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 Five Marks Of A Revived Believer by Richard Owen Roberts

Five Marks Of A Revived Believer
By Richard Owen Roberts

The following is edited from a message[, "Lord, I Agree"] given at the Heart-Cry for Revival Conference in April 2013 at The Cove, Asheville, North Carolina U.S.A. Used by permission.

Scripture Reading: The Book of Jude

What is on my heart is to take the remarkable Book of Jude, and to draw out of it five articles of explicit agreement between the covenant-keeping God and the revived believer. I will focus upon verses twelve and thirteen, but first I will provide a brief overview of the Epistle.

The Book of Jude was written by a half-brother of Jesus Christ. He does not mention this, I believe simply because he is too humble to make a claim like that. His book is so up-to-date, so urgent, and so relevant that it could have been written by the Lord this morning.

Jude has an analytical mind. In his brief letter there are not less than thirteen times when he puts three things together in combination. Knowing this is an immense help when studying this book. Let me show you more adequately what I mean when I speak of these combinations of three.

In verse one he writes, "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are [1] the called, [2] beloved in God the Father, and [3] kept for Jesus Christ." In verse two he writes, "May [1] mercy and [2] peace and [3] love be multiplied to you." In verses three and four he shares that though he made every effort to write about our common salvation, he felt the necessity to write "appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those [1] who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, [2]ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and [3] deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

Unsaved Ministers

There is something wrong in many of us who are ready to acknowledge that perhaps seventy percent or more of all professed Christians in evangelical churches are as lost as the devil himself, and then to pretend that one hundred percent of ministers are Christian. There has to be some correlation between unsaved people and unsaved clergy. If that seems too strong, it is not as strong as Jude. He is writing this letter to the church because they have taken in unaware a group of leaders who were long beforehand marked out for condemnation (v. 4). It appears to me there are men in ministry today who are long beforehand marked out for condemnation. They meet the other two requirements as well. For example, Jude writes they are "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness." Think of how many pastors you have heard of, some pastoring very large churches, caught in adultery. I have read that sixty percent of all evangelical pastors are addicted to internet pornography. I hope that is not true. But suppose that instead of sixty percent it is only thirty percent, or fifteen percent. Does that make you feel good? These men deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. You can understand readily that Jude is under an incredible spiritual burden because the church has been betrayed by false leaders. A great deal of what occurs in the Epistle is because of these false leaders.

Root Sins

In verses five through seven we have another combination of three: 1) Israel, 2) angels and 3) Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse five is about Israel – "I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." Verse six is about angels – "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." Verse seven is about Sodom and Gomorrah – "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." Verse eight includes another combination of three, the same three as in verses five through seven, except in reverse order. "Yet in the same manner these men also by dreaming, [1] defile the flesh, and [2] reject authority, and [3] revile angelic majesties."

What we have in these four verses (vv. 5-8) is an immensely important and helpful statement about one of the most critical issues affecting the church in the world today – the issue of root sins. Most of the focus in what little biblical preaching there is today is upon the fruit of sin. The problem of millions who think they are Christians is the only repentance they know is repentance of the fruit of sin; they never come to repentance of the roots. I must ask you, do you know the difference between repenting of the fruit of sin and repenting of the roots of sin?

Three root sins are singled out here: 1) unbelief – the root sin of Israel; 2) rebellion – the root sin of the fallen angels; and 3) pride – the root sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. I ask again, have you dealt with the roots of sin in your life? Let me carry it beyond you. I trust that you have a holy passion to win the lost to Christ. But you do not really help anybody if you lead them to repent of the fruit of sin without dealing with the roots, because as long as the roots are in place, additional fruit will keep appearing.

We need to take hold of this basic biblical concept of these roots of sin – unbelief, rebellion and pride. For example, I hope you understand that the root of sexual impurity in every form is pride. The homosexual says, "There is nobody in all of the world big enough to tell me how I can use my own body." The same is true with the adulterer and the fornicator. Whatever the sexual sin is, at its root is pride.

Three Categories of Sinners

In verses twenty-two and twenty-three, Jude writes, "And [1] have mercy on some, who are doubting; [2] save others, snatching them out of the fire; and [3] on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." There are three great categories of sinners – the doubters, the contaminated and the contaminators. At the heart of effective soul-winning is discernment – knowing the person to whom you are talking. There was a time in our society when doubters were prevalent. In all my early years of preaching, virtually everybody I preached to knew the basic truths of Christianity, but doubted. You do not meet very many doubters today. What we have today is a vast array of people who have been drawn into the contamination of vile sin. Then we have the third category – the contaminators – and it is a growing number. We now place contaminators in prominent political positions – men who are sold out to bring contamination upon the nation and the world. They are persons who by their very nature are not only evil themselves, but spread evil as far and wide as they know how. They have no sense of right or wrong, and do not even know what they are doing in most cases.

