Survival or Revival?

by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio)

Matthew 18:14-21

Introduction: Spiritual power is based upon God's authority, not man's formality. Someone has said that a rut is a grave with both ends knocked out of it. Are you in a rut? Is your church in a rut? Then consider the following:

1. The Affliction (18:14-16)

This man was afflicted with demons and disease. According to the commission Christ give to his apostles in Matthew 10:1 they should have been able to deal with the situation themselves. They had been authorized to do so. The text says "they could not cure him." Why???

2. The Exclamation (18:17)

The Lord rebukes His apostles in very moving terms. This was not a mere correction but an impassioned upbraiding of these men for not doing what they had already been authorized to do. In essence, the apostles had everything they needed to do the job but it was not being done. How large is the gap between what you could do and what you are doing?

3. The Expulsion (18:18)

Now the Lord does for the apostles what they should have been able to do for themselves. Remember that even when we do not do our job, the Lord will do His!

4. The Question (18:19)

"Why could not we cast him out?" They had done it before. They knew they had the authority to do it. What was different? Why the lack of power in their ministry?

5. The Explanation (18:20)

"Because of your unbelief." It is not the world's fault but the fault is laid at the feet of the church. Of course the Lord goes on to say that a small amount of faith can accomplish great tasks. Is there a mountain in your way? Then it comes down to the issue of whether your God is bigger than your mountain. Of course He is but do YOU believe it?

6. The Solution (18:21)

"This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Authority must always be coupled with humility. When we find ourselves simply going through the motions of playing church (formality) but nothing of eternal good is happening then it's time to pray (and fast).

When the work of God becomes as important to us as it is to the Lord then we can get beyond survival and move to revival.

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