“Revival is just the life of the Lord Jesus poured into human hearts.” —Roy Hession
“Revival is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life.” —J.I. Packer
“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)
I stood in a church service and listened to the testimonies of brokenhearted saints sharing how God had met them in a fresh way. It was thrilling! Openness led to brokenness and brokenness led to oneness. People were praying, weeping, sharing, getting right with one another, and rejoicing. After the meeting a little boy came and told me how he had trusted Christ to save him. It sure is good to be in town when God is!
Is the day of great spiritual experience a thing of the past? Are the times of divine visitation relegated to the pages of history, as some propose? Is revival still possible? The answers to these questions are not only relevant, they are essential if we are to see revival in our day.
Without question God has moved in momentous and powerful ways throughout history. Many of us have been tremendously encouraged and inspired by reading these magnificent accounts. However, our purpose here is not merely to give a history lesson on this subject. There is a remnant who are not interested in reading history, but in making it. Let me say unequivocally— REVIVAL IS POSSIBLE in our day!
One of the great deterrents to revival in our time is religious pessimism. The blight of fatalism has stripped multitudes of any hope that God might, again, do great things. Defeatism has captured the larger part of Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism. Entire theological schemes have been devised that rob God’s people of anticipation for a better day. These “air-tight systems” explain away the potential for any supernatural interruptions.
One of the greatest myths ever foisted on the end-time saints is that we are doomed to mediocrity because we are living in a predetermined age of “lukewarmness.”
The seven letters contained in chapters two and three of Revelation were written to the actual churches in Asia Minor. These were local assemblies consisting of baptized believers, not figurative or imaginary symbols. The problems addressed in these letters were first-century concerns, and all of these problems have been present in every century since. The Lord never implied that the Laodiceans were “O.K.” because they prefigured the church prior to Christ’s return. He never encouraged them in modeling “lukewarmness” as role models for the enlightenment of future generations. Not once is it even remotely intimated that they were destined to be like Goldilocks’ porridge, neither cold nor hot. In no uncertain terms, He commanded them to “REPENT!”
If you really believe that God has predestinated us to spiritual “lukewarmness,” then you will quietly accommodate yourself to the “will of God” by conforming to the laid back, comatose religion that is so prevalent today.
A Bible college graduate once related the story of how his professor told students preparing for the pastorate that they “should not expect too much.” This misguided teacher reasoned that God is not working today like He used to; therefore, the soon-to-be pastors should anticipate only “five or six conversions a year.” Another highly respected leader commented how the church in America was “right on track.” He went on to explain that these are the last days and the great falling away is upon us. He surmised that, since we are living during this foreordained period of apostasy, the low state of spiritual affairs is to be expected and accepted as normal. One evangelist said, “It’s impossible to have revival today. About the best you can hope for is to see a few souls saved.” All these men have adopted a theology of defeat that has hamstrung their faith and robbed them of the ability to pray and believe that God will do “great things.”
Can you honestly accuse God of making the Laodiceans lukewarm in order to typecast a future age? If blasphemy consists of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, then what would you call it when one assigns the work of Satan to God? Is it possible that a theology of despair has been formulated to justify our spiritual dullness?
Light in the Darkness
I too believe we are living in days of apostasy. The difference is that I don’t believe Christ-loving, Christ-honoring, Christ-exalting churches are part of the apostasy! Sure, the mainline denominations have forsaken Truth, endorsed sodomy, and taken positions adamantly opposed to God’s moral standards. Of course, a huge segment of contemporary Christianity has repudiated God’s command of holiness. Yes, multitudes are going down the tubes of compromise, but we don’t have to join them. Wake up, man! The true Church came into existence with a burst of glory, and faithful churches and Christians can go out in a blaze.
Seasons of refreshing have come to God’s people down through the ages. The darkness of night has been dispelled time and time again as the light of God has burst onto the scene. Just because the tide is out doesn’t mean we have to content ourselves with the desert! We must reject the fatalistic tendencies that many of us have been taught our entire lives.
Listen to what one correspondent wrote about the conditions in Wales prior to the 1904 revival, “If I had been asked a month ago whether a revival was probable in Wales, I should have answered no. It seemed to me that the higher criticism had wrecked the ordinary machinery of a revival and that until theology had been reshaped, nothing would be done to disturb the prevailing apathy.” However, God came down in Wales despite the conditions.
Hardly anyone would deny that God is sovereign in where He bestows the sacred flame. But who would dare deny that Israel limited God through their unbelief?
Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, either way you are right.” And whether you believe God can send revival, or God can’t, either way you are right! Personal revival, inter-personal revival, and local church revival are all gracious possibilities because our God still responds to humility, faith, prayer, and obedience.
Jonathan Goforth, who saw God work miraculously in China, said, “We may be sure that, where there is a lack of the fullness of God, it is ever due to man’s lack of faith and obedience. If God the Holy Spirit is not glorifying Jesus Christ in the world today, as at Pentecost, it is we who are to blame. After all, what is revival but simply the Spirit of God fully controlling in the surrendered life? It must always be possible, then, when man yields. The sin of unyieldedness, alone, can keep us from revival.”
God has not permanently closed the windows of heaven. Neither has He put a yearning and burning in our hearts to mock us. Let the naysayers and fatalists console themselves in their skepticism. But as for you and me, let’s believe God for great and mighty things!
Questions to Ponder
- Do you believe great revivals are only events of the past?
- True or False? Revival is possible in our day.
- What is perhaps the biggest death knell to revival?
- What is one of the greatest myths foisted on end-time saints?
- True or False. The Lord implied that the Laodiceans were okay because they prefigured the church prior to Christ’s return.
- Do you believe God has predestinated His church to spiritual lukewarmness?
- Has God sent seasons of refreshing to His people down through the ages?
- True or False? God still responds to humility, faith, prayer, and obedience.
- Has God closed the windows of heaven?
This chapter is from “Revival In Our Time – Outside the Box—Inside the Book!” by Harold Vaughan.