I call your attention to just one more portion before we go to our main text. In verse sixteen, Jude writes that these men "are [1] grumblers, finding fault, [2] following after their own lusts, they speak arrogantly, [3] flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." There is a lot of this going on in the pulpit. In order to gain an advantage there are those who are always pouring out compliments, making you feel good about yourself.

Five Similitudes of Nature

Well, the heart of all of this I hope is clear to you. Jude, though he made every effort to write a pleasant epistle on the common salvation (v. 3), is prevented from doing so because of the false leaders in the church. Is that not after all what true preaching and true gospel writing are – letting God’s heart affect your heart to the point that God’s heart passes through your heart and touches the hearts of those who listen or who read?

But now, verses twelve and thirteen: "These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever." I have been stressing these combinations of three, but what we have in these verses is a combination of five similitudes of nature: 1) reefs, 2) clouds, 3) trees, 4) waves, 5) stars. (Some translations miss this combination, and translate the word for "reefs" as "spots" or "blemishes.")

Now obviously in the context of Jude, these similitudes are couched in negative language. Jude is describing what men are, not what they should be. Jude is saying these men are not charted reefs, but hidden reefs; not moisture-bearing clouds, but dry clouds; not fruit-bearing trees, but fruitless trees; not gentle rolling waves of the ocean, but wild, raging waves; not fixed stars, but wandering stars.

But let us not look at them from a negative standpoint. It is perfectly acceptable to look at them from a positive perspective. As stated earlier, it is on my heart in choosing this passage to give you five principles for a revived believer. So I now ask you to envision yourself in five ways. Envision yourself as a reef. Envision yourself as a cloud. Envision yourself as a tree. Envision yourself as a wave. And envision yourself as a star.

Think very firmly about yourself. We are not concerned about condemning our past, but about confirming our future for the glory of God. What if you were to enter into explicit agreement with God to be a charted reef, a moisture-laden cloud, a tree heavily laden with fruit, a gentle wave and a fixed star? You may already be thinking that you really want to be the person God has called you to be. The truth is, God makes it possible for us to fulfill His calling in our lives. The men in Jude’s letter failed in all these things, not because of Christ’s inadequacy, but because they were truly unbelievers. By faith and by the provision of the Lord Jesus Christ we can live a revived life.

Charted Reefs

So let us consider each of these five similitudes of nature. These men were "hidden reefs." Ask yourself, "Am I a hidden reef or a charted reef?" Many of the finest natural harbors in the world are created by charted reefs. God designed you and sent Jesus to redeem you from your sin and to make you part of His family in order that you might be a charted reef. I hope that by the grace of God, others in my world can draw the ship of their lives up next to the charted reef of my life and know perfectly well they are safe. Do we not all want to be able to say to others, "Follow me as I follow Christ"? We do not want anybody to have the bottom of the ship of his (or her) life ripped out because he sailed across the uncharted reef of our lives. So I ask again, "Are you a charted reef?" Does your life make a safe harbor for others in your world to draw near and anchor beside the ship of your life?

I am not talking about human skill or innate ability. I am talking about the power of Jesus Christ to take an uncharted reef that has caused many a soul to be ruined, and to make it a charted reef – a life that is never out of place, and never taking anyone by surprise because of a season of backsliding. So enter into an explicit agreement with God that by the grace and power of Jesus Christ you will from now on, without any exception, be a charted reef, so that any sailor in all the world sailing on the seas of life can know where there is a safe harbor.

Moisture-laden Clouds

The men in Jude’s epistle were as clouds without water, carried along by winds. Have you ever gone to church in desperate need of a word from the Lord, and received only lousy chaff? Have you ever given out chaff in your Sunday School class or in your preaching or personal witness? Were you ever a dry cloud?

We are living in a world in which there is incredible thirst. Now it is not known usually to the person what it is they actually thirst for, so they chase after entertainment, pleasure, sex, money, prestige and recognition. But deep down inside what they are longing for is an authentic word from God.

