I have revival on my mind during this Easter season--the resurrected life of Christ manifested in our lives, in the Church, and resulting in worldwide missions! With all of the church growth books and emphases, user friendly or visitor friendly churches, demographic studies, etc., my spirit yearns for a heaven-sent, cross-centered, God-honoring, Spirit-inspired, and Word based revival--dead or lukewarm bones raised to become the living and dangerous Army of God!! I suppose in the 20th century we must (and should) make adjustments to the new mentality of today's generation with innovative means to reach, win, train, and send.
My spirit, however, is stirred that we are sometimes too dependent upon technology, novel methods, new age mentality, and man-centered approaches to our discipleship mandate of evangelism and training. There is no substitute for a man or woman whose heart is on fire with a passion for God, full of the love of Christ and His Spirit, and overflowing with the love of the Lord to this lost and dying world! This is my biggest challenge. Lord, help us all!!
The question is: When is revival needed, and if so, is it relegated to God's sovereignty as to when it comes? The Scriptures give to us a clear mandate that wholehearted repentance of sin and obedience to the Lord will result in His divine action upon man with eternal results (Joel 2; Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; II Kings 22;23; II Chron. 34;35; 14:2-5; 15:1-14). When the conditions for revival are met, God chooses to move (II Chron. 7:13,14).
During the recent call for a national "Solemn Assembly" by our movement, some of us in the missionary community in Brussels responded with our own call to repentance and holiness. I was asked to speak at the opening three-day meeting and wrote an article to express my feelings about the need for revival. It follows:
The "When" of Revival
When we forsake the assembling of ourselves together, WNR!
When our prayer life is used mainly for emergencies and not for intimacy with God, WNR!
When we seek the provision of God and not the face of God, WNR!
When we ignore the clear teachings of Scripture and substitute them with rationalizations for disobedience, WNR!
When our spiritual joy is gone and we substitute its lack with worldly pleasures and even religious activities, WNR!
When worldly amusements have more place and time in our hearts and lives than the spiritual realities of Christ and His Kingdom, WNR!
When we replace obedience to Christ and the Word of God with worship, religious activities, or majority opinions, WNR!
When God calls "bitter envying and strife" in the church as "earthly, sensual, and demonic," and we call it "Church politics," WNR!
When we are lukewarm in our spirits and loveless in our relationships, WNR!
When we seek the praise and approval of men rather than from the Lord, WNR!
When we remove the old landmarks of faith and practice to accommodate our lifestyle to that of this generation, WNR!
When we cease to be moved by the message of the Cross and refuse to die on it, WNR!
When the "lost" are used as a means to benefit ourselves, WNR!
When technology replaces the burning and passionate hearts of men and women, WNR!
When we cannot hear the tender voice of the Shepherd, WNR!
When we are filled with our own ways and our words reveal the emptiness of our hearts, WNR!
When missions becomes a program rather than a passionate overflow of our love to God and to this world, WNR!
When we turn our hearts and ears from hearing the Word of God, WNR!
When we encourage by promotion or neglect a party spirit and disunity through selective fellowship with Christ's Church, WNR!
When we try to accomplish spiritual results through carnal means, WNR!
When we judge our brother by his splinter while we carry beams in our own eyes, WNR!
When we pride ourselves in material gain, position, accomplishments, or the plaudits of men, WNR!
When the salt of our lives has lost its saltiness, so that no difference is made in our relationships in the world, WNR!
When our conscience of sin has been dulled by misuse or non-use, WNR!
When we live with a root of bitterness and unforgiveness with our brethren, WNR!
When we lose respect for sacred things and treat them as common, WNR!
When our hearts are filled with unbelief in the Lord and the promises of God, WNR!
When our complacency and loss of discernment for the things of the Spirit are evident by our life-styles, WNR!
When our checkbooks reveal values that reflect self-centeredness and self-indulgence, WNR!
When our opinions and theological positions or denominations are more important than the clear teaching of the Scriptures, WNR!
When being Spirit-filled means that we speak in tongues only without the accompanying fruit and power of the Spirit, WNR!
When true worship is a rare jewel in our private lives, WNR!
When we are sanctimonious but not sanctified, moral without being holy, and religious without being spiritual, WNR!
When the Bible remains unopened most of the week, except for Sundays, WNR!
When the Church is cluttered with program without the priority purpose of missions, WNR!
When the holy fear of God in the Church has been replaced by frivolity and feasting, WNR!
When the agony for souls and groanings cannot be heard in the Church, WNR!
When the prayer meeting is not central in the heart of the believer and the Church, WNR!
When the enemy has sowed tares while the Church sleeps, WNR!
When this our third generation has not yet experienced a heaven-sent sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit, WNR!
When the social fabric of our society is demoralized and demonized and we have no pain or grief, WNR!
When our tears cease to flow and our heart is hardened to spiritual realities, WNR!
When we have forsaken the "Living Waters" for the stagnant and broken cisterns of the world, WNR!
When we have lost the sense of urgency in Christ's return, WNR!
When we have rested in our past laurels and experiences without having a present, passionate, prioritized, and preeminent love to God, WE NEED REVIVAL NOW!!
James Burns, writing in Revival: Their Laws and Leaders, said in 1909 (in response to the question, "Do we want revival...really?"), "To the Church, a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of unworthiness, and an open humiliating confession of sin on the part of her ministers and people. It is not the easy and glorious thing that many think it to be, who imagine it to fill the pews and reinstate the Church in power and authority. It comes to scorch before it heals; it comes to condemn ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the Cross, and to call them to full renunciation, to an evangelical poverty and to a deep and daily consecration. That is why a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the Church. Because it says nothing to them of power such as they have learned to love--or of ease or success. It accuses them of sin; it tells them they are dead; it calls them to awake, to renounce the world and to follow Christ."