, we doubt sometimes – it happens to me too!
- Instead of being blind, their minds are opened (v. 45)
- Instead of doubting, they come to understand the Scriptures (v. 45)
- Instead of being discouraged, fearful and self-centred, they show zeal: “they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (v. 52)
What made this transformation possible?
- Jesus approaches them (v.15). The same Jesus approaches you when you read these lines, he wants to speak to you.
- Jesus is interested in them, their worries and the state of their soul (v. 17).
Jesus says to us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Jesus walks alongside them (Luke 24:15). Jesus walks alongside us. He was tempted and he suffered so he can empathise with us and help us (Hebrews 2:18). What great news! He doesn’t abandon us, he gives us a counselor, his Spirit, strength: with us and in us forever (John 14:16-17)!
- Jesus tells them they need to listen (Luke 24:25). Jesus doesn’t “beat around the bush” but gets straight to the point and speaks the truth: “How foolish you are, and slow to believe…” Today God’s Spirit speaks to us as it did in the churches of Revelation: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first… Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:4, 7). Jesus wants to speak to you through his Word. What is he saying?
- Jesus explains the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). This is the central point of the text, the spark which fans the flame in our hearts: the Word of God, written, announced, preached, taught. The teachings of Jesus are true throughout the Scriptures (v. 27), they are Christocentric (Christ in the centre) “that is written about me” (v. 44), with theological content: death, resurrection, repentance, forgiveness (v. 46-47); geographical reach extending to “all the nations” (v. 47); and power (v.49).
The consequences? Amazement (Luke 24:41), understanding the Scriptures (v. 45), power from on high to proclaim the message (v. 49), great joy (v. 52) and a praising spirit (v.53).
Whether martyr disciples like Tertuallian, John Chrysostom, Saint Augustine, John Huss, John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Knox (Scottish reformer), Zwingli, Theodore Beza, Menno Simons, Oliver Cromwell, George Fox, John Bunyan… or men of awakening like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, William and Catherine Booth (founders of the Salvation Army), César Malan, Robert Haldane, Felix Neff, Alexandre Vinet, Adolphe Monod, Ruben Saillens, C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, George Verwer… All these men and women had one thing in common: they had (or have) fire: a fire which burns within them! If you don’t know some of these people, take an interest in their lives and read their biography.
Take two or three minutes just now to stop and draw close to Jesus. Ask him to speak to you plainly, listen to his Word, open your large heart and let his Word touch, warm, transform and enflame it! This is my prayer for everyone reading these lines: that Jesus touches your heart right now so that it burns for him!