Revival? Yes!

By the time this reaches your inbox, you will likely have heard of a movement that many are calling “revival.” I am not sure where it started or even if it is really “revival,” but I first heard about it last week when there had been a seven- or eight-day prayer meeting, apparently spontaneous, on the campus of Asbury University/Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, a small town near Lexington. Interestingly, a revival occurred on that campus in 1970. The internet had not yet been invented, so word of it was not as quickly and widely published while it was occurring, but historians have noted it and other movements that have been, in the estimation of observers, revivals. Another example is the “Brownsville Revival,” which started in about 1995 in Pensacola, Florida, and apparently continued to some degree until 2000. About 200,000 decisions for Christ were recorded during that protracted spiritual movement, which some claim is the most significant local-church revival in American history. More than 100 missionaries were sent out from the church that spawned and “housed” it.

Any pastor worth his salt, and most every believer, has prayed that God would send America another “Great Awakening,” or revival. My sermon text at Thompson Road Baptist Church on Sunday, November 14, 2018, was Psalm 138:7: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” The title of the message was “Revival? Yes!” And the simple outline was (1) Revival, the Need, Ubiquitous; (2) Revival, the Solution, Universal; (3) Revival, the Deliverance, Unconditional. The Need: “There is trouble on every hand (personal, pervasive, pressing); The Deliverance: “Thy right hand shall save me (powerful, personal, perfect); The Solution (personal repentance, spiritual renewal). It was and is a message that says God can, does, and will revive His people at His will, in His time, at His place, through His people who are praying.

The late Curtis Hutson—pastor, editor of the Sword of the Lord, and evangelist—said, “The church does not need new members as much as it needs members made new.” Vance Havner weighed in with this wisdom: “We hear much about revival these days, but the heart of revival is the Lordship of Christ. A mere emotional upheaval, a spurt of religious excitement, is not revival. When Christians become convicted of rebellion against the rule of Christ in their lives, confess their sins, renounce self, take the cross and let Jesus have the first and last word in everything, that is revival by whatever name you call it.”

The need is ubiquitous, and the solution is universal in time and truth. Jonathan Edwards, a pastor and preacher in America’s colonial era, listed some distinguishing evidences of a genuine work of the Spirit of God: (1) Christ is exalted as the Son of God and Savior of men; (2) the kingdom of Satan, which encourages sin and worldly lusts, is opposed; (3) there is a greater regard for the Holy Scriptures; (4) there is an emphasis upon the spirit of truth as opposed to error; and (5) a new love for God and man is manifested. The key to authentic revival, Edwards admonished, was the fruit that it produced; and in a concluding section, Edwards warned his readers not to sin against the Holy Ghost by rejecting that which is the Spirit of God. (copied)

In the fall of 2004, a survey by Barna Group found that half the U.S. population acknowledged there were things that needed to be corrected in their lives. Topping the list was the desire to be more involved in church life. Then, second, the need to be more devoted to spiritual things. Surveying American life almost 20 years later, it seems that these acknowledgements did not significantly change Americans’ behavior, spiritually. Christians have not impacted our cities, neighborhoods, and churches in a way that there are, today, more vibrant Christians and more revived churches.

We need revival. And revival, through personal repentance and spiritual renewal, is still possible through the sovereign grace and Holy Spirit guidance of God—at any time, in any place, and to any people He so chooses. I had the privilege of pastoring three local, New Testament churches for a total about 50 years. It has also been a pleasure and unspeakable source of spiritual fulfillment to have been involved in, and with, pastors’ fellowships, mission endeavors, and Christian educational movements throughout these years of ministry God has given to me.  With that backdrop, here is how I see our greatest need for another great awakening or revival, whether city-wide, local-church, or national—whichever God our Lord would graciously choose:

  •  A deep sense of awareness of God’s person and presence; the Lordship of His Son and magnification of His name above all, and our total dependence upon the sovereign working of His Holy Spirit as the only person with power to give fresh winds of His moving in our midst;
  • Confession of sin, personal and professional. Pastors and leaders have too often allowed themselves to harbor sin that they, in their preaching, exhort their hearers to abandon. Honesty and humility are desperately needed, beginning in pulpits with preachers;
  • A rethinking of success in ministry and of what pleases God most. For too long, we have judged success by material and physical rather than spiritual measurements.
  • We need to ask God to give us His Spirit in evaluating men, missions, ministries;
  • We need to repent of our ongoing and embarrassing love affair with the world;
  • It should grieve us that we have allowed ourselves to become so spiritually full of pride that we would, if we could, call down fire from heaven on another sincerely, godly man or ministry that does not cross the “t’s” or dot the “i’s” just like we do.

I could add more but, for space, I am going to wrap this up, believing and hoping that I have given every reader enough to “chew on” spiritually. What about the Asbury prayer meeting?  I do so hope, trust, and pray it is of God and that it will spread across America. Revival? Yes!

O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years….” (Habakkuk 3:2)

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