This discussion was inspired by, yes, our morning coffee, but more specifically, the writings we discussed. Bethany shared two lines from a book on Prayer by John Bunyan, and we read a chapter from Vance Havner’s book, Living In Kingdom Come! The lines from Bunyan are these: “Consider the work of your generation,” and “Count to run with the foremost therein.”
While these lines should have great meaning for every proclaiming Christian, they had particular significance to us. We at Pursuit of Character pray, strive, and discuss everyday how we are to meet our obligation to “Go Out,” to “Make Disciples,” and to lead a “Repentance.” (“Revival” is actually an Old Testament Jewish word, not New Testament. In the New Testament, the word used is “Repent.”) As you know by now from The Hope Series, the website, and obviously this discussion, we look to the work of previous generations for insight. When we look for the foremost in those generations, we are not looking for the most popular or publicized, but those whose work stayed truest to Christ’s. These are the foremost Bunyan is referring to. Often, this meant they were either unpopular or hidden by history.
For example, there is Robert Boyle, (see the back of Forgotten Hope for his summary bio) who learned all the original languages of the Bible and then had it translated to send to “the Americas” for distribution. This work continued after his death because of provisions made in his will. David M’Clure participated in America’s first Freedom Movement, wrote and gave a farewell sermon for George Washington at his passing, and gave a New Year’s Sermon to some of America’s leaders in the worst of the Yellow Fever epidemic. Then there is John Bunyan, who people remember as the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, which has been outsold only by the Bible. How has he been hidden? Fewer every day know of this great work, but almost no one knows that he wrote it in prison because he was preaching unapproved and unlicensed by the crown, or that his works consist of many more valuable sermons and writings, including the one we referenced, Prayer.
This was helpful to us, because in this technological generation, the appearance of being foremost is too easily achieved. But this is a status of popularity, not work. So, we ask, “How do we work as ‘good and faithful servants’ in this ungodly world?” The first few steps we are already doing: pray, strive in, and discuss God’s instruction…
This might be a good time to point out that while I am using the application in our lives as the working example, the intent is for you to pull out “POC” and insert “your name here,” so to speak…
But then what? How do we “Go Out”? What does “Living in Kingdom Come” look like? The problem with answering these questions is that, too often, we look back at previous generations and then conclude the current one is just hopeless. But Bunyan makes clear this is the wrong approach! Look back, yes, as we do, for inspiration and knowledge, but also “Consider” this generation for the work to be done. We’ve read from many generations and can tell you that they all felt and had the Spirit show them the growing depravity of their generation. Then, each rose up from their knees to “run with the foremost” of their generation. No, not as a contest against peers or to be seen, but to “run the race to win,” as Paul taught in his generation and W.P. Nicholson taught in his nearly two thousand years later.
So, we analyze our generation for better or mostly worse. We see, as many do, that we are nearing, if not in, the last generation. We made a friend in our Raising The Church events this year who says this generation is in the Laodicean age, a sentiment held, if not started, by Havner in his generation. Regardless of how you define it, the Instruction Manual tells us that in that time we still have work to do. What was Christ’s last instruction to His Church, His Congregation, His People? Was it, “Go out and make disciples”? Actually, it was, “Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore, be earnest and Repent.” “Repent (or else),” this He said to “the church of Laodicea,” or as John the Baptist said in his generation, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
There is no doubt that the world and the churches of this generation are defined in Revelations 3:14-21. But Havner also thought that there were a “few” in this generation who fulfilled the definition given in Revelations 3:7-13, the Philadelphians. To these Christ says, “I have placed before you an open door…you have only a little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name.”
So, we “Christians,” those Living in Kingdom Come, consider that we live in a generation and world growing ever more hostile toward us, and we Go Out. Though we are of little strength, we rise from our knees, keep His Word, embrace His Name, and look for the few who are drowning in the sea of Laodicea and throw them a lifeline!
This is the point where you usually ask, “But I thought this was named, ‘The Ground Shall Be Broken?’” Exactly… Part 2!
This morning, the chapter we discussed from Havner’s book was titled, “Earthquakes.” He pointed out that the Manual references many times when the power of God moved and the earth shook. Christ’s death, Christ’s resurrection, the Apostles’ anointing, etc. It made me think of a study preparing for the chapter in Forged Hope, “Burn Your Plow.” In the Old Testament, God instructs us to break up the fallow ground and also on the purpose for doing so. Webster’s 1828 defines the adjective “Fallow” as, “uncultivated or neglected,” and defines the verb “Fallow” as, “To plow, harrow and break land without seeding it, for the purpose of destroying weeds and insects…” Referring to these Old Testament instructions, we are instructed in the New Testament to sow His seeds in good ground. Ground that is not broken will not sprout seeds well and will be full of weeds that choke them out.
Neglected or unattended ground must be plowed (broken) and cultivated so that seeds that are sown there will not only sprout but will grow healthy roots, strong stems, and valued fruit. Even scientists agree that when the earth was formed, it quaked. Or, as we Christians might say, it broke under God’s Creative power. When it was re-Created and “the fountains of the great deep burst forth” it had obviously broken again. And the Manual says that when this current earth reaches its end, “peals of thunder, and rumblings, and flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” will occur. Every time God’s power is unleashed in the physical world to Create change, the ground breaks.
Christ always used physical world examples to illustrate the works and wonders of the spiritual world. This tells us that every time Christ does His spiritual work in this world, the physical obstacle must be broken, the hardened and unproductive ground fallowed (plowed). As we also showed in Forged Hope, the Hardened Heart must be broken, the self-will broken, the “idols” in our lives broken. All that is not God must be broken and discarded for His seed to enter and grow to maturity.
As someone who grew up in farm country with a high clay content in the ground, I can tell you breaking hardened ground takes both patience and stamina. I can also tell you from experience breaking a hardened heart can make that feel like breaking glass by comparison. But Christ didn’t just send us Out; He instructed us to endure and persevere in our quest to find and deliver the lost.
What is the lesson of Part 1 and Part 2 when they are put together? Run with the foremost and The Ground Shall Be Broken! While the battlefield has been the same since time began, the battles vary with each generation. However, the time of battles is coming to an end. So, consider your generation, grab your armor, and break some ground! If you turn and look beside you, you will find us at Pursuit of Character right there.
Matthew 25:23, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Matthew 28:19, Revelation 3, Matthew 3:2, Hosea 10:12, Jeremiah 4:3, Luke 8:4-15, Genesis 1:9, Genesis 7:11, Revelation 8:5, John 12:48
Prayer by John Bunyan; Messages on Revival and Living in Kingdom Come by Vance Havner
© Scott A Caughel 11/28/2022