We need to enter into explicit agreement with God that we will never tolerate another day in our lives in which we are a dry cloud. By God’s grace we need to live in such a way that anyone who comes under the cloud of our lives will be rained upon with the fresh graces of Jesus Christ. We need to be so saturated with Christ that when others come near us, they get all wet with that which is truly precious.

This does not come automatically, but as the result of an agreement with God that from now on, through the grace and power of Christ, your life will be a heavy-laden cloud dripping fresh graces from the mercies of God upon all who come under the cloud of your life. Remember the incident in the Old Testament when the prophet of God sent his servant to see if he could spot a cloud? The first six times the servant saw nothing, but the seventh time he reported, "Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea" (1 Kgs. 18:43-44). And the prophet said that a downpour was on the way. Why should not our lives be so laden with the fresh moisture of God’s grace that people know when they come near us they are going to get drenched?

Fruit-bearing Trees

The men Jude writes of were barren trees. Jesus spoke strongly about barren trees (Matt. 7:19; Luke 13:6-9). John the Baptist said that the tree that does not bear fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10).

God is inviting you to be a fruit-bearing tree. To be so does not require that you be educated or have a long experience as a Christian. The only requirement of being a tree constantly bearing fruit is an agreement with the Lord that from now on the power of Christ will work in you so that you are perpetually bearing fruit in season.

Gentle Rolling Waves

I recall a time when I was so weary I could hardly lift my feet, and a friend made it possible for my wife and I to spend some time in a hotel on the ocean front. When we arrived, we put our bags down, went to the beach and sat on the shore as the waves were rolling in and out, and in and out. After a few minutes I said to my wife, "Well, I’m refreshed, let’s get to work!" There is something wonderful about the gentle rolling waves.

But another time, when we visited this same place, there had been one of those terrible storms. The waves were up over the power lines on the ocean boulevard. The first three floors of the hotel were washed out. Now how would you like to take a vacation sitting on the shore with waves thirty-six feet over your head?

Jude says of the men in his letter that they are "wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam." Everywhere we look in our country we see these wild, raging waves of the sea in the churches. No wonder churches are being vacated rapidly. No wonder so few lost people are willing to pay attention to the claims of Christianity. Have you ever entered into explicit agreement with God through the power of Jesus Christ to be a gentle rolling wave so that others in your world can sit down beside you and know profoundly the peace of God?

Fixed Stars

We are also to be fixed stars, not the wandering stars that Jude describes for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. We are to be fixed stars not in the sense of importance or popularity, but in the sense that we are where God put us. I like to hope that anybody in all my world can find out where I am and know where they need to be. They can take a bearing from my life. Fixed stars are a source of wonderful good; wandering stars are a source of untold damage.

By God’s grace, years ago I entered into explicit agreement with God to be a charted reef, a moisture-laden cloud, a fruit-bearing tree, a gentle rolling wave, and a fixed star. I am not making a boast, and I am not saying that it has happened as fully as it ought. But I am saying that agreement is in place. I am not looking for praise, and I am not trying to make followers. All I desire is to be the man that God called me to be and has made possible for me to be by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And I am urging you to enter into explicit agreement with God to be a charted reef, a moisture-laden cloud, a tree full of fruit, a gentle rolling wave, and a fixed star.


The full message is available at Sammy Tippit Ministries here:

Edit: Added more info

 2013/10/20 22:07Profile

Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 3426
This world is not my home anymore.

 Re: Five Marks Of A Revived Believer by Richard Owen Roberts

I don't mean anything by this question, perhaps it was just Owens wording that has confused me but I was wondering what the difference is between a "revived" believer and just a regular believer in Christ.

God bless,


 2013/10/20 22:42Profile

Joined: 2009/11/7
Posts: 1488

 Re: Authentic conversion

Hi Lisa,

My impression is that revived refers to a truly born again individual as approsed to a cultural Christian or one who simply prayed the sinner's prayer but bears no good fruit. I don't know the full context of his statement either as the quote at the beginning says that it is an edited and shortened version of a message he gave which may explain the absence of a fuller description. I was left wondering on several points as I read it because there were large gaps in the arguments presented so the wording felt off without the right context. I'll see if I can locate the message the Heart Cry Missions website and provide a link.

Here are the Richard Owen Roberts messages on Sermon Index

EDIT: Added link to other sermons.

 2013/10/21 4:36Profile

Joined: 2009/11/7
Posts: 1488

 Re: Message

You can get the whole message at this address for $0.99

Previous revival messages from 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 Heart-Cry Revival conferences are available free and are located here:

 2013/10/21 13:37Profile

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